Of a girl whom I’d seen just once

June 24, 2017

​If I were to write a poem

And this is 3 in the morning

“A man’s desire” I would put the title

And would write of you, oh girl,

Whom I’d seen just once..

Finding peace in the desert of loneliness

June 16, 2017

​So I was on one of those rants of mine. My wife was on another end of the phone call. I was reciting Ghalib’s poetry, some couplets as I remembered them from memory.

Suddenly out of the blue, I changed the topic and told her, as if I was talking to myself, “Do you know I’m no more sad anymore..? Though I look sad all the time, I’m not. I’ve no regrets.” I started singing, “अजि मी ब्रह्म पाहिले, अजि मी ब्रह्म पाहिले..”

I was again talking to myself. “I’m mostly calm, content. I’m not sorry..” “You know that poem by Faiz?”

“dasht e tanhaai mein, aye jaan-e-jahaan..” 

Faiz is calm here. He stands in the desert of loneliness, still he’s so calm.. and see the beautiful words he uses.. “With so much love, oh sweetheart, your thought has touched my heart.. even though it’s the morning of separation, it feels like the day of separation has just ended, and here’s coming the night of togetherness..”

Even this coming together is not like how honeymooners will jump on each other.. it’s calm, serene.. more like when one dies in the lap of their beloved..

“Why don’t you find such calmness in Ghalib’s poetry?” I asked my wife (though I was actually asking myself). I tried to remember at least one shair by Ghalib where he talks of such serenity. I could recollect none.

I jumped on another poem, one by Sahir. “चंद कलियाँ निशात की चुनकर, मुद्दतों महवे यास रहता हूँ..” Sahir too is not a happy poet. He’s full of his own bitterness. Still he finds these “few moments of happiness”, I couldn’t find those in Ghalib’s poetry. (While I was talking to her about this little poem by Sahir, I was kind of afraid she’ll remember.. I generally refrain from talking about our days of courtship with her. These were the lines written on the first page of the diary wherein I would write so passionately about my longing for her.. I could never tell her of my feelings for her, so one fine day, on the 14th of April, 2006, as we returned from Deekshabhoomi, Nagpur, into my room at a hostel nearby, I handed her my diary and kept looking at her tiny face as she read her own story within it.)

So, cutting it short, I couldn’t remember even one serenely calm shair of Ghalib. Perhaps, he could never get even those few moments.. Do you remember any of his calm shair?

Call him a usesless fellow

March 22, 2017

Why would one do this? To stay stuck to your laptop and not be in bed at this hour of night must be a task only useless fellows would do.  You talk of fear of tomorrow?  I bet this guy has nothing of that sort.  I bet you kidding.

So he would write these useless lines.  Not good at writing.  No.  Just because he has read a few books where cows moo and stuff, he ain’t be writing – say – Ulysses.  He shouldn’t be doing this anyway.

Two paragraphs of two-and-a-half lines each.  Let’s say impressive!  I am sure you wicked fellows will no way be amused.  Be sure one day you will claim him a no-writer.  God!  This boy’s gonna  have a good hearty lol on you that day for sure.

Not feeling useless yet?  Oh so much for your hearty hope.. I bet you he’ll prove himself a doom just so soon.

Tidbits: Of insurance and human nature

September 16, 2016

Yesterday. A person came asking for health insurance. Asked for high sum assured. Further questioning revealed his wife has just been diagnosed with cancer. I told him cancer won’t be covered. He gave a thought, decided it would be worthless without cancer coverage.

He then asked about life insurance. For wife. I said you’ll need to declare the disease. There’ll be a medical checkup etc. He said what comes without a medical checkup. I told him I should not advise him such, but PMJJBY is the only thing that doesn’t do medical checkups. He said, given the recent diagnosis and the mental shock it gave, it would be difficult to get his wife sign the forms. Too much trouble for two lacs.

He then gave a pause. Said, “it’d be a different thing if it were 20 lacs.”

Don’t

September 6, 2016

So he thought he’ll write just tidbits. He can’t write those elaborate posts anymore; not left with so much energy.

But again, he still operates with a name. A name of a real person who has a real existence out of the virtual world. No, he can’t write it like that. Can’t write about not having sex on a weekend and stuff. No. Not anything.

Don’t. That sounds a prudent advice.

Kashmir.

July 9, 2016

I feel for you my friend.

I don’t know. I’ve never lived under a constant watch. I’ve lived with a habit of feeling like a free man forever.

How does it feel when you go out for something while guns pointed at you? It must not be fear I know. Fear doesn’t live forever. Defiance, is it? A helpless defiance for the most, perhaps?

Kashmir. I’ve heard it’s beautiful, looks stunning in photos. I think I’ll perhaps go there some day (and then I google for the state of insurgency in Kashmir). I feel afraid of my life; I don’t want to be among the ones at wrong place on wrong time.

But you? I fail even to imagine it. Homes, surrounded by guns. Guns watching the homes.

I know it means nothing, but I genuinely feel sorry for you. I know you don’t need my sympathies; you’ve learnt to live under the situations. But I want you to know I stand with you. I don’t stand with the State when it decides it has a right to keep you under a watch 24×7.

My dear friend, do I even have a face to tell you things? I don’t know. It’s like you get a scolding for something you never did, and I feel so bad I can do nothing for you, and worse when I think that those guns are pointed at you in MY name. This makes ME feel helpless.

Can I even expect you to understand me?

P.S. This is all while a fraction of my tax money buys bullets in the guns pointed at you.

A village without Muslims

July 1, 2016

So it happened. My native place, a village of 700, had 5-6 Muslim families. It was early 1990s and the people lived in good harmony. Muslims were Muslims like Marathas were Marathas, Kunbis were Kunbis, Dhangars were Dhangars, and Beldars were Beldars. My uncle was Sarpanch, an RSS volunteer and BJP position holder. Village had a daily baal-shakha.

So, those were the 1990s and Ram Mandir movement reached our village. There were mini-Rathyatras around too and one came in our village. In those days, we heard that the Muslims in our village were “good Muslims”, for example, Rauf Seth gave his golden ring to one of those the Ram raths.

But then the Muslims started to leave. The village had to migrate due to an upcoming dam. People were allotted plots at a place nearby. Marathas, Kunbis, Dhangars and Beldars shifted from old village to new village. Muslims left the village altogether. They didn’t come to the new village. They moved to another village, some 20-30 km away, that had sizeable Muslim population. We heard that they left because the Muslim community was not willing to marry their girls in a village where Muslims were only a few. Perhaps, they didn’t feel it safe anymore, after the Babri masjid demolition, to live in a village with such strong RSS influence. Perhaps, being “good Muslims” for an RSS village wasn’t good for them. I don’t know the reasons. I was a kid of not even 10.

One elderly couple stayed. They shifted from old village to new one with the Marathas and Kunbis and Dhangars and Beldars. They lived there till the old lady died. My uncle, the RSS waala, took up all expenses of her last rites. Afterwards, the husband left village too.

No one talked of an Exodus. My village itself never had any communal tension, but perhaps the whole atmosphere changed after the Babari. Perhaps, the “good Muslims” saw the villagers as “good Hindus”, but there was something they weren’t sure about — “Will it be good enough to be just good ‘despite being Muslims’ in the changing scenario?” I don’t know. I was too young to think of these things. I only knew RSS are good people, Muslims in our village are “good Muslims.” I, perhaps subconsciously, knew that the term “good Muslims” itself implies existence of “bad Muslims” too. At that young age, Rashtra was Hindu Rashtra and Rashtrabhakti was what I learnt from my uncle. In hindsight, when I see, I see my uncle was a “good RSS waala”.

So as it happened, my village has no Muslims anymore. Neither have the 3-4 villages in the vicinity. The kids born after 1995 in my village have not seen any Muslims neighbors. We haven’t been to any Muslim households. I myself hadn’t been to a Muslim household till I visited Shams bhai’s place in 2014.

I don’t know why I’m writing this, but I wanted to write about it for long. It’s sad. People, who were living there for generations, felt it wasn’t prudent to stay there further. We were a tiny village. But those words – Ayodhya, Babri – reached us, for no reason. My parents still talk reverently of the elders in those Muslim families. Many of those died. Some of them, the younger ones, sometimes meet the village oldies in town on market days and they talk like relatives met after a long while: ” Chachi kaisi hai? Sharif kahaan hai ab? Sharif ki ladki ki shaadi? Baap re..” We, the newer generations, don’t even know them.

What was it that happened? Who gained from it? Who lost? No one knows. As it stands now, we have no Muslims in the village.

P.S. I wrote it as I saw it as a kid of 10. Please don’t take out conclusions.

There is no Second Coming

May 31, 2016

Days and days pass.  Nothing happens and everything slips out.  What was promised that it would stay?  And when there was nothing, what was it that one kept holding all the time.  Someone drowning would look for a straw to hold.  One gasping has nothing to hold on.  The air is heavy.  Or so sparse.. I’m dying.. I’m dying..

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

There is no Second Coming.. There is no Second Coming..

Ishq ek Meer bhari patthar hai..

May 30, 2016

A beautiful evening this is.  I came home early.  Sitting on terrace with my laptop.  The heat has cooled down.  It’s breezing gently.  It’s end of May.  Perhaps we have already past the hottest days of the year.  Monsoon will be around in a couple of weeks.

I can call it a perfect evening.  I’ve switched off my phone.  No one around to break my peace.  A perfect weather to scribble some random lines.  Peace, ephemeral, yet heavenly.

What are the worries that hung around all the day?  Not a trifle certainly.  Like Meer calls it, “ishq ek ‘Meer’ bhari patthar hai, ye kab tujh naatawaaN se uth’ta hai..”  Those worries stay around.  Despite this peace.  Just waiting for this peace spell to wear off..

Love is one huge stone, O Meer!  How could you weak lift it up?

Of love, regret, and misery…

April 25, 2016

I am not my own self tonight; feeling like a pressure on my temples.  I close my eyes, I try to think of you, I fail miserably.  Each time I close my eyes, I feel the headache all new again.

Why are you so much far away?  I think of that poem from Gitanjali:  “O fool! Try to carry thyself on thy own shoulders!  O beggar, to come beg at thy own door!  Leave all thy burden on his hands who can bear all, and never look back in regret.”

Why me?  I was a fool, but I did seek to leave all my burdens in your hands.  Never did I regret.  “Sab daagh haiN is dil mein, ba_juz daagh e nadaamat..”  Then.  Why.  Me.

Alone and lonely, I sit here waiting for a single glance of benevolence from you.  To bring me out of this misery.