Monday, November 18, 2013

The end....

With a thud it fell 
the delicate coffee mug. 
With one jerk it smashed 
the soft contours of brew stained corners.

Leaves of the mauve flower embossed
on the procelain mug - detached.
Each shred on the floor
The ankle bled, the toe grew spongy.
The leaves cut deep.

Blood everywhere
red everywhere.

The coffe mug
will be wiped off in the morning.
The stains on walls will fade away;
each coat of white pain
will smudge and vanish them..

Each paint is a new beginning
for the seasoned painter of love!

And each coffee a new chance
for the glib talker of life....

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Love, smiles and sunshine at GB Road

Gitanjali Babbar was a Gandhi Fellow. She worked on an assignment with National AIDS Control Organisation at Garstin Bastion Road (GB Road) sensitizing the sex workers about the need of AIDS control by distributing condoms and other medical aids to them. It was towards the end of that assignment when one of the sex workers asked her, “Apka aur hamara safar yahin tak than na? Aur NGOs ki tarah aap bhi condom baant ke chali jayengi? (Your association with us had to end here, right? Like all other NGOs would you distribute condoms and go?” This was the beginning of Katkathaa for Gitanjali.

Katkathaa is an NGO that operates from GB Road in New Delhi. A stone’s throw away from the New Delhi railway station, GB Road (officially called Swami Shradhanand Marg) is the largest red-light area in Delhi. Jostling for space since the time of its inception - somewhere in the beginning of 2012, Katkathaa has recently lost the evacuated brothel from where it was functioning due to some ongoing legal dispute over the property. This is for the fourth time over a period of seventh months that Katkathaa had ‘begun anew’ from this empty brothel.

Kushal Sinha, a member of Katkathaa informs, “We work to create a model of change in GB Road - something that could be replicated later in other areas where sex workers live and work. Currently, we engage with the didis (sex workers who come at Katkathaa are called didis the volunteers here) and their children and try to give them a platform to think and dream as freely as any of us do.” He adds, “Lot of things need to be done at this juncture. Most of the didis lack confidence on their capabilities, have no belief in their selves and lack a sense of individuality. This is an area where we are intervening right now. As an immediate goal, we look forward to reduce their alienation from the mainstream society.”

Gitanjali says, “As of now, we try to ensure that Katkathaa becomes a place for our kids and didis where they see a world beyond brothels.” Piya (name changed), a learner at Katkathaa quips, “We dance, sing, paint, watch movies, learn tailoring, tell stories and also study.”  Elaborating on the futuristic aim of engagement, Kushal shares, “We want to adopt a structured and systematic model to help the kids get the education they deserve. We also want to help open alternative livelihood and lifestyle options for the didis. We want to expand our reach beyond GB Road once we have created a tangible impact. 

Gushing over the successful strides of Katkathaa, Akanksha, a volunteer says, “One of our didis, after a few days of association with us, expressed her interest to opt out of prostitution. She is currently working as a help in a household. Our didis made some 200 batuas (small purses) and all of them were sold. There has been a marked change in the behavior of kids now. They have become more respectful in their habits and sensitive to the kind of language they use.”

Talking about the journey so far, Gitanjali says, “We have started from scratch so many times that beginnings have become a part of our journey by now. Each time we are out on the streets, looking for space to settle and work, it is a moment of rediscovery for Katkathaa.” Asked if this frustrates and irritates, she answers, “There have been times where we have had no room(s) to work from. We have often roamed on the streets of GB Road in hot summers and held classes and our activities in the open. But slowly, perhaps because we continued to stay and did not go back frustrated and lost, we have been able to make some place in the hearts of the didis. Perhaps they trust us a little more now. Perhaps they know by now that we are here to share love and work with them by being here - with them and near them. Didis have been generous to lend out their own rooms for Katkathaa so many times. The love the didis and their children have for us and the attachment that we have developed for them will make us stick through.”

Opening up on the question of Katkathaa’s interaction with the Delhi Police (a police beat is place right at the entrance to GB Road), Kushal says, “There is an interesting dichotomy in how the administration treats the didis. While on the one hand you have some police officials who do not shy away from taking advantage of the vulnerability of these women, some of them have come forward and gone out of the way in providing Katkathaa a place when we were rendered homeless.” He adds, “The roots of prostitution is deeply entrenched in history. In a situation where you have no control over its existence, the administration has the option of either legalising prostitution or maintaining the status quo. As much as we support the former, at the moment, we would continue with our amiable relationship with the police – a certain section of which has been extremely supportive of our cause.” 

Commenting on the source of funds for Katkathaa, Kushal says, “We have individual donors and organisations who volunteer to support us. Recently, we won the Mahindra Spark the Rise Award. We have also been trying to reach out to the CSR wings of companies and corporates.”

Katkathaa looks forward for volunteers and any kind of support from individuals and organizations. It can be reached at 

Friday, October 25, 2013

यूँ ही

"तुम्हारे प्रेम में चिंता से कहीं अधिक व्याकरण दोष है. न न.…ये मत समझना मैंने रुमाल अपने होठों पर इसलिए रखा कि मैं हँस रही थी. मैं तो बस तुम्हारी कमजोरियां भांप रही थी - और तुम बड़े तेज़ निकले।" 

कहते हैं प्यार का टाइटैनिक जहाज है उसका वह डब्बा। लोरेअल का अध्-बचा लिप ग्लॉस, साथ खाए-बचाए चॉकलेट का तुड़ा - मुड़ा रैपर, 'उसकी' दी हुई एक क्लिप और शायद बर्फीले समुद्र से लाया एक पत्थर। 

"तुम्हारा हर बरस मुझसे मिलने आना किसी प्रेम परंपरा का निर्वाह करना नहीं है. तुम्हारा आना मुझमे तुम्हारा बचा रहना है. और मेरे बचे रहने के लिए भी तो जरूरी है तुम्हारा यूँ ही आते रहना।"

कायदे से आदतों के वो दीमक दराज़ में बंद होने चाहिए थे. और यादों की सुर्खियाँ आवारा कल्पनाओं की आलमारी पे पड़ी होनी चाहिए थी. पिरोना चाहिए था इन सभी बिखरे अवशेषों को, शब्दों के धागों में. मूंगफली के सूखे छिलके, चिप्स के पैकेट, धूल की तह के नीचे आधी पढ़ी, पन्ने मुड़ी किताब. ओह! कितना सुखद रहा होगा वो क्षण।

शायद मौन के सफ़ेद तालाब के बीच लिखेगी वह एक कविता, या पूरी करेगी वो चिट्ठी - उस शेष के लिए जो बचा है उन दोनों के बीच.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Consulted idiocy
stacked neatly on plans of failure -
pretense of stark times
in stark spaces
of common cause
in equally common meetings.

     Shunt that tiny fig of your brain.
     Shut out that ray of yellow light.
     Paint that goddamn imagination blue.
     Get on with tasks, deliverables.

Manage, manage – that’s how you step up.
Talk, talk, meet and still meet.
That’s how you lead
(or that’s what you think!)

         Vomit numbers, regurgitate data
         expel plans, spread our gargantuan designs
         operationalise life, negotiate emotions -
        Oh! It is all for a cause.

It’s a service to that man to pretend
It’s a service to the nation to self-proclaim order
It’s a service to a ‘cause’ to gulp all slaps and slanders
It’s a service to what we are to emerge a leader
-among the Liliputs.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

हसिये का न्याय

जब से मुनिया का मरद गुजरात गया, उसके अन्दर अजीब अजीब सा होता रहता था. अब गुजरात में किसोरी को तो मिल में नौकरी मिल गयी पर ऐसे थोड़े ही मिली। मुनिया मिलकर आई थी मिल मालिक से. तब किसोरी भी साथ था उसके। किसोरी तब भी था जब गुजरात जाने के लिए घर में पैसे नहीं थे. वही लेकर गया था मुनिया को - बिसेसर सेठ के पास. १००० रुपये मिले थे तब. मुनिया अपने किये पर पता नहीं क्या करती रहती थी इन दिनों? पछतावा कि गर्व? पर हो गयी थी बड़ी अजीब। 

अब उसी दिन आँगन के चौपाले पर बैठी थी. सेठ बिसेसर का लठैत आया था उस दिन उसके खेत का बटैया देखने। कुछ तो ऊटपटांग  कहा उसने। बिफरी मुनिया ने उबलता हुआ मांड लठैत पर दे मारा। वहीँ दूसरे दिन मानसचंद हलवाई की दुकान पर भरी जेठ की दुपहरी मुनिया रेडियो पर फ़िल्मी गाने सुनती रही, बजाती रही.

मुनिया का पति जब वापस आया था छुट्टियों में तो दिन भर भुनभुनाती रहती थी वो. किसोरी-मुनिया की गृहस्थी अब केवल सांकेतिक प्रतिमानों पर टिकी थी. और पता नहीं क्यों मुनिया को लग गया था कि अबकि जब किसोरी जाएगा तो आएगा नहीं। वह द्वंद्व में थी कि इस कीड़े को दिमाग में पनपने दे या अपना दिमाग ही बदल ले. कुल मिलाकर दिमाग ही तो था उसके पास जो उसका अपना था.

किसोरी  उस दिन खेत की  मुंडेर के चक्कर लगाकर  लौटा तो काफी गुस्से में था. आते ही आटा गूंथती मुनिया की पीठ पर एक लात जड़ दिया।
"बिसेसर के पास तो मैंने भेजा था तुझे, रांड, तेरी हिम्मत कैसे हुई ऊ मनसवा के पास जाने की."

मुनिया ने उसी दिन भौंथे हसिये से अपना सर काट लिया था.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

यूँ ही.…. इत्तेफ़ाकन

सपनो की बोतल में  
बंद गुलाबी ख़त को 
समुन्दर में फेंक आई थी कभी.
     उसी रेतनुमा गुलाब की 
     मद्धम सुर्खी पर
     एक नाम लिखा है.
पर सपनों की उस बोतल में
इस बार मोम का ताला है
रेत नहीं चाहिए अब.
       बस गुलाबी रंग
       थोड़ी रूमानी शाम
       और ज़रा सा समुन्दर।

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

सिगरेट के उस आखिरी कश तक 
तुम मेरे साथ थे 
अचानक क्या हुआ तुम्हे या हमारे वजूद को?

धुंए के साथ उड़ता गया मेरा, तुम्हारा 
हमारा साथ?

या तुम इंतज़ार करते रहे 
आखिरी कश के उड़ते जाने का?

तुमने उड़ान चाहा था 
या थमाव?

समझ गयी होती तो 
शायद सिगरेट की राख जैसी 
बर्बाद नहीं होती। 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Unconditional camaraderie with pain....

An evening minus you invades my meaning
the permeability of my mind suddenly shuts.

Callous kisses, virgin surrenders
seize fleeting images on intrepid eyes.
Ravaged remnants of hidden memories -
i am forced to reap - on hidden islands.

Stubborn aroma of this season
hanging limply in the you-ensconsed air.
Feigning foamy feelings on numbed racks
i paint my cupboard - purple.

Unborn romance on the cigarette butt
shadowless dim lights on streets we walked.
Half-written notes on newspaper edges -
Let all be free from strings of utterance.

Leftover pieces of eleven seasons
jab crevices on memories you invade.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This day and that day

This day
with you -
memories smile.

Promises welcome
singed desires
for that final gash.

This day
with you -
memories freeze.

That day
without you -
memories shall torment.

Each extra ray of sunshine
each superfluous mist of desire
moments without you
shall tear apart.

That day
without you -
memories shall betray.

That final feel of you
that sweet memory of your love
that delicious dash of your desire.

That day
without you -
memories shall thaw.

Fingers shall ache
muscles shall twitch
skin shall burn
insides sear down.

That day
without you -
a wait suspends...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Longing for the bygone...

I am lonely for the sounds of yesterday.

Wind kissed quilts on the clothesline
clank of the juicy raspberries on the tongue
sishsashay of the smoke from the home furnace
i long for the thud of sunlight on the windowpanes.

Give me my yesterday. I am lonely for it.

April shall borrow the little bit of March
still basking in the February sun.
The front porch of my house back home
i long for the smell of those lost days.

Give me the time i spent. I am alone only for it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A fire gone wild...

lust -

To rise.


To resurrect.

total wreck.

Recreating Phoneix.

Baby, i like it.
These rejuvenating drags.....


Blue night
light zephyr
mist on eyes.

Burning embers.

Beautiful memories
assaulting thoughts
smile on lips.

Scarred soul.

Love was it?
Moment transfixed?

Frozen future.

She looked up.
The sky was more blue
than ever before.

Fresh draughts.
freer air.
Out she plunged.

Flown forever.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love is it??...Part 6

Seven months had passed since the child grew within the womb. Each day the mother woke up thinking of the sweet pain of that birth. And each day the anticipated pain seduced her to love the foetus that grew within her even more fiercely.

The delectable thrusts of pregnancy impregnated her with the memories of that act that made her blossom like this - undulating in love perhaps. But how can one be sure about love ever? All that she could know by now is that romance and love do not coexist, can not coexist. They only remained like misfits forced to be sworn at together but destined to remain as antithesis.

That was the first day they met. Between bites of pizza and spilled drinks, lay some crumbs of unexplained yet felt romance. But then who ever feels in sync with the other? Love is never about being in sync. That's romance, that's relationship, that's mutual and shared compromise. Love is about the ultimate attainment of individual egos that are uniquely never in sync but almost always enriching. Love is about completing the half - the incomplete halves.

Their methods were different, forms many but the goal - yes, he said 'goal', result - to claim, to attain, to possess, to be fulfilled, at any cost, perhaps the same. The world is, afterall, about control, containment, confinement, about swallowing and interring within what one likes and what one can like. The world defines success just like that. Even successful love. But there is something charming about stirred yet undrunk coffee before it is consumed.

Well, she did succeed. She possessed his essence in her womb - the essence that drove her in crazy ecstasy each day she woke. Each morning ran her hands over her lower abdomen and smiled to herself. She was indecently happy in that surrender of her self to her man in that momentous moment of sheer rapture; for she believed in the essential freedom of love. The freedom where romance is an unnecessary compulsion. She waited for that one day when the child she bore shall spill out of her womb on its own and say, 'i set you free, to be mine.'

And she waited to be trusted like that. To be held like that. Free - without control. She waited - patiently, very patiently to be kissed and set free to be his in her own way - completely, madly, totally. That day never came. The child did. But the words never came. Perhaps the trust never came.

He was insanely happy with her. Happy to be loved, to be taken care of, to be pampered. He was happy to possess, to claim and to authorise. He wanted a mother, she became one. He wanted a friend, she tried to be one. He wanted a partner - she strove hard to fit in. She lost herself bit by bit only to discover he wanted her mind that he can control. And in return offered his mind to be occupied with her thoughts. Perhaps she did not want his gifts. Perhaps she did not want anything. Perhaps she wanted only him - but totally him. He, she figured, shall never do that.

They had rebelled in love - fiercely and violently. They debated, shouted and cried - together - to claim that one ground where they could build their love. The house was to be of his bricks and the home of her dreams. She asked him to dream a little and moved forward to add a couple of bricks. With this, the earth threatened to shatter. Perhaps it was too much for the man to take and the woman to give.

The child smiles in the womb, meanwhile. It drank her blood and would have got his name for that five - ten minutes of selfish worship of each others' bodies. But did it need a name? Could she survive with her creation on her own? She knew no answers except the fact that she knew her capability.

She knew that her dignity, honour and identity did not lie between her legs alone. She knew she was more than what she was possessed and sought for. And she did know that beyond that she could not and would not offer any more of herself - to any one. Her mind was as free to think, to dream, to transgress and to transform as it had been till now in its gradual surrender, its willing imprisonment, its consenting conscription, its volitional confinement, its ever ready modulation - for him and only him.

She was tired of a long wait. She was losing interest in the anticipation of this acceptance that what was hers shall remain only hers. And that she shall part with that only and solely on her conditions. She was ready to live with unrequited love and unfulfilled desires than unrealised herself.

She looked at her womb and she looked back at him. She had made her choice. Clearly. He was as free to come along as she was free to love him.

Love among other things not-so-pink....

I am short of vocabulary. Of myself perhaps. I want to write an unwritten post to send to an unexplored address. Just that the idea of handwritten thoughts is too old-fashioned. 

Love does what mild sun does to cherry blossoms. Between the toes of soft flesh, two tear drops wet the skin. Between the space of white nothings, flowers smiled and fragrance wafted. Love did what it does, long when warmth ceased in the August sun.

To miss the mornings and the evenings and the nights is to make them stay while one so wishes time to fly. I wish to scratch the surface of the water that settles after rain and feel the film as it cools the pools in the pockets of the earth one treaded. I wish to feel the winter warmth in the musky mist of minted memories, meanwhile.

Cosumed with poesy, one confesses of love - lyrical, lilting love. The stained ink of ego, the blotches of pain all over the ruins, mounds of pen-seived sunshine, all - each of them - whisper a wish. Meanwhile, the sun shines through your hair. Leaving the finger of this night, a leaf escapes my hair.

Press my veins deeper for this mirror is embossed with your face.....