Jahan gham bhee na hoN aasuN bhee na hoN bas pyar hi pyar pale

Aasim was a few months old and I use to sing to him so that he could sleep. Yes back then, I could sing. He would watch me sing with this toy in his hand, and with the gentle rocking of his swing, he would fall asleep.

This was his favourite song back then.

Aa chal ke tujhe main le ke chaluN ek aise gagan ke tale
jahaN gham bhee na hoN aasuN bhee na hoN bas pyar hi pyar pale.

On his 19th birthday today, my wish for him is that his world be filled with happiness always.

Kabhi dhoop khile, kabhi chhon mile
lambi si dagar na khale
jahan gham bhee na hoon aason bhee na hon
bas pyar hi pyar pale.

Happy 19th, betu.

गौरी

गौरी। कुछ ५ साल की थी जब उसकी माँ इलाहबाद की गर्मियों की चपेट में आ गयी और २ दिन में ही इस दुनिया से चली गयीं उम्र इतनी नहीं थी कि सब कुछ समझ पाती, मगर पापा थे, भैया थे, दादी थीं, तीनों बुआ थीं. खयाल रखने वाले काफ़ी लोग थे। ज़िन्दगी इतनी बुरी भी नहीं थी। फिर कुछ सालों बाद उसके पापा की दुसरी शादी हो गयी। पापा नयी मम्मी के साथ रहने लगे और गौरी और उसके भैया इलाहबाद में चाचा चाची के साथ। कुछ दिन सब ठीक रहा, स्कूल भी ठीक ही चल रहा था दोनों भाई बहन छुट्टियों में पापा से भी मिल लेते थे। गौरी छठीं कक्षा में पहुंच गयी। फिर एक दिन अचानक ख़बर आयी  – गौरी मर गयी।
मर गयी? कैसे मर गयी? कुछ भी तो नहीं हुआ था उसे।
पता चला किसी ने ड्रग्स की आदत लगवा दी थी उसे।
ओवर डोज़ ने उसकी जान ले ली।
गौरी मेरी ममेरी बहन थी

Love and gravity

जाते जाते वो मुझे अच्छी निशानी दे गया
उम्र भर दोहराऊंगा एसी कहानी दे गया

We had announced our wedding and you being Tarique’s brother, wanted to meet me. So I met you at a Cafe near Churchgate station at 7 PM and the bond that formed that evening was strong. We did have our disagreements in the beginning. You were that kind of person – strong and pig-headed at times. But you always were my brother-in-law and a brother to me.

You told me in our first meeting that you are an incorrigible romantic, and in the end you even managed to romance death, so much that she took you away leaving us completely shaken. I have no idea how life would be without you. How will we all fill the void that you have left. Who will I discuss Urdu Shairi with and how will I cope up when to every sher I write, there isn’t a reply in the form of another equally good couplet.  What will I do now that I know you are not there at the other end of the phone. Tell me, is there some kind of  Whatsapp up there?  Tell me, Interstellar was right, that  love and gravity will always transcend time and space. Just send me a signal and I will know that you are there in another dimension.

Here’s  for you BIL. I am going to miss you terribly, Bhaijan, but I will not grieve your absence, your life deserves to be celebrated, not mourned.

 

Airport


There was nothing to do, so she just sat and observed people and her imagination took off. The freedom she was experiencing to be herself despite being in a place full of people was liberating. There were no restrictions and no compulsions on her here, so her mind started racing.

She started reflecting on her past and remembered it was an evening like this, she was sitting at a small airport and out of the blue he appeared wearing a Red t-shirt and jeans. She gasped, despite the years the resemblance was uncanny. It can’t be him at this nondescript place she  thought to herself and averted her gaze but had to look up when he came close. It was him. They were more than friends long ago but then had drifted apart and though she did think of him occasionally she never thought she’d meet him in this lifetime. She felt a bit awkward as he approached her and made a direct eye contact.

Hey! He said. Long time!
Long time, indeed, she replied. How have you been?
So far so good, but now that i have seen you, seems like i am in for some good time, he quipped jovially.
Taken aback with this unexpected familiarity he spoke with, she could not say anything but realised that it’s time they heal the broken bonds and get past what had been.

Let’s grab a coffee, he said and took her arm. She flung her jacket on her shoulders and responded warmly to his invitation. He was a close friend of many years, after all. She could not be cold towards him for something that they both were equally responsible for.

She soon felt the bitterness of past dissolve like sugar in coffee, and the sweetness of an old comfortable relationship filled her. They talked like they always did, as if all these years of not being in touch were just few moments of being apart from each other. She soon felt the same attraction towards him growing in her and tried curb the feelings. He, realising something amiss asked her and she could not lie.

“I am drawn towards you like a moth to a flame” She said in her usual poetic style.

Don’t bother to stop yourself from what you are feeling, darling. He said. We have come a long way and after all these years, perhaps grown wiser than what we were. So they both let go and talked passionately about things that were left unsaid for the longest time. Both of them felt the warmth engulfing them all over again.  The bond once broken strengthened and they departed for their destinations promising to stay in touch for the rest of their lives.

They kept their promise and met often. Spending nights together, stealing moments out of their busy schedule sometimes in his city, sometime at hers and at times they could even spend their holidays together. Neither spoke of moving in together, but their relationship was special and they cherished and preserved it. Till one such time that he did not turn up at the appointed place a couple of years back. She inquired, and rushed to his bedside.

She went back home after he recovered , and they continued meeting each other through out their lives At least whatever of it had remained.

Today she was leaving for a hospice facility. He had departed a year back.

“It’s my turn now” she thought just as the flight was announced. Someone pushed her wheelchair towards the boarding gate.

Photo by kevin dooley

The two of us

Its dawn. The sky is beginning to turn pink with hope and I am looking towards the dissolving stars. Soon, I know, soon there will be light and I will see you. For now, I am content with feeling the curves of your body with my hands and feeling your warm breath on my face. The sweet fragrance that I inhale when you are around intoxicates me. The words you utter sound like music to me and I picture you in my mind. You are perfect, and if there is anything more I want it’s a glimpse of you.

I step a few paces away from you so that I can see you completely, from head to toe. I want to bask in that sight, I want to remember it forever. I have waited for this day since a very long time and finally I know that day has come. I can almost hear the music I’ll play for you, see the picture I will click of both of us together and the places I will go with you. I have lived my life just for this one moment. The moment of truth. To whisper sweet nothings to you, and hear them from you. I have spoken with you so many times, almost daily, sometimes for hours together. Today I have decided I will meet you.

I dip my feet in the cool waters of the lake and I feel your presence. I am waiting for the first rays of sun. I want to see the rays touch your face before they touch anything else.

“Are you ready” I say.

“I am just a voice in your head” I don’t exist. I am just your reflection. I am your dream, let me be within you” You reply.

The two of us get up and leave quietly.

Photo credit: Chris Paul 2014 via Foter.com / CC BY

Riots


I am running. I want to go back but I can not. I can not turn back, there is nothing for me there. I feel a surge of fear taking a grip on me as I look at the street which is devoid of people. Not even a soul here. I have no place to go, no body to turn to. Scared I start to run and hit a big boulder on the middle of the road. I take a hit on my head. Its bleeding, blood running down my temples, I lick my lips and find them salty, I try to spit but my mouth is dry. Water. I must have some water. I keep running and looking around. All the doors are closed. The ones that are open have no one inside.

No choice, I say to my self, run or they will get you as they got others. I have lost the cloth piece I used as a shawl to protect myself, I am sweating and yet a shiver runs down my spine.

Finally I dare to look behind and slow down with relief. I think I can rest a while.

Water, I must have some water.  I look around once again and find a dog licking something from a discarded utensil.  It’s a bowl with some liquid. I shoo away the dog and try to lift the bowl.  My hands are shaking, they start to give up. The bowl seems heavy but I lift it nevertheless and gulp down few precious mouthfuls of water that it had. The dog starts to whimper and I run my hand over its head. The dog doesn’t bite me, wags its tail instead.  At least the dog understands what civilized human beings have forgotten.

The events that happen a few hours back run through my mind again… fire, stones, people shouting slogans, slogans against and slogans for something, some sect, some religion.. I don’t understand any of it. Suddenly a stone hits my window and I go hide beneath the desk. There is no one at home. I am all alone, like I always am at this hour in the night. Father has to go and work the night shift to get money for the bread. I have done my share of working during the day. Tired and hungry I am waiting for him. Suddenly a burning cloth hits my home. The thatched roof starts burning, acrid smoke fills my tiny hut and I have no choice but to get out.

As I step out of my home, I hear people shouting, “there, there he is. Kill him like we killed his father” “No, burn him” “He does not belong here” “Hey you, go back to where you come from” someone says. I try to reply “but I live here, I was born in this hut” They don’t listen. My words don’t reach them at all. The crowd is getting bigger, scarier. I see someone. He is my friend’s father. I know him. A hope fills my heart but then I notice that his eyes are red. “Is he drunk?” I wonder.

I consider telling him that I know his son, we play together. But there is no time for that. I see them coming closer with knives and stones. Some have axes in their hands. I sense they really want to kill me so I run. I am tiny and can go beneath the carts and I can run faster than most of them. I run hard and manage to escape.

It’s been twenty days since this happened. I don’t know what happened to my father. I had escaped and managed to get out of the locality where I lived with my father and others in a small cluster of hutments. That night I had taken shelter beneath a tree and had met a boy. His name was Chiru and he was almost my age.

Chiru had taken me in that night. He was scared and lonely too. We went to his hut and he shared half his food with me. I learnt that he lives alone too. His father, was killed a week before I met him when some people from the other locality attacked theirs. I feel  his pain.  The people who attacked Chiru’s father were from my locality and I feel guilty for the crime they committed.Photo by Black Scratchy Lines

Friend


“Hi!!” he came to her and greeted.

“Hi” she replied back, a little cautiously.

“Are you new here? I have not seen you around” he asked. “Yes”. She gave a mono-syllabic reply. “Want me to show you around” he inquired and without waiting for a reply, picked up her bag of books in his hands and waited. An introvert that she was, she did not expect this and was a bit hesitant and a little taken aback with his brashness, but stood up never-the-less. He, just the opposite very talkative, playful and cheerful. She could not help but answer him back in a couple of syllables. It took a few moments of awkwardness but she found herself enjoying his company and allowed him to lead her everywhere.

They met the next day, and the day after and then it became a habit to seek each other out as soon as they reached the gate of their institution. Since they were also in the same class, they often sat together during the classes. Both of them were five and it was their first year of kindergarten.

Years passed, their friend circle expanded, and he became one of her numerous friends. In standard III, his father moved to another town. Her first friend got lost in the hustle bustle and business of life though she often missed him.

Economics was the subject she wanted to major in and she took admission in one of the best institutes in the capital. She had a lot on her mind, “I must get a room in the hostel, she thought to herself, else dad will never allow me to stay here so far away from home”, she was thinking, when she felt something stir.

“Hey! you new here” she heard a voice call out to her.

“Yes, Eco Honors,” She turned back and replied -tried to place the face. He looked familiar “You… aren’t you…?” she wanted to talk. She needed a friend, and hoped to find one as she had on her first day of the school.

“Hosteler?”He ignored her question

“Yes” She replied back and asked hopefully “are you in Eco too?”

“Report in the auditorium at 7 p.m tonight.

She shouldn’t have been, but she was disappointed. She desperately needed a friend in this huge campus which looked alien. She felt alone.

She gathered her skirt, kept her purse by her side and sat in a corner waiting in the auditorium.

“Hi!” he said, “Can I sit here?”

“Hi” she replied tentatively not sure what to answer.

Without waiting for her reply, he sat next to her. “Aman.” He said. “Eco Honors. And you?”

She told him her name hesitantly.

“Isn’t it funny?, I mean look at us newbies. We look just like kindergarten kids. Completely lost on the first day of college”  He continued talking, she replied to him in monosyllables at first, but soon found herself talking freely. The warmth of new friendship surrounded them as she began her first day in the college.