#I had written this piece 76 weeks back for a prompt on gifts. Read it again today and felt like posting here. I realised why do people often gift expensive watches. Because watches keep us in present and guide us for future. How dumb I was to think of gifting such a cheap useless gift and putting so much effort in it which was nothing more than a garbage! Today he asked me “Aren’t we friends anymore?”. I had a straight one-word answer to his question, but I didn’t answer. And today I was again questioned by others that why I had gifted that to him. I had a long answer ready to such a question, but I didn’t wanna answer.
You are afraid of confessing your love to your special someone directly. And you also don’t want to tell indirectly through others. Your feelings are trapped inside your heart. Your throat gets choked with unsaid words. You feel helpless. You feel hopeless. You feel restless. You don’t find a way out to channelize those emotions that flood your heart, brain, soul, in fact your entire being. That is the moment when you remember & pray to the only one who has been your hope in the darkest of days, who has been helping you in the toughest of situations, in whom you have been seeking peace since time unknown – God. You pour your heart out infront of Him. “Aaj din chadheya” is that pouring, completely pure without an iota of adulteration.
//Aaj din chadheya Tere rang warga Phul sa hai khila aaj din Rabba mere din yeh na dhale Woh jo mujhe khawab mein mile Use tu lagade abb gale
Tenu dil da vasta Rabba aaya dar digar ke Sara jahan chhod chhad ke Mere sapne sawar de Tennu dil da vasta //
When you love someone truly, your heart becomes a sacred place from where you start seeing beauty in small simple things. You start appreciating the creations of God a lot more than before. Now each morning brings color of hope for you. Your days bloom like flowers worshipping the glory of God. Your days become the amalgamation of moments, moments filled with the thought of your special someone. With love, automatically comes longing. Longing to be with your lover for a lifetime. You start dreaming of a life with him. You meet him in your thoughts. You talk to him inside your head. Spending hours imagining moments with him becomes your guilty pleasure. But you become unable to free the progenies of your heart. You surrender infront of the Almighty. Leaving the world behind, you come and knock on His door with the hope that he will manifest your dream into reality.
//Baksha gunaho ko Sun ke duaaon ko Rabba pyaar hai Tune sab ko hi de diya Meri v aahon ko Sun le duaaon ko Mujhko woh dila maine jisko hai dil diya//
How can a complaint sound so cute! You complain to God for doing justice to everyone except you. You see people committing thousand wrong deeds, still being blessed with the love of their lives. You wonder what’s sin of you. You have waited so long for someone. You have dedicated each inch of your heart to that someone. Still, God is not granting you what your heart desires. You question if love is for everyone, then why you are falling apart. You ask for justice. You plead. You plead to God to listen to your sigh, your prayer which reverberates in the name of that someone.
//Manga jo mera hai Jata kya tera hai Maine koun si Tujhse jannat manga li Kaisa khuda hai tu Bas naam ka hai tu Rabba jo teri itni si bhi na chali//
You will lie if you say that you don’t smile while listening to this stanza. You will lie if you say that you don’t feel a different kinda sensation while singing these lines. Love makes a person an innocent rebel. And this stanza reflects this statement the best. As we grow up, we tend to weigh our questions before asking them, we check the validity of our complaints before putting them infront of others. But can you do this infront of the Lord! You can bare your heart infront of Him without fear of getting judged. Because he listens to you even when you don’t say anything. So you don’t need to fake what you feel inside. The whole world is ruled by the supreme power of God. But now your innocence doesn’t stop you from blaming Him for not giving you your tiny share of happiness. The rebellious child inside you questions Him why He is reluctant to bless you with the person who is actually yours. You just want to unite with the person you love wholeheartedly. Is it too much to ask for! Is it too difficult to be bestowed by the supremo of the universe! You wonder.
//Chahiye jo mujhe Kar de tu mujhko ata Jeeti rahi saltanat teri Jeeti rahe aashiqui meri Dede mujhe zindagi meri Tenu dil da vasta//
Do you pray to God before appearing an exam? Do you wish to be rewarded with good grades for your effort? Do you promise to God to offer Him garland, coconut or lightened diya if your wishes get fulfilled? At some point of life, every believer does this. And this is not bribe(laughs). This is all about faith, hope and gratitude. With each of our fulfilled wishes, our belief in God becomes stronger. With time, you become an adult from a kid. And when your heart finds home in someone, when it begins beating for someone, when you feel like you are totally into someone, all you wish for is your love to be reciprocated. Because you feel fortunate when the person you love, loves you back equally. Once you fall in love, you zoom the presence of your lover in your life and blur others. Eventually, you consider him as your lifeline and your life becomes synonymous with his companionship. His happiness, his sadness, his achievements, and his failures become yours also. You pray to God to bless you an eternity with that special person. And somewhere inside your heart, you know that God will answer your prayer oneday.
That was the day When my childhood had seen the last rays of the sun And that was the night which buried my childhood in the depth of darkness. Today when my grandchildren are playing patriotic songs in high volume wearing orange white & green dresses my mind has become the tape recorder replaying the cassette of that dreadful day & nonplus night And the photometry of those eerie events is flashing before my eighty-five-year-old eyes making them feel more helpless.
Bowing down before those brave souls because of whom today we are celebrating “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳
But we can never feel the pain of those who lost some precious parts of their lives due to the migration during partition of India. They may not feel the same excitement that we feel on 15th August. Because freedom is a word for which they have paid a price, immeasurable.
The no of times she made me admire her, a little more-
The no. of times she feels like the ray of sunshine piercing the darkness of a room: On the day of orientation when I had no idea that she is a professor was the first day my admiration for her burgeoned. By halting her work, she had come to show me the hall where the programme was going on. From that day to today, she had made me indebted multiple times with her generosity. Whatever may be the situation, students rush to her for suggestions. Being the guardian angel of the department, she always gives students courage, assurance & solutions by taking away their fears, anxiety & problems.
The no. of times she feels like a warm rug in winter: From attending online seminars of seniors to participating in the seminar of our batch, I fell in love with the way she defends her students by voicing out for them & by taking their mistakes on her shoulder.
The no. of times she feels like a wall clock: I have seen teachers flaunting their achievements and I agree that those things indeed inspire the students. But her way of inspiring is different. I have never listened to her talking about her own success. Instead, she talks about how her students are succeeding in their lives. Students may follow or not, but she never retires from her duty of providing books, notes & online resources.
The no. of times she feels like an evening prayer got answered: During last teachers’ day, I had written that we wish to be taught by her from four feet distance instead of the online class. But destiny had planned something better. To learn the core of genetics by sitting a few inches away from her was the best of knowledge I grabbed in postgrad. Being an introvert, I always find it difficult to lighten my doubts-loaded-head amidst the class. But in her lectures, she made it easy for me with her kindness, patience & intelligence.
The no. of times she feels like the sky one can look up to: She is a teacher who says not to stress about exams. She is a teacher who also checks the assignments too meticulously. Because she is the teacher who knows the thin line between strictness & discipline. She applauds for the effort of students openly. On the other hand, she also analyses the reason behind the students’ back door entry. She is a teacher who knows how to be student-friendly without crossing the line of official decorum.
The no. of times she feels a lot like maa Parvati & a lot more like maa Lakshmi: Her bangles & bindi tell the tale of how proudly she carries the grace of a married woman. But I admire the way she thinks that a woman’s individuality shouldn’t be pressed under the weight of patriarchy. When she explained that there shouldn’t be mention of Mrs. after Dr., I got to realise how loving to hang as an apostrophe after the name of your beloved person & living with own identity can be complementary, not contradictory as society misinterprets.
The no. of times she feels like a synonym of responsibility: Her cuteness flourishes a lot more when she does braid in her short hair and each time she wears a new dress, her beauty enhances like a fresh bud. But the day we complimented her for that, she told us how she had toiled for the entire day due to official work & how someone’s face glows with the satisfaction of doing her work properly.
The no. of times she feels like a podcast having content for all moods: Be it a lecture on genetics or gyan on life, her voice can cast a soothing spell on the soul. Stuffed with so much sweetness, her words seem plumper with knowledge. And they stay in the mind of students for a long. But when students are in a mood to chill, she never denies to cancel the class.
The no. of times she feels like a toddler in her fifties: In a meeting, if you offer her tea, then she indicates you to treat other teachers first. In her chamber, she makes sure not to enjoy the cup of refreshment alone, but convinces her students to sip some. But this lady who is filled up to the brim with maturity, sometimes lets the kid in her come out. The day when she told us her love affairs with rain & tea, when she expressed her joy on getting an extra tea just like a kid turns overhappy with an additional toffee than expected, she made us realise how a tiny teacup of ten bucks can extract her million dollar smile.
The no. of times she feels like the colour of ruby, blood & fire: Her face is home to her beautiful smile. But sometimes frown also visits as a guest. Unadulterated emotions reflect on her face & voice so clearly that one can draw the picture of her mood instantly. She advises us to give liberty & to control emotions according to situations. Her persona is a bowl of kheer in which you can also come across cardamom sometimes.
The no. of times she feels like an equal sign validating & normalising emotional outburst as a human nature: Others watch the tears in eyes & break in voice. Mothers notice movement of eyes & motion of throat. She is a mother. She masters this art & her art reflects even in front of the children who call her ma’am. I get astonished at how magically she understands the storm before rain & the silence before thunder.
The no. of times she feels like a moment yet to cherish & memory with no expiry date: There are many times when she had made me remember my favourite miss & favourite guruma of school days for whom I used to make the best greeting card, to whom I used to present the best pen.
The most beautiful part of love is trying to unwrap every layer of each other’s personality and accepting each other completely. The excitement that flutters inside the heart to discover the shades of your special person is something that makes you impatient. Knowing and understanding someone inside out is the point where love burgeons and it has no endpoint. The more time you spend with a person, the better you know him/her. You crave that more time, yet your curiosity compels you to seek an instant answer. “O sayyoni” describes the concealed beauty of asking questions of your heart and seeking answers from the mouth of your beloved, the answer you already knew a bit and wish to find it entirely on your own.
Puchh rahi hai meri justazoo Kya hai tu O sayyoni o mitwa O sohneya o mitwa O sayyoni o mitwa
How do you feel when someone says “Hi beautiful” or “Hi handsome”! I think you blow that in the wind of laughter. But tell me… Don’t you blush & smile unknowingly when your special someone addresses you like that? You do. It happens because compliments from others may sound cliche to you, but the same words from your beloved reverberate in your mind for the umpteenth time. Soulmate, sweetheart, darling, lifepartner are the words you find too fancy until a person makes you feel like these with his/her simple act of love, respect & care. Words from the mouth of your beloved go straight to your heart.
Tu hai jaise koi paheli Jo na suljha paaye dil Aaj hoke mujhse rubaru Bata bata bata kya hai tu
Every person in this world is a paradox. And you are not an exception. Your set of behaviour is also a puzzle. But not all will see it and the majority of those who see it won’t try to solve it. Because you don’t show all of your being infront of everyone. You fear of being judged. You fear of being misunderstood. And one day a person comes in your life who puts all the effort to explore each nook & corner of your heart. You may look sorted from outside to everyone. But that person will notice how messed up you are from inside. That person will want to walk miles holding your hand, to gaze at stars sitting by your side, to stand with you in all highs & lows so that s/he can gather each bit of you & accept the whole you. S/he has all the patience to do all these. Still, S/he will ask you about you innocently & impatiently “Bata bata bata kya hai tu”
Tu kabhi sonpari Tu kabhi desi girl Tu kabhi teekhi miri Tu kabhi meethi honey Bata bata bata kya hai tu
Who doesn’t love fairytales! I think many of us do. And most of the girls may say it or not, but secretly they crave to be treated as fairies. At a moment she wishes to wear a long fluffy gown, to fly in the sky of freedom, to do whatever her heart desires. But next moment she turns into a desi girl who is much more comfortable in her dailywear, who is ready to sacrifice her freedom for the sake of her family, who puts the happiness of her beloved ones above herself. A girl knows well how to behave according to the situation. Sometimes she tells you all the harsh words & makes you feel like the victim of her anger. Sometimes she evacuates all the love of her heart & gives that to you without any condition, without any expectation. Hot pepper tastes meagre in front of the anger of a woman & honey can’t compete with the sweetness a woman’s heart holds. Observe a woman minutely. You will know.
Tu kabhi mast magan Tu kabhi chhaila sajan Tu kabhi tezz hawa Tu kabhi mehka pawan Bata bata bata kya hai tu
When a man is in love with you, he will be the happiest when you are around him. Because your presence elucidates his existence. When any other guy stares at you for long, compliments you too much, proposes to you, tries to impress you, you name it flirting and try to avoid. But when he does the same, it becomes a bouquet of happiness for you which makes you crave more and more. A man in love sometimes behaves so unpredictable to do anything out of blue just to surprise you. Sometimes his actions feel like a strong wind that can blow away all the dust from your mind & can also gather all the dust in your mind. But sometimes he feels like a fragrant breeze which soothes the heart and soul to the core. You will get perplexed over his personality & will fall in love with him more.
Baadal mein chand jaise pyara lage Vaise pyara mujhe yaar lagta hai tu Pyari mujhe bhi lagti hai tu Lekin badi tezz taraari hai tu
If your girl is a selenophile, then be assured that she will love you with all your ups & downs. She will handle all your mood swings. She will accept your flaws. Amidst the crowd, she will choose you everyday. Because she has already loved the moon before. And she knows how much the moon may change its attire, it will never stop giving her its compassion & coolness. Among the floating clouds, she sees the beauty of the moon which is synonymous with permanence for her. Beauty of a woman enhances manifold when it gets complemented with wisdom. Because today’s era demands a woman to become wise. A woman understands the thin line between being emotional & being fool. So when you praise a woman for the beauty of her face, figure & heart, then don’t forget that she has a brain also.
Tu kabhi gudd ki dali Tu kabhi neem chadhi Tu kabhi khilta kanwal Tu kabhi kachchi kali Bata bata bata kya hai tu
When you love a woman, then be ready to dip in her sweet talks sometimes & to swallow her bitter words sometimes. In her painful days when the moodswing is at its peak, then gift her some chocolates to balance the bitterness she throws at you. Adjectives may seem superficial. But metaphors are a deep way of appreciating someone. Using a metaphor for someone tells how that person invades your thought even when you look at other things. When a woman truly loves you, you can see her both soft & strong side. Sometimes she becomes a kid infront of you making you tolerate all her mischief. And sometimes she becomes an age-old granny giving you gyaan about life. But you will fall in love with both of her sides. Because be it an open lotus or a raw bud, both are beautiful in their own way, in their own time.
Tera mera silsila hai ghazab Jaane kahaan humko le jayega Yeh to jahaan bhi le jayega Lekin deewana humko kar jayega
Many times we feel like nomads being unaware of our final destination. But when love flourishes in your heart, you become a traveller enjoying the journey. Thousands of fears jingle inside your mind. The fear of falling out of love, the fear of not being accepted by society, the fear of being a victim of cruel destiny, and the fear of not being together till the end. You don’t know what the future has in store for you both. But the only thing you know is that this love will make you learn how to live. You may end up being together or not, but this journey will tag you as a lover, a person who has the courage to share the precious emotion of heart with someone.
Tu kabhi sapna lage Tu kabhi apna lage Tu kabhi laad kare Tu kabhi mujhse lade Bata bata bata kya hai tu
Have you ever felt condradictory emotions for the same person? I mean while talking to that person, you feel like you have known each other for ages. You feel a special kind of connection. That person feels like an inseparable part of your own. But sometimes the same person feels like a dream with whom you have no relation in reality. The person who feels the closest at a time, seems too distant sometimes that you feel like you can not reach that level. Pampering and fighting are the ingredients of love. But one should realize which is needed in what proportion. A person seems caring when he pampers you. But you name the same person as rude when he fights with you. And you get confused regarding the true shade of his personality.
Arrey ab to bata kya hai tu Tera aashiq aur tu Arrey woh to baad mein bataungi
This is the cutest part of this song. When a man gives single one word answer to all the subjective questions of a woman & seeks answers from her, then she climbs another stair of playfulness. Because she wants to see his desperation and patience at the same time. She makes him wait for more. She doesn’t answer because she wants him to uncover her heart layer by layer on his own and she never gives that chance to everyone. Pawandeep & Arunita have stuffed so much magic in this song that you can’t stop yourself from replaying it again & again.
1. He gifted her vermilion & she made him God. She became his ardhanginee & he turned her pati parameswar. How it feels to be God for your special one & an ordinary human for the rest of the world!
2. Accepting his mother as own mother, his brothers as own brothers, his sisters as own sisters, his family as own family must not be an easy task for Mami. But the ways she does everything for his family by treating them as own blood shows how much she loves baba to protect his dignity in front of others.
3. If being a father is a proud feeling for manhood, then Mami stamped him with this pride.
4. If his job is pizza, then her job is topping. Being a working woman, she assists her man in feeding the family.
5. She brews sugarless tea. She fries veggies with almost no oil. She puts less salt in curries. Because for her, his health is more important than his compliment. Her love is the secret ingredient that makes food tasty & makes him finish the plates.
6. From serving him food in time to preparing tiffin for his office, from washing his clothes to ironing them, from colouring his hair to massaging oil on his shoulder, she never retires from her duty of taking care of him.
7. Her fidelity makes him discuss every matter with her without any second thought. Her opinion makes him reach the point of the correct decision.
8. She waits a lot, she waits too long for him. Her patience dazzles with her devotion for him when she waits for him to come home to sip tea together even if tiredness flutters in her body & mind, when she doesn’t sit in the dining until he comes to eat after calling for ten times.
9. Mami always says to me & Sibu that it’s ok if we hurt her. But she warns us to never hurt baba. These are not mere words of her, these are the beads of her reverence for him.
10. From reminding him to take mobile before coming out to reminding him to take medicine before going to bed, She acts as a reminder that buzzes in his ears from time to time.
Sometimes I get too tired. Too tired of learning the language of maturity Of counting the hours, days, months & years to reach my goal Of drawing the graphs of my success & failure Of understanding the science behind how strong efforts get subsided by mere luck Of squeezing by wings just to fit into the society. Too tired to organize my perplexed present Too tired to foresee my fancy future. Then I just go back to the point where I had started. That point when all I wished in my life is not to go to school. But that wish faded gradually, happily & fortunately. And Maa Upulei(my village deity) answered the prayer of my parents. I started going to school without the application of any physical & mental force. How many teachers may come into my life, the teacher who still tops the list & pops in my mind first on teachers’ day is Jublee nana( Kalpana miss). My mother says if Jublee nana was not there, then my feet might not have touched the soil of educational institutions. I wish I could tell her this when last year Jublee nana asked me till when I will send gifts to her on teachers’ day. Gratitude for the first formal teacher of your life can never end and she was my first. For the initial two years, my academics was moving so slow. How much my score might have soared in other subjects, drawing used to pull me down as much as it could. Later when people started appreciating my art & tagged my hand as artistic, remembering those days of my life always gave me a reason to never take credits on my own, but to give all those to Maa Saraswati & Chai nani. After standard 1, the sincere student in me got birth. The result of listening in the class with full attention & completing homework with high interest started reflecting in the progress report. Success in scholarships & class exams used to water my love for studies. How good were the days when studies were more about reading, writing & enjoying and less about revising, analysing & memorising! Sometimes a memory of the class 3 scholarship exam pops up in my mind to make me realise what a poor student I was in the veil of a topper. Amidst that exam, I had come outside the hall to attend nature’s call. Bidu miss was standing there & asked me if there was any question which I didn’t know. I asked her “Which organism is known as a farmer’s friend?” Now whenever I mug up the fertilizer names & doses, my mind travels back to that incident. From going to school in baba’s scooter to returning home in overloaded Ramesh uncle’s auto, time flew so fast. Today when I have become excessively choosy about allowing someone to enter into the friendship chamber of my heart, some kids are still staying there effortlessly without exiting. Those kids, to whom I can proudly & confidently call baspan ka dost. Mama, Sona, Kittie, Bitu, Tanu. I don’t know how that tall girl got an easy entry into my tiny world. From sitting together in class to going for pee together, from gifting the best greeting card to her on the new year to saving her photos in my album, from attending her uncle’s wedding to her visits to our home, from sharing secrets with her to using her green gel pens, I never realized when I tagged Mama as the first best friend of my life. Nowadays when I & Sona discuss complex life happenings in a low voice so that no other ears can listen, then the days when we used to gossip endlessly in the auto while travelling, when we used to play bride groom game for hours on the terrace flash before my eyes. Sometimes when Kittie comes to our village, our front yard becomes the kitchen where we used to play with our toy cooking kits. Once I was trying to taste the ketchup manufactured by my nose & from the side she shouted “Ehhheee”. The awkwardness of that moment is now a memory that always makes me laugh. Once upon a time, I had let a lefty guy sign first although his serial was in second. That day I learnt signature means writing your name, not drawing those difficult curves in red pen like the teachers. Bitu was that jealous guy mocking me when I was distributing chocolates after scholarship results. He was that kanjoos guy who used to come with a small number of toffees on his birthday. I have seen his innocent avtar in PGN to flirter avtar in BJB. But whenever I talk to him, no sense of discomfort is felt. Maybe in him, I still see that kid with a white shirt & maroon half pant singing Radha sundar ki Meera sundar. From running after him with Sona to make him sit between us to hating him for his good scores earned with the help of copy & partiality, I must have understood the concept of Tanwir Alam Khan. Maybe thatswhy, I have not yet forgotten the cuteness of that face & voice although it has been more than a decade of not meeting him. But from people, I listen that the old concept of Tanu has been changed since long. I remember Ashirbad as the kid who knew about the neighbouring countries of India better than me. Maybe, since that day I had developed the bad habit of referring to multiple books for a single thing, the habit of which I am still trying to get rid of. Those moments of sharing the tiffin box with him & revising the syllabus with our moms during midbreak in the time of the 5th class scholarship exam have been wilted a lot in my conscience, but they can never be dead. Because Chandra is meant to wax & wane, but never vanishes completely. Lisa remains in my PGN diary as that villain girl who used to snatch all the mysore pak & dates of my tiffinbox. Lemme tell one encounter with her which still makes me think how evilness was not an antonym of innocence during childhood. Once she had given me a 50 paisa greeting card in which the portrait of a heroine was there. Seeing that, I had drawn a similar portrait on a paper. After that, we had a fight due to some reason. Then she had asked me to return her that greeting card & to tear the portrait that I had drawn claiming that as her property. What a cute kinda evil she was! Sometimes the faces of that chubby kid Jyotiska, naughty kid Omkar, dropping eyed kid Aswin, shy kid Abhishek, romeo kid Kamal, girlish kid Chandu, dormant kid Bichitra, tall kid Rajkishor, silent kid Aditya & not-much-known kid Manoj & Nishikant appear & disappear in my memory canvas in a flash to make me realise that strangers are not always the people whom we have never met before. It becomes tough to believe that the complaining girl from hospital, Sai & the brown haired girl from UP, Khusboo have become too big to take the responsibility of vermilion. The names, Rupali, Barsha, and Pooja feel like those dusted furniture in the storeroom which you have not used since time immemorial, still, you don’t discard them. I miss the time when extra hours of study don’t feel like a burden. The memories of those extra classes during summer when we used to make bouquets out of leaves to gift miss, when we used to play that doodle & identify game, when we used to give our all to finish a math fast, when we used to search for cashewnuts in the nearby orchard when we used to see each other in casual dresses, still smell so serene. And I think that aroma will linger longer.
From misinterpreting Sunita miss as a serious coldblooded teacher to hiding my tears on her last day in school, I must mention her as the first favourite teacher of my life, the teacher for whom I had developed a soft corner for science. I still smile remembering the times when I used to feel so happy after getting more love & attention from Minakshi miss, when I used to crave a crisscross knotted sandal like that of Mamta miss, when I used hate Mandakini miss for punishing me so hard for not bringing handwriting copy. An ear to ear curve gets painted on my face when I remember the time when I used to think that Kaali miss loves my brother more than she loves me. Because she used to paint on his forehead, but never on mine. Maybe I can never forget that happiness of meeting her & getting toffees from her on the day she visited school after marriage! I don’t know how they must have been looking now. I don’t know if age would have cast its spell on their appearance or not. All I know is Jullie miss will always remain as beautiful, Maami miss as cute, Tilottama miss as active & Bidu miss as lean in my conscience. Days with Mita miss, Mami miss & Ranjan sir were too low, but I used to consider them as mamughar wala miss & sir. How can I dare not remember about that old man with bald head & white uniform! The man who made me mug up the definition of science & taught the cursives. And when it comes to him, how can I turn a blind eye to his left hand, Purna sir! Sometimes instead of gratitude, hatred develop in our mind for the persons who do a lot for us. And we realise that thing later. Guni aunty is such a person to me. I used to think her as an evil witch. Then, I had never appreciated her small acts of kindness, how she used to stuff my mouth with food despite my unwillingness, and how she used to clean my vomiting multiple times. Maybe it was her duty & she got paid for that. But somewhere I felt that she must not have done these for me with so much care if she didn’t have love for me in her heart. Anyways, Nirupama aunty was a sweet lady. Annual function during that time was all about putting loads of powder on the face, wearing a cute costume & performing some crammed dance steps. The best part of sports day was to compete for more Glucon-D & to squeeze orange peels on the eyes of friends. Saraswati pooja was revolving around bhoji & independence day was a synonym of seobundiaa. How much I might have blamed the school for not having a good toilet, but I must say that searching for dry sand & investing the surrounding before peeing was a different kind experience. Those cravings to occupy the playground slide & swing were never satiable to the full extent. And being a silent kid, I used to struggle more than others to get a chance. I still visualise that garden in middle, that connecting slope, that gate, those stairs, and those classrooms, each time I walk down the memory lane.
Sometimes that last day in PGN knocks on my conscience. Even today, I can literally hear Ranjan sir saying “Kuade jibu ba tu?”(Where are you going?) & Bidu miss saying “Haire kanduchu na kan?”(Hey, Are you crying?). Six years in that school & fifteen years of not visiting that again. But nothing doesn’t seem too much distant, too much old about PGN till today. Whenever I cross that road, I do a futile attempt to peep into the school. And if some new people are there with me, I never forget to tell them that my first school is here.
His fingers painted dawn on the night of her scalp Redness embellished her mid parted hairs & a forever got written on their foreheads The destiny sang From the moment on… His gaze will be her grace Her smile will be his sustenance His arms will be her waistband Her heart will be his weapon He will pair her strength She will repair his weakness She will be known by him He will be owned by her She will be his lady in love He will be her partner for life They will walk together for eternity & beyond.
Things that come to mind when I see my best friend with her boyfriend-
1. They look adorable together. May their togetherness emit elegance like this when her face will become a canvas for wrinkles & the canopy above his head will undergo autumn.
2. Gone are the days when I used to top her priority list. I fear one day even my “best friend” tag will be snatched away from me & will be affixed beside his name. I fear one day she will confuse her boyfriend as a synonym of best friend.
3. A gap has been formed between what she feels, what she says & what I understand. My zero practical experience in bf gf kinda relationship isn’t letting me completely see her as the girlfriend of someone. Sometimes my idea bank is deficient enough to decode her choked throat, muted lips, swinging mood & raining eyes.
4. Being a lover of permanence, my mind dangles with lots of what-ifs. What if his love is a whiff meant to evanesce one day, what if her devotion, her faith will be hammered one day, what if their families won’t embrace their love with open arms, what if destiny will play a devil role, what if this love will leave my best friend broken one day!
5. Now my conscience denies me to crack jokes at cosy couples in front of her, to share memes regarding nibbas nibbis with her. I dread if she will mistake my humour for sarcasm & will get connected to it.
6. He loves her Priti for the way he breathes. But their love story isn’t “Kabir Singh” meant to be shown, their love story is named “Pripta” meant to be lived.
7. Medical college is the temple where they worship their profession as well as love. People will see Gods in them as well as bless them. May they gather so much blessings that they will be always able to cure each other’s wounds that world can’t visualise.
Saga of my interaction with that semi-known stranger was something like this.
The night before I texted him, my mind had turned into a pendulum oscillating between should & shouldn’ts. Some Quora solutions were dragging me towards the north & some towards the south. Suggestions of Nirlipta, Ellora, Tanisha, Sweta didi & Banaja were dipping me in the pool of perplexity. Even my nervousness projected me to the height of horoscope. In the morning, I chanted the names of all the deities I worship & the mantras I know. Finally putting a fullstop to my confusion & without drawing more question marks on my decision-making ability, my thumb did an adventure on the land of the keyboard.
I know that appearance is deceptive. But when you try to defend yourself by searching for faults in other person, you definitely find some. Maybe that was the case when I had seen his photos for the first time. His pose & his expression had already made him a tempered & serious man inside my head. But this time his speed of accepting my friend request & the humour in his comment box made me somewhat convinced that my interpretation might be wrong then. This gave me some courage to do what I wanted to do at the moment, by closing the guidebook of right & wrongdoing for sometime.
I wanted to irritate him so that I could know the threshold of his coolness & weight of his ego. But he was smart enough to deal with my absurd criticism. Neither he bowed down nor he argued. Instead, he exposed my Instagram illiteracy. But that didn’t feel like an insult. He conveyed that in a familiar manner, just in the way a friend makes fun & a brother teases. My idea of censuring him acted as a boomerang.
I don’t know if mami was an ardent fan of him or she was trying to lure me. But she used to praise him a lot as if she had known him for ages. That had sown some anger in my mind. But that anger had never burgeoned into my anxiety. That just remained dormant for a year & half. But now all I wanted to do is to prove mami wrong. An evil idea struck in my head at a point of time. I thought to take screenshot of the photos where he had sat cosily amidst girls. So that they can be used as evidence when mami will tell me about any guy. Then I can tell her that you are choosing such perverts(unable to get an exact word) for me & describing them as good. Later I realized that this thought was not my wickedness, but my foolishness. Because if I do so, I will be questioned how I recognised this guy as mami had never shown me his photos. But I came across them by chance while scrolling her phone.
After talking to him as a stranger, fear & guilt invaded me so much that I was unable to sit near my study table. I was immersed in hundreds of what-ifs. What if he also knows me the way I know him! What if he will know about it one day!What if one day someone will do the same thing with me that I did with him! But telling him the truth had more danger associated. What if he will think that I sent him request to stalk his profile! What if he will assume that I am interested in him! What if he will consider me as a badass! What if he will tell these to others! What if babamami will know about it someday! A feeling of shiver. An end to all the anticipations. And the conclusion was that there is no need to tell the truth to a person whom I don’t know properly.
Next day the storm of guilt hit me again. I opened the notes & wrote whatever was there in my mind. I told him everything. I was expecting that a stranger would keep this secret safe & would not judge me. I liked the way he understood this normalcy of the human psyche. But he must have got annoyed with my ignorance towards his questions. I had already said him many things for the sake of lightening the burden of guilt from my head. And I didn’t want to disclose anything more. At that moment, I just wanted to block him & end this thing there itself with the hope that God will save me.
After all these things happened, a slight change in the behaviour of babamami started scaring me & bombarded me with many suspicions. But somewhere my instinct had a belief that he was not that cold-blooded to put me in trouble. Still one day another surge of fear crashed me & made me crave a confirmation that he had not told anyone anything. This time, he didn’t respond even after my pleading, asking & apologizing. My trick of ignoring his questions backfired me. I had no option other than vomiting the answers one by one. Anyways, his assuring words lessened my panic a bit.
Somewhere I had listened that he is a relative of Kittie. But I was not sure about the exact bond between them. And this thought had not struck in my conscience before talking to him. When he said that Kittie is his sister-in-law & he could have asked her regarding me if he wished to, I was like whaaaaat. I was interrogating myself if there is a way back from this point. Although I was neck dipped in nervousness, curiosity & naivety took a toll on me. And made me ask & tell him some more idiotic things.
We often see that handwriting of doctors are the inked curves which are too tough to be traced back. But he just types the texts so clear without any abbreviation. Even he elongates the ellipsis, a little more.
I have titled this post “Smearing yoghurt” because talking to him glossed my audacity just the way smearing yoghurt on the face cleanses it. Hehe. Just kidding. I picked up this title so that I can remember his complex name as long as my tibia fibula stay strong.
🤐The beautiful compliments he gifted me are-
“I have seen many deaths. But I am unable to see a ghost till date. Maybe that gap will be filled if I see you.”
“Your maturity level has not even attended nursery. Inorder to prove your parents wrong, you are playing cheap little nasty tricks on me. You are on a whole new different level in assassinating my character. You have a sick mentality. You are a nibbi. You always seek acknowledgement.”
The sky overhears everything, Jenny. Your midnight sobs for a spring that passes by your windowpane too quickly shall not go unnoticed and your early morning fears for autumn that invades your mind too often shall not remain unheard. The sky saves all your emotions in the chambers of clouds, the emotions that swirl in your heart to suffocate you with stress, inadequacy, anger & anguish.
Sky sees your insecurity, listens to your parading heartbeats
When holding your rejected resume, you return home and worthlessness welcome you without a job and salary.
When denying your friends for a hangout, you check your wallet if you can now afford your college fee, mother’s medicine, brother’s books.
When opening your lost lover’s letters you read them for the umpteenth time and your tears bloat there darker than ink with wet memories of a weary heart.
When gulping the taunts and tantrums for your plus weight, minus height and dark skin you stand in front of the mirror to gift yourself hatred a little more.
When shutting the bathroom door you mix your running eyes with the shower blaming yourself for your low score in the course, you had no wish to get admitted.
When reminiscing your good old days, you yearn to retrace your path to childhood and a glance at the age marks of father’s face shows you the direction of duty.
I am happy that I have never experienced romantic love in my life. Because
The person who loves me the most in the world and the person whom I love the most in the world are not different, but the same. He is my baba. I genuinely feel it. I am not afraid of him. But I don’t have the courage to tell him that I have chosen a man for myself without their approval & I want him to put a tick mark on my choice. You may consider it as a normal thing & name it independence. But I will tag it as my adamance & disobedience towards my baba and will never be able to forgive myself for this. I never want him to feel that his Ruchi has grown up too much to decide about her own life. I want to be his little girl, always. So I am happy that I have never opened the door for romantic love. What if it would have been threatened the security of my baba’s love towards me!
I have been listening for years from mami that she will choose the best life partner for me. And once she must have felt that God listened to her wish. But I didn’t listen to her. Starting from clothes to the jewellery I don’t like the choices of mami. But when it comes to choosing her son-in-law, I have some faith in her because once she had chosen the best man for herself, my baba. I am happy that romantic love couldn’t lure me till date. What if I find the right human for myself in mami’s choice!
I always wish all my kisses, hugs & cuddles of that kind to happen with a single person. I wish to share my first, last & all romance with that single person. I can’t bargain with the purity of my heart, soul & body. You may call me outmoded, orthodox or whatever. But I am the way I am. When my friends tell their stories & claim that sex talks, sex chats & touches are normal in a bf-gf relationship, I feel myself blessed for never diving into a romantic relationship to date. Because I always believe that some things are traditionally most beautiful.
Investing the most beautiful possession of heart on someone is not an easy task for a girl like me who often gets confused whether to pick kulfi or cone, whether to go for black forest or butterscotch, whether to select kalakand or milk cake. And the walls around my heart are so tall that not everyone can climb that, enter into my palace & discover the taste of my heart. I am happy that none has yet invaded the kingdom of Abhisikta. That is still sacred & safe.
I am not the girl whose beauty fits into the frame that every boy makes for his dreamgirl. I just look average. But in every stage of life, there were some boys who made me feel that my existence in their lives is their utmost need and my ignorance towards their emotions made me a heartless girl in their eyes. Later I see those same boys falling in love with prettier faces than me. I am happy that I never thought of reciprocating their feelings. What if they left me broken!
I can keep my hair uncombed for three days if mami doesn’t scold me. Because I don’t have to attend video call, to send selfies & to go on a date with anyone. I can devour oily & sugar products like insane without fearing weight gain. Because I don’t have anyone for whom I should maintain a sexy figure. I can read for the whole night & sleep for the entire morning. Because I don’t have anyone who will dip in my eyes & notice the dark circles. I am happy that I can embrace my bad habits & not so good appearance without getting insecure. Because I don’t have someone who can make me blush by saying “Abhisikta! You are beautiful.”
I am sad that I have never experienced romantic love in my life. Because
Plato said – “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet”. You mean writing about love is the easiest of all genres. (Sigh)Trust me, It is the toughest task for me. Because writing about love & romance is all about my imagination, observation & interpretation as I have no practical experience. I do struggle to steal stories from the lives of onscreen & offscreen couples. This makes me sad because I also want someone whom my thoughts will chase, whom my poetry will worship, who will lend emotions to my words, who will make me feel each word I write about love, who will see less a writer, more a lover in me.
I believe that love is all about growing together, holding each other firmly when the struggles party in front of you. I always dreamt of a partner who will accept my vulnerability, insecurity, failures & will hug me tightly in my low moments. I always dreamt of a partner who will uncover the deepest core of his heart in front of me, who will share all his tears & fears with me. I am sad that destiny has not yet allowed me to meet such a man. It hurts, but I have already convinced myself ” Dear, your struggles are yours only.”
When babamami talks about my marriage, I literally feel that I couldn’t make a boyfriend in these 24 years, so arranged marriage is the only door open for me in which I have to enter for the sake of sprinkling peace in my parents’ home & hearts. The thought of holding the saucer with ten teacups, the thought of appearing absurd interview infront of ten strangers, the thought of getting scanned from head to toe by ten pairs of eyes, the thought of talking to a new person that too in a mature & conscious manner just scare me so much that I feel like my breathing will stop. Do I really deserve this! Does the girl who leaves everything aside when it comes to studies deserve to give such an interview! Does the girl who always becomes a kid infront of the persons she loves deserve to behave matured in front of the person whom she is going to marry!
There are many midnights when I cry in front of you holding you firmly shaking you vigorously asking you repeatedly if my eyes are so drained that none can drown in it in the way my favourite hero sinks in the abyss of love with my favourite heroine, if my nose looks so odd that the aroma of beauty fears to swirl near it, if my lips are so colourless that rainbow of romance can never get painted on it if my teeth are so unshaped that smile doesn’t fit into them if my tresses are so dull that they can’t dance on the face of the man whose one thought makes the butterflies in my stomach flutter if my body is not a perfect equation balancing height & weight in the unit of flesh & bone, if I am such a personification of imperfection that the metaphors of ugliness happily hugs me & similes of elegance seem foreign to me, if my unsightliness is the such a bitter juice that I have to gulp each time when I corner myself in a party, when I hide behind in a group photo, when I shiver at the idea of falling in love with a guy who will prefer a beautiful girl over me, rejecting me, breaking me. And amidst the darkness adorning the entire room when the whole world sleeps calmly under the lullaby of sky you look abnormally clear to me, you smile at me, you suck all my tears & tingles my skin saying that the human you love the most is the prettiest girl on the planet & now she is standing in front of me & cursing herself without feeling blessed for the things she possesses that many others lack.
Realizing your busy schedule of last week, my ink suppressed its desire to flow and the postcard preferred to remain empty. But today I can’t control the progenies of my mind, my thoughts from interacting with those of yours. Hope that today you must be less busy than last Tuesday, March 8. Although likes and comments must be still flooding on your posts of celebration of International women’s day. I know my words will give you a bitter taste and you may start to puke from the beginning without gulping the whole content till the end. Before telling you anything, I want to confirm that I too am a female and not an anti-feminist. I have also seen and experienced the struggle of a woman’s life. But I feel there is torque in the viewpoint regarding feminism, so mine differs from that of yours. You consider feminism as the right of women to do anything and everything like that of men. Okay, I agree. But don’t you misuse freedom in the name of feminism? You want to booze, smoke & cuss in public just because some men do & you claim equal rights. But don’t you think you have the ability to use your time, money & thoughts to inspire many women & to bring men back from the track of vices? You attend Saturday night parties saying “mah life, mah choice”. But have you ever planned a grand lunch on Sunday for the whole family or best of friends? You may name half-naked outfit as fashion. But you can feel how pleasantly your skin will love to be draped in decent attire. Feminism can also breathe even when your skin is not naked. But your feminism gets suffocated when ten male eyes stare at your over-rated fashion. Don’t you choose suffocation over free breathing on your own just to fit yourself into the frame of “hot”, “sexy”, “curvy”? What is the need to over publicize that you bleed, bear pain every month? Rather you should feel proud that you are capable enough to fight like a warrior although injured physically and psychologically. Accepting nature’s design & coping with it is a much better way than complaining & seeking sympathy when it comes to menstruation days. Instead of holding placards “Save girl child” “Stop domestic violence”, it will make sense if you do some small help for such forsaken females. What is the meaning of spending thousands on rallies, posting those pictures on social media & using a hundred hashtags when you stay mum seeing such heinous crime in your surrounding? I have witnessed many girls who flirt with boys one after another. There are still wives who behave brutally with their in-laws. Even they don’t step back to claim as victims of #metoo for no valid reason that too doing wrong themselves. If emotions define women, how do some women mark their victory in dumping others? Womanhood and feminism are your wings, dear women. Use them to fly high in the sky of development along with men, don’t use your wings to make men feel low. Celebrate 8th March as Women’s day, but march on the path of morality, each day. You may call my words the rant of an old school girl or age-old granny. I don’t mind.
Disclaimer: This post is neither a work of fiction nor contains an iota of imagination. It is entirely real & purely personal. The lead character around which this tale revolves is my biological brother.
Let’s listen this long lockdown tale in the form of some terribly tiny tales…
🐒 His only delight during this time of despair is now his skin is free from the reign of his all-time enemy, full pants.
🐒 Curls on this head are increasing their radius and thorns under his chin are turning into shrubbery. Hard earned & sun gifted colour of his skin is fading away. But this period of frequent hand washing & avoidance of touching sensory organs is unable to reduce the love between his teeth & nails.
🐒 Be it a double bed, be it a 3 seated sofa, he finds no space to place his body other than the space 1 inch away from me. Because he can’t breathe peace without suffocating me with the smell of his body which gets the touch of soap once in a full moon.
🐒 I don’t try the recipe which doesn’t use a lavish amount of sugar or a decent amount of oil. During the meantime, he enters the kitchen to count the calories & fry my head with untimely & unnecessary realisations.
🐒 His running, cycling, playing are now in a halt. But his workout from home still goes on, be it at 10 am or at 10 pm. After that, he stands in front of me caressing his compressed belly & pressurizing at his not-so-bulged biceps. He waits for a comment from me so that he can give some free advice or initiate a baseless argument.
🐒 The days when some nonveg enters our stomach, he makes sure to vent out some harsh words from his mouth to fill our heart with utter disappointment.
🐒 To fuel my anger, he carries on his daily duties of pulling my tresses, tingling irritatingly & rubbing his unwashed hand on my dress, until I shout, until Mami enters the warfield. A wide grin comes out of his face when she doesn’t declare him as the culprit, but scold both of us saying” How much good siblings are there in every home. But my bad luck. Palmist wasn’t wrong in predicting that this bro-sis would always fight.”
🐒 During this time of prevailing untouchability, zomato swiggy & uber eats are neither uninstalled nor unused in his phone. He still opens these apps to check which restaurants are open & finally convinces himself to wait till the end of lockdown.
🐒 Each time Baba returns from officework or marketing, he bombards him with entirely unjustified sarcasm to make him accept that his son is doing a great favour on him by staying at home.
🐒 He completes his studies during my sleeping hours. After I wake up, he dedicates his time in bothering me in every possible way & it starts with a pinch “Ruchina uthigalana!”
🐒 When all my books in the hostel room blow horns inside my mind, he merrily dances to the tune of my helplessness.
🐒 When bad is my mood or that of his, he comes near me either to play an ear bursting music in his phone or to sing a third-grade song in his not at all good voice. His mood gets better by worsening my mood.
🐒 Bumping his toe, displacing things he quickly walks out of his room to say ” Bhubaneswar pura chharkhar heigala be” ( Bhubaneswar got completely destroyed) when new patients get detected here. After some hours, he starts his as usual hollow opinion for increasing immunity & against lockdown.
Today when I asked him how he feels during this lockdown, he answered-” Gote di inchia kila upare basila valia laguchi“( It feels like sitting on a 2-inch pin) Now let me stop this tale here & ask him if he needs any bandage.
I dedicate this story to millions of victims of holocaust who were killed coldbloodedly and those survivors who are still embedded with the scars and stains of those wrathful memories.
Also I want to offer my heartfelt salute to those brave soldiers who closed the door of this barbarous era.
Holocaust was not a Jewish tragedy, but a human tragedy. We should never remain silent to such horrendous crime. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
As a writer I strongly believe that words have power to ignite the muffled mind as well as to dethaw the hardest heart.
We all are humans and we all are equal. We all are related in some way in spite of difference in the colour of our skin, eyeball and hair, caste,creed, religion & ethnic origin. As the beauty of rainbow lies in coordination of various colours, so the development of society depends on unity among diversity.
Now it is the need of hour to deracinate the weed of racism. After that the entire world will be scented with the blooming peace, prosperity and harmony. It will be not only proper tribute to the souls who were perished in the war of racism, but also an assurance of a pacifistic world to our next generation.
*Considering the sensitiveness of this topic, reader’s discretion is recommended.
THE OLDMAN AND SEA
What can be better than a Sunday morning on the sea beach!
The Neon blue sky was stitched with silver lining. Quivering sea was acetylene blue, but the beach was dawn-glow gold.
Although pretty aggressive, the mesmeric dance of waves was heart swelling.
Still no one seemed to be there on the beach to enjoy this serenity. I was panting heavily after an hour of jogging and decided to take a short peaceful break for a while until other sleepy heads appear on the beach.
To my utmost surprise, I noticed an old man sitting dangerously close to the waves that crashed on the beach. Getting closer to him, it appeared to me that he was gazing at a photo. He was very focused on it; without even blinking his eyes.
Waves must have taken pity on him for they had not yet drenched him completely. But his skin was wet and so were his rags that clung to him.
With each returning wave he was inching more towards sea. I was lost somewhere within myself while reminiscing about my grandpa. He always used to snatch me away whenever I ran to play with the waves.
I thought that old man … no no…that strange man must have possessed some kind of eternal youth spirit to go on adventuring. But how is it possible for anyone not to fear death like this? The waves are particularly higher today than other days.
He was quite unconscious of the waves that rose and closed on him a few feet before him. He was wholly immersed in that photo.
When the next wave swelled and rolled towards him I could not suppress a scream. It hit him on the chest and I was running towards him, catching him by his shirt and pulling him with all my might towards the dry part of the beach away from the waves.
We were both soaked. I looked at him with exasperation. In his hands he still held the photo.
Instead of heartfelt gratitude he threw me a sarcastic smile which made me quite angry and a bit astonished.
I barked at him- “How can you be so careless? Don’t you realize that your carelessness would have got both of us killed?”
This time with a different kind of smile on lips he gestured me to sit near him which made me angrier.
Fuming, I pulled out the small towel I had tucked below the waist band of my jogging trousers and started to dry myself.
He asked me “Do you want me to answer your questions?”I nodded quietly. He can say whatever he wants to. I saved his life. That was the main thing.
I nodded quietly. He can say whatever he wants to. I saved his life. That was the main thing.
Then with a deep sigh he started to tell me something which even to this day I remember, although now it is incomplete and blurry.
HOLOCAUST: A HORRENDOUS CRIME
Leaving auburn shadows; sun was departing soon making way to the soothing beam of mounting moon The evening was approaching by bidding farewell to the afternoon But in the life of little boy Lamuel this sweet moment intruded as a typhoon
While he was peeping at the police force near the roadside Suddenly a scream fluxed as a fierce tide “Don’t dare to hide Hurry up! All Jews come outside”
Abandoning all hard earned possession With trembling limbs, cloudy eyes and persistent palpitation He along with his family and companions Marched towards an unknown destination At the crack of dawn, That unknown was revealed to be railway station
Loaded in a train full of Gypsies and Jews He was sent to a ghetto; the castle of filth and abuse He was detached from his father, mother and sister by a mordacious monster who was a buff a Hitler
He was shaved and disinfected with a shower… With a tattoo on left arm, he metamorphosed from Lamuel to a number; 138144
In his life then emerged a new epoch by digging rocks and loading them in truck Not for some hours but round the clock
No dare to dream for grain Only salvation for the drops of rain But when they fell they created the illusion of hell As it was unbearable to inhale the cadaver smell
Once while smuggling the food, he was found SS men punched him, kicked him, spun him round Then made his face rub the ground
Gazing at her wizen nipple then at her baby’s famished face A woman rushed to the stack of cadavers to chomp the flesh
Being its live witness ,laying on his straw mattress He pondered is human life God’s grace?
Soldiers tossed babies up and shot them in midair Except shedding tear, to forbid such brutality nobody had dare
A new tragedy entered his life in a flush By propelling him to the jaws of typhus
The term “Treatment” was not at all thinkable As “Work or crematorium” is their principle
Therefore along with many Chocked in agony Drenched in tear, trembling with fear He was led to venomous gas chamber
While standing in line in front of a barrack And waiting for the ultimate crack Suddenly he rushed and hid himself behind dead bodies stack
Thanks to that loud clack For which he looked back And found a clue To get his life back
Tell me – How can one fear death? Who has already faced that many times before taking his last breath
Think – Why should I fear these mere waves of sea? Because this Lamuel was no one other than me!
Tears were gushing from my eyes My throat was dry Goosebumps had already flooded my skin My tee was wet in sweat
I was confused whether I was listening to an emotional experience or a horror story. I was confused whether the person in front of me is worthy of sympathy for the catastrophe of his life or worthy of salute for his undaunted courage.
Interrupting my thought he burst out –
“Is it possible that everyone will be same? Then why did they give Jews the blame?
Was their race so much superior? Never…Never….Never! We Jews were not at all inferior!
How can I forget the memory of Holocaust? It is such a chapter of history of world, which can neither be burnt nor get rust…”
“It is God who has made us as we are; it will be God too who will raise us up again.”
“God ! Which God! The master of universe! The father of all creations! He, who chose to remain silent when His children were at the peak of pain. How can you still sing the hymn of His praise?” – I asked acrimoniously.
Bearing a faint smile in lips, he mouthed -“That day black smoke of gas chamber had consumed all my faith not only in humanity but also in Almighty. But I have unwavering faith in my mother. Her word- “Sometimes God tests us beyond our endurance so that we can realize how strong we are” is still entrenched on the wall of my heart.
A MEMORABLE MEAL
His sarcastic smile was still vivid in my memory. I realized he had every reason to be sarcastic by rubbing shoulders with death all his life.
I asked him “Now you must have a wife, children and grandchildren. They should be concerned about you. Is it right to be careless of your life to such an extent? Think how much they would suffer if you had died today!”
Fixing a gaze on me he uttered with a sigh- “I never dared to start my own family or have children of my own. I was so afraid of making those close bonds again.”
He was still toying with that photo. I took it from him and looked at it which showed me a family photo. It was black and white.
With trembling voice he began-
“My parents and my sister are still with me. I carry photos of them with me always, wherever I go, even when I sleep they are with me. Till now I don’t know how and where they died.”
For the first time of our meeting I saw tears streaming from the eyes of this holocaust survivor.Were they tears of joy for being still alive by struggling in those dark days? Or… Tears of gloom for losing his beloved family forever?
Hour and minute hands and second hand of the watch had already coincided indicating noon. But my conscience was earnestly desiring to spend more time with this downtrodden soul. I invited him to take the lunch with me at a nearby restaurant.
I booked a corner table. When I extended the non-veg menu to him, he politely refused it with a sad smile, saying- “As far as I can remember prawns taste better than mutton. For the last time I have eaten that on a Sunday with my sister.”
Instead he went for the vegetarian dishes. And I was anticipating- “Most of the Holocaust survivor must have changed to vegan. No one can know better than them what it is like to be treated as an animal.” Still my mind was choked with many unsolved questions. My brain was in its threshold thinking mode. But my lips were paralysed to utter a word. My heart was prohibiting me to ask anything more which might throw salt to his incurable wound.
ONE MORE STAB ON HEART
That slim history book of 7th class. A chapter on world war 2. Of which holocaust has incurred the chance to occupy a page. Those words, terms , events had already faded from my brain with luminance of physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology. But after 7 long years suddenly my heart had started pounding for each and every word of that one page event of history book. The term “holocaust” was bombarding in my head like vectors from different directions. I was feeling breathless as if Zyklon B gas had invaded each artery and vein of my body. My conscience was trying hard to balance the equation in which human and inhumanity function as reactants resulting in product of destruction. I was mystified if Hitler and his followers really belong to species Homo sapiens.
My thought was roaming in the world of Holocaust. Spicy aroma of curries, chit-chat of people and waiters – nothing had energy to pull me out of that world.
Abrupt ingress to the empire of my thought – News reader’s voice in television- “Two innocent lives were battered to death and set aflame in broad daylight due to inter-caste marriage.”
A shrill scream escaped from the lips of Mr. Lamuel. Clenching my hand, he mumbled numbly-“slogan like ‘racism down down’ has turned an everyday tune to our tongue. But racism is reproduced routinely in many manifested forms. Even now many people languish in island of darkness where freedoms are few and choices are absent. Hitler has not died yet. He is still alive among us in camouflage. “
“Neele neele ambar” is the song that blesses my heart with wings & makes it fly in neele neele ambar. It doesn’t matter whether it is midnight or morning, whether it’s chaos or solitude, whether it’s work or leisure, this song always brings a smile to my face. My forever single mindset gets buried & the spirit of a hopeless romantic occupies me. This is so addictive that a tint of boredom doesn’t touch me even when I listen to this song in a loop for the umpteenth time.
//Neele-neele ambar par, chand jab aye Pyaar barsaye, humko tarsaaye Aisa koi saathi ho, aisa koi premi ho Pyaas dil ki bujha jaye //
By staring at the starry sky for hours and by sharing all my secrets with the moon, I always feel so ethereal. Being single all my life, I have never experienced how romantic love feels like. But when I look at the moon, I wish someone sitting with me who can love the moon in the way I do, who can embrace all my insecurities in the way the moon does. I don’t know what to name this feeling. Desperation or expectation! All I know is moon always showers me with the belief that the feelings I have saved all these years are valid & the fidelity I have watered throughout my life is not futile. Moon made me believe that there must be someone somewhere who can understand the thirst of my heart without my utterance & will pour all his love on it without any complaint.
//Unche-unche parvat jab choomte hain ambar ko Pyaasa pyaasa ambar jab choomta hai sagar ko Pyaar se kasne ko, baahon mein basne ko Dil mera lalchaaye, koi toh aa jaye //
Love is not about moving mountains or swimming in the sea. It’s all about those little efforts you do to fit into each other’s idea of love. In fact, love is a weird thing. Sometimes it pushes you to improve yourself from better to the best just the way tall mountains heighten themselves to kiss the sky. And sometimes it compels you to lower your crown just the way thirsty sky bows down to lick the sea. I don’t know how romance happens in a closed room. But my idea of romance is to make love with that special someone with mountains hiding us from behind, with sky blushing at us & with sea drenching our feet. That love which will make me feel the safest in his arms. That love which will make my head rest on his chest with my parading heartbeats. That love which will make me listen to his lub-dub in the rhythm of mine. That love which will make me long for more & more.
//Thande-thande jhonke jab baalon ko sehlaayein Tapti-tapti kirne jab gaalon ko chhoo jayein Saanson ki garmi ko, haanthon ki narmi ko Mera mann tarsaye, koi toh choo jaye //
While standing on the terrace in chilly weather, while sitting in the window-side seat in the train, while walking on a seashore, all I want to do with my hairs is to give them freedom from the cage of braid so that they can play with the wind. But how it would have felt if someone is there to remove the tresses from my face & to tuck them in my ears just to gaze at me competing with the sunrays to make me blush! When you have your lover by your side, you can feel the warmth of his breath even in a cool zephyr. And you can feel a shiver in your spine on a sunny day. That moment, your heart will tell you to fit your fingers into that of his. And you will realize how holding the hand of your beloved is the most beautiful & purest form of love, yet so much underrated.
//Chham-chham karta saavan boondon ke baan chalaye Satrangi barsaaton mein jab tan-mann bheega jaye Pyaar mein nahaane ko, doob hi jaane ko Dil mera tadpaye, khwaab jaga jaye //
When the pregnant clouds let go of their heaviness, it rains. It rains till those chham- chham, rim-jhim, pitter-patter, tupur-tupur calm down your roaring conscience. It rains until your heart & soul get wet, until your maturity melts, until the kiddish version of you get exposed. That version of you which wants to pull your partner out of the house to jump in the muddy rills, to see the joint reflection of both of you in the puddle, to paddle paper boats & to dance in rain holding his hand. You feel like the monsoon is the season of love meant to make you drown in love, deeper & deeper.
Ajaa, you will always remain in my memory through these –
🌼 Glass paperweight Unaware of the principle of refraction, my eyes used to shine in amazement each time I watched the rainbow colours trapped inside that round crystal on your table. And now, your memories are nothing, but resemble like that paperweight, too delicate to carry, yet too heavy for not letting the sheets of your greatness fly away.
🌼 Sky blue salwar The memory of wrapping chuni around neck & getting wrapped in happiness always takes me back to that sky blue salwar with silver embroidery. You had bought that for me for Prathamastami and that was one of my initial day salwars. Dada teased me saying that it was a cheap dress & my eyes brimmed in tears thinking that if he was right. After growing up, I wondered what’s the brand of grandpa’s choice. Love of blessing!
🌼 Hero honda bike An old man with bent waist wearing dhoti & holding stick. Childhood storybooks stamp this image on our conscience as the identity of a grandfather. But you always contradicted this myth with your all-time full pant shirt attire. And I used to flaunt “My ajaa is not old. He rides hero honda bike.” Ajaa, You died. But you didn’t shrivel. The baggage of responsibilities you carried for 82 years failed to make you bend a bit.
🌼Radio In the morning, the cooking of your Nina walks hand in hand with the blaring of the radio. I don’t know how the smartphone has not yet replaced mami’s loyalty towards radio & what fulfilment she gets by listening radio which her mobile can’t deliver. But I know that from now on, each time she will rotate the switch of radio, her mind will revolve around the thought that no more she had to repair your old radio or buy a new one for you. Your intimacy with radio has been inherited to your daughter.
🌼Last conversation After returning from your funeral, I went to your room. That yellow Narula carry bag with radio package was lying there. The recorder inside my head which was replaying our last conversation for umpteenth time since last night, increased its volume a bit more. Your comment which was meant to inject embarrassment into my mind that day will always bring tears & smile to my face. Because that was the last and last always lasts.
🌼Mami’s complaint Each time I argue with baba, get angry with him, do fun with him, my ears get bombarded with the taunt of your daughter-“Till today, we don’t muster courage to talk to our bapa in a raised voice.” And instantly that serious looking face of yours gets zoomed in my mind & a trail of dislike for you emanates from my heart. And that night mami sighed saying “Ama bapa daka sarigala“. All I felt at that moment was something I can’t portray in words. I am ready to listen to this taunt of mami without an iota of anger. Can’t you come back, ajaa?
🌼 Beauty of aai Beauty bows down before aai looking at that red bindi amidst her frail eyebrows, those red bangles in her wrinkled hands & that red nail colour in her tiny nails. That beauty of her has now become a thing of the past. That day also she was looking like a cute little oldie wearing a red sambalpuri saree. But her face was not radiating that aura like before. Ajaa, you snatched away that sparkle, that redness, that beauty from aai. You even didn’t give aai a proper goodbye. You left her stranded with your unfinished talk. But don’t dare to eye her now.
🌼Mamughara sofa The sofa was your throne where you used to sit, rest, eat & rule. That instant dining table setup was always ready to pay tribute to your full pant shirt incarnation. The way you used to eat with food scattered throughout was a tight slap to the stereotype that old people always eat neatly. Now that copper glass & that betel box will lie in a corner, unwanted.
🌼 Mini diaries Your children were grief-stricken with the guilt of letting all your things burn with you. But I found your fingerprints in those ink-filled mini pages. Those words of you “Dial 1 2 3 4 and set your colour tune” brought a real smile to my face & reminisce the times when I used to say mami “Why doesn’t your father call you often?”. She used to answer-“My father is confident that your father is taking care of me.”
🌼Your bye Whenever I went to mamughar, I never found you in the house. Meeting with you used to occur on the farm always. The farm never slept with your presence & your body never got tired of moving home to the farm fifty times a day. But during our return time I had always found you sitting crosslegged in the chair on the veranda, blessing us, biding us bye & telling us to come again. Ajaa, I missed that blessing, that bye when I returned from mamughar this time.
🌼 Last meet The last time I met you in ICU, those blinking eyes of yours, those restless movements of your limbs, those fine digits in patient monitor made me convince that you would be alright after the treatment. I wish I could watch you a bit longer that day.
🌼Black day & blank thoughts Those yellow-orange marigolds, those yellow-orange sunrays & those yellow-orange pyre
1. A bucketful satisfaction with my lungs respiring in another’s body, my kidney gifting new life to a nephropathic & my eyes holding the hope of a blind. My donated organs will be a real tribute to my dead body.
2. A glitter garnished graffiti of my real smile that once shined on my face in reflection when I offered someone a bunch of happiness.
3. A big box made up of degradable material holding all my guilts unexpressed, all my regrets unshown, all my tears dried, all my wishes unfulfilled, all my apologies rejected & all my trust shattered. They will degrade without being humiliated by the harsh world.
4. The papercut that I kept as the souvenir of my lost faith, those yellow papers where I stitched the pieces of my heart.
5. My diaries with the stories I ended indecisively and the poetries I left incomplete.
6. A handful of seeds of marigolds. I will grow, flower. You will smile & pluck. I will hang as your love in the neck of your sweetheart & I will remain as your prayer in the feet of your God.