As Irom Sharmila breaks her hunger strike,the influence of Desmond Coutinho is quite apparent
For over a decade she has become the poster for almost all campaigns for the Repeal of AFSPA.
Many have termed her pathbreaking fast as a sacrifice no human has done for centuries against a law which discriminates the people against the state.
In more than one word Irom Sharmila has become more than just a lady who went against the machinery of the state and centre,she was to her followers a goddess who epitomised selflessness
Enter Desmond Coutinho an Indian-born Briton who began writing her letters after reading about her in 2009 and to his surprise and many of her supporters Irom Sharmila started responding to a man she had never met .
Loneliness and isolation does have its own tryst and sometimes can lead to bigger things,Irom Sharmila has been more or less confined to herself and a few of her supporters."If something has not worked for 16 years, it is not likely to work for another 16 either, Right now, her decision to enter politics could go either way. But if she has managed to garner so much support over the years, there is no reason why she would not be able to do it a politician." Babloo Loitoingbam
Many blame her lack of social interaction with people for her turning to Desmond Coutinho and suggest that her 'inner circle' should have allowed her to meet and interact with more people.
But such was the charm and mysticism of the Life of Irom that even her solitary confinement within the four walls of her makeshift prison where she hardly met anyone but the same old faces , drew the attention of people from world over.
Shirts with her pictures were printed for rallies,Scripts for movies were discussed ,colleges faraway discussed AFSPA and her struggle,but it was Desmond Coutinho who saw this lonely woman and her desire to have a life beyond AFSPA.
Although some of the 'inner circle' of Irom privately express skepticism about Coutinho, 52, who proposed to her in a letter even before they first saw each other face-to-face, during a court appearance in Imphal in 2011.
This largely comes from the fear that Desmond has indicated in the past that for him Irom Sharmila has been hijacked by a few close aides and he would like to set her free from them.
'Setting Irom Free could also suggest,diluting her struggle ' says a close Aide on the condition of annoymity .
For the time being though for Desmond Coutinho , he would like to have Irom Sharmila to himself than those who have been besides her for years.
In this tussle for legacy,companionship and struggle the only person who seems to have been reduced from a goddess to a mere mortal is Irom Sharmila ……….and AFSPA , well for the first time in years the issue will have to wait .
On the 9th of August its the hunger strike which will end and not the rule of AFSPA.