Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Of Monster, Bournvita and us...

"If i were to fly" was a favourite topic i used to compose essays on when i was a kid. In the hot summer afternoons when day naps were essentially a part of our small household in Patna, i used to gently slip out of my mother's embrace after she dozed off. What a thrill it was! Shutting the doors of her room, my brother and i resumed our adventures into the endless worlds of play acting, playing cricket and well, 'stealing' and gorging on milk powder and Bournvita. Later convinced that we were kids pronouncing babarism incarnate, my mother started giving us puzzles to solve or essays to write before we went ahead with our misdemeanours. Her siesta, henceforth, was rendered trouble free for sometime.

It was one such day when i realised that my brother had painted a monster on his white sheet. Not much of an aesthete he had been in paintings and artistic works but the figure that emerged on the sheet gave me such a fright that i was sick for a couple of days. On one of those afternoons of my 'sickness', we had been asked to write this essay on "If i were to fly".

The sun was furiously staring on the white-washed walls of the house. Maa was sleeping inside and we had successfully managed to perch on the cot in the shed outside our room. Suddenly, i realised Saurabh had vanished. I assumed he must have been out to use the loo. Unable to trace him for more than half an hour now, i panicked. I called him out with no response elicited from either the washroom or anywhere. I searched everywhere. Frustrated and a little worried, i made the last attempt to trace him in the corridor. No Saurabh. I went into the kitchen, seething with rage by now. Somehow, i was sure, he must have been hogging on the 'stolen' delicacies, without me. There was no Saurabh. Instead i saw his white sheet, yes, the same which had the monster drawn on it till yesterday, on the slab. It bared its white teeth all over, with no trace of either my brother's stroke or the monster's face on it. By now i was sure i lost my brother.

Tears rolling down my cheeks, vision blurred and throat completely choked, i stared imploringly at the white sheet. By then i felt a sudden pull. It seemed as if the bared teeth opened and tried to suck me inside. I grew helpless and the next moment i realise being spirralled into a strange world of whiteness all around. My body seemed to reel very fast in this unending spiral. It was as if sitting on the spinning top and being paraded inside the white white world of freshly washed draperies, hung on the dhobi ghats.

After few odd moments of my strange journey, i fell with a thud on the white marble floor. Saurabh was sitting luxuriously on a seat of what seemed like a Milkmade box. He held a huge Nestle milk powder packet in his hands and was grinning widely while enjoying big mouthfull of the same. All my sisterly love vanished in a jiffy. I snatched his packet, slapped him hard and there we were fighting again.

Suddenly the monster appeared out of nowhere. I shrieked in horror. My brother hugged me and asked me to keep quiet. The monster was red with rage. His bulbous eyes emanated flashes of fire and we could no longer see anything except his gigantic body by now. Calling out our names he said, "This is the precise reason i have both of you here today! Fighting like uncouth, wild animals in the jungle, you have always disturbed my sleep and peace. Today i shall eat one of you and shall end my troubles forever."

I began to wail piteously. I begged him to leave us once and promised that we would never ever fight again. The monster seemed unrelenting. My brother and i hugged each other tight and cried for long now, convinced that one of us would die soon. The monster picked me up. He slapped me on my cheek and asked me to shut up. He spoke again," I love Saurabh for he gave me a place in your beautiful house by drawing me up. And he shall always enjoy unlimited stock of delicacies from now on. Soon after i eat this puny, little wretch up, i shall send you back my dear, Saurabh, into your sweet home. And every afternoon, after you sneak out of bed, you shall find your gift ready near the sheet of my drawing. You can either come to my house here, as you did today or have it while you do your mother's homework each day"

By now, i was wailing uncontrollably. Saurabh moved forward and bent on his knees. He asked the monster if there was no way to save me. He promised we would never fight again and also that i would not demand any share from the stock that the monster would send him each day. He also cried buckets of tears and kissed the monster's hands. Perhaps the huge creature took some pity on us. He said that he would be back in a moment and vanished.

I looked at Saurabh with frightened eyes and he merely smiled at me in a faint way. He asked me," How did you reach here, tiny rat? Why did you come here? He can easily finish you up in one go, do you know? Why do you always try to act oversmart?"

By now i had lost all my love for him. I threw a really bad face at him and said, "Here i am really worried if you had drowned in the loo or been kidnapped or murdered! And here are you,selfish mouse, enjoying sumptous meals in this ugly monster's house! I hate you! I simply hate you!"

Saurabh cut me through and exclaimed," Oh Miss i-am-so-generous! Ask yourself if you did not steal my chocolates the other day and had me scolded instead. You lousy liar! It is good that i did not tell you about my secret friendship with this monster! Huh! Listen, do not try to bully me now! Here i am trying to save you and you are being so ungrateful!"

I could see my vision blur again. A fresh onslaught of tears assaulted my eyes. I choked and said in a broken voice ," I am sorry Saurabh! Save me from this horrible creature. I shall never ever steal your stuff. And i will also return your Cosco ball that i took to school everyday. I shall instead share those chocolates Sharma uncle got for both of us when you had gone out to buy milk from the shop". With this i broke down into a huge wail.

Saurabh looked at me with tender eyes. He said," I will also return your violet Camlin pencil. I am sorry. I took it from your bag to take revenge."

Both of us hugged each other. Saurabh's eyes shone when he saw an eraser tightly clutched in my fingers. Meanwhile, the monster returned. he looked at us and asked Saurabh to have his Cadbury while he should enjoy his meal. He laughed a racuous laughter and picked me up in his filthy, fat hands.

Saurabh was deft enough to rub the eraser on his hands. Lo and behold! His arms vanished. The monster snapped a very furious glance at his side. He jumped in rage and kicked Saurabh hard. Poor Saurabh! He hit the milky white floor and the eraser landed near me. I took no time to erase the monster's legs. By now, the monster lay on the floor and snapped at me. My face broke into a puddle of blood. I let out a huge scream.

Saurabh erased his eyes and there the monster lay struggling to see. Meanwhile, the nose, ears, forehead kept vanishing with masterly strokes of the erasure. I kept groaning in pain and Saurabh kept erasing even the tiniest marks of the monster.

The next moment i realise a pillow descending on my face. My brother asked me to hush up lest we wake up mamma and passed on the open Bournvita bottle with a spoon dug inside. I hugged him tight and thanked him profusely. Saurabh looked puzzled. I asked him if the monster would not reappear to punish me if i had his share with scared eyes. He gave me a quizzical look and said,"Silly! it is already one hour that you have wasted in your sleep. Finish off your essay before maa wakes up!"

I felt my 'bloody' face with my hands. Ascertained that it was a dream, i decided to keep the Cosco ball with me. After much thought, i opened my pencil box to share those chocolates that Sharma uncle had got for us.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rendezvous with destiny...or perhaps free will

A soporific afternoon of the impending summers. Nothing to write really. But an itch to just let my fingers punch the keys.

Muskan sells trinkets the whole day and is a prostitute at night. Yesterday ,she flashed her purest of regular smiles. I bought her trinkets and made her wear them. Amidst annoyed expressions, she suddenly broke into a mirthful laugh. She fled her aunt's place after her cousin tried to force himself on her. Barely a teenager then, she landed in this city. She says that the urge to save herself proved harsher and dearer than one rape she could escape. She misses her parents and weeps when recalling how they were burnt to death in the 2002 riots.

I met Kittu once on the metro station. He used to beg. His father(once a rickshaw puller)was sentenced to life imprisonment in a relatively weaker case. Our meetings became a routine later. Then i got busy with my life to make frequent trips to the place. A few weeks ago, i could not recognise his smiling face peering out of the yellowish white school uniform. I gave him a quizzical look. He said that after his mother died, his sister moved from working as a cook to working in massage parlours and insisted on his joining school. She threatens of committing suicide if he would ever beg again.

Sahista came to the city to pursue higher studies. An averagely decent student, she realised it required a patient wait and consistent perseverence to move up the social ladder. Her cravings for branded clothes and lavish lifestyle pinched her limited pocket money. What began as a light mood flirtation in college ended up as her part time assignments now. I met her en route for an interview. She flashed one of her memerising smiles and we talked of Marquez and Coetzee till we parted ways.

The coffee tastes bitter in the mouth. I realise i have nothing more to say. Perhaps, there is nothing left to really add to the asphyxiated feeling. Wish life was simple enough to allow to make judgements!....And perhaps decide which of the either/or sides we ought to sit on.


पावस की तपती दुपहरी में

आँखें खुली तो पाया खुद को

खुद में पाया अकेला -

नितांत अकेला ।

ठन्डे पानी की आस में,

तपती दुपहरी में

अमलतास की ठंडी छाँह की आस में

हलक सूखता, बदन टूटता, देह निढाल।

मन थका सा -

कातर पंछी की तरह

तेज़ रफ़्तार में दौड़ता ।


कितना अजीब है इसका अस्तित्व

जो चाहता है वह करवाता है

जो सोचता है वह होने पर मजबूर करता है

उस दिन,

तपती धुप में तपते तन पर

एक बार फिर मन का पहरा था

न जाने क्यूँ क्या सोचकर

मन में कई बातों का, कई भावनाओं का

घना कुहरा था।

विचलित मन -

परेशान , निरंतर हैरान

मन-स्वयं मेरा ही तो था।

अचानक प्यास बुझ गई।

छांह की आस तृप्त हो गई।

मन की गाछ हरी हो गई।

शायद इसलिए की अनुभव हुआ

मन का अस्तित्व शाश्वत नहीं

मन का वजूद सही मायने में

कोई वजूद है ही नहीं।

शाम और धूप

नीले आसमान के मैंने देखा

नीम के पत्तों को हटाते

अपनी कल्पनाशील आँखों के सामने से

पत्तों के कलेवर को झकझोर कर हटाते।

मैंने देखा- तेज़ चुबती किरणें

सूरज की चिलचिलाती किरणें ,

पत्तों से छन कर छल्ले बनाती किरणें

जमीन पर पत्तों की छाया गढ़ती किरणें ,

दिन के ढलते सिमट जाती हैं-

दुबक कर आँखें मीच लेती हैं।

धीरे धीरे शाम की सिंदूरी लालिमा

धूसरित होती

काली स्याही का दुपट्टा ओढ़े

अपने साथ उस छाया को भी

तारों की टिमटिमाती हस्ती में

विलीन कर देती है।


हरे पत्तों से छान कर गिरती बूंदें

आकाश से सीधे ज़मीन पर गिरती बूंदें

तनों के तन से सरककर फिसलती बूंदें

आखिर, विलीन हो जाती है।

विलीन हो जाती हैं

छोटे छोटे गड्ढों में

घुल मिल जाती हैं

नदियों की कल कल में

बह कर मचल जाती हैं

समुन्दर की लहरों में ।

आखिर विलीन हो जाती हैं बूंदें-

ऐसी गुम होती हैं की

जमीन की सोंधी गंध

आकाश की स्वछन्द महक

पत्तों की हरी खुशबू

सब कुछ

समुन्दर के खारे पानी में

सागर को और भी नमकीन

और भी ग़मगीन बना कर

अपना अहम्, अपना स्वयं

अपना "मैं"

समुद्र की अटल गहराइयों में

समा देती हैं।

अपना अस्तित्व

सार्थक कर जाती हैं.

Monday, April 18, 2011


मैं हूँ कौन किसी के लिए?

काफिले के साथ चलती एक गुमनाम मुसाफिर

कई संदेशों के बीच एक छोटी सी पंक्ति

तल्ख़ भीड़ के दरमयां एक और चेहरा

बस अभी ही

आँखों के सामने से गुजरी अनगिनत में से एक तस्वीर

मैं आखिर हूँ कौन किसी के लिए?

वक़्त और तमन्ना के बीच पसरी एक फालतू अड़चन

रात और दिन के बीच बिखरा एक निरर्थक सन्नाटा

कल्पना और सृजन के मध्य फंसा एक अप्रत्याशित अंतराल

कर्तव्य और कर्म के दरमयां लटकती एक अनापेक्षित फाँस

बिना जाने, बिना देखे

बिना परखे, बिना पहचाने

बिना सुने, बिना कहे-

फटकार दो मुझे

और मेरे साथ लिपटे

तमाम प्रश्नों को

मेरे सवालिया जज्बात को

मेरी भेदती आवाज़ को

क्योंकि मेरी तरह

कितने गुमनाम चेहरों की शिनाख्त करोगे?

कितनी अड़चनो को पार करोगे?

कितने सन्नाटों में आवाज़ ढूंढ पाओगे ?

कितने सवालों का जवाब दोगे?

मैं आखिर हूँ कौन किसी से सवाल पूछने के लिए?

मुझे दर है की कहीं

मेरी अस्तित्व विहीन पहचान की

तफ्सीलात और शिनाख्त के बीच

एक सुर्ख निगाह,

खुबसूरत तसवीर,

बोलता सन्नाटा,

गुजरता मुसाफिर,

प्रस्फुटित पंक्ति,

अर्थपूर्ण अंतराल

तुम्हे छू कर गुजर जाए

और तुम एक बार फिर

देख कर अनदेखा और

सुन कर अनसुना कर दो।

Friday, April 15, 2011

खाली अधूरे पन्ने पर कुछ शब्द लिखे थे मैंने-
तुम्हारे जाने के बाद।
अभी तक दीवारों पे लगे
मकड़ी के जालों को हटाया नहीं,
कोने में जमी धूल साफ़ तक नहीं की।
बहुत समझाया खुद को
कि दुबारा समेट लूँ
बिखरे उन लम्हों को-
तुम्हारे जाने के बाद ।

पर अब जा कर समझी हूँ कहीं
कि जाने के बाद लौट कर कोई आता नहीं।
तो धूप को आँचल पे,
धूल को तन पे,
शब्दों को मन में
दफ़न कर रखने कि ख्वाहिश
खुद को बहलाने का धोखा है।

और ठगना तुमने सिखलाया नहीं
सीख भी तो नहीं पाई-
तुम्हारे जाने के बाद।

कमरा और मैं

कोने में दुबकी सुबह की धूप ने
जब अंगड़ाई ली
तो कमरे में बेतरतीब फ़ैल गई।
उदास सी ठहरी बासी हवा में
एक उबासी भरी बात घोल गई ।

इन दीवारों से मैंने पूछा -
आज अगर इस धूप के नाम कुछ संदेस देना हो तो क्या दोगे?
उसने मुस्कुराकर अपने सीने से लगी खिडकियों को खोला
और कहा-
बस इसी तरह
हर सुबह
वो चुपके से मेरी पीठ से लिपट जाया करे
इस कमरे कि उबासी में
धुली धूप घोल जाया करे।
मैंने आश्चर्य से अपनी आँखें फैलाईं
क्या बस इतनी सी संवेदना काफी है?
दीवार दुबारा मुस्काई
उसने सलीके से अपने कोने कि धूल झारी
और स्फुट स्वर में बोली-
यही काफी है इस घर का
और घर के बाहर का
अँधेरा दूर भगाने के लिए।
और इससे ज्यादा की उम्मीद
धूप से करना
नाइंसाफी है ।

मैंने खिड़की से बाहर झाँका ।
बाहर हरी मखमली घास पर,
इस ओर से उस ओर ,
क्षितिज के विस्तार तक
हरी पीली सुबह
जीजिविषा कि ओस में नहाये
अपने दांत फैलाये
चहुँ ओर मुस्कुरा रही थी।


उस ठूंठ को देखा है मैंने कई बार
इसी तरह
कड़ी धूप में, बर्फीली सर्दी में
बस ऐसे ही खड़े-
निर्विकार, निर्लिप्त।

इस पेड़ की टूट गई हैं सारी पत्तियां
ठूंठ हो गई हैं सारी टहनियां
झर गई है कोपलें
तिक्त हो गया है सारा सौंदर्य।

फिर भी शायद
अपनी जड़ों को धरती में संजोये
उनमे थोड़ी बहुत,
टूटी फूटी जीजिविषा बचाए
इस धूप में खड़ा है वो पेड़।

मेरे अजीज़ दोस्तों को समर्पित...:)

दूर नज़र दौरे तो दिखी बस रेत
बड़ा सा रेगिस्तान
न शाम, न पैगाम।
नंगे पैरों से दो कदम बढ़ाया ही तो था
की गिर पड़ी लड़खड़ाकर
दरअसल धुंधली थी आँखें अपनों का साथ छोड़कर ।
तुम सबने हाथ बढ़ाया, हंसना सिखाया,
हर पल को गले लगाकर मुस्कुराना सिखाया।
बस शुरू हुई ही तो थी हमारी कहानी
कि ज़िन्दगी ने आवाज़ दी .
चल पड़ी एक ऐलान के साथ-
"जंग पड़ी है दोस्त, पार करो इस सैलाब को।"
छूट गए तुम सब,
तुम्हारा साथ, तुम्हारा हाथ।
रेतीली बर्फीली हवा का एक झोंका
आँखों को चुभन दे गया।
कई यादों का एक सिलसिला बयां कर गया
पर न तुमलोग थे
न थी हमारी हंसी।
आगे था एक बड़ा सा रेगिस्तान
न शाम, न कोई भी पैगाम.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Tightened noose life is. They loosen it up till the threads mess up its simplicity. Life is what it is. Nothing more nothing less. They confuse it up with conditions. It is simple as a time bound presence. They want to force eternity into it. Timelessness they want. The equation becomes a sophisticated tale good to listen to difficult to impersonate. Life is forced to be a legend. Slowly it rots till the entrails too load themselves with stench- unbearable. All of a sudden it ends with a plop- sudden and sharp. Just as it was born. In a neat cut. It was never too early neither late. Life is what it is.