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. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to my roots

I wake up around the time the first rays of the sun hit the grass. The chill seeps through layers of my flesh, and I try to rub off the goose bumps against the unrelenting hardness of the wooden bed. I brave the morning mist to catch a few more moments of sleep. The sleep that was perfect. Not to gloss over the fact that around midnight, I had jumped out of bed in blood-curdling fright. A virulent fight had broken out between community dogs, which, as it turned out minutes later, was happening in the room where my cousin slept, to be precise, on his bed (poor thing didn’t catch a wink again), and the pugilists were cats, not dogs.

Conveniently, I returned to the warm embrace of my sleep, laden with the fragrance of wild flowers and sweet berries. But early morning, nature demands me to rise. An orange glow is brimming over the grey horizon and a riot of chirruping forces open my eyes to seek its source. An overwhelming tropical smell of moist vegetation fills the air, and pulls me with a longing hard to describe.

Everything in the village looks diminished. That’s the thing about age. As one grows up in size, the surroundings grow down. The lane from road to house seems narrower, the stair-case seems short of a flight or two, the terrace is no longer the mughal garden of our heydeys, and the best part, where the women of the house resided before the symbolic berlin wall came down...has collapsed. 

I feel lucky to not go hunting for knee length grass in the morning. That was ages ago. Even the old well, around which we bathed as kids, drawing water from the pulley, is history. The rim of the well now looks like a large natural pot for a huge banyan tree that chose to grow roots at the bottom of the well. Silently, I thank the stars that kept me alive despite the morbid dread sparked off by intimacy to that well. As a child I would gaze inside the haunting hollow of the well and feel drawn to its tempting secrets. It was there that I discovered, if you gaze long enough inside the pit, it seems to rise up to your nose. I remember tearing myself away in the fear that I might jump inside.

The modern day bathroom, on the contrary, is pretty homely. Constructed around a hand-pump that was the sole permanent asset of our erstwhile ‘duaar’, this bathroom looks like a large changing room with curtains. For shehri Indians who depend on clothes way too much to guard their dignity, such an arrangement threatens to destroy their treasury with a single blow of the wind. The unwritten code, therefore, is to ask before stepping in when the curtains are drawn. Some people with bitter experience (who I won’t name here) will tell you the merits of keeping a towel handy to avoid exposure. The trick lies in reducing bathing time to mili-seconds – a challenge made harder by the chilling handpump water.

It makes people behind the curtains make strange sounds, till it becomes a family joke. Experienced people wait with a passive face for the uninitiated to go inside, and then all heads turn to hear the first sound of shock.

I step out of my house to be stared at by unabashedly puzzled eyes. I greet the look with a smile, that piques interest on the other side and they grow in numbers. The help’s daughter is my new guide to the coveted ‘chowk’. I treat ourselves to village sweets that could teach a trick or two to the Haldirams of the world.
A kilometer and half away from our house flows the river Son. It is a rare sight to see a yet non-commercialized beach in its pristine beauty. The sand melts under your feet and the water ferns feel like treacherous snakes. Sparkling clean river, with stretches of untouched sand on either side, flanked by nothing but natural verdant vegetation, I remember the lines on paradise spoken for Kashmir.

I hitch-hike with my cousins to further explore the interiors, where farmlands are no longer dotted with households. A creaky machaan sits lonely amidst kilometers of green. Only nature could create so many shades of a single color – each evoking a strange visual pleasure. Some patches are interspersed with lovely yellow flowers. Then there is the grassy kind of crop, acting as the wind’s odometer. They catch the breeze and dance to its tune, till their waves are so much in sync that it’s difficult to distinguish between the possessor and the possessed. My brother suggests it’s prettier than Switzerland. Without seeing the latter, every part of me agrees.

Back at home, the bhoj time begins. The purported lunch begins at 3 and goes on till 9. The city based buffet system is no match for this stroll-in stroll-out lunch-cum-snack-cum-dinner. Besides the privilege of having the host family hand-serve the food, there’s the added convenience to amble in, legitimately, anytime and any number of times, for delicious helpings. A thousand and half people are treated to sumptuous food on a terrace that can, at a time, accommodate not more than 60. At 9, after I’m getting the premises cleaned and tending to my aching back, information comes in that the dinner bhoj will start now. Obviously, the tension put me to deep unshakeable sleep.

In the night, alone on the corner of the terrace that looks over three temples, a pig community and an absorbing view of trees, I lift my head to see a kind of sky that shatters and joins my heart at once. Stars. More stars. Uncountable stars shimmering like sequin work on a purple sari. Laced seductively around the folds of a magnificent firmament. I can’t take my eyes away. Oh! The Great Bear constellation...the Hunter out there...it’s beautiful in an inexplicable way. In places there are no constellations, there is powdered diamond. Stardust. There seems to be a divine conspiracy in hatching. The stars choose to twinkle the exact moment you look away.

I keep looking above. Surrounded by the drone of crickets. Feeling weightless in the perfectness of the weather, this moment of life. That is when I spot the phenomenon I was waiting to confide in my life’s ultimate longing. A meteor breaks in what seems like a long, slow motion and covers an expanse that must be a thousand light years. I close my eyes, and pray with the strength endowed in me by this universe, for the world that made my being possible, to make this one wish come true.

Content and smiling, I release myself once again to be put into motion by the assembly line arrangement of life.

I’m in India. In Bihar. In Ara. Past the imposing iron flanks of Koelwar pul. I’m in a place that translates to silver in English. I’m in Chaandi. Back to my roots. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

स्वतंत्रता

क्यों मनाएं हम, साल दर साल, उसी जज़्बे और जूनून से, स्वतंत्रता का दिवस. क्या है ऐसा इसमें जो मेरे जैसे नॉन-देशभक्त को भी झुरझुरी दे जाता है.
इतिहास साक्षी है कि हर विकास की नींव स्वतंत्रता पर रखी गयी है, और स्वतंत्रता का आधार, मानव की स्वच्छंद सोच रही है. जब हम मिल-जुट कर एक ऐसे दिवस को सलामी देते हैं, तो वास्तव में हम उस सोच, उस संघर्ष को श्रद्धांजलि अर्पित करते हैं जो आपकी और हमारी ख़ुशी और सृजनात्मकता का स्रोत है.
वास्तव में स्वतंत्रता हमारे लिए प्रेरणा है. ये उस सच का द्योतक है कि समय स्थाई नहीं रहता. कि हर ठहराव के बाद बहाव आता है, जिसे धैर्य और कड़ी महनत से अपने मुताबिक़ ढाला जा सकता है. एक लम्बे अंतराल के बाद समय करवट लेता है, और पुरानी धारणाओं को बेदखल कर जड़ से निकाल फेंकता है. ये धर्म और रिवाज़ के संरक्षकों को पुनः याद दिलाता है कि समाज के हर व्यक्ति के कुछ मूल अधिकार हैं, जिन्हें कोई सरकार दबा नहीं सकती, जिन्हें कोई राजा छीन नहीं सकता.
संघर्ष की किसी भी कहानी को यदि परत-दर-परत उतार कर देखें, तो घटनाओं और रणनीतियों की तहों के नीचे एक विश्वव्यापी सोच पायी जाती है. कहानी किसी भी देश की हो, आजादी के लिए इंसान की तलब एक-सी है. हर संस्कृति में हुकूमत के खिलाफ विद्रोह के अध्याय मिलते हैं. वक़्त को शतरंज का शौक़ है या कायनात का नियम, सत्ता की भूख ने तानाशाहों को जन्म दिया है, और उन्मुक्तता की चाह ने उन्हें मिटटी में मिलाया है. फ्रांस के जाने-माने चिन्तक रेने देकार्त (Rene Descartes) की विश्व-प्रसिद्द उक्तियों में एक है – “मेरे होने का कारण मेरी सोच है” (I think, therefore I am).  
तो क्या है यह सोच? क्यूँ इस सोच ने समय समय पर सभ्यताओं का पासा पलट दिया है? कितना ज़रूरी है यह सोच हमारे जीवन की खुशहाली और उत्तरोत्तर प्रगति के लिए? इस सोच की इष्टतम मात्रा क्या होनी चाहिए? इस सोच का अमल किस रूप में करना चाहिए? कौन उठाएगा उस सोच की आवाज़? कौन बनेगा पहला योद्धा?
ये सोच उस अस्त्र का नाम है जो हर बदलाव के लिए ज़िम्मेदार है. ये वो पंछी है जो प्रचलित आचरण पर सवाल खड़े करता है. जो कहता है, “मुझे बंद करके न खानों में रख, परिंदा हूँ, ऊंची उड़ानों में रख”. जिसे अन्याय से प्राकृतिक घृणा है. जिसे ठहराव से ख़ास लगाव नहीं, क्योंकि उसने देखा है कि बहती धार ही स्वच्छ रहती हैं. जो हमें रूढ़ियों से निकलने पर विवश कर देता है, ताकि हम आदत की बेड़ियों को तोड़ कर नवीनता के हार पहनें. ये पंछी हमें दूसरों की राय सुनने-समझने पर मजबूर करता है, और यह साबित कर देता है कि सत्य एक बहु-आयामी विषय है. जिसे सोने के पिंजरे में नहीं, वरन घाटियों की जोखिम में आनंद मिलता है. जो जानता है कि खुले आसमान में उड़ना जितना उसका अधिकार है, उतना ही उसके पड़ोसी का भी. जो शान्ति-प्रिय और सुसंगत है, लेकिन बेबस होने पर चोंच मार कर बाहर निकलना भी जानता है. जो खुली आवाज़ में अपने मन के गीत गाने में नहीं चूकता, भले ही उससे कोई राग मिलाये न मिलाये. समय गवाह है, कि जब-जब उसके बोल में सच्चाई और उसकी धुन में सौहार्द रहा है, कुदरत के हर कण ने उसका साथ दिया है.
शहीद भगत सिंह, भारत के स्वतंत्रता संग्राम के एक अनमोल रत्न, जिन्होंने मात्र 23 साल कि उम्र में देश की आज़ादी के लिए प्राणों की आहूति दे दी, उन्होंने कहा था कि  अधिकार की याचना मत करो, उसे छीन लो (don’t ask for rights, take them).  उनकी आवाज़ ने लाखों युवाओं के दिल-ओ-दिमाग में क्रान्ति कि लौ जलाई थी, और एक ऐसे आन्दोलन का आरंभ किया था जिसे कोई ताक़त थाम नहीं पायी थी.
वैसे तो हर मनुष्य इस पंछी को मन में लिए पैदा होता है, पर डर, लालच, आलस, ईर्ष्या और अहंकार जैसी मानवीय दुर्बलताएं उसके पंख की शक्ति को क्षीण कर देती हैं. और जहां ये पक्षी पंख फड़फड़ाना बन कर देता है, समाज का पतन वहाँ से शुरू होता है. तो क्या उपाय है कि इस पक्षी को जीवित और जीवंत रखा जाए? किसी देश की सरकार, या फिर कोई आम नागरिक, इसके लिए क्या कर सकता है?
सर्वप्रथम, अगर आप और हम पारदर्शिता से अपनी जिम्मेदारियों का निष्पादन करें, और हमारी दिशा में उठते प्रश्नों का स्वागत करें, तो सोच के उस पंछी का भरण पोषण करने में हम सहयोगी होंगे. इसके अतिरिक्त, अगर हम खुद, अपने-अपने कार्यस्थल में हो रहे अनुचित कार्यों को नज़रंदाज़ न कर उसके समाधान की योजना बनायें, और अन्य लोगों को भी जागरूक करें, तो वो नौबत ही नहीं आएगी जब व्यवस्था के खिलाफ मुहीम छेड़नी पड़े. इतना ही नहीं, बल्कि हम सहनशीलता से उन विचारों को भी आमंत्रित करें जो हमें ललकारती है, और सृजनात्मक बहस द्वारा, तर्क की कसौटी पर सभी विचारों की जांच करें.
आईआईएमसी के एक प्रिय दुश्मन-cum-दोस्त ने अपने ज्ञान के झोले से कभी ये मोती निकाल मुझे थमाया था:
“मन में जब दुविधा हो, खाएं कि न खाएं, तो कभी मत खाओ.
और अगर दुविधा ये हो, कि कहें कि न कहें, तो ज़रूर कहो”
एक बार फिर इस मंतर से मन को बांधें, अनकही बातों को जुबां दें, दबी-छिपी हसरतों को जी लें, आप द्वारा बनाये परम्पराओं के घरौंदे से बहार पैर रखें, और सचमुच स्वतंत्र जी लें.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The bed sheet folds

A neat bedroom. Still and orderly. Everything at its designated place. Except the bed sheet. It is a thick, yet soft sheet, with a slippery texture. In orange and green. It’s in the kind of disarray that suggests of a storm just survived. The tassels, hitherto tucked in properly from all sides, now hang in gathered embarrassment. The mattress stands revealed in one corner, feeling guilty of wearing a sheet that’s been claimed by better. One pillow stands undisturbed, upright. The other lies astray, on the part of the bed that’s neither corner nor middle. Eavesdropping on the conversation of bed folds.
Big fold: Boy! Never imagined such a thing could exist. My life has been redeemed. In my countless experience of over three years, this was the best I witnessed so far…
Small fold: Best? You call it the best? I call it the purest. Loveliest. Holiest. It’s like I finally know what love is. And the pure bliss of…
BF: Oh come on! Don’t you lose the thread. I mean look at me, I’m drenched in their smell. Even the sweat came trickling down in grateful smiles, fragrant with the satisfaction of having been shed for the most empassioned…
SF: No no no…you’re the one losing essence of our shared li’l secret. You feel swell about being privy to their passion. Whereas what I witnessed was pure unadulterated joy. Rapturous love. Sheer bliss. Interspersed with laughter and tears.
BF: Nah. You’re not getting it.  It’s not about the passion alone. It was the love in their passion that was outstanding. The absolute surrender of complete trust. Oh! How they hugged and kissed! I almost thought they’d be lit up in flames any second. It was like love had unleashed its final assault. Killing and being killed in the choicest of ways. With bites, pulls, heaves, sighs, moans, grabs, squeezes, bruises, and what not. Steaming hot. Oh! I’ll take a while to breathe regular again. If ever I do. It was a love making like there’s no tomorrow.
SF: Looks like we are discussing different couples here. Yours sound interesting for sure, but mine could teach a lesson or two to entire humanity. Sure, they did make love, but that was the gentlest ever. Unhurried, caressing, whispering, caring and utterly sweet. As if they had all the time in the world for themselves. They spoke words of endearment. They chuckled with delight. Now, they were two eight-year olds running across a grassy field on a rainy day. Now, they were two old buddies in the grey years of life. I couldn’t tell, for the life of me, why these two beautiful people carried a universe of love and pain in their souls. Even in the most intimate moments they had their eyes locked. As if their only point of interest in the other was the soul, to which inner treasure the eyes led the way. They held each other like one holds fragile bone china; and for reason they alone would know, they kept blessing and kissing each other’s forehead. She waited till he slept like a baby, and he woke up early to watch her asleep. They slept unencumbered by everything worldly, as if they contained a universe within. Healing the other with the entire power of their soul. If it was not for their clasped intimacy, one would think it was a parent bidding goodbye to a child departing for the battlefield. Tears flowed like pearls on the undulating curves of their bodies. There was no bone, no sound, nothing jutting out in their fluid consummation. Love was performed to the most soothing song ever. They loved like they’d be together in every tomorrow.
As the SF completes his narration, BF looks at it with incredulous eyes. They repeat their versions once more, twice, thrice, in different ways to convince the other of being closer to the truth. Their expression and conviction matching their experience of the present debate.
That is when the pillow, the one lying askew, chips in.
Dears, it says with the sated voice of the guardian.
I’ve been listening to your debate for a while. And I can tell, with the same conviction with which you defend yourself, that both of you are equally true. Yes, you’re talking about the same couple, the twosome who loved each other in all moods possible. The duo without chinks. Try not to capture them in words, for words don’t have the wherewithal to put together such beatific beauty. Just cherish them like you did, and prepare to be surprised each time. For they go on exploring and loving and worshipping…ceaselessly.
As you witnessed the making of their love, I heard their conversation. Their words. Their whispers. Their confessions. Their promises. Their dreams. Their snores. The incoherent gratefulness of a love found. And the excruciating agony of impending separation. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Take Me Away



Come take me away
to a world without chains
our hands held loose
in the infinite tenderness
of our communicative fingers

take me away without my knowing
the places we tread
or the destination, if any
keep me forever in the hopeful longing
of etching out a place we can call ours

take me away from my worldly roles
on the inroads to my latent me
where our paths are lit by
the glow of dreams and not
the light of realities

take me away before they claim me
the ones to who I lawfully belong
from obligations social, commitments personal
from a plethora of responsibilities
none of which I owe to me

come take me away
before I’m forced to tread alone
the beaten path that destiny chose
for no matter who travels alongside
the child of my heart travels alone
arms outstretched for the path we could walk
hoping against hope
that you’d come
come and take me away.