‘Mary Kom puts Manipur on the map’, scream a hundred headlines.
Manipur was always on the map – but you didn’t know where it was and you didn’t care.
What Mary Kom has done, by her heroism, especially her feat at the Olympics, is to make you care, make you curious, make you want to know. Know more about her and where she comes from.
That’s what great feats and events do for places.
When you hear of the heroics of the Battle of Plassey, you want to know where Plassey was or is (it’s in West Bengal; actually Palashi; 150 km north of Kolkata).
When you hear of the heroism and the logistics of the Normandy Landings, you wonder where Normandy is (it’s in France).
When you hear about Napoleon’s Waterloo, you ask, “Where is Waterloo?” It’s in Belgium.
Robin Hood makes one think of Sherwood Forest, which is in Nottinghamshire in England.
It needs the achievement by a person or persons to make us curious about where they hailed from or where they achieved their greatness.
That’s why the rights to conduct of the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics and, to a lesser degree, the Commonwealth Games are so fiercely fought. The city or country which wins the right immediately sees an increase in curiosity – and these cities or countries are ‘on the map’.
Mary Kom of Manipur has piqued our interest – and we want to know where Manipur is on the map. We want to know more about the land she was born in and lives in. We want to know what is in and around the village she lives in, the food she eats, the flora and fauna around her.
And then, perhaps, fascinated by all we’ve learnt, we want to go to Manipur, and we want to know if there is an airport near Manipur…
Yes, there is: Imphal.
Mary Kom has not put Manipur on the map. She’s made us search for it on the map, she’s made all of us curious about Manipur.
That’s what great achievers like Manipur do – make the world curious about everything to do with them.