Friday, December 26, 2014

Your Children My Children


You don’t hold their spirits
for they will soar and fly
over the muck of loathing
up, above, ever so high

the petals you thought crushed
under your pitiable heels
leave behind their fragrance
the world inhales, deep within feels

I know you gloat over my tears
if you could see, I would show
how in the quest of endless beauty
even the evil helps us grow

oh you poor misguided soul
in despicable depths of desolation
love-deprived, care-lorn,
mistaking fear as adulation

I pray no harm for you, from you
released from the shackles of hate
when you meet my winged angels
you will crumble to reverse your fate

blood of babies, men and women
bask in it at the peril of your own
slaughter is a sin often repeated
to irrigate the seeds you had sown

there are those, your muted friends
comparing one grief with another
a heart that small is bound to tear
when his children are pitted against his brother

on you go, spread what you may
low can’t ever conquer the great
time will still sway to the good
the evil can have but a date.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

धुंध


आज भोर की धुंध जैसे मेरी ज़िंदगी की कहानी बयां कर रही थी. रस्ता अकेला था, मौसमों ने तन्हाई की चादर ओढ़ रखी थी. पक्षी भी जैसे सहमे कहीं चुप बैठे थे. हवा की ठंढक में सर्दी का खुश्नुमापन भी था, और रूह को झकझोरने वाली कठोरता भी. एक ओर, इक शर्मीली युवती की आधी हंसी जैसी खुल रही थी हवाएं. दूसरी ओर, कोहरे की परत मातम का माहौल बना रही थी – घोर, भीषण, निस्तब्ध. चीखता सन्नाटा.

उस खामोशी में चुनौती थी...यदि हिम्मत कर सको तो अपने ह्रदय की तड़पती गहराइयों से एक नज़्म ढूंढ निकालो. और बरसों की यातना, सदियों का प्रेम उसमें निचोड़कर, उस बंदिश को अपने कंठ का सहारा दो. उसे गाओ. मर्म और वेदना से उत्पन्न एक ऐसे लय का सृजन करो कि तुम्हारी गूँज में फिजायें समा जाएँ. वो गीत, तुम्हारी रचना, तुम्हारा पैदावार...वही तुम्हें इस धुंध से बाहर निकलेगा. नहीं, तो इसी अंधकार में लुप्त हो जाओ, करने दो इस धुंध को तुम्हें भ्रमित, गुमने दो फिर से रास्ता, खो जाने दो उस एकमात्र डोर को जो तुम्हें मंजिल तक ले जा सकती है. हिल जाने दो उस वजह जो, जो आज तक तुम्हारा अस्तित्व बनी हुई है. तुम्हारी आस्था.

धुंध की दीवार थी...और मैं बढ़ी जा रही थी. आस्था ने मेरा, या मैंने उसका, साथ नहीं छोड़ा था. हमेशा की तरह वो मुझे ठेले जा रही थी. “हाँ, बस, उसी मोड़ पर मिलेगा वो”. सच पूछो तो मुझे साफ़ दिखाई भी नहीं दे रहा था. चरों ओर कुहासा था. ज़मीं भी समतल न थी. पेड़ फुसफुसा रहे थे. लेकिन इन सब को भेदती हुई तुम्हारी एक छवि मुझे खींचे जा रही थी. तुम्हारा हँसता हुआ चेहरा. और तुम्हारे गालों के भंवर में बैठी हुई वो खुशनसीब चोरनी. मैं हंस पड़ी. संघर्ष आसान हुआ, बादल कुछ छंटे, और आशा ने रगों में जान फूंकी. धूप न थी, पर उसकी गुनगुनी गर्माहट मेरे भीतर समा गयी.

जब तुम उस मोड़ पर न मिले, और मैंने दोषारोपण के लिए उसे खोजा, तो उसे अदृष्ट पाया. कोहरा घना हो गया था. आखों पर अँधेरा छाने लगा था, कानों में मायूस हवा की शोर थी और पूरे बदन में निमोनिया सी शिथिलता. मेरे घुटने बोल पड़े. कलेजा धक् से किया, और मैं ज़मीन पर ढेर हो गयी.

जब आँखें खुली तो आस्था की गर्म हथेलियाँ मेरा सर सहला रही थीं. रोती हुई आँखें और व्यंगात्मक हंसी. “बस, इतने में?” वो हंसती रही. उस हंसी में प्रहसन और करुणा के बीच का भाव था. मेरे कपड़ों से धूल हटाते हुए उसने मुझे उठाया. कही, “चलें?”

Saturday, November 29, 2014

All in a name

She clamps down on the horn of her Swift. Bee……..p. The blaring horn slices through the silence, rousing a sleepy afternoon from slumber.
She presses down hard. Till the noise equals the angry hum in her own head. No, she won’t let this Ecosport go past. One, it was the chagrin of a small car being railroaded by a big brute. Two, the bully didn’t even possess the grace of an indicator. Three, and most importantly, she was not in the most charitable of her moods.
She’ll have it her way at least somewhere. The exhilaration of choosing to go somewhere, rather than being led. Led like a pet on his master’s leash… into an unknown territory… scared of the surrounding, yet thrilled with the company. Tail wagging. Eyes glued to the only one.
She releases the horn only when the SUV has been warned off. She keeps staring ahead. Not on the road, not on the horizon, just ahead. Eyes bloodshot. Jaws clenched tight. Angry. Seething. Mad. She zooms ahead at 110 kmph on the shining bituminous.
A sparse Sunday traffic hardly notices the black Swift racing on its road. In Delhi, given any chance, all cars would behave like this. Nothing different about this one. Except one thing. It is December, and the windows of this car are rolled down. All four.
After kilometers of aimless but straight driving, without warning, the driver slows down. Gliding smoothly to one corner of the road, a nook created by an abandoned bus stop. The perfect slot to park one’s car in, to merge in line with the pavement, to let the traffic flow undisturbed.
She kills the engine. Holding the steering with firm hands, back stern and straight, jaws grinding. As if in defiance of the deathly cold wind whooshing between the windows. Her fingers an angry shade of red. Cheeks dry and flushed. Gut shivering. Toes freezing.  
Slowly, tears well up in her eyes and trickle down in perfect pearls. The first drops barely touch her cheeks. Her nose turns crimson; her facing acquires the patchy complexion of someone just slapped. She remains transfixed. Till her cheeks are completely wet, and nails start hurting from being pressed against the rexin of the steering. A picture in utter sadness. A drab painting of a gloomy winter day. The pink ruddiness of her lips standing out, raw from biting, washed with her own salt.
When she wipes her cheeks, she is surprised how cold her fingers felt to her cheeks. Noticing only then, that her fingers felt numb. Stoned cold.
She fishes inside the glove compartment box of her car, rummaging through petrol invoices, empty bottles and plastic wrappers to find her phone. She can barely bring her fingers to close in on the object. All she feels, is metal against metal. Unable to manoeuvre her fingers, she pulls her hands back, places them under her thighs. It feels good. Warm. Ready to move as per will. She brings her hands close to her mouth, blowing hot air in the cusp of her palms, which condense immediately. She finally reaches out to the phone, draws the pattern password, checks screen.
Nothing.
It shatters her. This time she cries miserably. Clutching her heart, holding her head. Howling despicably. Rubbing the tunnel between her breasts with her finger tips. Her body convulsing with the physical pain of shedding tears. Beating her head on the steering. Not with the blows of self-destruction, but with the defeated sense of resignation. She cries like a baby. Letting go of tears she’s held back for so many days. Before this, she had managed the pretence just fine. Checking her phone every five minutes. Crumpling inside. Smiling outside. But today she felt she was nearing her limit. And that she can no longer hold the fort. It is as if that instrument controls her life. He hasn’t called. Or messaged. Or mailed. What has she ever asked of him? Nothing. But yes, she had told him that it would be ‘nice’ if he called her. How could she go back on her own word and pester him? She loved him unconditionally. Unconditionally. Losing patience would mean failing this love. The best gift of her life.
And so, she cries without rancor and without hope. Tears rain down. The void within feels drained, yet the stream continues unabated. Her entire body writhing with longing and helplessness. In between such agonizing fits of tears, she utters his name. _________. Followed by the first complete breath. A refilling of the lungs. Sudden stillness in storm. And then, as though she just remembered a long forgotten mantra, she closes her eyes in concentration and repeats his name. Once. Twice. She goes on. Faster. But not so fast as to chew off the syllables. She speaks all the names she has for him. In the end sticking to the one with which he’s known to the world.
The tears stop. Her countenance changes – from that of a hunted fowl to that of an animal in chase. Her senses geared to respect and enjoy the twin undertaking of speaking his name and hearing his name uttered. Not wanting to dilute the focus with the pangs of grief. She goes on. In the volume that soothes her ears. The pain in her chest subsides. She is still chanting. His name. The wrinkles on her forehead even out. Ears no longer burning like molten metal. One word. _________. Repeated without breaks. Eyes languid like still ponds. Fingers calm. A strange warmth dawning upon her body…warming her feet. Head laid back, eyes closed, lips moving. Throat parched but no longer hurting. By now, a name uttered a few hundred times.
With each utterance, the insides of her eyelids become projections of his pictures. Still and videos. She even laughs when memory evokes one such detail. She goes on. The pain takes to itself wings and flies in horizon unseen. A warmth, a mixed sensation of jubilation and liberations, blankets her. Just one word. _________. And she is cured. Relief spreads its warm wings inside her bosom, and love ensconces her in its balming heal.
The drive back is suffused with peace. Others may not sense the change in her. But she knows the magic, the religiousness, the spirituality of her experience. Everything falls into place.
The aazaan to Allah. The 108 rosary bead prayer to Raam. The heaven-bound call of the sikh – नानक नाम जहाज है...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Aggrieved


The arduous task of holding grief
Of emotions manipulated to make
The seizures of angst seem brief
Of hope thinning, causing to rake
The wish tree's last lonely leaf
Relentless fate threatening to break
Fragile left overs of reprieve
Against time running for its sake
Spending death wishes in all but a heave
Pain that grips the innards like plague
The lump in throat that doesn't leave
Inner implosions turning blake
Leaving precisely nothing to bereave
Ears bleeding, eyes steeped in ache
Heart as mind's wretched fief
Pauseless suffering, soundless writhing
The arduous task of holding grief

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cracker of a festival

“Don’t teach me. Don’t try to patronize. Tell me a story so that I may learn.”

Two years ago, I met a friend, a prolific reader, who happened to utter these words in a casual conversation. He was talking of an author whose style he considered rather didactic. It must have stirred something deep in me, for I remember his words, and the lesson, clearly.

And so I will clothe my message in a story. A real one.

The year I joined college, Delhi government woke up to the traffic chaos faced by residents of Palam and Dwarka. Then, Palam was bustling with life and business, and Dwarka had been freshly dug for the coveted metro. Property hawks were, as always, the first to milk the fattened cow, and before we knew, our modest property had become Delhi’s latest desire. Resultant – habitation in Dwarka soared; cow sheds were replaced by buildings and private vehicles zoomed on the roads hitherto dominated by buses.

What the property dealers inadvertently forgot to mention was that the road to this new-found paradise was fraught with a bottleneck called Palam-Railway Crossing. On an average day, when the barricades were up, it took me an hour and half to travel 17 kms to college. And when luck was not smiling on you, the time taken to cover the same distance could range anywhere between 2 to 3.5 hours. It was not people’s stupidity that amazed me. I mean, if it takes discipline to save time and streamline traffic, it must be taking stupidity to clog either of the level crossing thinking that cars will grow wings. But what did amaze me was traffic police’s utter apathy to the situation. The bedlam of confusion, delay and rampant indiscipline could have been fixed by road dividers on either side. And guess what, even today there is none.

I was one among the many middle-class commuters who waited every day for the perennially crowded bus route number 764. Starting from Najafgarh, the bus was usually full by the time I boarded. Of the very few struggles I had to make in life, travelling in the over-crowded and autocratically-run 764 has definitely been one. A sigh of relief escapes me every time the memory comes back. Most of it is a blur now.

But there is one journey in that bus I will never forget. The day after Diwali 2002.

I had been a Diwali enthusiast since childhood. Crackers thrilled me. The deafening sound, the glaring flashes, the risk of the game…I looked forward to Diwali with a tingling itch. Unabashedly, I burned crackers, the louder the better, with my brother as my partner-in-crime. Until that day.

That day, two trains went past the Palam crossing. In what felt like an eternity. An infernal eternity of desperation.

From the moment I stepped out of my home that day, I smelled the burning wrath of the previous night. I took the bus, as usual, and it was bearable by the time I reached Palam. When the driver finally put out the engine for what was to be an hour long wait, little did I know what awaited me. The first symptom was the itching in eyes. I could see my bloodshot eyes in the reflection of window panes. I put on my shades in a weather where the sun was blinded by earth’s smog. Then came the grimy sweating. Yes, in the cold of November, I remember sweating profusely, to my toes, with unease clawing at my throat. The real problem began when I thought I would suffocate and die. In the traffic blockade of nearly 2 kilometers, my lungs bursting and protesting against ingesting the deadly smoke, my knees buckling under the sudden vulnerability of biology, where could have I run to? What could have I done?

I remember a fellow passenger taking mercy and sharing his seat with me. I survived the morning without passing out. And I saw, around me, a swarm of cars. With windows neatly pulled up. The hum of engines indicating the air-conditioning inside.

Suspended particulate matter, which reach the deepest recesses of human lungs, are present at the level of 200 on a normal day. Post Diwali, this figure multiplies by six.

But of course, those sitting inside cars don’t realize this. I speak for those on the other side of the fence. Please, have mercy.

My apologies for not ending it like a story. Let’s say, I took it personally.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Raise your voice, not the sea level

“Silence is a powerful enemy of social justice.” – Amartya Sen

History stands testimony to the fact, that among other things, it takes voice to staunch injustice. Whether it was Raja Ram Mohan Roy or Nelson Mandela, one person with courage has made the majority, riding on the wave of voice and words.

Today, as 52 small island nations across the globe face serious survival threat owing to environmental imbalance, as 1 billion people go hungry day after day, as 13 million hectares of forest cover is erased annually, and as species get extinct sooner than the most pessimistic scientist predicted…humanity longs to hear the surge of that voice of dissent.

Nature knows the best
The planet bequeathed to us by nature has a history of 4 billion years. Through eons of evolution, a gurgling molten mass of material cooled off to become conducive for life. First in the form of singular cells, and later in complex forms, life broke through the chrysalis of uncertain environments, and flourished. Continental plates tore apart and fused to give way to variegated topography. Oceans dissolved surplus carbon and high-altitude glaciers gave birth to rivers. The transformation of earth’s crust segued perfectly with the life above it. Always, at the right time, earth provided its inhabitants with what it took to survive. There was enough algae for the micro-organisms, enough vegetable matter for soil and bacteria, and enough forests and hunting options for the Neanderthal man. Nature, the overarching mother, kept her elements in perfect balance. An orchestra of myriad instruments, none playing out of tune.

Even when we homo sapiens arrived on the scene, with our revolutionary grey matter and opposable thumb, nature responded with generosity. Agriculture was rewarded with the birth of civilizations, and surplus led to trade and travel. The ball of invention was set rolling, and man continued to transform earth like never before. Wars, conquests, nations, ammunitions, industry, transport, technology, software, internet…the greed to invent created a society perennially hungry for more. More grains, more livestock, more water, more comfort, more cars, more gadgets, more flyovers, more fuel, more everything. Consumption is the new mantra of a market-driven economy. Factories spew more carbon dioxide. Industries scour forests for more minerals. Real estate is fast replacing green swathes, and wars are being waged for more oil.

In the last 60 years, Earth’s population has tripled. Fishing catches and paper consumption have increased fivefold. 40% of arable land has suffered long term damage. The ice cap is 40% thinner than it was 40 years ago. Global sea level has risen by eight inches since 1870, and the average temperature recorded of the last 15 years has been the highest ever recorded. In this time, Indians have dug 21 million wells, and have had to abandon 30% of them. Over half of the world’s 7 billion population now resides in cities. 5000 people die a day because of dirty drinking water. 30% of coral reefs, the marvel of aquatic life, have disappeared. The geologically disadvantaged, that is the low-lying small nation islands such as Kiribati, have reasons to be concerned. Rising sea level might force them to evacuate. Already, it has started contaminating their drinking water and decreasing food production, as more and more land gets eroded by rising waters.

Environmental degradation is followed closely by unprecedented social disparity. 20% of the world’s population consumes 80% of its resources, and half the world’s wealth lies in the hand of top 2% population.

Man’s greed for more has outpaced nature’s ability to replenish herself. Do we realize, that if and when nature unleashes her furies on us, we might not have the time to take corrective actions?

Stir up the inner voice

The writing on the wall is loud and clear. Speak out we must, but not before we have reflected and introspected on our own lives.

Let’s analyse. How do we go about each day? How do we eat, sleep, travel, buy, consume, expend and invest? Does our lifestyle destroy the essential to create the superfluous? Do we carry a cloth bag to the local grocery or do we accept polybags? Do we use pooled/ public transport for daily travel or are we dependent on a private vehicle? Do we really need the extra car we have? How often do we change our mobile phones? Can’t we live without our modern widgets? Do we know that a leaky faucet can drain up to 200 gallons of water a day? Isn’t it better to have multi-grains in our diet rather than face scrub? How many types of apparel does it take to satiate our senses? How have we contributed in making this earth a better place to live in?

Among Buddha’s legion stories is one where his disciple asks him for a new robe. On that, the saint enquires what his disciple did with the old robe. The student replies that the robe was first used as a bed spread, then a window curtain, then a kitchen cloth, then a floor-swab, before ending as a wick in Buddha’s lamp.

Embolden the outer voice

More paper is recycled and more afforestation is carried out today than ever before. Windmills dot the landscape of Denmark, and solar panels can be seen in mofussil parts of India. Slowly, but surely, the awakened conscience is paving way for vocal voice, and subsequent change. People’s movements can further galvanize governments into action. Compulsory green cover for builders, mandatory plantation by industries, prohibitive taxes to curb profligacy, R&D on alternate energy, ban on chemical warfare, strict enforcement of rules, a culture that rewards moderation and sharing…voice has, and can achieve, the balance where man and nature exist in harmony.

The time to blame past evils for today’s perils is gone. The only way exhaustible resources can be saved is by inexhaustible goodwill, creativity and innovation. The pleasure of pathless woods, the rapture of lonely shores and the bounties of this wonderful planet is not for our generation alone.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I=YOU


Did I tell you I will be ok without you?

Did I lead you into believing that I shall remain intact, my insides in order, even if you were not there to hold my hand every day?

Did I actually ask you to leave, without forcing myself on your path? Smiling, did I tell you that physical absence didn't count where conscience is united?

Was I the one to have guided you on the other hand of the fork, urging you to have faith in the beauty of our union, and the tremendous power inherent in it.

Did I really possess the power to hold your gorgeous face in the cusp of my hands, your milky complexion reddened with grief, moments before we parted, saying I’ll send the kisses through the moon?

You see, I’m updating my restraint diary. I’ve a feeling I’ve been doing a splendid job, managing to breathe, live, behave and love with nearly the same panache.

No, it’s not sadness. I do remember your single-minded desire for me to be happy, and so I settle for a state of being between happiness and sadness. A suspended animation of nothingness.

A sort of routine that forbids crying because of a particular person’s overwhelming concern with my tears. To the extent that tears feel ashamed to trickle.

So even when longing is exploding every grain in my being, blurring my brain, clouding my eyes, deafening my ears…a sigh escapes from the corner of my lips, barely audible, before congealing in a defeated smile.

Strange are the ways in which love alters us. Including our biology.

So you see, I’ve settled for the promises you wanted me to make. What you’ll be pleased to note is that I’ve also made you those promises that you wouldn't make me utter. For I know what you want. And that knowledge is more than enough for me.

Lover is a small thing. I’m your devotee.

Go on, want more from me. I will meet every expectation with aplomb. I will collect my splinters and present a whole. Catastrophe will return from my door unaccomplished. If you desire that I embark upon the path of illumination, I will return a sage, even if alone.

My heart might be bleeding, my spirits sagging, every part of me torn asunder with the singular desire to be with you, but there will be no stopping me, from getting what you want. Because the only thing I value above you, is your word.

I will chase your vision to the point that I become a reflection of you. And there my worshipped, no one and nothing, will stand between us.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

An essay on Cleanliness

“Don’t throw it outside.
Because there is no outside.”
The statement above, taken from an award winning campaign against littering, bespeaks the fact that this shared planet is everybody’s home, and hence, everybody’s responsibility too. Cleanliness is next only to Godliness, is a proverb we’ve all heard in school, and in this essay, I shall try to understand and explain its multifarious facets.
The topic of cleanliness reminds me of an anecdote narrated by a senior during my Plant days, seven years ago. During his official tour to Australia, while sauntering on the spic and span sidewalks of Sydney, he happened to drop a wrapper on the pavement. Unmindful of his act, he carried on without qualms. An elderly woman, walking a few steps behind him, lifted the wrapper and put it in her bag. Stumped, our man stopped in his tracks, as the lady went past him with a nod and a smile. “I learnt the lesson for once and for all,” he confessed.
The eloquent silence of that woman was pregnant with lessons. First, what goes around, comes around. Second, as long as cleaning is accorded the status of a ‘menial job’, we won’t be able to rise and shine, literally. As per Forbes’ Report, India ranks 123 in the list of clean nations, while Japan, with a comparable population density, ranks among the top ten. The founder of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was himself an example of clean living.
The Holistic Perspective
Neatness is not cleanliness alone. Mumbai is a glaring example of a city with shiny skyscrapers but filthy backyards. If cleanliness is to be sustained, it must be holistic. The parameters of cleanliness should therefore include air, water, eco-biology, forests, mountains and all such dimensions of our life.
One of the explanations offered for poor cleanliness is the sheer quantum of waste. This shifts the focus from ‘how to clean’ to ‘how to minimize waste’. The second question is a much more fundamental and imperative one, as it is closely linked to the socio-cultural mores of a society.
Waste is created when we consume more than we need. The reason – greed. A witty one-liner says: It is better to live as long as you want than want as long as you live. There was a time when our society appreciated thrift and prudence, and propagated the values of preservation. But in today’s market driven economy, led by the mantra of consumption, we’re buying more and wasting more, leading to more and more depletion of resources. How many times do we stop to ask ourselves, when is this thirst for possession going to stop?
This takes us to an episode in Buddha’s life, when one of his disciples asks him for a new robe. On that, the saint enquires what his disciple did with the old robe. The student replies that the robe was first used as a bed spread, then a window curtain, then a kitchen cloth, then a floor-swab, before ending as a wick in Buddha’s lamp.
Small Leads To Big
So, how do we tackle the issue of waste. Whether it’s home or office, we need to watch out for the small things, for they eventually constitute the big ones.
Let’s dig inside. Do we throw the snack paper outside from the moving car, or do we take the pains to hold it till we find a dustbin? Do we wait for the office cleaner to wipe the dust off the separator panel, or do we actually use the dust cloth given to us as stationery? Do we allow the used paper to run amok in piles of garbage, or do we have the will and patience to recover and use it? Do we take due precaution while disposing electronic wastes, or do we wriggle out the easy way? Do we religiously carry paper/cloth bag to the market or do we accept polybags as an alternative? These are small actions, but when multiplied with a population of 1.25 billion Indians, can have staggering effects.
Moving over to the big things, we know as a fact that the only thing that can’t be recycled is wasted time. As a company, do we a have a policy that necessitates use of recycled paper? Do we follow the 5-S housekeeping system in true letter and spirit? How often do we conduct cleanliness and hygiene checks across our shopfloors and offices? In our daily life, what kind of examples do we put forth for our children to emulate? As iron and steel manufacturers, do we have a tolerance limit for the amount of scrap lying unused in the Plants? Are we working to adopt production techniques that are able to replace virgin raw-material with scrap-based input?
The Road Ahead
The very fact that the world’s largest democracy is gearing up to the cause of cleanliness gives us reason to cheer. Action is being taken on war footing to clean our rivers, such as Ganga and Yamuna, and the baton is now in our hands to further this mission. Monks in Tibet are known to have built temples out of plastic bottles. A teenage boy has thrown up a plan to clean half of Pacific Garbage Patch in ten years. Solutions are there, actions are needed.
Generally, people are believed to belong to three broad categories. The positivists, the neutralists, and the negativists. While the first and third kinds are present in minority, the bulk lies at the centre. If we glorify and exemplify the first, and penalize and disgrace the third, the bulk will sway accordingly. The Singapore government levies a fine of $1000 fine for littering. Where the carrot is not taken, the stick can be made use of.
In any case, waste and dirt simply can’t be wished away. Concerted action with appropriate technology and single-minded commitment can ensure cleanliness at every level. If the Prime Minister of this country can place Toilets before Temples, we should have no shame in placing Cleanliness before Worship. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Talking hands


I went through that entire metro ride, with a book in my hand, barely able to read a page.

I don’t know exactly when they materialized before me. I must not have noticed. My sensory receptors generally aren’t good picking up superfluous signals. That is why I don’t know if they came together, or if one of the two had come before and waited for the other. But what I do know, from the time I set eyes on them, is the magic that flowed between the two of them.

Two fair, thin hands, seemed to stem out from behind my book. Her right, his left. Clasped at the centre. Nothing extra-ordinary about that, considering many young things hold hands in public places. It was the chemistry, the silent talking between the two that got me distracted. And how!

I couldn’t hear what they were talking, their voices were deliberately muted, but their fingers symbolized the graphic pitch and frequency waves of their conversation. In the beginning, they only allowed their fingertips to meet. With the careful reserve of a much awaited moment. Sometimes holding back, to derive the final pleasure, of an impatient wait coming to an end. The penultimate thrill of meeting the beloved. Just a finger curled around the other’s little one, a teaser of a slide between unexpecting fingers, or a little tickle in the inside of the palm. Two palms greeting each other, with delight and confession, after a night full of sighs and longing.

The acknowledgment done, the confirmation of love received, the latent passion tested, the hands became more vocal. Her forearm became the entire length of violin strings, and his, the violin stick. He wrote symphony in a way that created waves through me. Lacing his fingers around the entire length on her forearms, the back of her palm, the insides. Following the intricate network of her venous mesh with the tip of pointer. Teasing her hand to twist and move exactly as he desired.

It must have moved her in some way, for I saw her inch in closer to him, urging him to move from light touches to full squeezes. Now he was a ceramist. Moulding his clay with his entire palm, stressing different parts of his hand at different times, to get desired results on the other side. Massaging with a lover’s hand. Honey-drenched. Not leaving a millimeter untouched. As though shaping up her very soul.

It went on for quite some time. His loving cradling of all sides of her forearms...meeting in a crescendo of tightly clasped fists. Fingers clutched so tight that their knuckles turned white, leaving no space, not even for vaccum. A living orchestra of the foreplay of hands, before meeting in a passionate consummation.

That is when I looked up to see their faces. They looked straight ahead, at the fleeting world outside. Hands still tightly held. Two young people, probably in early twenties. Similar looking. Aglow with love. That sight warmed me more than the sun falling on my back. I allowed my soul to hug theirs and return to me. I smiled and look down.

After a while, the hands returned to talking. And repeated the motions. The playfulness first, the caressing later, the impatient brushing, and the final fastening of undeterred fervor.

Sheer marvel to watch. To get immersed in their loving aura. To borrow some moments of light from their very source.

Friday, September 19, 2014

हिंदी.


हिंदी. मेरे बचपन की भूली-बिसरी सहेली.

बोकारो तक इसके साथ जम कर खेली, याद है. लेकिन दिल्ली आने के बाद सब कुछ बदल गया. चौथी क्लास के बीचो-बीच बैठकर पहली बार यह अहसास हुआ कि medium of instruction अगर अचानक से बदल जाए, तो दिमाग का सन्नाटा बहरा बना देता है. उस साल पहली बार, और आखिरी बार, अंतिम परीक्षा में मैंने 80% से कम स्कोर किया. दिल चूर-चूर हो गया. वो अलग बात है कि काव्य पाठ और वाद-विवाद में मैं हिंदी की ही होकर रह गयी. आज भी मुझे स्कूल के कुछ दोस्त 'हिंदी वाली सोनल' के नाम से बहतर पहचानते हैं.

बड़े बोझिल हृदय से मन को अंग्रेज़ी की ओर झुकाया. कई साल लग गए अपनी प्राथमिक भाषा बदलने में. मानती हूँ कि शुरू शुरू में बड़ी कुढ़न हुई. दिल्ली वालों के चक्कर में अंग्रेज़ी सीखने पर विवश होकर. लेकिन जैसे जैसे मैं इस नयी भाषा को जानती गयी, समझती गयी...लगा जैसे मेरे मन कि बात को मुखरित करने के लिए ख़ास बनाई गयी है ये भाषा. अंग्रेज़ी से प्रेम का सिलसिला स्कूल से शुरू हुआ, और इस तरह रम गयी उसके प्यार में कि आज अभी रूह को तिनके का सहारा चाहिए होता है, तो वो roman alphabet के रूप में ही आता है.

हिंदी मेरे जीवन से पिछड़ गयी. लेकिन छूटी नहीं. इतना सुन्दर इसका रूप, इतनी गहरी इसकी अभिव्यक्ति...इस भाषा के लिए मन में आज भी वही आदर और प्रेम भाव है जो बचपन में था.

शायद इसलिए, क्यूंकि में दोनों भाषाओं से अत्यंत प्यार करती हूँ, किसी एक के साथ पक्षपात होते देख मन कचोट जाता है. हाल ही में एक ऐसी घटना सामने आई जिसे मैं अभी तक भूल नहीं पाई हूँ. बात पुरानी है, लेकिन सिद्धांत शाश्वत है.

भाषा बाहरी आभूषणों में से एक है. मात्र इसके आधार पर धारणाएं बनाना अन्याय है.

आप भी पढ़िए ये ब्लॉग. और सोचिये क्या बीती होगी उन सोलह साल के लड़कों के दिल पर.

http://ek-shaam-mere-naam.blogspot.com/2007/07/10-d.html

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

For bhaujaai. Happy Birthday.

Picture a dainty pahadi beauty stepping into a not-so-dainty Bihari household. As a bride. And the question that follows, yet unanswered, is who changed who more. The bride the family or the family the bride?

She is sweet tempered. As a result of which conscious effort in made by old residents (most of all her better half) to maintain sobriety even when raw impulses are dying to be heard. She loves eating out. In a majority which, when thrilled, prefers to sprawl on the floor and snooze. Her dishes are generously spiced up, which leaves the writer, who is still accustomed to baby food, to grow up her taste buds. When she mentions shopping and finds not a single soul echoing her excitement, she is reminded, as a solace, of her other sister-in-law who shares similar tastes, but alas, is away. Her eyes widen as she hears शुद्ध हिंदी words bandied around with unfamiliar ease, and how each member has not even a passing acquaintance with shyness. They break into a dance, a song, a poem, a dialogue, a anything, at the drop of a hat!
yes, that's our star

Among best thing that these eccentricities have taught her, is unabashed and out-of-box usage of Bhojpuri words. Take this – if and when she doesn’t like something (including food, object, movie, person, any noun for that matter), she has a ready adjective to denigrate it – सरंडी. The literal for rotten in Bhojpuri. The family bursts into peals of laughter at her new found play-word, especially since it is delivered with her trademark innocence. Incidentally, it slipped out of her tongue twice at her workplace. Leaving her mates puzzled at her changing countenance. Now she also knows that frayed old clothes are to be called फतूही. It is another matter that, being a person of good taste in clothes, she write down a lot of stuff considered decent by regular biharis as फतूही. Initially, she was shocked to know that Buddy (her good name is Lakshmi), could be addressed as लछमिनिया by outsiders. With time, she can tell you the funda in straight words. If you are a Bihari worth your salt, add वा or या at the end of each word. You can see, she is learning the tricks.
a happy birthday gift for the gifted one

It gets better. She has mastered that one Bihari word that has enabled generations to pretend to know more than they actually do. That one magic word in Bihari vocabulary, which is joker card for any word/ concept/ idea/ revolution, is अथी/ एथी. My dear bhaujaai exploits that word. I remember my mother making us scamper like rats searching for एथी. Until we realized we didn’t know what we are searching for! Bhabhi does the same. She orders Buddy in a queen-like fashion, एथी के लिए एथी बनाओ, leaving the poor girl to question her very basics, while Bhabhi doubles up laughing as do we.
Trivialities aside, Bhabhi has added a soft and beautiful touch to our house. With genuine love and care at her heart, and the knack to express it with sheer sweetness, she is such a pleasing addition to this family that even my heart aches for the folks who now don’t get to see her every day. Understandably, she is her dad’s favourite. Understandably, her brother can’t get enough of teasing her. Understandably, she is the star for her nieces and nephews.

One more thing to be grateful to life for.
bhabhi aur एथी 

Happy birthday Sapna Bhabhi. Let me express everything in one word – thanks. May you grow, prosper, live fully, happily and continue to shower your love and receive ours all our lives.

Never mind the vegetarian food. From, Buddy and me.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Try you may, hope won't fail





waves of time, unrelenting
unleash with fury on the bunds
of hope, frayed yet enduring
slipping 'n standing, alone 'n shunned

up come the clouds threatening
destruction at heart and aim
vainglorious in terminal attempt
to leave nothing to proclaim

rain lashes out an angry downpour
intent on the show of power
under the knifing blows of spear
the crying bunds stand that hour

in the wrath and fury of nature
melts all but the sturdy trail
against character, strength 'n love
heap up the odds, hope won't fail

Monday, September 1, 2014

Endurance Testing

Bigger the Prize, Larger the Price

I have fainted once. In the summer of 2010. Cause – Neck spasm. Reason – doing 200 breadths in the swimming pool, that is 2.5 kilometers, at a break-neck speed, literally.

Come to think of it, it was the doctor’s negligence that made me faint, not so much my own extremism. The swimming only gave me a bad cramp, which I went to get cured from the doc, who insisted on turning my neck and bringing it back to a neutral position (and she was a physiotherapist, lord help her patients!). I had resisted, telling her it was too painful to bear. But she labored on, till I passed out in pain. Till two weeks after that, I could not move my neck. Had to exercise my eyeballs way too much that fortnight!

Post that incident; I have done 200, and even more, without committing the mistake of going to a doctor after that. I learnt that muscles will ache when fatigued.

So why do I fatigue myself to that extent? Why do I stretch myself to the point that it squeezes out the last ounce of energy from my body? Why do I push my boundaries? Why can’t I take it easy? Ask my friends. I’m attempting to answer these questions here.

Endurance testing. There’s a kick in pushing your boundaries, to see how far you can really go, to test if you went farther than your last attempt.

It’s a continuous race with yourself. Your previous best. Because somewhere in your conscience, you know that you can’t afford to be standing still. No, it is not to prove anyone anything. It’s just to realize that in this one life you got, including its evasive destiny and pervasive gifts, in this sufficiently inadequate one life-time…if you don’t pack yourself to the brim, if you have not experimented with your own calibre, if you have not so much as tried to optimize yourself in things you love doing, if you have not put in the blood and toil it takes at the brink…with what face then do you thank life for giving you this one lovely chance?

Add to that my love for water. Hence swimming. There is something to improve in every stroke even after I’ve performed it a thousand times. Is there a limit to how you can keep improving your freestyle? Of attaining that perfect positioning where friction with water is least. Swift, smooth and really fast. And then the breast stroke, I’m always left feeling I can do with lesser moments of face over the water. And that the kick could be stronger. Or in the backstroke, getting the accurate posture so that the leg motion stems right from the hip, without bending the knee. As for the butterfly, the constant struggle for getting more strength in my arms to get farther in each dive, and more power in my lungs, so that I can reduce my mid-resting time from ten seconds to zilch. In a nutshell, cease to be a 206-boned human body, and learn to be a strong and nimble fish.

It’s crazy. Possessed. Obsessed. I’ve heard several words thrashed about for such single-minded pursuit of betterment. So far, my pool manager has expressed it best, through a not-so-dainty question: मैड़म, आप खात्ते क्या हो? No, getting the best in my pool is not enough. That was never the target. In fact, there is no target. Fixing a target means limiting your horizon. If at all there is a goal, it is to surpass my own expectation. And trust you me, I expect a lot from myself.

Damn the pain in my thighs. Urgh, that nasty cramp in my upper arms. The sore neck. The chlorine spoiled hair. The tanned and swarthy face. I know it won’t get easier, but I know equally well, I will get better.

I remember once jumping in the pool with 102 fever. And coming out cured. The body is a great indicator. If you treat it right, it tells you exactly what it needs. If you’re prepared to listen, and ready to take chances.

There is nothing about life that sports can’t teach. Discipline. Concentration. Effort. Toil. Consequences. Persistence. Patience. Consistency. Conviction. Ceaseless learning. Love. The ability to lose without losing hope. The acceptance of limits, open to be challenged at will. And above all, endurance.

Whether it is swimming, or running, there is one thing common in any sport you do with passion. For that matter, anything you do with passion. The ability to lose track and sense of your immediate sphere. Be it your worries, your thrills, your anger, your love, your frustration, your achievements. Everything dissolves in space and time, and gets congealed in a single entity. Indestructible in spirit – YOU. Give this phenomenon any word you may. Spiritual. Religious. Realization. Whatever.

But YOU the runner, YOU the dancer, YOU the writer, YOU the swimmer, YOU the yourself, know that if thought had struck you to run 8 kms on a winter morning, it better be 9 when you the hit the track. Yes. Exactly. Beat yourself. And while doing the extra stretch, the point where you are challenging your limits, when tiredness is catching up, when sweat is dripping in your eyes, when your mouth is parched dry, when exhaustion is making you weightless in a dizzy sort of way…tell yourself what Friedrich Nietzsche told the world – That which does not kill me makes me stronger.

So let them come. Let them rob you from the outside. Let them cast thorns in your way. Let them conspire to destroy. Let them come and burn you down. For you know you will rise from your ashes. Again. And again and again. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

That one thing


“Whose class is this? And why are you shouting like hooligans?” Kamakshi Mukherjee ma’am glared at us with eyes that Bengali women can file patent for.

A class of 40 teenagers in complete bedlam came to a stand-still. Pin-drop silence. No student dared to move under the extra high scanning power of Ms Mukherjee’s eyes. Satisfied with the intended effect, she went on, “who’s the monitor of this class?”

A petite Sumita came out of the third row, head bent in shame that only good souls carry for others’ mistakes. Probably Ms Mukherjee took pity on this harmless looking girl, for all we heard was a strict warning and some inaudible murmurings of Sumita…of the math’s madam being absent and the zero class teacher being untraceable. Ms Mukherjee didn’t waste time in hearing Sumita’s defense. She threw her all-pervasive look once again, and raised a stern pointer to her lips. We got the message loud and clear.

When Ms Mukherjee was separated from us by more than a floor (we sent an agent to track her whereabouts), the class began to gain momentum in the same way a goods train catches speed after starting from a local station. A hapless Sumita stared with sagging lips as the class sank into chaos again. She shut the door requesting fellow classmates to maintain order, but in the classroom, as in life, wisdom is learnt, if at all, after the mistake.

We must have created a hell lot of chaos because all of a sudden, we heard the door bang with an angry jolt, swinging violently on its hinges. In came the despicable math’s teacher of 7-B, Devinder sir. Looking murderous and funny at once. As was his nature, he caught hold of the first lad who came his way, poor Pramod. At the instant, however, Pramod didn’t look all that poor, mooning away to glory before a cheering audience.

Smackkk! A resounding slap was planted on Pramod’s cheeks. It had the kind of echo depicted graphically in Archie’s comics, except that this one was not funny. Devinder was mad with rage. He swept a sobbing Pramod away and proceeded to the next boy standing in line, Pratham.

Truth be told, Pratham was simply standing and chatting around. Like the rest of us were. Pratham and I belonged to the league of boys who found themselves in the top five rankers of the class without actively aiming for it. Pratham’s impression on the class was just as his personality was – composed and amiable. There was nothing magnetic about him. He was a mathematics enthusiast, without being a geek, and that combination endeared him to fellow boys like me.

Back then, Pratham was plainly unlucky to have fallen in Devinder’s path.

His jaw clenched tight and sleeves rolled for the attack, Devinder held Pratham by the collar was going to land a tough one on his face when Pratham thrust a hand forward. A sigh of shock went through the class. The class watched the little boy in awe, dread and anticipation.

If one was to observe Pratham’s motion in isolation, he looked like a traffic inspector with eyes pressed tight and hand pulled out straight. But in this particular context, Pratham’s was simply an action in defense. It seemed heroic because ordinarily, in those days, no student dared to defy the teacher. Right or wrong, the teacher RULED. And here was this medium built 13 year old, running a gauntlet with the most abhorred boor of the school!

Devinder couldn’t admit it, but Pratham’s open rebellion gave him a start. He let go of his collar, and bent down staring in his eyes. Pratham stared back. Unable to deal with this public ignominy, Devinder barked out, “You dolt. Bloody loafer. You’re chatting around when your math teacher is not in class as if you are Aryabhatta already. And then you have the audacity to look into my eyes. I’ll give you one sum right now, one sum, and that is all it will take to reveal your level, your bloody aukaat before the class. Bloody chit of a boy looks back at me…” Pratham’s hard look seemed to have shaken Devinder for the latter went out of breath shouting. Used to being a dictator, the lion of jungle took affront to a mere self-defense from a bird. Was it because of the look in his victim’s eyes? Or was it because Devinder’s conscience realized his disproportionate reaction? I still can’t tell.

Pratham still looked on. Intently in Devinder’s eyes. Silent.

A profusely sweating Devinder realized he was in a battle he couldn’t afford to lose. Or quit. Again he thundered, “All it takes for good-for-nothing boys like you to bite the dust is one sum. One good math’s question. And then you start crying for mercy like babies asking for mama’s milk.” Devinder must have thought his remark was funny, because the class’ stoic silence annoyed him even more. He was preparing to spew more venom when an even-voiced Pratham cut-in.

“Give me any sum.”

All eyes on Pratham. Yes. Boy. Man. We loved him!

“What?” Devinder was incredulous this time. Was he actually replied to? In all his anger? He HAD to collect his wits. He just can’t let this indiscipline fester.

“Yes sir, give me any sum of 6th class and I will solve it,” said Pratham with the kind of ease that had my jaw dropped. All said and done, I had never witnessed such remarkable heroic before.

“So you want a sum, yes? You want a question? You want to prove to your classmates how smart a chit you are? You rascal, rather than admitting your fault you are changing the topic?”

“But you said that a sum will test whether I am a good student or not, so please give me a sum. Any sum of your choice.”

There was no effrontery, no force whatsoever, in Pratham’s voice. No spike in his eyes either. I remember that day like a fresh leaf in my memory. A boy of my age, in this phenomenal state of being. I did not totally understand it, but I appreciated and loved it to the extent that Pratham became my avowed hero of school-days.

Whatever the case, the billion-dollar sum didn’t come forth. Devinder never came up with the question. Clearly, he wanted to avoid further loss of face. He grumbled a few more lines, this time at the class, and went without much ado. After Devinder’s exit, I remember most boys going upto Pratham and patting his shoulder or touching his cheek or blankly staring at him. I was too transfixed to react. Pratham had become a hero, and still showed no signs of being one.

I lived in that incident for days. I even dreamt about it. Those five minutes taught me a lesson that I have nestled in my conscience ever since. Recently, while talking to my best friend, I happened to recall those minutes in finest details. With each recall, the lesson gets bolstered further.

The quality that set Pratham apart from others, that gave him the strength to stand adversity, that made it possible for him to maintain a placid countenance when most others would have buckled in…is defined in one word. A word that changes everything about your life.

Confidence.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

बहाने

“जब-जब मेरी याद आये, किसी भी बहाने से मुझे बुला लेना...”
ट्रेन में चढ़ने से कुछ मिनट पहले तुम दाँत चिआरते हुए कह गए. मैं दूर तक तुमको देखती रही. ट्रेन की छुक-छुक जब मेरे दिल की धड़कन सी तेज़ हो गयी, तब तक. पटरी पर घड़घड़ाते हुए आखिरी डब्बे के निकल जाने के बाद तक. प्लेटफार्म से भीड़ छंट जाने के बाद तक. मेरे मन में उदासी का एक भारी सा लौंदा पिघलकर पानी, और फिर उड़कर काले बादलों सा घिर आया, तब तक...मैं देखती रही, सोचती रही.
किसी भी बहाने से बुला लेना?
सुबह कॉलेज जाने से पहले, जब बस स्टॉप से उतर के, बेसब्री से सड़क पार करके तुम्हारी बाइक तक जाते-जाते पसीने से लथ-पथ हो जाती थी, तब तुम अपने हाथ से ग्लव उतारकर मेरे माथे का पसीना पोछ देते थे. फिर उतने ही ध्यान से होंठ के ऊपर जमी बूंदों को ऊँगली फेरकर ऐसे समेटते थे जैसे समुन्दर की गहराइयों से निकले मोती हों. फिर मेरे चहरे को हाथ में बटोरकर कहते थे – good morning Rockstar! और मैं हर दिन, उसी हैरानी, उसी मेहरबानी के साथ ज़िंदगी का शुक्रिया अदा करती थी जिसने तुमसे सिर्फ मिलाया ही नहीं, तुम्हारा प्यार भी मुकम्मल कराया.
तुम्हारे जाने के बाद, अन्दर और बाहर, लगातार पसीना बहता है. खारे पानी ने ज़ख्मों को हरा कर दिया है. पसीने का नमक neutralize करने की ज़रुरत है, इसी बहाने आ जाओ. क्यों?
Church वाले मोड़ पर जब red light पर हमारे बाइक रूकती थी तब सुबह की धूप ठीक मेरी आँखों पर पड़ रही होती थी. तब तुम एक हाथ से हैंडल संभालते हुए, दोनों पैर ज़मीन पर जमाकर, पीछे मुड़कर एक हाथ से धूप छेंक देते थे. माँ धूप में बच्चे को छाता ओढ़ा देती है, तुम यूं कहते थे.
धूप और कड़ी हो गयी है. बच्चा तुम्हारे इंतज़ार में झुलस रहा है. आने का ये बहाना कैसा रहेगा?
कॉलेज के बाकी लड़के मुझसे बात करते थे तो तुम छुपकर कोने से देखते थे. बाद में कोहनी मारकर चिढ़ाते थे- रूप चुराते हैं सभी! तुम्हारी हंसी से न जाने कितने गैलेक्सीस के सूरज खिल उठते हैं, तुम कहते. ये लोग उसकी धुली रौशनी में गोते लगाने आते हैं...मेरी जान का रूप चुराते हैं.
ये सूरज, जो तुम्हारे जाते ही न जाने कहाँ ढल गए, तब से दिखे नहीं. तुम्हें तलाशती आखें मायूस हो रखी हैं. ज़िन्दगी गीली शामों की कड़ी बन गयी है. एक नया सवेरा लेकर आ जाओ. ये वाला तो काफी valid बहाना है, नहीं?
वो मेरी समझाने की चाह थी या तुम्हारी दीवानगी का एक और नमूना, child psychology कि क्लास के बाद जब मैं हमारे दोस्तों को concepts समझाने में लीन रहती थी तब तुम कभी मेरा तो कभी दूसरों का मुंह ताकते रहते. और जब उनकी दुविधाएं दूर हो जातीं, तब तुम सर यूं ऊँचा करके घूमते जैसे मैंने भारत की आर्थिक समस्याओं का हल कर दिया हो! ठीक उसी संतोष के लिए मैं जी लगा के मेहनत करती.
अब समझाते समय, जब तुम्हारी आँखें मुझपर गड़ी नहीं रहतीं, तो कागज़ के प्लेन की तरह दिशाहीन हो जाती हूँ. कम-से-कम हमारे दोस्तों का भला होता रहे, इसी बहाने आ जाओ.
योग क्लास के बाद पेड़ की छाँव तले बैठकर मैंने तुम्हें मसाज करना सिखाया था, वैसा, जैसा मुझे पसंद है. कहाँ अंगूठे का ज़ोर, तो कहाँ हथेली का, कब उँगली दबाकर, तो कब उसे घसीटकर ले जाना है, तुम्हारे शरीर पर practical करके समझाया था. अगर बीच-बीच में होने वाली स्लिप को अनदेखा कर दें, तो काफी माहिर होने लगे थे तुम.
तुम दूर क्या गए, मांस-पेशियाँ सुन्न होने लगीं हैं. Temptation न सही, मेडिकल मजबूरी ही समझकर आ जाओ. 
वो मेरे गले में सोने की चेन, जिसे तुम दांतों के बीच दबाकर अपनी और खींचते थे. वो मेरे काम कि लिस्ट, जिसका रिमाइंडर तुम अपने मोबाइल पर चढ़ा कर रखते थे, मेरे खोये हुए झुमकों और बूंदों का आधा-जोड़ा, जिसे सहेजकर अपने बैग की साइड-चेन में छुपाये फिरते थे, वो कामयाबी के सपने, जिसमें हम रोज़ एक नयी कड़ी जोड़ते थे, वो दिन की रौशनी में ठहाके वाली हंसी, वो ढलती शाम में लम्बी आहें, और जाड़े की शामों में तुम्हारी सुगंध में डूबा वो गर्म अहसास...तुम उस ट्रेन में अपने साथ वो चैन, वो खुशी, वो प्यार, वो सपने, वो हंसी, वो शामें, वो नैसर्गिक सौंदर्य, सब ले गए. जो हमारा है, उसे हमको वापस सौंपने का बहाना तो जायज़ है न?
कुछ भी कह लो, मुझे तुम्हारे हर पल के साथ से एक चुटकी कम भी गवारा नहीं है. तुम, जो खुद मेरे जीने का बहाना हो, तुम्हें बुलाने के लिए क्या बहन ढूंढूं? तुम जिसे बहाने कहते हो, वो मेरे अधरों से रुखसत हर आह की गुजारिश है. मेरे प्राणों का निचोड़ है. मेरा एकलौता लक्ष्य है. मेरे मन का मंज़र है.
अगर अब भी तुम्हें बहानों की तलाश है तो गणित साधारण है. 365 गुना 24 गुना उतने साल जितनी हमारी उम्र बाकी है. तुम नंबर तो बताओ, मैं उससे एक बहाना अधिक गिनवा दूँगी.