Contemplations · Random Thoughts.

Quantum Of Solace

The last two days had been quite depleting on him. Running from one corner of the hospital to another, one counter for cash payments to another for allocation of a room, Karim had really felt as if he was never going to get out of this loop of paying bills and at the same time worrying about his ailing father whose heart had almost stopped functioning. Every now and then, the doctors ordered some new tests and he was notified of it along with the directions of the payment counter. In the last two days, he had only seen his father thrice out of which only once could he speak to him. The other times he had been too wired-up and tubed to be able elicit a word. He could only see the dilations or constrictions in his father’s eyes and the frail motions of his hand.

Depression and stress ran through Karim’s veins by now. How much could a boy of twenty bear? He hadn’t even completed his graduation. Two years into the dreamy world of college and one comes to know of one’s father ailing with something like this… A small-town boy now in the nation’s capital city tending to his ailing father almost alone. His mother almost seemed to be too confused in this high-profile hospital to be able run around doing stuff; good that Karim had been here. All through the surgery, Karim was supported by relatives from far and wide who sat there anxiously waiting to hear that all went well. Gradually everyone went back assuring him that in case of any need, they were all for him. Dad had been now shifted to the Intesive Care Unit and was to be kept there for at least three days.

As he listlessly walked back to where his mother was sitting, he saw her reciting verses from a book. He thought he saw a quick flashback of the events in the last few days, he felt weaker now. He went to his mother and sat beside her resting his head against her shoulder. A little while later, as he was sitting on the luxurious sofa, he saw his mother stand up in while two other women came from the other end of the waiting hall.

“Ho gaya? (Is it done?)” his mother asked with similar anxiousness as when she asked him about his father’s surgery.

“Ji baaji, upar wale ke karam hai, doctor sahab keh rahe hain ki operation to sahi ho gaya par hosh mein aane mein waqt lagega. (Yes sister, thanks to God, the doctor is saying that the operation was successful but it’ll take time before the patient gains consciousness.)”

He saw his mother’s face light up after a long time. As they began to converse he heard his mother remarking how difficult it would have been for the two ladies from a different nation to manage things here.

“Baaji hame kis baat ki pareshani! Ek hamara khuda hai aur aap hain. (Sister what sort of trouble could we have! There’s God with us and so are you.)”

The way that lady said this strirred something inside Karim. He looked away trying to brush other thoughts away. His father was in the ICU after undergoing a critical surgery. His father was in pain. He could not socialize in such a situation! As he looked away, he saw the reception area boiling with people with different sorts of queries. He had been one of those people a little while ago and he hoped he did not have to be there again. He looked the other side. People rushed from one room to another with cash or receipts in their hands. Stressful work. He had seen it, done it.

“It’s useless looking around here. There’s only pain that inhabits the air in here.” he thought. He went and stood near the glass door stained by drops of water. It had been raining he realized. Mist blocked his sight and he turned and looked back, now leaning on the door. Those words still rented the walls inside his head. As he looked back again, everyone was talking with everyone. There wasn’t any sort of groupism. No one was here for the sake of fun. All of them had their patients here; patients who suffered from pain. Some of them sat with their heads down, desolate until someone with a similarly critical patient came and sat near them. In no time, a conversation would begin. Those who had gone through the cumbersome procedures of the hospital often guided the others. They would talk of procedures, of timings, of infrastructure, of politics and what not. “Isn’t it inconsiderate of them to leave their patients and get involved in conversations and socialize?” he thought as if inquiring his own conscience.

“What else could they do!” They were only allowed to see their patient twice a day that too only for a five minute period. What were they supposed to do at other times? As he thought about it now, what else could they do? Were they supposed to cry all day long? What good was it going to do? But weren’t they supposed to feel the pain for the sake of the immense pain that their patient was in? Wouldn’t this air bear more pain, more toxicity then? Who could stay here then? He had himself found the air too pain-polluted, hadn’t he?

Despite one’s efforts to feel pain for the sake of empathy, it was beyond human capacity to hold on to a pain that one could not feel. But it was a strong human tendency to hold on to hope, to find that quantum of solace in the relief of others. Every time someone came back after visiting their patient and told that the condition was improving or stable, the others shared the solace of the attendant. It rekindled the ambers of hope that lay inside the hearts of others for their own patients. When someone cried, there was always someone completely unknown who came to wipe off the tears. Because with every iota of pain around them, people felt the fire of hope inside them weakening.

In the fast moving world of the present day where negligence towards others was the norm, where ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘Myself’ were the only concerns, where did one find such humanity? Was amity created only to rise when someone was on the brink of losing someone or something?

Our notion of life is that of an ongoing fight wherein we sometimes win and sometimes lose. Why can’t we find that quantum of solace everyday in each other’s wins? Why can’t we give that quantum of solace everyday to those who lose? If solace is the only thing we give and take, will there be any wins or any losses? Won’t there be just life, no fight?

Uncategorized

Paranoia – Or Whatever It Is!

After about four hours, hunting for one of my meds which I could not find, and completing the official procedures required for the acceptance of a fee after its deadline date, I was undoubtedly exhausted. Starving, as I approached my college canteen, I saw a classmate.

“This was supposed to be a mass bunk!”

“Oh yes it was”, said Saif reassuringly. “I was here only because I can concentrate here better than at home.” I heaved a sigh. Both of us went on to fill ourselves with the most wholesome items on the menu. As we walked, I also caught a glimpse of my old friends – the ones from my first year at college, two of whom were still my classmates. They waved at me and I was bound to respond. Etiquette says I should’ve gone over to them, but I was too hungry. Also, I was not very keen about going over and having fun made of me, which almost always happened. I pointed towards the canteen building; I don’t know how they would’ve interpreted that. And I didn’t care so long as my stomach was empty.

After having my lunch at four p.m. or so, I branched off from Saif and decided to go over to my old friends only two of whom were now sitting there. I don’t really know if the absence of the other two was good or bad.

“Am I welcome?” “Ayesha and Pandu replied in an affirmative and therefore I went on. The conversation kick-started and it happened to continue while two more of my old-but-not-current-classmates joined us. As we began talking, she asked me why I asked if I was welcome. “Why wouldn’t you be?” “Maybe because I bore you people? Maybe because my jokes never fire, I’m not so cool and fun and stuff like that?” “Oh come on! Chill out. That is certainly not so.” No doubt, it was nice to have such an answer. I told them about my no-girls pact while all of them laughed. It was a nice time and all of us talked on till we parted for our respective homes.

One thing that comes to mind is, am I paranoid? If so, what’s the reason behind it? My near-black complexion? Or my handicapped sense of humor? Or my slurred speech? Or just being extra-thin? Or is there really a reason behind it? I’ve been eliminating people from my life, especially those whom I can meet everyday. I just ignore them. I guess there’s a reason why I ignore them. It’s because of the fact that I realize my shortcomings. The people being ignored might not realize them; but the fear of having them realize those is perhaps the reason for what I do. But this elimination has perhaps made me all the more paranoid, because there’s no one to share all those negative and self-depreciating thoughts.They’re all in the head. Or, am I even making any sense?

Today’s conversation has at least told me that I am not that bad a company after all. I’m not incapable of having my group of friends. Maybe, the depreciation has come from inwards. It was not because people made fun of me but because of the way I sometimes felt about it. Of course it’s not true for all the people. And I therefore have to be selective. I am not ready to give myself to just anybody; but I might certainly try to mingle up a bit. I know it’s going to be hard; and next to impossible when it comes to new people. But it has to get better with time. Everything does.

So if I am paranoid, the reasons I cite may not be so important or significant. I cannot aim at ‘having lots of friends by the time I leave college’, because there is hardly any time to start all over with friendship when I have a hell lot of academic stuff to catch up. I can however aim at maybe, ‘not ignoring people’. The no-girls pact still holds, but my old friends from college can be partially exempted. 😉

If the paranoia – or something like that – stems from the fact that I am aware of my shortcomings and wish to conceal them from the world, let’s just stop concealing. People eventually find out what’s wrong with you. Trying to hide them is not only vain but also self-depreciating. It only leaves one unable to lead a life which one otherwise could. So, I guess here it is – embrace yourself the way you are. It’s good to be aware of one’s flaws, but it’s more productive to work on them instead of spending all the time concealing them. After all, who doesn’t have flaws? None of us is perfect. It’s not about becoming a people’s man, it’s about letting people know that here also stands a man.

Let’s see how that works!

Uncategorized

We’re All So “Mature”!

In less than a fortnight of its release, ‘Afreen Afreen’ from Coke Studio 9 has become one of the most viewed and talked about Coke Studio songs. Some say that the addition of some extra lyrics for the female voice has robbed the song of its original charm while some others are just in awe of the beautiful rendition. In less than three days since release, the video had received more than 4 million views on YouTube. That certainly is extraordinary. And certainly, not all of it could be attributed to the awesome music that has been clubbed with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s version of the song.

The exponential popularity of the song has another cause factor – Momina Mustehsan, the beautiful female voice in the song which has Rahat Fateh Ali Khan dominating the vocals. Since the release of the song, she has become the heartthrob of young India; I don’t know if that’s true for the rest of the world. She indeed is beautiful; no doubt about that.

The thing to ponder over is, how did this popular heartthrob become my heartthrob too? When I first came to college, things were abuzz with rumors about a girl who was great – both by intellect and by looks, which people obviously preferred. My classmates were nuts about her. I had not even bothered to try finding out who that girl was. Whether I found her out or not, and what happened next is a completely different story. What bothers me is that this time, I feel myself all the more immature than ever.

I know she’s a celebrity, I know she’s at least ten thousand miles away from where I am, and I know that there’s no way any sort of contact or correspondence is possible. I still am following everything about her. That’s not me! Or maybe, since I’m writing this, it actually is me. And if it is me, then I’m immature and an impostor hiding himself from himself.

The question is – Is being immature really that bad? And how immature can you get?

Admitting that I am very immature, I guess we can never declare if we have matured. Each moment, we only get as mature as to be able to recognize our past actions as our ‘immaturity’. Under the garb of ‘maturity’ we increase our worth in the society, but how worthy do we feel inwards? I was once identified as a very mature person, far more than my peers; but you know what was behind that superficial pride that I felt? It was fear – deep rooted – haunting my being at all moments. It was burden – consistent efforts to save my image in the society! What about the image of myself that wanted to see? I never could!

So yeah, I am in – what I call love – with Momina Mustehsan. As ridiculous or childish as it might seem! After two failed attempts at it, here I am, back again! Experimenting with “love”! To the superficially ‘mature’ part of me, this actually seems foolish; but I guess it’s time to move on from superficiality to truth. I realize that I would have otherwise not at all expressed my admiration of her beauty and her voice. I would have just responded with a shrug or a nod while maintaining my “mature” calm and composed aura. But now, I can actually joke about it with my friends and roomies. I’ll openly follow her Instagram account, her Facebook, her Twitter and other stuff. And since she’s just a year or so older than me, I might even have a ray of hope about it 😉 ! Reality will soon unfold, and we’ll all move on – me, my friends, and Momina Mustehsan! We’re all so “mature” after all…

By the way, here’s my first gesture of love – requesting all of you to please watch this performance of my love! 😉

Uncategorized

I’ll build ’em up

Three days back, one out of the two people whom I deem most fit to review what I write commented on a freshly written article as being “Being well-written but inscrutable”. The other one has yet not replied to my email in which I sent him that piece. The other response can be easily anticipated. What Critic-1 (C-1) had to say about the article completely shattered me. It was like saying that your ship is perfectly constructed but it won’t be able to set sail. What good is the perfection of grammar when your sentence does not belong to the domain of human understanding and imagination.

On its very optimistic face-value, I could have inferred that I had gone so deep that it had become hard for such a man to comprehend and appreciate it in a few readings. But the practical me almost brought tears to my eyes which I hopefully did not show. But the moment I left that room, I had decided to quit this pursuit of creative writing. People did not in general like my writing, though they appreciated it for my sake. It was written on their faces.

Who was I writing for? I’d like to believe that the answer to this question is “MYSELF”. However, if it had been for me, why would I crave positive reviews from someone? And why would someone’s negative views bother me so much as to shatter me? “I quit”, I had said innumerable times in my heart. As it appeared, my dream of becoming the best writer in the world was about to stay a dream forever.

….Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools….

These lines popped up in my mind when it was dealing with cyclones. This poem, “If”, by Rudyard Kipling was perhaps the first poem that I had read. And some lines from it are still etched on the walls of my memory.

I think I have to stoop and build’em up. With renewed fervor, positive spirits, and hope, I need to start again. I may be a bit more equipped this time – years of nonsensical writing have at least given me to writing. If expression is still on the other side of the barbed wire, this journey will bring it to my side. I promise, not to C-1, not to C-2, not to you, only to ME. I will not show what I write to anyone in person. I will crave for positive reviews. I’ll just write – on my blog – to myself and to an unidentifiable crowd that dwells on the other side of my screen and none of whom I personally know.

I’ll write shit at first. No doubts. But there won’t be a stagnation. I’ll evolve – momentarily for good or for bad, but – ultimately only for good.

Contemplations · Random Thoughts.

Lost

The house looks completely dark from outside. They’ve all probably slept. It is quite late into the night. Aditi, he thinks, would’ve dozed off in the hall itself, waiting for him. He needs to be careful. He hasn’t eaten a single ounce of food since morning; only coffee has been serving his purpose. Anyway, he begins walking towards the house. Carefully, he clicks the doorknob open. He tries to get in without making a sound. The door however, does not seem to comply with his intentions and creaks when pushed. The creak resounds in the huge dark hall and Areeb freezes in his place. He holds his breath for a moment, and then, seeing no movement, lets it out as a sigh of relief. He tightens his grip on the doorknob and with an air of courage, swings the door to its limit. No sound made. Bravo! He closes the door in a similar way and begins to walk into the house – his bag in his right hand and his jacket on the left.

Lights on!

Damn it! “You’re still awake?” Why does she have to wait for me every day! “Aditi, it’s two in the morning!”

She takes out a bowl from the refrigerator and places it in the oven, places a plate and a casserole on the dining table. Then walking back to the kitchen, she stands by the slab and whispers, “There’s some problem with this species called wives. They’d always want to see their husbands at least once a day.” The astonishment on his face is replaced by an “I’m-sorry-but-what-could-I-do” smile. He puts his bag on the floor, throws the jacket on the sofa and walks towards the kitchen. It’s a sluggish sort of walk, the one that results from exhaustion, but there’s one more job to be done.

“Aditi…” “Your children will soon forget how their father looks! Just the way you forgot that today, no sorry, yesterday was your daughter’s birthday. She kept on waiting for you to wish her, but man, you’re so damn busy! She should’ve understood that trivial things like birthdays don’t appear in your priority list. You’re busy. I understand.” she snaps with a smile of sickness.

“Aditi…” “You’re out of the house before anyone wakes up; you return when almost everyone’s asleep! Have you ever thought what your place in my life, or leave me, in your children’s life is?” Areeb had no answer. He stood there, with zipped lips and a helpless countenance. The oven beeped and she stopped to keep that bowl on the table. “Your dinner is ready, if you have time for one.”

She sat beside him while he ate at a relaxed pace. She holds his hand, now speaking in a way of concern, “The only time that you spend with us is when you’re free from your calls on Sunday. Do we hold any importance in your life?” he looked up as if taken aback. “Areeb, where are you?” His eyes had a million words to say but his mouth was mum. He finished his food and both of them walked towards their bedroom – she with urgency, he with exhaustion.

Areeb changed his clothes and soon went back to bed where Aditi had been lying facing in the opposite direction. He knew that she was angry; but more than angry, she was upset, she was concerned. The gravity of the situation could be well understood by the way he climbed his bed and began to recline; but sleeping was not the motive. She had been lying huddled up, staring at the emptiness. Her eyes were open expressionlessly – as dry as they could’ve ever been; vulnerable too. Tears came streaming down her face when she felt his touch, trying to spoon her into his embrace.

“I’m sorry…” he whispered in her ear. She almost gave in to an outburst of tears; and he could feel it. He sat up in bed, held her hand and began caressing it.

“Areeb, we miss you. I miss you. I love you and all I want from you is your time.” She said sitting up with him. “What is the use of all the luxuries of life if I can’t share them with the person I love the most!” Her voice was emphatic and pleading at the same time. “Do you remember college? I miss those times when we used to walk hand in hand around the campus. I miss those small follies that you committed to have me happy. Your small little gifts were more valuable to me than the entire world. I used to wait for the times when you’d be with me, away from all those projects and your pile of books. I used to hate it when during exams, you were nowhere to be found; but deep inside my heart I felt that that business of yours will carve out a great future for us.” Her eyes were gleaming by this time. Oh how long had he waited to see that gleam, those lightened eyes! “Who knew that you’d become a luxury that me and your family would struggle to afford!”

“I am sorry Aditi. I know that my ambitions have taken me a little away from you all, but I’ll be back! I’ll be back very soon. I promise.” He tried to be as convincing as he could, looking straight into her eyes, urging her to believe every iota of what he had said. They reclined again and Areeb was in bed until Aditi was deep into her sleep.

***

Sitting in his armchair later that night, with a pen in his hand and a diary in his lap, he looked out of the window into the dead dark world outside. Most of the houses in his neighborhood were smaller than his own.

“When you pour water inside a glass, there comes a time when it is full to the brim. That’s the moment to stop. A split-second of delay can result in an overflow. Today, I just missed that decisive moment. Aditi was awake when I returned from office today. One can easily guess what would’ve happened.

The thing to reflect upon is, “Where am I”. That question by Aditi has been echoing inside the walls of my mind.”

He looked up from his diary to give way to cogitation. He wanted to clarify and make some sense out of all the tumult that inhabited his mind. He tried thinking for some time; but the more he thought the more complex it became. Weary of all the exercise, he reclined on his chair aimlessly looking at the ceiling. He kept on looking at it – initially out of confusion, then out of concentration and finally out of inconclusiveness. But when he had stopped looking was actually when he saw something.

It had happened two days back. Bahadur, a clerk in his office, had been standing on the bus stop while it in rained cats and dogs. It was late in the night and consequently less probable that he’d find a bus anytime soon. Areeb, in his Audi, was just passing by that bus stop when he saw Bahadur. He invited the poor chap in. Bahadur resisted a bit but having no other plausible option, soon yielded. It was a downtrodden area where Bahadur lived. It was dark and the road seemed abundant in puddles.

“Since how long have you been standing here?” he said, only half looking at Bahadur. “It’s nearly two hours sir. I could not manage to exit the office at the normal time and consequently missed the bus I usually take. Maybe that was the last bus for that route!”

“So did you call up at home to inform that you’d be late?” “Battery drained sir. They’d be worried.” “Why don’t you get yourself a two-wheeler or something? You can’t rely on these buses all the time.” “Can’t even think of it sir. I have three kids, all of them in private schools. The fee does not spare anyone. Moreover, there are other family needs. We’re a middle-class family. Dining at restaurants is what we cannot do every second day. We’re better off having our meals together, talking to each other, laughing out aloud and just being good enough at what we do. Honestly, it’s not about the money. Thanks to God, I have this great job which pays me just enough to sustain a family. Just some quality time spent with my wife and children, sometimes gifting each other small things to assure that we matter to each other, small gestures to show we care, Sunday outings and at the end of the day, seeing one’s children sleep with a smile – what more could one ask for!”

“Hmmm…” He had nothing to say, only things to wonder. When was the last time he gifted his wife something she liked? Spending quality time with the family – when did that last happen? What was the most recent token of care that he had given his family?

“I guess I’ve been blabbering big time. I’m sorry. It’s just that I’m used to speaking out, expressing myself – either to my wife or my children. Oops, I’m blabbering again! Sorry.” Embarrassed, Bahadur finally shut up.”

The car finally came to a halt in front of a small cottage. It apparently had little comfort to offer. The kids came running as soon as they saw Bahadur get out of the car. “See, the care!” said Bahadur pointing to his wife’s wet eyes. Areeb saw Bahadur’s wife wipe-off her tears giving way to a smile of relief.

“Thank you so much sir”. He drove away. ‘Lucky man, Bahadur.’

As he scribbled in his diary, “Areeb, where are you? Aditi must be asking this every day; just not articulating it. Today, the water just began to overflow from the glass. Today this question was articulated. All that I wanted from my graduation was a job, just something that’ll help me sustain myself and my family. With the grace of God, I’ve attained far more than that. This was something I used to believe until now.

What happened tonight has compelled me to give it a second thought. I’ve been so ruthlessly chasing success that I’ve lost track of time. When was the last time that I read out a newspaper to my father or had the pleasure of my mother’s lap? When was the last time I took Aditi out for a dinner? Or gifted her something she loves? When was the last time I drove my kids to school? Long time… Long time!”

He almost laughed out thinking about how he had proposed Aditi. Thinking of his initial years of marriage, all the outings, the movie dates, those moments of romance and the innocence that accompanied it all, those lullabies that he used to sing for his children, those walks around the park, he had a constant smile of satisfaction on his face. Then, back to the present, and his face is deprived of all of it.

“But then, what if I stopped earning? After all, it is for my family that I work eighteen hours a day! If I stop doing what I do, how will I be able to afford this lifestyle that we have!

One thing is for sure, I’ve become successful – definitely; but am I happy? Have I made my family happy? Somewhere amidst deadlines, presentations, mergers and takeovers lies the answer to Aditi’s question, and that is, I am LOST.”

***

She is still in bed; almost awake now. She turns on the bed to see Areeb in his three-piece, hurriedly gathering his things and putting them into his bag. Seeing his wife awake, his eyes lighten up. He wishes all of yesterday was just a dream. He wishes that all that unforgiving fragment of his life was a dream. He wishes he could look into her eyes just like this forever and ever more.

“Good morning sweetheart”, he says.

His phone rings. Hurriedly picks it up and with his bag on his shoulder exits the room.

“Good morning.”

Uncategorized

No Abnormal Stuff

I’ve spent the last few months of my life looking at all the negatives it has offered and can have in store for me. I’ve been frustrated, confused, befuddled, angry, complaining, disgusted, exasperated and finally gained nothing out of all this. No wait, there’s one thing that all this has made me realize, and that’s what I’m going to share with you here. Possibly, most of you know what I’m about to tell; but then there’s no harm in revising what you’ve learnt, right?

So, what I’ve realized is that life is not a fable. They are two very different things. There’s a difference between the ideal and the real. Why did we have to write “Considering ideal circumstances…” for all derivations in our Science class? Because, in reality, things deviate. The deviation only widens. Your parents won’t always understand you. Your girlfriend/boyfriend will ditch you. Your passion will not align with your profession. Your interests will not always be acknowledged. You’ll fail in your academics. You’ll be mocked in public, you’ll be fooled, you’ll see the peak of your career and then its worst downfall. You’ll find yourself devoid of all skill and wonder how the world happens to be so prodigious. Your love won’t be reciprocated. You’ll see your parents proud of you at one time and ashamed of you at the other. You’ll beg God to spare you all this unfair treatment, or you’ll become a complete unbeliever. You’ll cry, you’ll feel like dying, you’ll see no way ahead.

Disasters will happen. You’ll be left dead with no one to bring you back to life but yourself. Yes, your very own self. This is life, and you have to live it. Period. When you feel mentally, morally or physically low, it is only you who can convert that low into a high. It is just a mind-shift that’s required. You need to feel that this is your life! You just need to feel saturated. You need to feel that now you can’t take any more of this mediocrity, that no one deserves to take you for granted. You need to feel that adrenaline rush that shouts out to you,”I’m here for a purpose and no one on Earth can deter me from achieving it!” You just need to be mad enough to be unable to be mad any further. That’s when your madness will reincarnate itself to sheer determination and hard work. That’s when life will rush its way into you. That’s when you’ll be living again.

If you want something, get up and get going. If the world gives you a blow, get mad enough to give an ever harsher one in its face! Stop crying. Change your mind and you’ll change the world as you fancy.

Contemplations · Tragedy

It is 5.30 pm.

It is 5.30 pm; the sun has not yet set but you won’t call it bluntly “day”. I have just finished offering the Namaz for Zohr and Asr. Just in the nick of time! Phew! My father used to be very strict about the time of Namaz. I remember; when I was a kid, he used to make me sit in his lap and kindly explain that God likes those kids who offer Namaz just about after the Azaan. Then when I became a teenager, he used to reprimand me for offering Namaz at the eleventh hour. “No need for your hurried Namaz. Allah would not mind letting go of such half-hearted favours!” I used to feel bad, but I was lazy. ‘What could I do about it?’ I used to shrug and wait for the next day’s rebuke. Then when I quit my teens, I realized that he had stopped scolding me. He had realized it that either I was too obstinate to yield or too dumb to obey. So there was no point shouting in front of a deaf ear – he must have thought. Anyways…

It is 5.30 pm; it is ‘almost sunset’, and standing here at the fourth floor balcony of my hostel room, I am reminded of Anand. In deep, depressive cogitation, he asserts that far away somewhere, this slow, intoxicating gulp in which the horizon takes the Sun in and makes room for darkness to engulf it all, makes the walls of his heart lighten up with dreams and not darken up deeper with fear. I’ve been humming this song all day, and with such a setting and a lonely room devoid of my idiot roomies, I began to sing in full flow. Despite a sore throat, despite having dwellers around me, I sang – sang as if Anand’s knowledge of life and its value was mine, as if Anand’s craving for life was mine, as if his apparent liveliness, genuine sad introspection is mine and I momentarily felt like I myself was Anand. But I’m not, I can’t be. Neither do I have all this cheerfulness about my aura, nor a sense of humour. Just poetry might connect us, but I am overestimating myself. I just remember my father in an armchair – with a thick, hard-bound book, each page with amply spaced Urdu or Arabic or Persian verses. Ghalib, Rumi, Firaaq… He could recite their verses impromptu, no need for a reference – ever!

It is 5.30 pm; there’re some strange voices, some troubled motions, some anomaly – in my stomach. But I stand still. I haven’t eaten an ounce of food since morning. The hostel mess has its own timings; and I am, more often than not, too late for breakfast and too occupied with works for lunch. I am hungry, and looking deep into the sunset, I recall my cries, when back home, around this very time of the day, I followed my mother like a young kid who wants a ‘something’ to eat – yes, a ‘something’ that even God couldn’t figure out, a ‘something’ which gets known to us only when a middle-aged woman, walking persuasively approaches a frustrated me with a bowl or plate for me to devour its contents and give that woman a tight hug of thanks, and a tighter one of love, infinite love. I seek that infinity somewhere in the sinking of the Sun. It makes me feel intimidated. Is it bigger than my infinity?

It is 5.30 pm; She’s been sitting on her study-table, well-dressed, sitting on the chair in a perfect posture, chanting some names from that dreadful Biology book. Myself, up from my undecided study spot; have somehow sneaked around to exactly behind her chair while she still chants with all devotion, her eyes closed. The next moment – yes around this very evening time – I carelessly pull out a clip from her much too careful hairdo while she shouts at the top of her already topping voice and instantaneously gets up to teach me a lesson. Standing on this balcony here, I can see us running and being ran after all through this circle that the group of hostel buildings has formed. While she brims with anger, I do the same with the ecstasy. The ultimate ecstasy at how I could trigger this anger which gradually changes to laughter; at how it happens that these much too serious fights on not too serious notes strengthen the serious bonds of love that proudly exist and live. Those roars of anger, those laughs of shamelessness, that clangor of running chappals, and the chanting of rebukes. The house used to be so noisy in these so-frequent trouble-makings! But today as it comes back to my mind, it seems too low in volume; I wish I could increase its volume, like ‘more, little more, yes that’s it!’, but I can’t. It remains low.

It is 5.30 pm; my father’s recital of Arabic verses has somehow amalgamated with and slowly subsided from those compellingly unstoppable sounds of her laughter; a laughter of mirth, of surprise, of ridicule, of warnings, and of incredibility at the abnormally great sense of humor her friends possessed. They spoke and it became a joke. I, sitting ten benches away from her, just listened, just saw. Yes it was nearly around this time, when once after completing an extra class, I saw herself with her group still whiling away time, still talking, still joking, still commenting… And I knew it well that more often than not, I was the subject of their jokes. I still wonder how a man of as serious a countenance as mine could inspire jokes. Those guys must be real comedians… ‘Is it necessary that love be generated from comedy?’, I used to think. Then answering this question with a ‘yes, of course’ to myself, I used to say it aloud, ‘I stand no chance. No way man…’

It is 5.30 pm and I recall those winter evenings when the best idea that we could come out with was to stay in bed – all four of us together, well covered with quilts while snow covered the house. I remember that obviousness in my father’s voice when he negated the Weather Department’s statement on the radio as it said, ‘The Kashmiris may have some respite from the extreme cold conditions in a couple of days.’ All this and much more; but one thing that seems to have been etched on the walls of my heart are those words by my Dad, “You might not be the most comic man of the society, you might also not be the physically strongest in the community, but one thing that not even your farthest acquaintance should be able to defy is that you were and still are a good man…” And I’ve tried to imbibe this in life.

It is 5.30 pm on this seventeenth day of the month of June. The hostel is mostly empty – the ones who are absent have obviously gone to their respective homes, the ones who are present, soon will. But I; where do I go? To the burnt out ruins of what once was my home? To whom do I go? To that ideal father who was the ‘threat to National Security’ – whose chutzpah for good was overpowered by that of the AFSPA for security, both of the nation and of the army? Or to that late loving mother who tried to defend an attempt to her better half’s murder? Or to that little sister who was destined to die because the Army wanted no witnesses?

It is still 5.30 pm, or something more maybe; does it matter?

– Also published in CSI-JMI Student Chapter’s annual magazine – “Fiction-2015”

Random Thoughts.

Sareer-e-Khaama (The sound of my pen)

To be honest, that’s it. I give up. There have been days when I did not have a single second of leisure, and there have been days when I’ve been seated all day on a chair with Microsoft Word open on the laptop kept on the table in front of me while I just sat. I used to keep on thinking, on and on for hours, write something, think of how plausible it actually is, think of what shall follow, think of how it shall all shape up when its complete; but frankly, it never reached an end. Writing, deleting, writing again, deleting some portion and repeating all this is what I have been doing all these days. Trying to create a masterpiece, trying and failing – every time! All this hiatus of mine, posting nothing in this space has been a result of scarcity of time as well as this utterly ambitious endeavor of mine. I do realize that masterpieces are not created when you want them to. If you write with the predefined goal of creating a masterpiece, you’re just never going to get even close to it – a recollection of the time when I was actually and consistently writing, and this hiatus has at least taught me this. Masterpieces are created when least expected and least intended.

So, I decided that today I am going to post about this and all else that I want or need or feel…

You know, I sometimes stand on this balcony of my room and look at all the humdrum down there – something that makes me realize of all the numerous goings-on of what they call ‘life’. Progress, success, failures, depressions, intrigues, jealousy, suppression, helplessness, treachery, expectations, put-downs, perfections, imperfections, superiority, sub-ordinations, priorities, silent sobs, loyalty, infidelities, surprises, astonishment, happiness, melancholy, optimism, pessimism, hope, beginnings, ends, births, deaths, and it all… This comprehension triggers just one thing – a vision. Whether my eyes are closed or open, there is just one vision. A vision in which slowly and steadily a fog begins to clear, and it begins to get nearer, a Mango tree – somewhat bent to its left side, not exactly in the peak time of its life, but still bearing fruit; small, green, proud little Mangoes, ‘Ambiya’ or ‘Kairi’ as they call it in Hindi. And beneath this tree can be seen a hazy figure on a charpoy. The haze has now cleared. That figure is me.

I have often dreamt about and have had visions of that place, and honestly, I have lived in that place in my childhood. I still remember that royal posture of mine on that charpoy, sitting as though I was the king of the world without even an iota of knowledge of what it takes to be king. I still remember those stories of my grandfather (may God bless him with good health and healthy mirth) wherein he, in his maybe-inherent carefree attitude, narrated us all his adventures of youth and all the circumstances into which this attitude of his led him. I still remember one saying of his which somehow got etched onto the walls of my heart

Rehne ko ghar nahin, Saara jahaan hamaara hai.”  ‘No home to live, the world is mine.’

Frankly, I miss that fire and my obstinate glare into the shimmer of it. It used to bring tears to my eyes, I miss those tears…

This is perhaps my point of saturation – saturation from stagnation. I now think of an escapade, of running away to that place in my dreams, of running away and never returning. I close my eyes and I see myself back in that royal posture, looking far into the fields – some of which have been cultivated while the others lie bare – in a steady, obstinate and dense stare. I look intensely, my sight deep, as if concentrating to penetrate that little line of ten or twelve dense and full grown thick-trunked trees which standing close to each other apparently form a continuous shade on the ground while the Sun tortures the rest of it all. But am I really doing something? I might be concentrating on something – something that I am writing about. But still, I’ll be writing. No noises from the television in the other room intercepting me and the flow of my thoughts as well as my pen on my Diary. I’d be free from all intrigues, all jealousy, all expectations, all put-downs, all comparisons, and all such manners that bind man to do this and that so that relations may remain cordial. No more will I have to take sides, no more will I have to see someone silently sobbing and someone quietly lying recalling the treachery, no more will I have to unwillingly compete in races, no more will I have to flinch before going in front of someone because I broke the expectation he had from me, no more will there be complains and excuses, mistakes and apologies, love and infidelities, hopes and disasters. Perhaps the attainment of this vision will be an end to all these and other such distractions which have held my pen and paper apart.

So let me free, free from all these obligations and let me make love with my passion. Let me be able to freely assert as Ghalib once did through this couplet of his-

‘Aate hain ghaib se ye mazameen khayaal mein

Ghalib, sareer-e-khaama nawa-e-sarosh hai.’

Or

‘These topics come to the mind out of nowhere

Ghalib, the noise of a pen’s scratching on paper is the same as an angel’s sound.’

About Songs · Love

On ‘Saiyyan’ by Kailash Kher

The disconcerting clamor of the wide, incomprehensible world slowly subsides. No more can you hear people telling you to do this and not do that, no more can you hear all the intrigue-ridden dialogues of some existences for some others, no more can you hear expectations, rebukes, taunts, helplessness, regret, jealousy, antagonistic attitudes, crestfallen voices and innumerable other such sounds that have made you loathe the world and all in it… Because amidst all this comes something that can nullify all these negatives – the voice of Kailash Kher.

In his pure, earthy, strong and heart-rending voice, he sings of unconditional love, of complete devotion, loyalty and completeness that one feels for his beloved. Singing as a female, he sings of how not all riches of the world but just a single touch of love is worth an entire life; of how the face of this lady’s love is what she lives to see and can die doing the same; of how immense an elation she acquires in his embrace; of how he and only he is the be all and end all of anything and everything. It’s a slow intoxication taking him over bit by bit, a slow ascendance to heaven as and when he comes into view, a realization of her absolute devotion to him just as a disciple of a prophet, a slow falling and consequent rising…

He in his song ‘Saiyyan’ prompts a rebirth of Sufism, presenting love in its purest and divine form, raising it from the level of a pain-giver to that of a prompt of an everlasting ecstasy. Just like the provisions of the Sufism, he talks of a communion with the Almighty by giving love a permanent place in one’s heart, of placing love above all to reach the one who is above us all.

The nearly a minute long interlude that comprises of a mellifluous play of the Harmonium, the Drum, and the Guitar (or maybe the Mandolin) transfers you to all new levels of mirth and excitement. You begin to feel the presence of that intense love within yourself. If you love someone, it just aggrandizes your feelings for her, and if you don’t, you long to fall in love. Kailash Kher has that innate quality of presenting love, through his voice, as something so ethereal, so desirable, so deific, and so pure that you tend to forget all the bad things you’ve heard or experienced about romantic love. No more do you remember those gashes that love has left on you, no more do you think of those infidelities, you just want to fall, fall and rise to those levels that he sings of.

An all-time favourite of mine, I can simply spend all my day listening to him…

Contemplations · Random Thoughts. · Uncategorized

The Fag

Woman_smoking_a_cigarette

Dense smoke; White puffs rising and mingling into the air, becoming one with it, amalgamating themselves to look as pure as the air itself, our rather, making it all impure. Instinct tells me that I am being watched – I look around and spot a boy in an auto-rickshaw staring at this man in his forties, smoking a cigarette in his SUV – staring at me; Stuck in the never ending traffic jam, staring straight in front, looking at nothing. What goes through my mind? Why am I unintentionally piercing it all with my sight? Or am I piercing anything at all? And all at once, my mind leaps from this air of nothingness into this boy’s thought. What is he thinking? Is it about me? His face dons an expression of disgust while never fidgeting his stare. I can see it all through the rare view mirror of my car; I can almost hear him ask out loud, “Why do idiots like you smoke? Why throw yourself into that abyss that ends only at death? Why?” I can feel him almost gasping with frustration and contempt.

“Why smoke?” he asks me, I want to ask back, “Why do you live kiddo?”

I take in a deep, strong puff. It almost burns my lungs, I am about to cough, but I gain balance as I have against all atrocities of life. I can instantly shape a metaphor. What is this life but a burning cigarette? There are countless entities who smoke, all of that smoke disappearing into the air, transforming the blanket of air into a blanket of smoke, converting the atmosphere to the kapnosphere; just the same way the sighs given out in disgust by people like me mingle into that huge pool that accommodates the disgust of the entire world. We sigh at all times, sometimes at failures in academics, at other times at a colleague’s promotion and having ourselves left out, sometimes in disgust with the disrespect that our kids show us, or sometimes just at the squalid condition of our neighbourhood. It’s a continuous process, just as smoking is.

We are aware of the carcinogens that enter us with smoke, the Carbon Monoxide that burns everything as soon as it finds a way in, yet we smoke just as we continue to live despite the continuous blows that life throws at us in the face. We the humans live in a continuum of failures, aware of all the damage every passing second is entitling us to. We acknowledge the fact that one cannot come out of life alive, yet we let it do all the damage it can. We are a mob of those who surrender, who are well versed with this art – surrender with a valid excuse. Isn’t the same true for cigarette? We surrender to the cancer with the excuse of the short lived pleasure that it provides.

It burns and burns, burns till all we are left with is the butt, and we try to extract the last iota of smoke that might be left, we hold on to it till the end just as we do with life. Each and every passing moment symbolizes the end that we are slowly but consistently approaching, but does one abhor anything more than the end, anything more than death?

The smoke has been rising, and instead of entering my lungs, I think it has entered my mind, reaching out to every neuron, burning every nerve ending, blocking all thought, blocking it all. Things begin to blur, no more can I pierce the space with my stare, nor am I able to see the boy in the rare view mirror, no wait, I see a smirk on his face, and then the smirk subsides. I can hear some loud sounds, people are honking. But I have imitated the smoke.

The cigarette has reached its end.