A man disappears from a Manipur village, and returns 40 years later courtesy YouTube

But is homecoming the fairy tale it is made out to be?

Khomdram Gambhir Singh is the most well-travelled man in Khumbong. He’s
seen it all: the Qutb Minar in Delhi, the Taj Mahal in Agra, and the Gateway of
India in Mumbai. He’s seen things no one in his village, in a corner of
Manipur, could dream of.

Among them, was the infinite expanse of the Arabian Sea in Mumbai, filled
with, in the man’s own words, “bada bada jahaaz”. Big, big ships.

There’s another story that has done its rounds in Khumbong market: that
once there was a dinner in film star Dilip Kumar’s house, and Gambhir, then
working with a catering service, helped cook for the feast.

Now 65 and toothless, Gambhir neither denies nor confirms the tales. In the
year since he’s returned to Khumbong, after a four-decade-long escapade,
the initial enthusiasm of telling his story has wound down.

For almost three months after his return, guests from Khumbong and afar
would visit his home, a thatched hut at the end of the little lane in the village.
Gambhir would appear on local primetime news, kitted out in western
formals, and gently answer every question. “What did you eat there?” “Where
did you sleep?” “Did you ever think about home?” “Can you sing for us?”

He was Manipur’s missing man, who had been found 40 years later, singing
on a street in Bandra.

This article was originally published in The Indian Express in June 2019. Full article here.