Monday, March 23, 2015

Chaak-e-girebaan ki talaash

Somewhere in 2008 I find I've said -

"I have no patience with patterns too large to see. I find I can’t wait for revelations. I want to make sense of it now."

I must have been hurting, I was hurting. And I remember impatience. I wanted answers for more than that immediate grief. I had not really expected to find it. 

It is some 7 years now, I wouldn't be accurate to say I've found the answers, but there has been such a fundamental shift in how I ask the questions, that I can no longer claim pain, not even for artistic affectations...

Today, again that lovely, haunting poem of Faiz's came back to me, sat perched on my lips, and wouldn't go away. It bothered me because it had no coherence with my mood. What was I to do with it?

So I did with it, what I've done to Faiz in the past too, tugged, pulled and bowdlerised it to suit my world view. But I have to admit I somewhat please with my take. It is just that it suits me, now.

My version -

Dil ke aiwaan mein liye gulnumaa shammon ki qatar
Noor-e-khursheed se ujhle hue, lalchaye hue
Husn-e-mahboob ke sayyal tassavur ki tarah
Apni zeenat ko bhienche hue liptaaye hue

Gaayat-e-sood-o-zayan, soorat-e-aagaaz-o-ma’aal
Wahi besabr tajassus, wahi angaar sawaal
Mutasir saaát e imroz ki sadrangee se
Yaad-e-maazi se judaa aahat-e-fardaa se nihaal

Tishna-labdaar jab taskeen kahin pathe hain
Larza-ashq jo aakhon se bah’hi jaate hain
Zauq-e-daqiq jo geet mein daltaa hi nahin
Dil ke nairang shigaafon se nilkalta hi nahin

Aur ek ujhlee huee masoom si darmaan ki talaash
Dast -e-zindaan ki hawas chak-e-girebaan ki talaash

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Kuch bhi nahi

सरकार ने कल न्योता भेजा
कहलवा के भेजा के अकेले जाना है
न्योते में कुछ असाध्य शर्तें भी थीं
साथ में कुछ भी नहीं ले जाना है, और कुछ भी नहीं।।

अब इस कुछ भी नहीं को कहाँ ढूँढूँ  ?
क्या होता है ये कुछ भी नहीं?
और इससे भी अव्वल सवाल -
ख़ुद को कहाँ ढूँढूँ?

सरकार के न्योते के बाद
इस पर गहरा विचार किया

मैं जहाँ भी गई हूँ अब तक
मैंने अपने शरीर को  पहुँचाया है
अपने विचारों को किसी सावन के मोर की तरह
फैलाके, सजाकर ले जाती रही
अपने भावनाओं को एक गठ गठरी में बांध
अपने अस्तीत्व को वज़नदार करती रही

पर अबके, सरकार के दावत पे मैं जाऊं,
तो क्या वह पहचानेंगे मुझे?
मगर कैसे?
इन सब के बग़ैर तो
मैं कुछ भी नहीं

मैं... कुछ भी नहीं
मैं ही तो हूँ... कुछ भी नहीं
मुझे ही तो जाना हैं

सरकार का न्योता है
जाना तो पड़ेगा ही
चारा - कुछ भी नहीं

Monday, March 31, 2014

the lyricism in life

(This post I found in draft mode, almost a year it seems to have languished there. I read it, seemed to concur... still!  And so I post.)


I look for the way
things will turn
out spiraling from a center,
the shape
things will take to come forth in

so that the birch tree white
touched black at branches
will stand out
totally its apparent self:

I look for the forms
things want to come as

from what black wells of possibility,
how a thing will

not the shape on paper -- though
that, too -- but the
uninterfering means on paper:

not so much looking for the shape
as being available
to any shape that may be
summoning itself
through me
from the self not mine but ours.

AR Ammons

not so much looking for the shape as being available to any shape that may be... To apply this to life then, is a dear dear ambition. ( I am conscious of the irony of that! :) ) But how much courage it will take! To hold still when things unfold, not cringe or gloat or sigh with relief, but watch watch watch... because in the absolutely unprejudiced watching lies the drama's true enjoyment. 

the white mountain was blue

Back in Coimbatore after a month. Was delighted in the morning, but the evening finds me melancholic. I welcome the feeling for its depth and flavour. It suits the night sky over these sombre mountains.  I am discovering (in that stupid way humans have of discovering eternal truths as if they alone have stumbled upon them by some unearthly chance) that if one lives closely tuned to the sun one feels like the sun, sprung in the morning, full-blown in the day, meditative at dusk, restful at night, and mystic before dawn.
Last evening I was on the train, then too I found the same catch in the region below my heart, so half of the below was started then -

Kya le jata hai suraj apne saath,
Jab woh doobne lagta hai har shaam?
Abhaas hota hai ke bheetar kuch asth huaa hai
Kheechta hai kuch andar-andar
Tez aach pe chadi saanse, madhaam si hoke simatne lageen ho jaise
Ek  nishabd dhaara ban ke bah rahi ho jaise
Aur dheemi saason ke is sheetal dhaara mein umadteen hain woh saare prashn phir se
Jinke nirantar prashn-chinh se thak ke soya hun umr bhar, har raat, har raat.
Ke phir suraj uge aur phir taab se apni bhasm kar de un sawaalon ko,
Saansein phir se raftaar pakde, ke unke beech, kisi prachn-chinh kisi sawaal ka antar na ho
Jeevan ki gati aisi ho ke woh swayam uttar sa lage,
Aur lagne lagti bhi hai har roz har roz
Aur phir sooraj asth hota hain,
Aur phir har saans ke baad... ek yugantar

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reference to context

I find that if this blog is to survive in any form at all then it needs a new context. But I find I have let so much water flow under the bridge that I am baulking at the effort it will take me to provide this context. The water that has passed has been so rich, so colorful, and so important that I have never been sure that I could do it justice in words. So after much deliberation I have decided on bullet points.

  • I found my Guru
  • My life is now different

As for the rest, I resort to Kabir.

Akath Kahani Prem Ki, Kutch Kahi Na Jaye

Goonge Keri Sarkara, Baithe Muskae
This untellable story of love, not a word can be spoken of it
A dumb man tastes a sweet, he sits and smiles

Now having labeled myself dumb, I hope I am able to talk more. 

And when I speak you will know from where I speak, no?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Future Shock - Dream version

When you tell people that you are on antibiotics the usual expectation, I am sure you agree, is a modicum of sympathy. So you won’t think me odd when I tell you that I was taken aback on being congratulated a couple of days back. My friend who felicitated me, and sounded like he would swap places with me for a peanut skin, told me most enthusiastically to expect weird dreams. He had made a thorough study, he told me; he mentioned charts I think, or perhaps lunar patterns, or was it sleep patterns… He had not a smidgeon of doubt that antibiotics were a sure shot and I was to prepare for an interesting night. I may have murmured something polite but I was not impressed. Now I have always been a moderate fan of dreams myself, but given the circumstances I was more keen on restful than interesting.

But it turns out that the darned person was right. The dream lasted for what seemed the whole second part of the night. When I awoke, I was frothing in the mouth trying to remember all the details (this is actually quite literal; I had worked up a fine toothpaste lather from thinking so furiously). But as is always the case in these matters, my informed friend assures me, we can never really remember all because the mind really intends to forget. That being that, I think I’ve made a fairly creditable attempt to hold this laser-beam in my hand.

(The dream opens like this…)

It is the dead of night, sometime in the undefined future. My sister, my father and I are holed-up in a rough tarpaulin shack in the outskirts of what appears to be the rubble-desert of a devastated city. We are our future selves, but we look and act curiously just as we do now. We have all sorts of things lying scattered around us in cartons, suitcases, plastic bags; spilling over in disarray.

I am searching frantically through these things, looking for anything electronic. I am urging my sister to think of anything we may have overlooked. I know we each of us still have our phones; but have we brought with us any little forgotten tucked-away item that may be electronic? Think, think, think. Our lives depend on it.

(Why this panic? What is it with all this obsession with technology? Like all good dreams there is a slight cut-to where all is revealed)

The world has been overpowered by a techno-terrorist; a brilliant scientist who has been thoroughly disillusioned by how humankind has degenerated with technological-dependence. He has declared war against technology and has created a technology to beat all technology – literally. His creation, known to the terrorised world as E.N.T.W.E.R.P* is the most advanced destruction device known to man. It can annihilate by arriving physically at a place, of course, but its methods are far and varied. The availability of any kind of technological device can be sensed within a very impressive range, and havoc can be wreaked by advanced methods of remote control. Carrying a phone is an open invitation for obliteration.

(So why are we still carrying our phones?)

We have just moved to an area which is positively known to be outside E.N.T.W.E.R.P’s present range. But the window of opportunity is very, very narrow. We have just enough time to make some very crucial phone calls in time to give away all the left over electronic items to the dump-trucks that are making last minute rounds. These things will all be taken far away from all human habitation and dumped in the desert. If we miss this last pick-up service then we won’t be able to get far enough from our phones to escape destruction.

Hence this frantic search through all our belongings. Underneath lies an unsettling fear? Do we even remember what defines technology? Or have our dependencies reached such a stage that we might not even identify some things for the devices they are. Are there some things we may have ignored just seeing them to be extensions of our lives?

I am looking around in the dim light, when I spot my father lying on a sheet in a corner, with some visor like object around his forehead and eyes. I approach him to see what it is and I suddenly remember it from my childhood. It is a floppy disc-driven mini-projector-cum-brain-wave scanner. It is essentially a fun-device which lets you view images of your favourite artworks and depending on how you react to it each time, these artworks can be modified subtly. Or by physically operating certain buttons you can actively create modifications. Rudimentary stuff it may be, the styling may be terribly 80s, but this was technology, and it had to go to. I ask my father how he could forget to give it up earlier. He says that it is so ancient that ENTWERP is hardly going to count it for technology, moreover what is he to do in this godforsaken bunker all day, and moreover it has sentimental value for having been a prized possession at one time; quite ahead of its times, in fact!

I have to literally snatch it from him; there is no time to argue. It goes into the plastic deposit bag. I ask my sister to make the last phone calls. It is to the authorities to give them our co-ordinates. Then both our phones go into the bag. A piece of my sister’s heart goes with the phone; it is very new, very smart, very expensive.

(For more of how we survived (if we did) and what became of the world, the scientist, and E.N.T.W.E.R.P – wait for the next episode of my dream, which may coincide with the next dose of antibiotic.)

*I know there is a very good reason this creature/terrorist/humanoid is called E.N.T.W.E.R.P. I am quite sure I was told in the dream when I was being given a background on his origins which came with a tour of the mad scientist’s very impressive but strangely bollywoody laboratory.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Of treats—and grounds—and sealing love

All my life my sister has been to me a provider of treats. I cannot recount to you (or myself for that matter) the number of gifts I have had from her. From the elaborately concocted fictions about the universe from my earliest memories, through the songs, ideas, poems, concepts, interests, loves, laughs, philosophies, news, and nuggets she litters my life with, to the You Tube videos I almost invariably watch downloaded on her laptop, my mental life is strung with gifts from her.

Very often, I've believed as many as six impossible things she's told me before breakfast. Or fallen in love a couple of times. Yesterday it was with something which I watched with toothbrush in my mouth and mist in my eyes, which Sheetal also shares with you, so enjoy!

That sequence of events is beautiful for so many reasons – Sahir, Madan Mohan, Meena Kumari and Sunil Dutt are not the least of them. Oh! But the idea of it! In the ghazal world there isn’t a more intimate act than to work in another's zameen. It is always an extension of love. It is like wearing your lover’s T-shirt. And the audacity and the longing in writing in the meter and rhyme structure of an unknown lover is just too delicious.

The sweetness of the episode was impossible to resist. So this, dedicated in gratitude to my sister.

Ek tere noor ki hasrat ne jagaya hai jinhe

Dil ke nairang tilismaat kise pesh karoon

Apne jazbaat-o-khayaalat-o-khalwat se saje

Bazm-e-dil ke ye da’waat kise pesh karoon

Justuju ne tho duboya hai humee mein humko

Doobke ubhre jo ilmaat kise pesh karoon

Teri furqat mein ris-ris ke jutaaya hai jise

Woh nihaan abr-e-barsaat kise pesh karoon

Har koi aab-talab phirta hai zoya ya’an par

Phir umadta behr-e-zulmaat kise pesh karoon

Thursday, January 27, 2011

In which one bites the bullet and barks up a khajoor tree

“A neighbour has sent colony-wide memo complaining about the barking of the dogs of our neighborhood at 2-3am in the night...he says it "traumatises" his ailing heart...and has appealed to all to join him in lodging a "criminal case" against the dog owners...! should I be amused...? ...or appalled at the level of intolerance and self-centred existance we are slipping into?”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Top of Form

A friend had this status up on Facebook a couple of days ago. Now, I feel sure that she makes some very valid points about tolerance and generosity. But I am in an unfortunate place where I find myself in sympathy with the aggressor. I have no doubt lost the talent for moral mensuration and that is lamentable. But it occurs to me in my defence that sleeping less than two good hours a night on a somewhat regular basis can do this to a person. While it is commonly believed that advanced techniques of torture involving sleep-deprivation can rapidly drive a saint to insanity, in lesser forms the same will, I can attest, severely compromise all of the more civilised propensities a person may have painstakingly cultivated. Benign tolerance, brotherhood and peaceability are first casualties. I defy anyone to view the world at large with anything approaching bonhomie, when one has been subjected to a marathon concert on the nerves several nights running. With this view, I ventured to suggest to my friend that she should perhaps consider pity along with her other options of disdain and shock, but I dimly suspect that I may have put myself beyond the pale as one of those unfeeling animal-hating ogres. I realise of course that denials are hopeless in such cases as these.

It is with the bitter smirk of hind-sight that I recollect that a few years ago I had found myself delighted that a St Bernard had come to make its home very near us. I was delighted by his size – the size of his face, the size of his tail, even the size of his voice box. I had gone so far in my misguided affection to think him a ‘cute little fella’. Another of the things I thought in those happy ignorant days was that I could sleep through an earthquake. Well perhaps it is true, perhaps I can, perhaps the subterranean rumblings that Ranger’s barks produce would measure higher on the Richter scale that your average earthquake, but that would mean more measurement…

Ranger, as you have no doubt discerned, is the St Bernard who lives down the lane. You have also wondered why it took me a few years to grow disenchanted of him. You see, it is not this voice that I object to primarily, but how ridiculously easy it is to rouse him to near apoplectic states of frenzy. Though to be perfectly honest, this was not quite the case always. Time was, he was a reasonable dog. But that was till the arrival of X. We call him X because we don’t know his given name. He is not the kind of dog you could just walk up to and start a conversation with, leave alone be so bold as to ask for his name.

Now, X has come to live in the house opposite us. X’s owners think he is the cat’s whiskers, and he in turn seems to love them. But any love that festers in his heart ends there, because he views each and every other of god’s creatures with the deepest loathing. Children, postmen, squirrels, birds, tenants, scooters, cars, balls, plastic covers that have the temerity to float up to their gate – all are hated equally – oh yes! and neighbhours. X is deeply suspicious of me. He hates it when I use the stairs to go to our own terrace. He hates it when I take the car out. If, on the odd occasion that I step out of the house, I am so lacking in all good sense as to even tend towards the halfway space on the road, all hell breaks loose. X is never satisfied ranting at me till every member of his household has come out to inspect what has upset him, and add reproach to insult.

I ventured a little background about X because it will better let you appreciate, I hope, how he is responsible for ruining the tone of the canine community in our lane. Ranger and all the stray dogs (they must number about fifteen at a rough estimate) once lived in relative peace. If the Strays teased Ranger occasionally, it was all in good-natured jest. They didn’t, for example, hold him responsible for his elevated social status or vaunt their independence in his face. But like I said earlier, all that has changed. X’s very presence has acerbated every canine nerve to the effect of having fatally changed the entire social dynamic.

X, as you can well imagine, loses no opportunity to insult, harangue and gloat over the Strays. (What he has to gloat over I cannot imagine, unless it is having had the guile to trick a set of humans into adopting him, because I assure you he has no other appealing points in appearance or temperament that he could possibly show off. Let it never be said that I am snobbish in these matters, but I can’t see that he is any better-born than all those he never hesitates to taunt. X’s is a singularly muttish countenance). The Strays who are always too cowed by his diatribe to ever offer resistance, suffer often from esprit d'escalier. Too late they realise how they should have given that insufferable poseur his just desserts. There is never anything else to do in such an event but to vent their frustration on poor Ranger. Ranger is like all those big noble beings that never voluntarily offer insult but are nevertheless very quick to take umbrage. A combination of being barked at to within an inch of his life on his daily evening walks which inevitably take him past X’s domain and then being teased and beleaguered by the revenge-seeking Strays is too much for Ranger. To be thus twice-outraged would prove too much for any creature’s nerves, I suppose.

However, none of this would have impacted my life so sharply but for the fact that all this give and take of insult happens almost always at the stroke of the midnight hour and continues with nerve-racking periods of mitigation through to the wee hours. The trouble is that once the human ear and mind have ‘tuned in’ to Ranger’s distress, there is no ‘tuning out’. It starts more or less like this. A noisy motorbike zooms past with the Strays in chase; you can supplant this by a foreign mongrel or a drunk on odd days for variety. This chase, ostensibly undertaken with the noble purpose of shooing away the intruder, invariably suffers a check right outside Ranger’s dog-house. Foreign dogs obviously pale into insignificance in the presence of such juicy preys as Ranger. Here the entire Stray gang stops to tell Ranger of their cosy little hunt, and no doubt sympathise with him over his unfortunately stifled state. Ranger, who is desperately conscious of the fact, is thrown immediately into throes of misery. Things are not helped by that unhappy cubby-hole he lives in. It may feel like a Japanese sleep-cubicle to Ranger, but both he and his audience cannot be unaware of its extraordinary acoustical capabilities. In amplification and echo it could give the Golconda a run for its money. I don’t think Ranger likes his own voice coming back at him. It is even possible he thinks that the returning voice belongs to X. It is a gory tale after this but it continues till either the Strays find other entertainment or Ranger works himself up into a state of exhaustion. But like I mentioned before, all respite is only temporary and all the more torturous for it. I assure you it is impossible to sleep when you’re desperate to. All this continues till the good milkman comes by at dawn and signals the end to the orgy.

My sister has offered several explanations for this particular phenomenon and its timing; they have ranged from the practical to the supernatural to let-me-amuse-this-poor-sleepless-wretch. I have been grateful for all this and sometimes distracted enough to fall asleep for a few pitiful hours, but a fresh thought has crept onto me which has ruined every last vestige of my peace. Summer approaches. Ranger HATES summer.