Monday, 22 May 2017

Goodbyes are tough, and easy too


I think goodbyes are the most definitive and long last of all human emotions. A hello is curious, welcoming and unsure of why it is where it is. The smaller 'Hi' is a little more cheeky and informal. The goodbye, on the other hand, is precise and clear-cut on the message it wants to convey. It hits you hard and leaves you mellow.

Goodbyes cut out a piece of you everytime you hear them. And they happen all the time. Goodbyes happen all the time. Outside houses, schools, malls and nearly all places human beings visit. Of all the places, however, those which happen at airports, railway stations, bus stands or whatever other mode of transport you pick, are the most soul jarring. These goodbyes leave an unfinished feeling, an emotion which is complete but the effect is not yet. Everyday, at these places, millions of goodbyes exchange hearts. Everyday at these junctions, a goodbye ends a story and starts another one.

Of all the places, however, airports have the toughest goodbyes. And perhaps the easiest too. Easy because they end in a flash. Goodbyes at airports are easy because you don't have to stay with the heavy departing emotion for very long. Some family member will crack a joke. Some last minute advice from a senior member of the elder generation will be passed on. A precaution to take, a medicine you must not forget.

The shy new bride, who got married only three months ago in this family is also present. Occasionally, she steals a glance at her husband, who is at least a couple inches taller than her. She is tall too. And for today, she is decked up as well. Another tall couple nearby exchanges glances with this one and knows what they feel. Perhaps the former are accustomed to this feeling now. Of letting someone go without uttering goodbye verbally. Eyes meet and they say a lot more than goodbye.

There will be grim faces of fatherly figures, overseeing the proceedings, oblivious of the chit chat, trying to maintain composure. These fatherly figures are ready to act the moment they sense something wrong. Nothing will go wrong. Hopefully. Passports have been checked, the tickets verified. The documents are all in position.

It's time for the goodbye.

Fellow travellers who are behind wait patiently for the hellos and the final handshakes and waves and the good-bye to get over. They remember their first time. The first time they flew, they were nervous too. Someone came to see them off to. There was a line behind them as well. The then flier behind them in the history did not egg them to make it fast. Perhaps they are returning the favour.

Once the flyer is past that glass wall, past the first of many security checks, they are gone. Off into another world. Now, those hand waves are hardly seen. People nonetheless try. On both sides of the world separated by glass walls. Uncles and aunts, nephews, nieces on either side of the glass wall say goodbye. Once inside the terminal, the flier is alone again.

Some people move with a clinical precision, as if they know exactly what is where on the airport, like the back of their hand. Others are nervous. Perhaps the first time fliers. Unsure of what world is going to consume them once they are inside. An air hostess also checks in. It's work for her. Perhaps she does not like coming here. Who, after all, likes coming to the office daily?

Goodbyes are toughest on airports. Its tough because all you have now are a few thoughts to hold on to. At airports, you can not even have that one last glimpse, one final drop of love for your parched soul. You have said your goodbyes, but those are not enough. Nearly not. It is tough holding on to those departing words. You are unsure of what to feel. The glass door, opening and closing as one approaches and leaves is perhaps the best example of goodbyes. Easy and tough. Goodbyes.

Goodbyes are easy. And tough too.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Say hello....say hello...say hello

To the fishes in an aquarium,
And the love in moratorium,
To the birds that don't fly high,
And the questions that ask why,
The people who're awake for us,
And dreams they caught for us,

Say hello....say hello...say hello

To the beautiful girls we date,
And women who we love 'n hate,
To the places that treat us right,
And mornings that blend in night,
To the last morsel of food they save,
And the last drag of cigarette we crave,

Say hello..say hello...say hello...

To the Santa who comes bearing gifts.
And my father who thinks in what ifs,
To the people who said I could not,
And voices that said deny I must not,
To the final might of a dimmed candle,
And the people who flew of the handle,

Say hello...say hello...say hello...

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

सुनो, शोर ना करो

रात का कोई आवारा टुकड़ा
शहर से अपने मिलों दूर पड़ा
कहीं गर्त में बैठा, यूँ पड़ा पड़ा
जीने के मायने खोज रहा है
शोर ना करो, शहर ये सो रहा है

कीट पतंग भी भनक भनक कर
ऊब चुके हैं टूटे हिस्से पर बैठ कर
हाथ से हौंक कर डूबे सूरज को दूर करके
शहर मेरा जाने कैसे, उफ चैन से सो रहा है

कल भोर तो होगी, बेशक माथे तक चमकदार
फिर रात का वो आवारा बेखबर टूटा टुकड़ा
इक कमरे की खूंट पर सपने सारे टाँग कर
चैन से, जाने कैसे , फिर बेखौफ सो रहा होगा

सुनो, शोर ना करो।

Monday, 8 May 2017

Failure, success & the art of being an idiot

To put it subtly, you have been an idiot for as long as you can remember. Perhaps from the time when you could pretend to know and understand Algebra. Or speed and distance or physics problems. In layman's terms, from when you were approximately 14 years old. 

Since then, you have never been able to tell whether people were lying to you or were genuinely not able to come to play with you that day. You could never tell if they were actually saying the truth when they denied having the notes for a subject or they just did not want to give you those.  It was as if they knew that they could lie and get away with it. That you would never call their bluff or even ask them why did they cheat? You used to feel bad about it when someone else would expose such friends' or acquaintances' deceptions.

To make matters worse, you were never their favourite either. Because you were not cool. You were not cool because you were never THE BEST at anything whatsoever. You were more average, common place than John Doe. The teachers did not know you. The friend groups you belonged to could not care less. 

If a plan was made, you being a part of it depended on your presence in the vicinity of the venue. Love and romance? Well, no better than absent. Perhaps a couple of people from the opposite sex ever talked to you. That however did not include your crush.  In fact you were no one's favourite for a very, very long time. 

You considered yourself a failure. And had no proof, even for yourself, to prove otherwise. Being the naive kid first and then teenager that you were, you thought you were not good enough. For anything. For anyone. Studies were not your forte either. And being raised in a middle-class family ensured that you were never able to take up sports full time either. That was the failure phase.  And this phase haunted you for the better part of the decade before starting to wane. 

It lasted till you were old and mature enough to realize that reading novels was not equivalent to wasting time. It lasted till you read enough, on and off the internet to know how to talk to people and make them interested in you. You learnt that what one lacks in physical attributes does not always have to hold them back. It is possible that not being the above average looking person will hold them back from some places or keep some doors shut on them. That discrimination soons ends though. And all that starts to matter from there on is Knowledge. 

People tell you things. You know secrets of people. People trust you with their inner, innate feelings which sometimes they themselves do not acknowledge. You are no longer the John Doe. You read more. You know and have read things which people have not. Today, when you look back at that time when you were a failure, you do not feel sad. You are content that the experiences of that decade shaped you into a better urn than you would have been in the absence of those struggles. Did you forget the failure phase? Not once. Do you reflect back and brood over what an idiot you were? Yes, for sure. But then, do you laugh over it? You bet. And more often than you should. 

This is the success phase. This is the phase where you started to matter because you sought to change status quo. You made people recognise you and made sure they could no longer take you for granted. That is what success smells like, feels like. This is the success phase.

The last phase before you are ready for the world is where you explore the art of being an idiot. Here, you start learning more about which books to read and which ones to avoid. In this phase, you start learning more about yourself and the people you want to be around. Now, you know how to fall in love and who to fall in love with. 

You learn to laugh on yourself and your mistakes. You still do make mistakes. But you learn, rather than brooding over it. You know which television shows you like and which ones you would rather not watch. The career decisions that you took in the success phase have started paying off. Slowly, but surely, you know what to speak and when to speak. All the events of the past that have shaped you are not experiences in your repository that you would bank on while taking decisions, small or big.

Most of all, it is in this phase that one learns that I am You and You are me. 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

मेरी आदतें खराब हैं

मेरी आदतें खराब हैं
सिर्फ तुम्हारी वजह से
इश्क़ दिखता है हर जगह,
सिर्फ तुम्हारी वजह से

थोड़े से जो टूटे हुए हैं,
सिर्फ तुम्हारी वजह से
थोड़ा वजूद बांकी है,
सिर्फ तुम्हारी वजह से

रकीब हो या नसीब,
सब सिर्फ तुम्हारी वजह से
बहाने बनाते हैं दुनिया से छिपने को,

सिर्फ तुम्हारी वजह से

दिल ज़ार ज़ार हुआ कई बार,
सिर्फ तुम्हारी वजह से
ये जो ग़ज़ल सुनता हूँ
तुम्हारी वजह से

जो शब्द बिखरे हुए हैं कमरे में
सब तुम्हारी वजह से
मेरी यादें जो धुल गयी हैं बारिश में
सब तुम्हारी वजह से

मेरी शैतानियाँ को जो सब रोते हैं
सब तुम्हारी वजह से
मटकी जितनी फोड़ी है राधा,
सच सब तुम्हारी वजह से

तुम हो कहाँ...

Sunday, 23 April 2017

If there is love...

If there is love, let it be like that of the mountains and the rivers. 

The rivers and the mountains kill each other slowly. Both the river and the mountain are hurdles for each other. And yet, both the river and the mountain can not seem to live without each other. Not then. Not today. Nor will ever.

The river, which has been flowing for thousands of years now, cuts through the rocks, often leaving deep scars and little blemishes here and there. The deepest scars make the most beautiful valleys, from where the best poems of love, the most austere stories of romance and the best writers of all generations come. The blemishes sometimes form small hill-side villages, from where emerge the stories of pain, of separation, longing and dejection. At forlorn places, these skirmishes are small plateaus, upon which sits the shepherd and sings songs of love. Perhaps for the nature, or his sheep. Or his love who was married off to the worker from the city.

The mountain, which stands tall and mighty, laughing at the puny humans which move around or try and scale it, loves the river far too much to just let her go. The river cuts through its heart and the mountain allows it. Sometimes, when the pain is too much to bear, it drops a stone, a big boulder into the river and changes its course. Albeit, slightly. And yet, the mountain does not stop the river. It never has. It never can. It never will.

If there is love, let it be like that of the uncouth couple travelling in the metro. She wears flashy make-up and talks loudly. She laughs without a care in this world. He looks at her with all wonder, his deep eyes exploring, admiring the slight green tinge of her mascara. She has to get down a couple of stations later. And yet she does not make the effort to be worried about it. He does not want to let her go, but knows that she must. For if she does not, her parents will worry. And perhaps they may never meet again. 

If there is love, let is be like the old couple sharing last morsels from the same plate. They may be rich or poor. Do not judge what they earn. Observe what they have. Love. She fell for him in her youth because he was full of energy and promise. He was young and ambitious, unapologetic about his choice of being successful before settling down. She always saw him from the corner of her eyes and found him staring, like a child lost in a fair. Sometimes, when the stares made her uncomfortable, she wanted to rebuke him. Or ask him what is it that he was looking for. Somehow, she never could. She did not know who he was and why he did what he did. The fear of the unknown held her back. Or perhaps love.

He always loved her. Right from the time she got milk for the puppies and their nursing mother living in the backyard of the gents hostel. He never had the courage to tell her so. Her expressions dumbfounded him. She loved theatre and he loved watching her from a distance. How she got angry, calmed down, was a passionate lover and a furious mother, all in the same scene that lasted 15 minutes. And oh, the knowledge that she had. They had debated only once, at a common friend's house. When everyone was drunk, and debating. Like it often happens. No one ever knew they would end up together. Not the people who were their best friends. Neither the people who saw them argue their heads off that night. And yet, it was love that they had for each other that brought them together.  

If there is love, let it be like the trees of the jungle and its birds. The bird eats the fruit it is not supposed to. It does not ask for permission. The bird takes what it wants. Not by a false premise or by making a promise it cannot keep. The bird just eats and flies, from one branch to the other. From one tree to the other and from one jungle to the next. Whichever suits. She takes with herself the seeds, which she sometimes drops on the way. Perhaps as a token of gratitude for the tree.

If there is love, let it be between the timid and the strong, between the book and the reader, between the pen and the paper, between the jogger and the walker, the loud and the silent, the extrovert and introverts. People who are soft spoken and people who have the gift of gab. If there is love, let silence conquer it. Let words express the love. 

If there is love, let it be between you and me. For we can kill each other, like the mountains and the rivers do. If there is love...

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

हम कितने अलग हैं ना सनम

मैं और तुम, तुम और मैं,
हम कितने अलग हैं ना सनम

तुम आग की लपटें बन जाती हो जब
मैं ठंडे झरने से बेतहाशा गिरता जाता हूँ

तुम शहर का शोर बन जाती हो जब
मैं तन्हा होने का ढोंग कर लेता हूँ

तुम सच और झूठ का फर्क बता रही होती हो जब
मैं तुम्हारे चेहरे की तमस देख कर खो रहा होता हूँ

तुम ओस की बूंदों सी अलसाई होती हो जब
मैं सूरज की गर्मी बन कर तुमसे मिलने आता हूँ

तुम पतझड़ सी बेचैन मगर खूबसूरत होती हो जब
मैं सावन भादो को जल्दी आने से रोज़ रोकता हूँ

तुम और मैं, मैं और तुम,
हम कितने अलग हैं ना...