Thursday, 16 February 2017

The gone farmer!


No, he did not fall there by chance. 
A farmer knows his fields better than 
The back of his hands. 
Every piece of soil, every blade of grass
Touched, caressed and felt. 
Every crack, hole, stone examined 
By the mature, dry eyes. 
Every corner, trod upon, 
By worn and often tired feet. 

He could not have killed himself
Not like this, in his own field 
Inside a hole, barely large to hold him
He would have been suffocated,
He disliked closed spaces, you see 
Used to sleeping and chatting in the open 
Under the roof of sky. 

He could have been killed though
And dumped there 
In this hole
There is no blood visible  
But the colour is hard to miss 
There are no visible marks 
But the grip of hands one can feel, 
Who? you ask? 
All. 

He might have been working,  
Digging a hole,
In hope of water, 
Or god knows what 
Spurned by all. 
But who else did he have 
Where else could he go,
He might have simply perished 
Exhausted and thirsty. 
In the heat 
That has claimed 

Even the last drop of water. 

Monday, 6 July 2015

Rain in Greece

Four Drops of Rain - Dimitri 
based on our visit to Greece
--
Dimitri had just parked his bike in the stand of Monasteraki overlooking the majestic Acropolis and was picking up his daily dose of black coffee from the cafe en route to his souvenir shops in the busy flea street of Athens. The sky was dark, grey and ominous but the Parthenon’s yellow-sepia colour contrasted with the colour of the sky rather well and it looked like a jewel in bosom of goddess Athena (patron goddess of Athens) herself. Dimitri felt sombre, silent and spiritual to the extent that he almost knelt down to say a prayer. He was not much of a believer, but he was not much of a disbeliever as well.  
The first drop fell on the plastic covering of his cup making a sound akin to the first touch of the drum stick on the leather. More drops came down from the clouds making a variety of sounds - from the [ XXX roof extensions of cafe’s ], from the leaves and branches of trees, from the black road and pavements, from the hurriedly opened umbrellas of tourists. Somehow the tourists seemed to be better prepared for the weather changes!  The different noises combined to form an orchestra of percussion instruments, very similar to the one played out in the open space in front of the old roman church by a motley group of hippies and enthusiasts who gather every evening with their instruments and try to play in unison. They would start instrument by instrument, player by player and slowly pick up the pace rising to a crescendo and then start all over again with a different beat. But the rhythm of the rain drops was going one way and after a while it became so thick and fast that it was difficult to see one side of the road from the other. Dimitri was standing by a local souvlaki and had exchanged smiles with a rich businessman and his fourth wife who had finished at least two packets of cigarettes between them while waiting for their order to come in. This man was a friend of his father and was known for his meticulousness and propriety in matters of business and public life. He has had three marriages and three divorces, all of them ugly and messy. The last one had registered a complaint of physical violence and rape against him and almost cost him half of his estates in some of the picturesque Greek islands. Dimitri had often wondered how such a successful and sincere man in public life could not manage not one but three marriages, all of which were of his choice.  

Dimitri looked at his ring and was reminded of his wife, Angela, whom he had met at a shop in Santorini. She was a poor salesgirl who lived in one of the villages near the Kamari beach and was very shy, unlike the other gregarious sales girls in the commercial Fira town of Santorini. Dimitri married her within a year and they moved to Athens where Dimitri’s father had a thriving but small business of antique bronze work. Dimitri had expanded that business to three shops and a full range of souvenirs and traditional greek products. He sold cheap and relied on volumes and large number of customer-friends to make living for his family and of several of his sales people. He actually liked to meet new people and strike a conversation with them. His employees also loved him for his good-natured mischievous ways. He was always kind to them. In many ways he was quite successful.   
Dimitri’s father had a good Arab customer-friend who visited Athen’s many times and would come over to the shops and sometimes picked up some things for his wife and family, but he came more to meet Dimitri as he remained him of his deceased friend. He once told Dimitri, without his asking 
‘ you know, Allah gave us two eyes, not one..to create balance’
‘ what kind of balance’ asked Dimitri 
‘ balance in life, in marriage’  the old man continued ‘ you know when things good, are in balance, you see all your wife’s good qualities with one eye and all your bad qualities in the other eye’ 
‘ hmmm…’ Dimitri was struck by the simple statement 
‘ and when things are not in balance, you see, you always see evil qualities of your wife in one eye and all your good qualities in the other eye’ the old man said this in a manner one would say to a friend and not preach to a younger generation. Then he added
‘ you are lucky, have to keep the balance for one wife. i have to do the same for three!’ and gave out a hearty laugh which Dimitri joined in. 
He was reminded of the old Arab gentleman today, then his thoughts ran to his father and then to his wife. They had a difficult morning, the kids made it so. They did not want to go to school with a possible rainy day lurking ahead. Angela wanted some help from Dimitri in getting them ready, Dimitri was not in a mood to be hurried in the morning. He hated being hurried in the mornings, Angela always had a lot to do and a lot to say. Dimitri realised it even when he was raising his voice over and over again before the kids that he was not sensitive and was overreacting. He thought of taking flowers and some baklavas back home for her. He started to walk to his shop.

He was fully drenched but noticed the smiles of his staff, his employees. He was greeted with broader and more meaningful smiles today and as he was asking them the reason for the same, he saw a thin frame behind a wet curtain hung for sale. It was his wife. 
‘ I came to give you a surprise and buy a few things for home’ she said with a tourists accent. 
‘ Yes madam, what can we give you today. the weather is terrible today, it had never rained like this in Athens in four or five years. If you like something we make very good price for you, we sell cheap, you know, we want to give this things away, they should be in your house, not my shop. If you like just tell us, else, you can just sit here and have have coffee with me, no problem’ Dimitri replied in his usual style while talking to his customer-friends. 
She was laughing and Dimitri looked at her wet hair and face and was reminded once again of the old man and his talisman. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Ek aisa rishta


Is rishte ka rishta hona 
Bas tere masoom aitbaar 
Aur bina shikvon ke  
Intezaar ke badaulaat hai. 

Hum to bezaar the,
Kabhi berukhi to
Kabhi bewafai ki.
Jab mila to saut ki 
Zulfon ki itr ki khosboo 
Apne jism mein bhar kar mila. 
Aur Jab bichhda to 
Zald lautne ka jhootha
Waada bhi nahin kiya.

Purane shehar ki,
Ghumavdaar galiyon si
Tumhari baahon se  
Baar baar guzra.
Tumhari saason ko 
Hukke ke dhuyen ke saath,
Apne seene mein sameta,
Aur tumhari aansuon ka bhar
Kar jaam, ghoont ghoont gale 
Se utaara. 

Pardon ki tarah,
Tumhara ghoonghat uthaya to
Kucch jhurriyon ko aur gehra paya.
Labon ko sukha,
Aur hatheliyon ko sakht. 
Tumhara libaas utaara,
To waqt ke beraham 
Haathon ke nishaan paye.
Kucch nishaan mere bhi the,
Jinhe tumne sambhale the ab tak. 

Har baar lekin tumhari 
Aankhon me chamak,
Aur pyaar wohi tha. 
Milne par wo apnapan, 
Aur khushi ka izhaar bhi wahi. 
Jo majboor karta hai,
Ke baar baar laut ta hun,
Is shehar main. 
Par main ye jaanta Hun
Ke is rishte ka rishta hona 
Bas tere masoom aitbaar 
Aur bina shikvon ke  
Intezaar ke badaulaat hai. 


On my third visit to Udaipur. 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Sweat

Mohan had been working all day and night for the launch of the new product from his new company. This was his first major assignment and he wanted everything to be as close as to perfect. He would think back on every argument in the meeting room in the days leading to the launch and irrespective of the fact that he may have fiercely opposed the argument from his detractors, if there was any merit in them, he would include them into his plan. He had two stations - meeting room at office and his study at home. He had put on weight, which he was aware of and some arrogance, which he was not. The launch was more or less on expected lines. Even the encomiums showered were expected and so were the cautious prophesies of sooth sayers. Mohan was usually level headed but the calmness this time around surprised even him. There was a lightness of course. He looked forward to the break to which he kept on adding 'much-needed' without really meaning it. The break was also coming to an end without any break for Mohan from the strange sense of being an emotionless witness to events of his own life. On the last day, he ventured out early morning for a walk. The sun was quite bright even at that hour of the day and Mohan had no particular route in mind, the city was new. He did not mind though, he was feeling better. He saw a bunch of school kids chasing one another perilously close to the road, an old man cycling and muttering something to himself, an old lady grabbing the arm and looking with gratitude to another young lady, three middle age women in purple, pink and aqua with i-pods tucked into their ears walking towards a park, a school bus honking and speeding past the tender-coconut hawker, a young boy catching the news paper which bounced off the 2nd floor balcony on his first throw, a road-side tea seller haggling with the milk vendor over change money and a group of old men with sticks in hands coming out of a park after their morning routine of exercise. Mohan jogged back home and was exhausted by the time he reached. He showered and then sat down to read newspaper with a cup of coffee. He was sweating when he entered the shower and the stint at kitchen did not help. He was wiping the sweat of his forehead with the news paper till he finished his coffee. He changed his position a few times over to come closer to the fan in the drawing room. He switched on the TV, flipped through channels, pages of newspaper, scrolled down the contact list of his phone and switched off the TV. He called up his friend who was settled in another country now and an uncle who was moving in to the town. He opened his laptop and after a while shut it down without figuring it out why he opened it in the first place. He arranged and then rearranged his book shelf and picked up a book. It was well past noon when he had his lunch and the heat was rising. He kept wiping his brow with a towel and washing his face but the sweat returned. He read another book and talked to his family. He checked his e-mails and replied to few of them. He got up around evening from his unkempt bed and poured himself a glass of wine. He was still sweating and the towel and his shirt were wet. He did not switch on the AC or go to his study. It was his purging. He felt alive, as if life was trickling through his pores after his interaction and acknowledgement of the world outside this morning and a different routine at home. He felt many emotions which may not have a simple name or classification. He felt deja vu but could not figure out for what. He felt sad but did not understand why. He stood at his balcony for a long time watching the sky which was looking like a movie screen just before the light is beamed into it from projector room. It started to rain slowly and a cool breeze was touching his face. He did not know how long he stood there or if the droplets on his back were sweat or rain.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The river as big as the sea

It is hard to say
What has become what.
And who is flowing into whom.
The mighty river
Has become as big as the sea.

The calmness of the sea
Is there in the river now.
Like a glowing sheet of silver
It lays along the green banks of villages,
Brown roads of the city
And black rocks of the hills.

The sea it seems has become restless
As the river.
Years of mingling,
Of listening to the grief and joys
Brought along from the hills and
The plateaus and plains 
Have finally affected the unmoved
And usually restrained sea.

The sky has seen it all
And is expressing its anger
Through the redness spread all over
Its face, and the river and the sea.
The flow has reversed,
The giver has become the receiver
The holy has become ominous.

This year the floods have been really bad.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Flies

Manu picked up his phone in the middle of an afternoon meeting at work and was surprised to see several unanswered calls from Radha. They had just moved to a new house, he was worried. He stepped out and called back to find an extremely agitated but helpless Radha. She had spotted a swarm of flies around the kitchen who did not relent even after she had tried a few good measures suggested by her mother over phone. Manu did what he could over a phone and got back to the meeting.
Radha had no comfort from time or the flies till Manu returned just before dusk. Whether Radha was sulking more because of the flies or because of Manu’s indifference to them was hard to tell. Manu started off where he left at office and was lost in his laptop and work after a cup of evening tea. Then a joyous cry from Radha forced him to get up to the kitchen where Radha was very happy to see one or two of the last flies who were hovering there.
‘Flies can’t see in the night’ said Manu, trying to sound wise and comforting Radha.
‘Really?’ Radha was happy to see the flies disappear regardless of the weird logic of Manu.
The rest of the evening and dinner was rather uneventful and both were quite happy about the serenity of their new neighbourhood and their own judgement. Manu did not realise when he slept off while watching the TV. Radha was asleep in another room. He was awakened by a noisy din of something which he was not sure was a part of his dream or present at their new house. He woke up to find a swarm of flies fluttering intently over him.
Disgusted, he went to the bathroom, waving vigorously with a cushion at the flies who seem to have scattered again. He almost gave out a cry when he opened the bathroom door. Another bunch of flies were almost waiting to pounce upon him. He somehow managed to get past them and get back to their bedroom where Radha was fast asleep. He slowly got on to the bed and assured that there were no visible things around the room, closed his eyes and tried to get back to sleep. He could not.  
He lifted one of his eyelids slowly to see if they had come back from somewhere. Nothing. Then, he started to think – flies are generally attracted to dirty things or exposed food items with strong odour, but the military vigilance of Radha ensured there was nothing matching that description that ever lay unattended, especially after moving into this new house.
Then an image of a dark old man with tattered clothes sitting outside the general ward of a big city hospital with an exposed pink wound, waiting for nurses to attend to him, came to his mind. He could remember that there were several flies hovering around his wound and this man was waving with his trembling hands at them switching between the two arms with great difficultly as one arm was resting on the ground supporting his body. Manu could not still be sure if he was racking his memory or this was another of the real life-like dreams we have.
When he opened his eyes again to check, there were flies, large in number but silent and they were almost suspended in the air. As if they were already sitting on some wound. Whose wounds? And if there were any wounds either of them were carrying, how did the flies know about them? These wounds are certainly not visible. 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Before the ice-cream melts

Rohan knew that something had to be done; a simple sorry won't do. He often wondered how is it that often we rely on words, often spoken with same manner, to clarify and make up for a damage done by words. He preferred writing; at least some space is there for someone to think. But this was a time to act!
He thought over a few options but rejected most as were either too banal or too melodramatic. Then he thought of an ice-cream. She was generally very happy to get some savory (usually hot and spicy) as a gift. He would usually get her samosas with flowers, vada pav or pav bhaji with perfumes, chhole bhatures with a new Saree,  gulab jamuns with a wall-painting. But then he thought, would that be too easy or what if she did not like the particular flavor. He went up to the stall, still unsure and chose one particular flavor. He thought about changing that one and did too, much to the chagrin of the young boy at the counter. Rohan gave him the look which said 'you won't know yet my son', although the boy was only a few years younger. He thanked the boy and headed back. It was an afternoon of May and sun was still blazing. He suddenly realized that he has to walk back and the ice-cream will certainly melt to quite an extent. He remembered what she had told him at a marriage dinner 'its never the same once it starts to melt', in reaction to a piece of ice cream he got her and had been intercepted mid-way by an elderly aunt for quick chat.
He started to walk fast and that was quite an challenge considering the bustle of the market and the distance to their home. He almost ran half the distance, jogged a quarter and walked to catch a breath for the other quarter. Since it was all sealed he had no way of knowing if the ice cream had melted. He climbed up the stairs, two at a time and almost twisted his ankle on the last few stairs reaching his flat. He pressed the bell and eagerly waited to see the look on her face. This was one thing he could never guess despite the time they had known each other. It was not as bad and she asked where had he stepped out and why. He simply thruster the wrapped ice-cream to her and started to remove his shoes. She opened the polythene and started to have the ice-cream completely oblivious to his presence. She slowly turned back and went into the bedroom and finished the ice-cream. Rohan stood there by the door watching her. She lifted her head up and there was a child like smile that lit up the dimly lit bedroom of theirs.
'Why are you standing there, go and change your clothes' she said and went into the kitchen.
Rohan went into his study to do as asked smiling and shaking his head. Normalcy has been restored. 

Friday, 21 February 2014

Untitled

I will not judge you
By the colour of your skin,
Or by the structure of your face, 
The kind of clothes you wear, 
Or by the language you speak.

Not on what you do or do not,
Where you live or have been to. 
Whom you know,
And who know you,
Will not matter to me.

I will take you as you are
And treat you as you.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

past admission

Apologies for lack of capitalisation and bad punctuation but if you like/dislike the piece do post a comment. Thank You 
--





'Did you ever hold a woman as close as this?' she asked and hid her face in his in order to avoid the chilly winds over the top of the mountain where they has walked up in the morning to see the sunrise.
he was silent for a moment. he looked at the mountains, the clouds and the sky.
they all lay bare in front of him, in front of all, to witness them as they are, no hiding, no pretentions, no lies...just true and pure. 

'yes'...
he felt her stiffen in his arms..
'did you ever kiss her?'
'yes' he answered matter-of-factly and got lost in thoughts.
he did not realise for sometime that she had slid out of his arms and walked all the way down to the old colonial guesthouse where they were staying.
he sat there for a while, feeling the wind and the sun rays on his face. he remembered that night.
he always regretted the way his relationship with Diana had turned out, most of all he regretted being flirtatious about that relationship for a brief period of time.
he could not stand his own lack of seriousness and the whole casual way he approached her. it did not last long, he did not want it either. he wished it never happened, but then that's not how it works. you can't wish your past away. 
he sat there till he could not sit there any more due to the blinding sunlight.
he ran all the way back, when he realised that they could not find dinner last night and she would be hungry for breakfast.
'hey, i have asked Bholu to make some parathas for us, get up'
he knew she would not.
he went up to her, pulled her up,
she had cried.
'we can not control our pasts. can we? it was a mistake. it has nothing to do with us now.'
he hugged her hard and let go himself. he was crying as well.
'i can not lie to you. i do not want to lie to at least one person. that is you'
'i never knew...'
'how does it matter now'
they were silent for a while and then as if tears would find their rythymic way out of their eyes.
'you must be really hungry. come out for breakfast'
'no, i am not hungry'
'that means you are almost starving. come out'
he hugged her tightly again
she said amidst sobs
'does he give mint chutney with parathas?'
'yeah'
'can i have one extra paratha?'
'yeah'

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Homecoming!

She had come back home, after a long time.
He hesitated to ask her to spend some time together at his place after they met a common friend's place for a party. There was an apprehension of being misunderstood, of being said 'No', which would have sounded like 'No! Never! How did you even think about that'. But he risked being hurt and refused as he did often.
She said 'Yes'. He was surprised, but did not want to get into reasons. He was simply happy at the thought of having her close and to spend some time with her.

His apartment was familiar. Nothing had changed. She knew nothing would change. It was she who changed and managed the home which had become a 'house with things' in her absence. She did not ask anything, she quietly slipped into her slippers, dusted by now, and went into the kitchen. A few minutes later, he could smell the familiar ginger boiling in water. He could picture her, tucking her open hair back behind her ears, boiling milk in the other burner, chopping ginger and making their favourite ginger tea.
He had changed into warm clothes for night. She got the tea to the bed room and sat next to him. They both began to sip the tea. It was good, it was always good.

They were silent, they were both thinking.
She was thinking about the car ride back home from the party. She had decided not to tell him anything about these few months when they had not met. She had decided not to tell anyone. He asked once, she refused. He asked again, she refused by saying 'there is nothing to tell'. He knew this line meant something has happened.
He did not ask again. He put his palm over her head and started to caress her hair. He never liked her hair tied up. She knew that and had undone her hair just before coming to the party. He continued to caress her head. She stopped that car mid way and hugged him. There were tears in her eyes. Then she told him everything. It was not clear now, who was crying or who was sadder. His sense of humour usually deserts him at such moments, but he found a line which made both of them grin. She was looking at his hand over her shoulders while she was driving. He knew this signal. He put his hand over her hand which was over the gear. Warm and intimate, both felt better and she smiled at last and cried out his name "Nirvaan" and raised her head like a calf.
"Priyaa" came the reply and more caresses on the raised neck.
When they were very happy and could not find words, they would just do this and they would both understand.
He was thinking about the party and how he tried to avoid looking at her and even listening to her. Their glances met couple of times, but he turned away immediately. He was never comfortable with her talking to someone else for long at public events. They have had fights about it, though she was happy within that he was so possessive about her. He simply told her 'I can't help it. I am sorry'. This time he avoided her completely. It was her who was not feeling okay with this. She tried to join in a group he would be talking to and he would leave the group in a minute making some excuse.
'I will refill my drink' or 'The Kathi rolls are awesome. I will get some more!' Then she followed him and their friend to the kitchen for some water. They looked at each other. Then, as if they had planned about it, they both announced that they had to leave. Then as they were saying goodbyes, they involuntarily held hands and went out like that.

"Should we see some videos on youube" she asked and took his phone in her hands.
"Why don’t you change and be comfortable?" he replied and took his phone back and put it over the purple table, she painted one weekend.
"What do I wear? I did not leave anything." She was apologetic about the last line it seemed.
"You can wear that maroon kurta of mine which you loved" He replied and handed over a white towel to her.
"Thank You" and she rushed into the bathroom to change.

"You look better than me in this kurta" he said as she came back. He was holding a set of moisturiser for her.
"This is the brand I use! Why are you..." she stopped mid-way the sentence as he avoided the question and turned away to get blankets and mattress.

She stared at the moisturiser for long and the image of him coming from behind and hugging her while she used to put moisturiser while getting ready for office and kissing her neck and smelling her hair came back to her mind. She was brought back to the present by the sound of his phone. He picked up the phone and went to the other room. She put his jacket back in the closet and spread out his bed with blanket for him.

He came back from the call and slipped into his bed and watched some of their favourite videos. They watched and laughed for quite some time. All the tiredness of the party and heaviness of the drive were forgotten.
"You know, I am telling you again. You laugh like a man" he said.
"And you are more emotional than most girls, in fact most people" she laughed back and said.

She shifted her position on the bed and made room for him to come up. She knew, he was not very comfortable on the mattress on the ground. They lied next to each other and shared some old stories about childhood. They laughed like crazy. She could not control her laughter on some incident and he could not help cuddling up to her and caressing her hair.

"You know what, every time I shampooed my hair, I would think of you" she said and hugged him tighter.
"I know. I thought of you every time, I saw a woman with nice hair. I loved to put you wet hair over my face and smell them after every shampoo of yours. Especially at night because..."
He looked at her, she was almost asleep.

"Priyaa...you want to sleep?"
"Hmm"
He got up and kissed her good night and switched off the lights.
"Good Night" she said.
He drew closer and gave one more kiss on her cheek and could see the smile on her face. He was happy.

They woke up almost at the same time next morning.
“Good morning!, Are you up” he said.
“Hmm. Come closer, I have to say something nice to you” she whispered.
“Yeah” and he jumped into the bed.

She had to book tickets for a weekend vacation.
"Are you going alone?" he asked, knowing that she hated to travel alone and be alone.
"Not anymore!" she replied with a mischievous smile.
"Then?"
"I am booking you in!"
"Okay! Which weekend?"
"Does that matter?"
"No"

She made beat coffee for him and they read news paper together lying next to each other. Hand in hand, her head in his lap. They saw some more videos and played crosswords.


They were not bothered what was going to happen. They were happy with what had happened since the party last night and what was happening now. 

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The cynic in Aam Aadmi (or Aurat if you please)

Okay, so the AAP has formed the government and Mr. Arvind Kejriwal is the seventh Chief Minister of Delhi and the youngest one to be so. Remarkably, his ascend to this post, is also one of the swiftest and most covered (by media and public interest) in Indian politics. This phenomenon is nothing short of a mini-revolution or coo akin to the India’s freedom from the British. Use of democratic means to achieve the objective of movement, complete rejection of violence even in the face of provocation and involvement of every section of the society were hallmarks of this movement which were also that of the freedom movement; though the duration of freedom struggle, involvement of entire geography, the complete illegitimacy of British rule lend a different shade to that great movement.
What started as a movement against corruption, for which Mr. Kejriwal was acclaimed by the classes (Magsaysay award if you like) and masses (who were there at Jantar Mantar and Ramlila) alike, became a political movement out of which was born the AAP. Critics are quick to point out that this was always the plan and the movement and association with Anna was the façade. Even if it were true, one dares to ask ‘What’s wrong in that?’ Here are bunch of people who are well-educated, have no criminal background, have no muscle or money power to back them up, no surname which gives them a platinum membership the moment they are born and are not asking for votes because of our caste, religion or thankfully liquor. If having an experience or the backing of an already establish party is the only criteria for serious political dialogue, then political or social movements which essentially want to bring a change by new people would never have had the impact they have across the world. And, such movements are not a thing of the past, if one is even cursorily following the events in the Middle-East or for that matter in many districts of our own country where people have chosen violence as their only or last measure to get a rightful share of development.  Even if all this is not true, since when have we become dismissive of experimentation and why should we. In the words of George Bernard Shaw “We need more insane people in this world, look where the sane ones have landed us!”
The rise of AAP which was dismissed as ‘a story’ by the defeated and out-going Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, needs to be studied for various reasons. Successful political movements have always had causes that people relate to at that period of time, and inspired leadership that is able to use and give momentum to the feelings and thoughts of people. Issues can rarely be planted or concocted; they can be given wind only if they exist for real. The issues that AAP championed – corruption, rising prices of utilities such as water and electricity, transparency in governance, high-handedness and aloofness of the political class, plagued the common man for a very long time and were actually party agnostic. The response of the common man was apathy at worst or finding a corner away from the mainstream to express himself/herself (as an organisation or activist) at best. The option of addressing these issues in the mainstream public or political arena was ruled out, despite our chest-thumping as the largest democracy in the world (even this sounds like such a cliché!).
To make matters worse a certain cynicism had crept in, which others used to colour the efforts of this movement and treat it with disdain. History is an easy refuse for the cynic. Comparisons were drawn to previous political movements that had either lost their sheen due to leadership struggles or failed abysmally due to governance and administrative reasons. Not surprisingly some of the biggest critics are also the victims of the same phenomena and are no longer ‘the party with difference’ as even people among them would admit. The need to create an alternative space which the youth of today could relate to and aspire for, was discounted. The entry barrier to politics as an occupation (one would shy away from using the word profession) is one of the highest and the youth was dissuaded and discouraged to have anything to do with the ‘dirty thing’.
This movement among others has certainly ended the cynicism for many. The ‘Aam Admi’ in India is a cynic and might remain so because of limited opportunities and practically unlimited competition for resources but there has been an honest attempt by some ‘aam aadmi (and aurats)’ to take matters that matter to them in their own hands through rightful means. That includes not only Mr. Kejriwal and his team of ministers and elected legislators, but the thousands of party workers and volunteers who worked tirelessly for their spectacular success. This attempt should be lauded.

This attempt will be under surveillance in the days to come, its success to be belittled and failures to be magnified. The foundation itself is shaky and contradictory – issue based support from the party or parties against the actions of which this movement was born. Whether the AAP is able to deliver on the causes it has chosen to take up and meet other challenges such as relevant and quality education, livelihood opportunities, affordable healthcare and inflation, if it does not compromise on transparency and corruption, it would remain vindicated. The AAP has to remain true most importantly to the people whose causes it espouses – the aam aadmi.  This might look simple but as the lessons learnt from past suggest, it is not. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

My school is on the bank of river Daya

My school is on the bank of river Daya,
The river of kindness;
The river that was kind to mighty king Ashoka, 
And made him the ruler of hearts of men through Dharma. 
The teacher told us so in the history class,
Just before the rains came in. 

This river goes up all the way to the Lake Chilika, 
Which I wish to see through my eyes;
The words of  Utkalamani* ring in my ears,
Which I read in the school recitation competition
Just before the rains came in.   

In the holy month of Kartik, 
My mother and I, along with others of the village
Take our small boats made up of banana bark,
And set them sail on this river, 
In the glory of the tradesmen of Odisha who sailed 
To distant lands like Sumatra, Bali and Java. 
I too wish to go,
When older I grow, 
But the rains have come in, 
The river has flooded among other things, my school. 
There are no classes, no play, 
My friends and teachers I miss too. 
O kind river, be kind once more,
Let the water go away to Chilika,
And the children go to school with joy. 

* Utkalamani Gopabandhu Das 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Jajabara Travels - Khajuraho : Poetry in Stones

I have a new look on the art of sculpting and the sculpter after visiting the Western Complex of temples at Khajuraho. Sculpting requires, not only the art of a painter and imagination of a poet but also the calculations of a mathematician and the strength and discipline of a worker. It requires a perfect balance between body and the mind. This is where it becomes a more exacting art form than say poetry or painting.
            The sculptures of Khajuraho speak to you in a way that intricately carved, richly decorated and high priced pieces of 'art collections' at any museum would not. Here in the setting and surroundings of temples they are not isolated works to be admired as the output of some artist; rather, they are simply present as a depiction of collective effort of many and represent the everyday life. The setting and the place is their own.
They speak to you with their gestures, their beauty, their actions, with compassion on their face, inviting admiration, exclamation, empathy, love and sometimes jealousy.
           Precise beauty in human forms, sheer horror in form of strange beasts, divinity in forms of gods and architectural brilliance in setting up of richly carved stones ('balua' stones in this case) are all brought together in this magnificent world created by hammer and chisel. As a poet beautifully puts it and as recounted by the voice of Amitabh Bacchan in the glorious light and sound show here

'Make me a stone among the many stones here
O Master sculptor of Khajuraho !'

I reflect: Isn't the world we live in, a similar marvel created by God.

'O Lord! make me a beautiful stone and place me in my rightful place!' A prayer rises up in mind spontaneously. I am sure the Lord's reply, if we could hear it in the din of our restlessness, would be
'Tathaastu' (in Sanskrit) or 'It is already so!'

Dew drops on bamboo leaves

We saw them last night 
Spread against the sky. 
Somewhere in perfect patterns
Which we could understand;
And some we could not,
But, beautiful all the same. 
Smiling and winking at each other
Having a chat may be
About the moon, who was missing. 

Some said he got down,
Through its dancing reflection
From the sky into the beautiful lake
With white lilies,
Where a fair girl was bathing;
He has not come back since. 
And the blue lake, the green lily leaves,
The black night bird
Won't say a word. 

But, the sun
Has come out this morning,
Red in shame. 
Does it know?
Has it seen something?
But, it won't tell either.

The stars have now set it upon themselves
To look for the unwilling moon,
And have it come back to the sky.
Here, they have spread out against every leaf of bamboo
Hanging on the tips,
Looking in all directions,
Signalling each other with movements in the wind:
But will the find?

The sun is not helping at all,
Growing big and pale in anger.
The stars have to hasten their search
Else the sky and they
Will be without company at night. 

Friday, 11 October 2013

Of cyclones with funny names

I am the black fisherman's wife,
Who loves her husband dearly, 
Even though he beats me up, 
When Drunk;
But then, that is when he says the sweetest things
Only as a rugged fisherman can.
But, I never get angry on him from within,
Though I threaten to not to cook for him
I always do, even if it is only rice
And fish left over from selling in the local haat.
But, why did he have to fight this morning
Before going to the sea.

The clouds have completely covered the sky,
Rendered it black,
As if the night never got over.
The dogs have been barking as if they have seen a devil,
The hen have been running around as if there is no tomorrow.
And my right eye has been flickering since yesterday.
One can't trust these omens though,
But what to do of my heart which has been beating like a drum
And rushing to come out of my bosom.

The village head-man was saying about
Something on the radio
Some funny name which can't be from here.
Sometimes I wonder, who sends these curses.
Can't be the sea,
Who is our father and feeds us throughout the year
Even mother earth was kind this year
And the fields of the farmers looked green
When my husband took me to the market last Monday.

O what disaster will ensue!
Houses will be swept away,
Cattle and other animals will die first,
Fields and roads will all be filled with,
Dirty water, broken trees,
Belongings of people and corpses too.
Food and clean water will be scarce,
People used to break their backs for their earning,
Will live on crumbs of mercy thrown at them.
God only knows when will people return to their old homes
And old ways of life.
But my heart goes out to my husband,
Who will be the first in harm's way.
Alone, on his small ship,
In look out for the fish,
Looking at the sky occasionally
And maybe muttering 'another bad day'
Only, I am afraid it isn't any 'other bad day'
O Godess Kali ! I offer you my two hens
On the puja day;
And also the small black goat with white spots.
Let my husband comes back well.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Puraana Akhbaar

अखबार कागज़ पर नहीं छपते,
छपते हैं समय के चेहरे पर,
फिर इनकी कई कापियां बनके
पहुँच जाती हैं हमारे पास
एक आइने की तरह ।
हमारा और हमारे समाज का आइना ।
अखबार, इतिहास का ही पहला स्वरुप होता है ।

अख़बार कटता  है, बंटता है,
जुड़ता और पढ़ा भी जाता है ।
अख़बार हम इंसानों की तरह ही हैं ।
लोग इनका इंतज़ार करते हैं,
मिलने पर खुश होते हैं,
कभी शिकायत भी करते हैं ।
ये कभी अकेलेपन के साथी होते हैं
तो कभी घर की चहल-पहल,
और बात-चीत का ज़रूरी हिस्सा,
चाय इनके बिना फीकी ही लगती है ।

ये हमारी घर की  कुर्सियों को
सीधा खड़ा होना सीखाते हैं ।
सन्डे के पिकनिक में कभी बैठने की या प्लेट रखने की जगह तो
कभी खुद ही प्लेट बन जाते हैं ।
हमारे बच्चे इनसे खेलते हैं,
कभी नाव तो कभी रॉकेट बनाते हैं,
इनपे कलम या रंग चलाते हैं ।
और माँ हर एक-दो महीनो में
घर के सारे अलमारियों पर
पुराने अखबारों को उतार कर
नए बिछा देती हैं है ।
सच ! पुराने अख़बार बड़े काम के होते हैं ।

हमें अखबार बहुत कुछ देते भी हैं ।
काम करने को नौकरी की खबर,
रहने को आशियाने का पता,
और कितनी ही बार
उम्र भर को निभाने को रिश्ते ।
अखबार कभी पुराने नहीं होते ।

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Plateaus of Deccan

From the last blue mountains,
Where your sight reaches,
To the other blue mountains,
When you turn back,
Lie the great plateau,
Reminding of Buddha's
'Middle Path.'

--
A hot summer afternoon of Decaan

A tired farmer
Sleeps in the shade of neem tree,
He bullocks ruminating
Over the changing colours of the tilled earth
Or varied symmetry of crops in the field,
And flicking their tails in between,
Which two tireless flies dodge without effort.

A brown bird looks left and right
And then digs its beak into the field,
Quick and swift,
Looking for food without luck.

The dark clouds above
Cling to the neck of the mountains,
They might come down the curved path soon
And provide some respite.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

We Were the Forests

Story of vast dry stretches of Yawal forests in MP. It is called Yawal Wildlife sanctuary, but , there is hardly any wild or life in it any more. 

We were the forests,
But we are no more now.
What you see around 
Are sad pictures and bad memories.

An uninspired photographer 
May have some interest, 
In our leaf-less structures,
In our grey and black hues,
In patterns that our pale thorn-like branches 
Make against the dark monsoon sky.

Monsoon! 
We once waited for it,
And rejoiced when it came.
Used to feel the tiny cool raindrops 
Touch us, tickle us and trickle down 
To reach our happy bosoms,
Through our veins. 
Those were happy days and nights!

We used to share a story or two 
With the travelers,
Who stopped by for some shade or smoke.
No one stops by now.
Not even the birds,
Who fly past us. 
May be we look like men now.

An army of men rather,
In straight rows and columns,
In arms outstretched and ready 
To ready to strike down..
Another small world,
Of us trees, animals, birds.
Another one of us,
We who were the Forests,
But now we are Men !