Tuesday, 31 December 2013

AN EPITAPH (A Pup)


A cute little pair of wondering eyes,
From the pavement on the roadside,
Gazed at the nonstop passersby with sighs.

Wherein lost that world that I was in?
Was small and cozy yet safe and quiet.
Far from this daily quivering, hollow din.

A sniff here and a sniff there 
A pop on the steps of a doorway
Hopped the pup in the open lair.

A blare pierced his small ears
Wheezed past something huge
Ah! how unsafe, loud and fierce.

The fluffy ball took a fast roll
To reach the open lair across
But, alas! lay there a bloody ball.

From the broken spirit of the boy,
Two drops of tear ran out to see
The cutie coy now a red pulp of toy.

Rolled past more and more wheels, 
Tossing and crushing the toy underneath
Till it was flattened like banana peels.

Squeezed hard and shut tight
At the plight of that short life,
Those tearful eyes scanned the site.

The quivering hands, with broken faith
On a small wooden plank, gathered 
The last remains of death wraith.

Thus, on the pavement was a life born
And on the pavement was it buried 
Where from rose an angst, a scorn.
























Saturday, 9 November 2013

बेवड़ा बेचारा 

आते जाते राहगीरों 
के पैरों की ठोकरों 
से अलमस्त, बेखबर 
वो सड़क के बीच, 
अर्घ्य के बहे जल 
सा पसरा पड़ा था। 

मुहँ से बह निकली
सुख कर चिवटें
हुई लार पर,
भिनभिनाती मक्खियों
ने अपनी अनधिकृत 
खोली बना ली थी। 

साईकिल सवार ने 
एक उचटती नज़र
उस पर डाल,
अपनी घडी पर डाली। 
हिचकते, थमकते पैर 
पेडल पे फिर बढ़ गए।  

ट्रैफ़िक की बढ़ती जाम 
पर बजने लगे हॉर्न, 
किसी ने उसकी लटकती 
बांह खींच किनारे कर दिया।
उबड़ खाबड़ सड़क के किनारे,
अब वो अधजली बीड़ी 
के कुचले टुकड़े सा पड़ा था। 

झुग्गी के कुछ बच्चों ने
कौतुहलता वश, 
छड़ी से जब उसे उकेरा,
तो किसी ने फिकरा कसा- 
"बेवड़ा लगता है... 
पी के कैसा धुत्त पड़ा है,
मर तो नहीं गया बेचारा ?"
  











Saturday, 2 November 2013

A Trip to the Land of Dhokla and Khakhra



It seems really a tall order for me to make a proper beginning to this travelogue- A Trip to the Land of Patel and Bapu. The advertisement of Gujrat Tourism on television by Amitabh Bachchan had already been there a source of attraction but it was the presence of my Nidhi there at Gandhidham that acted as a catalyst to this tour plan. The old palaces and formidable towers on the one hand and the far off  remote lands on the other, seem to have specialized in my nature and interests that whenever I think of writing a travelogue the situations start falling in line. Since I had never been to sea shore, it always caught my fascination and this time it was the call of the sea that gave the final shape to this trip-the open sea beach of Mandvi.


[Part One- Aina Mahal and Prag Mahal]

The first stay in the tour was Aina Mahal and Prag Mahl at Bhuj. When we reached there driving through the narrow and congested lane, I was, at first, a little dismayed at the contrast of its location...the congested street and lane, with makeshift shops, seemed to me, nullifying the magnificence and grandeur of the palace. But once we were inside the periphery, the crowded street took a backseat in the mind.

The name 'Bhuj' brought back the reminiscences of the earthquake of 2001 which though, almost has been swept off by the time and tide of industrialization yet had left those deep scars on Prag Mahal and Aina Mahal, clearly visible in the riuns of Aina Mahal and the corroding cumbling plasters, walls of the Prag Mahal lending them the forlorn, haunted touch of seemingly Gothic tone. Adjoining the huge doorway were the remnants of Aina Mahal in a dilapidated condition, holding back its sleeping mysteries from the world. A sigh escaped my lips,"Would that the place had not been ruined by the destructive forces of time!


Aina Mahal has been completely prohibited for the tourists for the ongoing renovation work. So, we made our way to Prag Mahal which has been partially renovated. The Aina Mahal in its ruined state,held more charm for me... may be because the place was blocked for tourists or may be for its originality not being destroyed by the renovation work.



The dazzling entrance, belying the antiquity of Prag Mahal, infact, seemed a journey from the present to the past. The deer and the stag heads on the wall and the pair of Bengal tigers stuffed in, the semi dark room and the musty, decaying smell, in fact, were the shadows of the past reminding me of the crushed ego of the great king Ozymandias, "
                                                    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: 
                                        Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” 
                                        Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 
                                        Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare 
                                        The lone level sands stretch far away."




                                       


Part II- Vijay Vilas Palace and the Mandvi Beach-




My next destination was Vijay Vilas Palace, well known for the shooting of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. The entrance and the drive through the wild plantation, at first, reminded me of the Rebecca but the place hadn't that eerie, Gothic essence of Prag Mahal...maybe for its regular upkeep. The spiral staircase took us to the upper dome where the cool sea breeze was so refreshing that we lay down on the marble  floor for sometime...Hmm..., that's why, the place had been the Summer Resort for the then king Yuvraj Shri Vijayaraje.



I had never been to the sea shore before...had read mostly in the novels, stories and poems. The sea in my imagination was the amalgam of "The Old Man and the Sea", "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner",etc. So, I was much excited about my visit to the Mandvi sea beach.




On reaching there , the sea of my imagination took a back seat before the vast stretch of the sandy shore and the sea to that distant horizon...the foamy waves breaking one after on the land like the cur that keeps on returning to its master to please him/her. Its magnitude and humility overwhelmed me.

I enjoyed every bit of my stay there...walking barefooted on the sandy beach, the call of the seagulls, sitting on the sand making sand castle only to be swept away by the waves, listening to the murmuring of waves growing louder by passing hours, taking snaps of the prints of waves' patterns, standing in the knee deep silvery breaking waves, the sun setting in for the night's rest and lastly, the slouchy ride on the camel's back.















Part III- Sabarmati Ashram

The gap between the arrival and departure from Ahmedabad gave me the opportunity to visit the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi- Sabarmati Ashram. The place has a quiet, soothing effect on soul and mind. Here quietly flows the Sabarmati in between the two paradoxical banks, the dream and the reality...the Swadeshi, handwoven textile and the machine made, synthetic textile. 








































Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Some days, hours weigh down upon my soul like the mire which the sun beam fails to penetrate and reach down the bottom to clean. If I try to take a dip to clean it, they choke me down and I need an aid to surface up...but even the eyes become full of murk, my hands get tied with floating entangled hyacinth...It's then I feel the weariness tearing off my spirit and body. 

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Chai Story (childhood)

My Maiden Sip of Tea-


The title may seem a little out of place to the readers as Maiden has more to do with games/sports, speech performance, etc. So, what has that humble and servile tea to do with 'Maiden'? Well...reading this first person account will surely make the readers empathize me.

The tea, served in that bone china cup and saucer in the tray to the guests, held one of the greatest mysteries to me in my childhood. Not only me but both of my brothers were puzzled also. The most fascinating thing with tea was the sound of its 'Chushki', that 'surrrrrr...' sound followed by that expression of relaxation of every muscle on the face. On the contrary, we were always made to drink milk with Protinex or an egg mixed in it in large tumblers which gave a nausea to me and I always sought for an opportunity to throw it into the drain or flush it off.

So, tea for us, was the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden. "Children must drink milk...it helps them grow tall...makes bones and teeth strong etc."...toppled up with the cherry of Krishna Kanhaiya's and Yashoda's story of hair growing thick and long by drinking milk. Well...the adults left us with no choice except to see them with vying eyes and wait eagerly at each birthday to find ourselves in their much coveted category.

We then, tried to please the cook by helping him in his work and letting us have a few sips of that ambrosia. But, the cook had more stories of the harms done by tea in his store to tell us "Tea is not good for little children...it makes your teeth black...it also makes your skin dark...only elders can have tea, etc. etc."

Finally, we reconciled with our destiny to wait for that opportune time to arrive. Days passed by swiftly but those hours of the arrival of the guests with tea being served to them seemed unusually long and impatient.
However, we kept on nurturing the hope in our little hearts and one day, luck smiled on me.

One fine Sunday, the servant, Shivlal being out on some important errand, my mother asked me to carry the tea-tray back to kitchen, to which I humbly obliged. I put the tray near the sink and found that a little tea was left in each cup. That golden brown content, I swear, seemed more tempting to me than a potion of opium to an opium addict. I wanted to taste that forbidden fruit but my conscience pricked my soul. I kept oscillating between the temptation and my conscience. Just then I heard the footsteps of someone approaching the kitchen and in a fraction of second the decision was made. I picked up one cup from the tray and tilted it to my lips "How sweet and savoury the flavour is!" I gulped the last drop of tea one by one from each of the four cups and wiped my lips with the back of my palm but was a little late in wiping off the evidence from the scene of crime. My younger brother had seen me wiping my face "You were drinking the left over tea...nah! I am going to tell mom."

The saddest part of this story of my maiden sip of tea is that I had to bribe my brother for keeping his mouth shut and thus had to part with my favourite scented eraser. And, with it vanished that sweet savoury flavour too.

Sometimes, I wonder about tea as the deciding factor for treating a growing child as grown-up adult and that urges me to add one more stanza in the poem "Am I a Child or an Adult" by Margaret Lawrence-

"Am I a child or an adult?
I am tall, I understand tea talk
But, Oh..!.
No, not a child now- it's not a glass of milk I love.
Its cherished position is taken.
Just because the protinex-eggs have lost their charm,
Does that mean that I am an adult?



मजबूत इरादे भी कभी कभी सिले बिस्किट की भांति नर्म पड़ जाते हैं.
चीख 

तुमने जो दम भी लिया
तो वो कराह बन गयी
और जब कराहा तो 
वो चीख बन गयी।

इधर मेरी चीख बेचारी
को तो तुम्हारी चीख ने
कभी निगल लिया,
कभी तुम्हारी कराह ने
चाहा तो कुचल दिया।

मेरी चीख ने भी
चोट खाए सर्प
की तरह फन काढ
ली एक फुफकार तो
तुम्हारी चीख की भी
निकल गयी चीख। 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Chai story

Chai at Simaria Ghat

                [Rajendra Bridge on Ganga (Bihar), in the holy month of Kartik]

She raised her eyes towards the sky. The storm had started gathering in with dark clouds and rising winds. The sun had already taken refugee behind the clouds. When they had arrived, the slanting rays of sun could be seen dancing on the small gentle waves of Ganga. But now the sky, overcast with dark clouds, seemed to be threatening their stay on the Ganga Ghat.

She tugged at his sleeve," Let's start before the storm sets in." and they rushed with heavy steps on the sand, in the direction of their car but it was too late. The high wind like the Sand Man, blocked their sight. They dropped the idea of driving back and took shelter in a make shift hut.

 The rain started falling in big drops which brought a slight chill into the air that late afternoon . A sweeping glance round the close confines of the hut brought relief to him. It was a make shift cloth shop/hut for the fair visitors in the pious month of Kartik. He took a look at her. She had wrapped the pallu of her saree round her frame. He bought a handloom gamchi from the shopkeeper and draped it round her shoulders. She felt the warmth of his love woven in the fabric of that gamchi. She closed her eyes in gratitude and then, opened to pay obeisance to Ganga, remembering the line oft quoted by her relatives" गंगा नहैले रहू कि  ऐसन दूल्हा पैलू ।"

The rain after a short heavy spell, had become a soft drizzle. So, they came out of the shelter and walked towards the samosa-jalebi and tea shop on the opposite side where the tempting smell of jalebies and samosas hung in the air.

The man/halwai beside the Chulha raked the smoldering coal to let the fire burn in full flame. He started taking out the hot, crispy jalebies from the big Kadhai on the chulha and turning them over in the sugar syrup. The sight of those sweet mouth watering jalebies was simply irresistible. The man dipped the tongs in the syrup and took out four golden brown jalebies from the kadhai and placed them in a dona before them. Till now she had hunched her back to combat the chill but the warmth of the chulha was so comforting that she relaxed her tensed body, stretched her back on the wooden chair and spread her legs. The glow of the charcoal shone on her face. She pulled her chair near to him and both of them sat there idly enjoying the hot jalebies and samosas alternatively. Meanwhile the man/halwai had placed the kettle on the chulha for the tea. The aroma of the cardamom and ginger along with the tea leaves boiling in the milk spread in the air. With rain stopped, the crowd started gathering in the shop. The man/halwai poured tea in the two glasses and handed over to them.

She sipped the sugar laced tea, “Ah, another delicacy…how sweet is life with this tea by my partner’s side!” The cool wind played with strands of her hair which she had left open to dry on her back. Outside the evening had set in and the twilight stars were out in the darkening sky to play hide and seek. The pilgrims had lighted the ‘diyas’ near the sacred Tulsi plant and the older women folk were busy in singing the sanjhout (evening prayer) while the younger women remained busy in preparing the supper. The children, after a long day out, building sand-castles or playing Hide and seek and other games on the sandy shore of Ganga, sat now impatiently round the hearth for the supper. For the whole day, their hunger had been on strike and now with full determination had come back to strike their stomach with repeated pangs. A few of them had even started dozing off near the warmth of the hearth. Their mothers, very tactfully, kept them awake by asking them to fetch a pail of water or to get the jars of salt and spices from inside the hut. Here was a life with simple charms and ground comforts.She tried to touch and feel their impalpable, carefree world but a thin invisible wall brought her back from there. She woke up to the soft touch of his hands on her tangled hair.

Quietness had descended on the atmosphere which looked so heart rendering and moving in the thin veil of fog and mist, brought by the rain.

  A few cots were placed outside the huts. She stole a coveted glance towards those stringed cots,” How cozy it would be to spend a night here at Ganga’s side in the open stretch of sandy bank with him at my side near the warmth of the hearth…” A sigh escaped her lips with the yawn. He said to her,” Someday…when our hair turns grey, we’ll come here to spend the whole month of Kartik…” She smiled at him lovingly and squeezed his hands in hers with dreams in her misty eyes like those twinkling stars in the sky.

She didn't know then that the dream would become just an another added page in the album of her life.
Yet the sweetness of the tea/chai, the crisp jalebies and the spicy samosas shared with him, still warms her heart and moistens her eyes.

Some dreams must better be seen with closed eyes to be forgotten at daybreak...




Sunday, 1 September 2013

Bhari Nayan

नयनों में भर-भर
तुम्हे देखा।
नयन हुए
मत से मतवाले।
तुम्हे भर-भर
हुए भारी।
फिर भी डर से
न मूंदु मैं नयन।
कहीं न हो जाओ
तुम ओझल।
खुले नयन
तुम्हे रहे निहार।
फिर भी तो
हो गए ओझल।
नयन और
तुम्हारे बीच
आ जो बसा
पूरा संसार।


EX-GRATIA


The scene in 'Satyagraha'(movie) - A supporter of a minister, congratulating the mourner at the declaration of the payment of Ex-gratia, just ignited a spark to fire the words from my pen-

एक्सग्रेसिया की मिठाई 

क्या एक्सग्रेसिया
की रट है लगा रखी!
कोई लौटरी तो
नहीं है मेंरी खुली ?

क्या असामयिक मौत
का जश्न मुझसे हो मांगते?
एक विषबुझा नश्तर ही
उतार दो मेरे सीने में।
तुम्हारे जलते सीने
को बड़ी ठंडक मिलेगी।

क्या प्रिय से विछोह की
मिठाई मुझसे हो मांगते?
जश्ने दावत सभी दे दूंगी
मिठाइयाँ भर पेट खा लेना।
पेट पर संतोष भरा हाथ फेर,
लम्बी डकारें भी ले लेना।

हाँ, भूलना मत-
बस थोड़ी जगह बचा रखना
खारे पानी के लिए
भोजन सुपाच्य हो जाता है
बदहजमी नहीं होगी।

और,जाते जाते-
शुभकामनाओं के प्रत्यर्पण मुझे
वो  इन्तजार की मीठी शाम
खुशबू भरी चांदनी रातें
दे जाना मत भूलना...

कृपण बन गए न?
हुह्ह... जले पर नमक
ही छिडक सकते हो !
और  कृपणता ही
तो तुम्हारी पूंजी है।












Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Sighing Winds



The sighing wind in the dead of night,
Yet never sighs away feebly a name,
To make her sleep soft and light.

The rustling leaves on the untrodden way,
Yet never foretell the fading footsteps,
To check her bay-an endless stay.

The fragrant jasmine in full bloom,
Yet never adorns her graying hair,
To awaken her from sleeping doom

The pearly dew scattered at dawn,
Yet never shimmers the dying hope,
To sweep her desires yonder yon.

The trees with bare stretched arms,
Yet never crucifix her tangible dreams,
To free her from feigning phoney charms.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Nostalgia ( Dhaniye ki Chutney)

Till date I've felt so ascertained of this proud possession 'Sumeet Mixer and Grinder' that despite its slow functioning I never ever think of departing from it. The mixer-grinder was the first gift my husband had presented to me, sensing the drudgery of grinding the masala or the chutney on the age old silbutta. It had been occupying the most prominent seat in my kitchen for the past thirty years. But, just one question," Arre, tumhari chutney to badi achchi bani hai...silbutte par pisi kya tumne?...Bhai, silbutte ki chutney ka swad hi kuch aur hai. Meri sasu ma to bas silbutte par pisi chutney hi khati hain." This pageant could have gone on for the next half an hour, had I not interrupted her in the middle of her eulogy," Nahi to, maine to khud hi Sumet Mixer-Grinder me pisi hai!". "Achcha, tabhi mujhe swad thodi alag si lagi!"- This epilogue was enough to crash that song of praise. I was left with two choices only- either to bask in the praise or to sulk at the inefficiency of my mixer-grinder. I force-snubbed the idea of re buying a silbutta by convincing my rebellion mind that silbuttas are not at all hygienic and they are sound polluting also. But actually the truth was that the maid's forbidding eyes just flashed before my eyes, enough to abort the idea before its execution.
The mixer-grinder's motor, has now started making more sound while running as if mimicking and laughing at my helplessness (Reminds me of Lalita Pawar) yet its sweet bitter utility cannot be undermined.
 (to be continued.....)

MOKSHA

मुझे नहीं चाहिए मोक्ष
मैं गरल पी कर भी
मुर्छित अर्धचेतन
रह जी लूंगी
नेत्र मूंद
तुम बनो समाधिस्त
रहो ध्यानमग्न।

मुझे नहीं चाहिए मोक्ष
हलाहल से घायल
कोलाहल में पागल
हो भी जी लूंगी
वाक्पटु बन
तुम दो व्याख्यान
रहो आत्ममग्न।

मुझे नहीं चाहिए मोक्ष
कर्मभूमि की ललकार में
पराजय का घूंट पी
कर भी जी लूंगी
छद्मवेशी बन
तुम करो प्रस्थान
रहो आत्मस्वतंत्र।

मुझे नहीं चाहिए मोक्ष
कटाक्ष-उपालंभ
की दोधारी तलवार
बीच भी जी लूंगी
जन्म मरण से
तुम हो स्वतंत्र
रहो आत्माभिभुत।

मुझे नहीं चाहिए मोक्ष
मान अभिमान
के आडम्बर में
घुट कर भी जी लूंगी
पराया बन
तुम लो मुहँ फेर
रहो आत्मतुष्ट।






Friday, 2 August 2013

SHE DWELLS IN THE LINES

She dwells-
In the broken lines of her palm,
The lines forming a maze of figures.

She finds within there-
A circle like the whirlpool
She stand there on its edge
She bends to take a peep into it
Ah...she is engulfed by it.

She moves on the-
Two lines parallel like a rail-track
She ponders and moves
The track never reaches its end
Worn and torn, she keeps moving on.

She clambers onto the-
Three lines like a mountain peak
She pants and gasps
And, the cliff gets steeper
She stumbles and slips down .

She confines herself to-
The four lines like the walls
She fidgets for the door
The rusty latch never gives away
Her fingers get bloodied.

She dwells-
In the maze of lines on her palm,
The broken lines join together.

She wears them like wings,
And soars high in the vast
Freeing herself, finally from
All the lines and confines.







Saturday, 20 July 2013

लक्वाई कूँची 

कूँची-
आज तू क्यूँ
लक्वाई सी पड़ी है ?
नहीं फिरेगी क्या
आज इन पन्नों पर ?
नहीं उकेरेगी क्या आज
आड़ी-तिरछी रेखाओं
से मछुवारों के
स्वप्न जाल ?

स्वप्न जाल की
की ढीली गांठें में
अब बची है
सिर्फ तड़पती
दम तोडती
सुनहले रुपहले
मछलियों की बू. 

सफ़ेद पृष्ठ
के नीचे ताज़ी कब्रों
में दबी नन्ही लाशों
की उभरती आहों
ने छय ग्रसित
दुर्बल, परजीवी
है बना डाला।

तू उन आहों
से स्पंदित
वायुयंत्र की
सुस्कार भरी
मरसिया पर
बैले नृतयांगना
सी ही थिरक।

कूँची …
तेरे सारे रंग
हो चले हैं स्याह
पर,
तू अब इन्ही
सफ़ेद पृष्ठों पे
स्याह सफ़ेद
लपलपाती ज्विहा
लिए दानवों को उकेर।



Thursday, 13 June 2013

Ash immersion of TELEGRAM

As decided by the BSNL, July 15 will be the ash immersion day of the humble telegram service. The last mortal remains of this long dead service will be officially immersed in the brimming river of communication technology.
 Considered now as humble for being edged out by other fastest and cheapest modes of quick and urgent communication, it was at its prime in the decades of 60-70, when its arrival generally created havoc and dread in the heart of its receiver, apprehending some shocking sad news. Though it would be fairly unjust of me to speak of this service, the then popular mode of communication among those who wanted to send urgent messages, celebratory or otherwise, in such a way. However, I can't help recall those scenes in the Bollywood movies, in which the doorbell rings in the dead of night sending shivers to the peacefully sleeping residents. The panic button is pushed all the more with the postman announcing 'TELEGRAM, Sir'. With faltering steps and racing heartbeat, the person fumbles for the pen and reading glasses to receive that most unwanted and unexpected visitor at that ominous hour of night. His/her heart seems to be wrenched out by that clenching grip of unknown fear. Soaking in his/her sweat, the person signs with shaking hands in that handwriting that seems to be some encrypted code. Left with no choice, finally the message is read and... I don't want to draw the climax scene as the cinema-lovers are quite apt in figuring out what happens next.
 Well...such was not a scene always. There were anticlimaxes also, bringing smile and cheers to everybody's face. But, bad and sad memories last longer that sweet and fleet memories.
 So, here we are to bid adieu to this great time immemorial service TELEGRAM and immerse ourselves in the sweet and bitter nostalgia.
 Am I making a fuss of this relic? But, what do you make out of this postmortem of the relics by the Indian Telegraph Services? It is just like excavating the grave of the formidable practice "Better late than never" and we Indians, no doubt, are exceptionally good at it.
The Telegram service had virtually started showing its signs of ageing with the vast network of telephone services reaching every doorstep from the metro cities to smaller towns and then the rural areas. And, finally it breathed its last with the boom of mobile phone services, made cheaper to access every household irrespective of financial status. The BSNL is rather too late in waking up to the tech revolution in its late planning to deploy the telegraph staff members to mobile services, landline telephony and broadband services which ought to have been done long before.
The curtain yet to be drawn over the staging of this life-drama of Telegram Services is still 30 days ahead and one can never predict the end in our nation where a big political farce is made of small petty issues by our great political figures. Till then, let me bask in the nostalgia of TELEGRAM.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Open Window

THE OPEN WINDOW

Every feat is a closed window,
Every petal is a closed flower,
Every page is a closed story,
Every hour is a closed day,
Every wing is a closed flight,
Till opened, unfolded and unfurled...



The dying day finally collapsed into the stretching arms of the evening, which had resolved to settle down with calm and rest spreading the wings of darkness on the wrought and weary souls.

 That small Hibiscus plant with a deep yellow flower, placed outside on the French window, took a full view of the new surrounding and sighed on his seclusion.

 "How happy I was there in the nursery, under the sun, among red, pink, orange and white fellows! It is getting dark and here, I am all alone outside this closed window with strange faces peeping at me from inside the room."

Getting too self conscious and shy by the stares, the yellow Hibiscus slowly folded in all its petals and prepared itself to rest in the new surrounding. "Oh, How tired I feel! That transportation from nursery to this window had been so bumpy!"

And the little Hibiscus prepared itself for the long night ahead in that new surrounding. After a few hours the lights were switched off and darkness intensified around making the little plant comfortable. "Now it's okay in the dark, with no one peeping and poking at me."

The plant dreamed of his friends, the open sky, the sun, the rain, the moon, the stars and the chirping birds.  Though sometimes, his dreams got disoriented with distant faces and strange voices.

A feel of slight tremor brought him out of the dreamland. He squeezed his eyes."Is it daybreak?" Feeling still droopy, he stretched his hand. "Hey...Fellas! Good morning." Finding  no response, he opened his eyes, blinked them thrice to recall the whole scene.

"Ah...Who shook me to cause my little yellow bloom get detached from me?" But, the next moment, a sigh slipped out, "What a fool I am...This was to happen with that bloom. Though the change and shift caused it to happen a little earlier, I must not blame others", brooded the little Hibiscus.

Thus, the little plant, after a little grieving over the lost bloom, gathered its wit and courage to explore the new surrounding and was happy to find the closed window now thrown open. He took a look inside and saw many of his fellows...a thorny one with pink flowers, a creepy one coiled around a moth-stick, a small bamboo like in several pots. Immediately a sigh of relief escaped from his lips,"O' Lord in Heaven...How kind of you to let me have this space at least in the open!"

Feeling a little relaxed, he glanced around. "Aha...I could see the sky here too, though the window roof obstructs my way but the trees,the birds, the squirrels, all are here. Of course, I could not experience that rainfall last night...could feel only a few drops of it. Well, not so bad after all,...those were enough for my size and that tall window saved me or else I could have been swooped down by that heavy downpour."

The little Hibiscus smiled in the gentle morning breeze feeling the warmth of the thin slanting rays of sun upon him. "Now, let me groom and bloom here, out on the open window."

And, a few days after, a bright yellow flower bloomed in all its mirth, perching on the window berth.

[ Happy souls are contended souls.]







Friday, 24 May 2013

Water colours

Doing a water colour is a slowing down activity for me. But, at the same time. it is like a feat to win over and therein comes the real obstacle of being a novice. What so ever, I keep on amusing myself with splashing the colours on the sheets, gifted to me by my son who is my mentor too.

                                                                   1. Money Plant

2. The Closed Window


3. Shoe rack 

4.The Brook



Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Flow of Thought in the Examination Hall



घंटी लगते ही प्रश्न-पत्र और उत्तर पुस्तिका बाँटने के बाद वह थोड़ी देर के लिए कुर्सी खीच कर बैठ गयी। अभी के पन्द्रह मिनट परीक्षार्थी गण को  प्रश्न पत्र पढने के लिए दिए गए है- यह सोच उसने उपस्थिति पृष्ठ को भरा। बैठे बैठे उसने परीक्षा कक्ष के दशो दिशाओं पर दृष्टि फेरी। छत के बीम से मकड़ी के जालें कोने को प्रेम से अधिकार पूर्वक घेर लटके हुए दिख पड़े। उसे यह देख उदासीनता का भाव मन में आया। पर उसने सर झटक अपनी दृष्टि को त्रपेज़ी खिलाड़ी सा उछाल दिया। अब उसकी दृष्टि ब्लैक बोर्ड  पर जा अटक गयी जो काली  कम हरी ज्यादा प्रतीत हो रही थी, मानो राख के परत पर घास की दरी किसी ने बिछा दी हो। दरअसल कलि ब्लैक बोर्ड  पुरानी हो चली थी तो उस घिसी हुई बोर्ड पर हरी वाली चढ़ा दी गई थी। सो  काली फ्रेम वाली हरी बोर्ड पर उसकी नज़रें टिक गई। हरी बोर्ड की कोर पर तभी उसने कुछ हरकत देखी। एक स्याह धब्बों वाली छिपकिली काली और हरी बोर्ड  के बीच से निकली, झाकं कर पुनः दोनों बोर्डो के बीच जा दुबक गयी। परीक्षार्थी इस अल्पकालीन हरकत से अनभिज्ञ उत्तरपुस्तिका को स्याह करने में लगे रहे। एकाध बार कुछ स्मरण करने की मुद्रा में उनकी नज़रें उठी, सिकुड़ी फिर वापस उत्तरपुस्तिका पर जा गड़ी। हरी बोर्ड  पर उसकी नज़र खल्ली से लिखित परीक्षार्थी के अनुक्रमांक के अनुसार उनके बैठने की क्रम व्यवस्था पर जा टिकी। सुन्दर और स्पष्ट लिखावट अच्छी लगी। तभी दुबकी छिपकिली कछुए की तरह निकल अपने पंजो पर उचकी। इधर घबरा कर उसने कुरसी ब्लैक बोर्ड से दूर खिची कि कौन जाने कब छलांग लगा कर उस पर आ गिरे। पर, तब तक वह छिपकिली बाहर के उदासीन दृश्य से निराश हो वापस दोनों बोर्डो के बीच जा दुबकी।

  मौसम में बदलाव और गर्मी की शुरुआत के साथ ये छिपकिली प्रजाति के जंतु अपने शीतकालीन प्रवास से बाहर आने लगते हैं। मार्च का महिना है और गर्मी ने अपना मिजाज दिखाना शुरू कर दिया है। पंखे की शीतल हवा भली लग रही है। उस छिपकिली की तरह वह भी समय के काली और हरी बोर्डो के बीच झूलती रही। काली  बोर्ड  की जरुरत तो रही नहीं थी। वो तो बेकाम हो चला था क्योंकि उस पर लिखते वक़्त खल्ली फिसल जाया करती थी। उसे उलझन होने लगी कि काली पर हरी तह क्यों चढ़ा दी गयी, भला उसे उखाड़ा क्यों नहीं गया। पंखे भी तीन ही चल रहे थे। बाकी के दो बंद पड़े थे जिन पर धूल  की एक परत चढ़ गयी थी। धुल की परत भी उस छिपकिली की तरह स्याह दिख रही है।

 " मैम, कितना समय हो रहा है?" उसकी विचार तन्द्रा भंग हुई।

 " बारह बज के पच्चीस मिनट ", उसने घडी पर एक नज़र डालते हुए जवाब दिया।

उफ़, अभी तो एक घंटा बाकी है और उसे इसी स्याह पट और हरी पट के बीच समय बिताना है। सहनिरीक्षिका ने अपने कुर्सी हॉल के दुसरे कोने में लगा रखी थी। उनकी नज़र खिड़की के बाहर गडी हुई थी। बातचीत के क्रम में उन्होंने बताया कि दिसम्बर में वो अवकाश ग्रहण करने वाली हैं; पति रिटायर कभी के हुए। पहली पाली में होने की वज़ह से उन्हें सुबह जल्दी उठ कर नाश्ता- खाना बना कर निकलना पड़ता है और उस पर महेन्द्रू से आने में अच्छे खासे पैतालीस मिनट लग जाते हैं। फिर दो जगह ऑटोरिक्शा बदलनी पड़ती है। घर में बेटा  भी है जो कि  भारतीय स्टेट बैंक में आफिसर है। उसकी शादी के लिए लड़की देख रही हैं। दबे स्वर में इतनी सूचना उन्होंने दे दी। बच्चों को लिखने में कहीं खलल न पड़े, इसलिए वह वापस अपने कुर्सी पर आ कर बैठ गयी।
ऊब और उबासी होने लगी तो उसने हॉल के चक्कर लगाने शुरू किये। पर झम्हायियाँ और झपकियाँ दोनों ही हार जीत की बाजी लगा उसके पीछे पड़ी रही। उकता कर उसने अपनी बैग से एक संतरा निकाला, छील कर आधा उसने सह निरीक्षिका को पकडाया और बाकी आधा उसने हॉल में चहलकदमी करते हुए चूसना शुरू किया। थोड़ी खट्टी है तो ठीक ही है - नींद भागेगी। सुबह तडके ही नींद टूट गयी थी। दानवाकार मशीन से नाला बनाने के लिए गड्ढा खोद रहे हैं। उसकी गाडी कैसे निकलेगी ताकि वो समय पर स्कूल पहुँच सके - इस चिंता में उसे नींद नहीं आई। और अब उबासी पे उबासी हो रही है। तभी वार्निंग की घंटी बजी। बच्चों को उसने उनकी उत्तर पुस्तिकाओं को बाँधने और समेटने की हिदायत दे अपना भी बैग ठीक किया। अंतिम घंटी लगते ही उसने सभी उत्तर पुस्तिकाओं को जमा किया। निकलते निकलते उसने एक उचाट दृष्टि ब्लैक बोर्ड पर डाली। छिपकिली की सिर्फ पूँछ दिख रही है। धड दोनों बोर्डो के बीच में होने से नहीं दिख रहा पर पूँछ धीरे -धीरे हिल रही है।

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Ghost

I parked the car under the shady tree in front of M.P.Store. The warm spring afternoon melting into cool evening filled my mind with fragrance. I have always liked that place for its spacious parking, the broad road with less noisy traffic, the golguppa wala with his khomcha under the cool shade of the tree and especially the retreating Sun getting bigger behind the tall apartments. I got down from the car and took the whole view in a sweep of my eyes and shut them for a while.

I preferred this time as the store had less customers and I didn't have to squeeze my way to the counter. The man behind the counter, with the heavy frame spectacles resting on his pointed nose, was one of the most nonnegotiable ones. I waited for my turn patiently and handed him the list of grocery while taking a look around, trying to remember any forgotten item. Satisfied that all the items were packed in the carry bag, I paid the bill which was meticulously calculated by the man behind the counter, on his calculator.

I was about to open the rear of the car to put down the carry bag when somebody tugged at the anchal of my saree. I turned around to find two little barefooted children looking at me with their blinking eyes. They seemed to be brother and sister. The boy's right hand, below the elbow, was covered with a handkerchief. There was pain in his eyes which sometimes found its way out in little sobs. The girl gingerly uncovered his hand. A deep blistering wound caused by burn, gaped at me.

"I have to buy medicines for my brother. Please, help me with some money."

The scene triggered in me the past memory of a woman with her unconscious baby in her arms.

She was there in the middle of the road , sparsely clad in a crushed, worn out saree which hung loose on her anemic figure. Her grey hair, disheveled and dry looked like the thready roots of a plant flying outwards in search of a little moisture. Her veins standing out of her dark and freckled skin, were the telltale sign of her poverty. The sticky discharge had flowed a little out of the inner corner of her eyes and her dry, pouted, cracked lips now and then showed the plaques on her sickly yellow teeth. Her blouse, faded red, had been pulled down from the right shoulder by the weight of baby in her right arm and with her left arm, she was waving at the passersby to draw their attention.

A few passersby did stop, but seeing the baby in a still condition, went on their way nodding their heads in surrender /resignation to the situation. The more they nodded their heads, the louder her stifled screams became . In desperation, she even tugged at their sleeves unable to articulate clearly her begging due to sheer exhaustion and grief which had left her aghast. A few callous ones even mocked at her that it was just a trick to cheat them . Some stood on the other side of the lane watching the whole scene as like some Nukkad Natak/ street play.

I was in my car, behind the steering, staring at the woman who, seeing me, was now moving in my direction.

"Mem Saab, please save my child.I have no money to pay the doctor's fee, please ma'm."

The woman rallied on. I saw the baby in her right arm. Flies were sitting on his face around the mouth. The foamy saliva had flown out of the corner of his mouth. His eyes were closed. His hands hung loose on both sides.With fearful doubts about the baby's life, I asked my son to hand her a hundred rupee note from my handbag.

She grabbed the note from my son's hand. "That will be suffice to pay the fee but the medicines.?" Distraught and distressed, she stretched her palm for more.

Realizing her anguish and irritation, I handed her an another hundred and moved the car guiltily to free myself from getting torn between the conflict of an urge to help the woman by taking the baby to the near by hospital and the doubt on the authenticity of her pleadings. I drove away with so many unresolved questions and doubts..."What else she could have done to prove her grief...to make the passersby realize and believe in her pain? Why I didn't show the guts to take the baby to the doctor? Was I an escapist? Was she able to revive her baby?"

"Mam, our mother is waiting for us, do give us some money,Please, mam". The agony in the girl's voice and the sobs of the boy getting louder now brought me back to the present.

"Where is your mother?"
"She is at the hospital waiting for us."

There again loomed large many questions in my mind. The mother there in the hospital and the children here begging on the roadside. Reason was again trying to gain the foothold. But then the past guilt proved to be  stronger than the reason.

"Come with me to the chemist shop. I 'll get a tube of Soframycin ointment and a few antibiotics for you."
 But that afternoon, the only shop in the vicinity of that area, was closed. I fumbled at the other possibilities.

"Its a long way from here,The PMCH and .mother will be waiting anxiously, help us with some money, please."
"How will you go there? Do you know the way?"
"Yes, by auto rickshaw, mam, money, Please."

I took them to the store and bought them biscuits, cakes and potato chips.

"But, how will my mother buy medicines for my brother?" The same question nagged at my conscience.

I had already spent on the grocery and only seventy rupees were left in my purse. I gave the seventy rupees to the girl and saw both of them off.

The shopkeeper had been watching all this quietly. "Mam, you don't know them. It's a trick to get some money out of your purse."

I gave him a cold stare, thinking about the blistering burn on the boy's right hand. Was that a trick too?

I started the car, weighing the act of kindness on my part and found the weight of the heartbreaking grief of the children heavier than my miserly kindness. The ghosts of the woman and her baby had made a permanent abode in the recess of my conscience.






A Recollection

चिट्ठियों की पोटली 

चिट्ठियों को बड़े जतन से उसने सहेज रखा था इक पोटली में। वो पोटली जो कि सिक्के रखने के काम आती है। तब वे चिट्ठियाँ सिक्कों से भारी थी। विरह के अश्रु से सिंचित, नयनों के अंजन से रचित एक एक अकक्षर, शब्द में काफी वज़न था। सो, उसने बक्से में अश्रु औ हर्ष की उस पोटली को बंद कर दिया। कभी- कभी दिवाली के मौके पर बक्से की सफाई करती तो एकाध उनमे से निकाल पढ़ लेती और फिर से उन्हें सहेज उसी पोटली में जतन से रख देती। स्थान परिवर्तन, ऋतु परिवर्तन होता रहा पर वह पोटली वैसे ही उसी बक्से में पड़ी रही।

अरसे बाद यादों की उस पोटली को उसने पुनः नयनों के अंजन से सिंचित करना चाहा तो पोटली खाली मिली। बक्से को ही नहीं अपितु पुरे घर को छान मारा। सिकुड़ी सी उस पोटली को उल्टा कर झाड़ झाड़ कर देखा। एक पन्ना जिस पे कभी उसने  नायिका को नायक के पदचिन्ह पर पुष्प चढाते चित्रित किया था, तैरते पंख की तरह लहराता उसके गोद में आ गिरा। चिट्ठियों का वज़न सिक्कों की उस पोटली में समय के साथ हल्का हो चला था। अश्रु का वज़न ज्यादा हो चला तो उसने पन्ने पर चित्रित नायक के पदचिन्हों पर जलांजलि दे डाली। मष्तिष्क में कुछ शब्द कौंध गए "चलो भई, चलने का समय हो गया ..... अब मोह माया त्यागो।"

उस पन्ने को अब वह  बक्से में नहीं रखती। क्या पता और हल्की हो जाये...................... स्थान परिवर्तन, समय परिवर्तन ने वज़न के स्वरुप का भी परिवर्तन कर डाला..... ( अच्छी है आज कल की ये 'email' -.हलकी है...... जगह भी नहीं घेरती !!)

Friday, 22 February 2013

Bhulbhulaiya

भूलभुलैया

कभी-कभी ये
नीरव और खाली कमरे
भूलभुलैया से है बन जाते ,
जहाँ रास्ते तलाशने
में ही बीत जाती 
है रात,
रात के गहराते
अँधेरे में
नीद का सुखद
पड़ाव कहाँ ?
यहाँ तो है छत
उडी हुई
भित्ति की दीवारें
सुराखों भरी जमीं
इनसे बचते बचाते 
हो जाती है सुबह
एक थकी सी
सुबह।




Monday, 18 February 2013

Rest- Sweet Sauce of Labor

Every evening, with hurried steps I return from my workplace to my cozy home. Usually I switch on the TV and place myself on the sofa with a cup of black/green tea...relax and enjoy my freedom and solitude which have become synonymous with my living. But, as the weekend starts approaching, I am gripped with a vague sense of some uneasiness....experience some sort of tumult propelling me to break free from the routine, from the imposed inhibitions...to become a rebel...to flee to some unknown place with strange faces..... finally, I become a refugee, resolved  to explore my own space, from where to derive an ounce of strength to overcome this turmoil. 

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Juvenile

Juvenile.... Juvenile!


Juvenile...Juvenile,
For an act so vile!
Just four months to go,
So, be merry and cheery,ho!

Fear not....Juvenile!
Sleep well and giggle.
Enjoy your sweet sixteen,
For the dead Albatross is in.

Wipe not....Juvenile!
The stain will not pile.
Just rub your forehead,
Stamped there's 'RAPIST'.

Juvenile....Juvenile,
For the act so vile,
Live long on the crucifix,
Till the thorn of sin pricks.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

O' Damini,

In your pain,
In your cry,
In your fight,
In your plight
The nature too, recoiled.
The sun,  didn't shine
             upon the embittered souls,
The fog thickened enveloping
              the ragged and stilled mob,
The cold intensified,
               clogging the pulsating heart.
The Tri-color Flag, too didn't flutter...
               confessing the disgrace.

           
                

Saturday, 26 January 2013

A Rambler in the Ruins

O' rambler! come ye

Come,O' rambler!
Feel the engraving
On this tombstone.
Here's is an epitaph
A song sung,
A story told.
Read, grope,
Feel and hear.

But, O' rambler!
Cleave and clench not
The hushes of the
Unseen and unsung.
Scattered in the remains
Are there buried,
Awaiting for long
To be sung.

Sing, O' rambler!
But do not stifle
The calm and serenity
With clamor and clash
Lest the dead
should awake
From the slumber
And bury you there.

Fear, O' rambler!
Do not spoil
The idle beauty
With your claws
And tear not
The remains
Left only of
The decaying past.

Come, O' rambler!
Sit on its balustrade
A gnome,
With freckled skin
From the sleepy vaults
Of the concave
Would whisper away
A freaky tale.

Wait, O' rambler!
Clog not your ears.
An elf would dive out
Of the green, murky pond
Sit on its cemented slope.
It would murmur away
A forgotten lore
Of the tides of time.

Hear, O' rambler!
The drooping leaves
Sighing in the breeze
On the doom
Of the debris
Camouflaged
With red and green
Satin wraps.

Weep, O' rambler
Weep with the
Dewy drops
Gleaming on the
Bushy hedges and
The grassy lawn
On the fading sheen
Of the fleeting time.


O' rambler, come ye!
Lone ye come
To listen to
The unspoken ones
To feel
The impaired ones.
To heal
The forsaken ones.

( On the Dargah-e-Maner Sharif)