Friday, April 11, 2014

Confusion (असमंजस)

One of my childhood friends had a very nice phrase to sum up everything in life. Whenever faced with a dilemma, Rajat always used to say "Confusion Prevails". Little did I know that this little joke of ours would become the steadfast philosophy of our adult life. (God bless Rajat!) From the quarter life crises to the matters of the heart, life can be summed up in the very same two words ... "confusion prevails". The very moment that I feel I have got a grip on something as small as a teeniest weeniest littlest part of life, the One Above (a.k.a. the omnipresent, omnipotent "our Father in Heaven") says "Gotcha Son! Not so soon!" And there I am, back to drudgery, figuring stuff out from square one, or ground zero (a la what was left of the WTC by after the terrorist attacks), if you may.

God, I love solving problems and thereby, trying to make some sense of my time here on Earth. But please, can you give me newer problems to solve? Like you know, maybe, what do do with all the money I am going to have, to buy property in Shanghai or New York, to send my children to Oxford or Cambridge. Of course, all of it requires for God to be grateful enough to (a) give me some money, (b) give me some children, which basically brings me back to the same problem, the problem of finding a jaan for my dil-e-nadaan, which would hopefully kick-in the process of children, money and the works. Its been like eternity and I still haven't decided on what I am looking for only.

Then along comes this girl, and she ticks all the boxes, and she fills all the right gaps (from the movie Rocky - Rocky: I dunno, she's got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps.), and she's beautiful from the outside and gorgeous from the inside, and she has the right attitude and the right mix of everything one would ever want.

But, she can't be the one. As grown-ups we have "grown-up" problems - we are cautious, conscious and conscientious. In short, we think too much. This problem engulfs everyone around us, not just me and her. We on our part love to dissect, analyse and discuss like adults, always concluding all discussions bemoaning the loss of child-like devil-may-care attitude and uncomplexities of early life. So, anyways, coming back to the point, she can't be the one. Its "too early" to think of her as a life-mate, but "too late" to have a title match for her. (I know a lot about title matches, they just don't go the way you would expect - everyone loses in the end.)

While all reason and all sorts of reasons (and there are many, many, many of them) are against even the possibilities of exploring an alliance, deep down there is an optimist in me, which just wants me to wait and watch, and watch and wait. The jury's still out on this one, people. The jury is still out.

Meanwhile, here's something to ease the pain, the anguish and the anxiety. Something that I couldn't resist writing. Something that I feel verily reflects the confusion our lives are thrown into right now. This is for you, nameless lady.

झिझक 

प्रिये!

तुम ही तो हो
जो चुपचाप, धीरे से
मेरी कविता के चित्रपट पर
सहज, सहसा ही उभर आई हो

तुम्हारी मुस्कान
अनछुई, अनमोल
उज्ज्वलित कर देती है
मेरी एकाकी के वीराने को

तुम ही तो हो
जिसका प्रतिबिम्ब
दिन प्रतिदिन अपने अंतर्मन में
मैं पाता - खोता रहता हूँ

पर मन ही मन डरता हूँ
समय और समाज की सीमा
कवि की कल्पना पर पहरा देती हैं
इसलिए ही चुप रहता हूँ

मेरी इस झिझक को प्रिये
मेरा प्यार न समझ लेना …

… वह तो अभी किया नहीं
… वह तो अभी हुआ नहीं


Monday, September 17, 2012

The question

She asks him "When?".

He steps towards the window and looks out. It is evening and the sun is on the horizon. The sky is a visual cocktail - a myriad mix of the colours of the rainbow. Hues of blue set against pale white stratified clouds bidding adieu to the fading yellow sun.

For a long time he is silent, his gaze fixed on the setting sun, as if almost experiencing a philosophical deja vu. A torrent of memories sweep across the arid landscape of his mind and at the same time he is reminded of the mission with which he was chosen, a long long time ago. He falls into a reverie of the past, the ageing sun still burning in his eyes.

He has almost forgotten why he is here anymore. This was not the way things were supposed to happen. This was not the path he was to tread when he began his journey. This conversation was just not in the plan. Yet, a question has been asked and answer, he will.

He thinks again of her, the one who had asked the very same question a long time back. Its been eleven long years since he first met her. Where she might be now, he has no clue. What would have become of her, he doesn't know. Does she still think of him, he is not sure. Does he still think of her, he does. Does he still feel the same way, he doesn't. He was different back then, he is different now. His thoughts bring him to the now.

There is someone who is asking the same question now. A different person. The very same question. The very same, very difficult question. But a question has been asked, and reply to it, he shall. His gaze shifts from the sun and across the ocean onto the rising moon. He steps back a bit and breathes in the misty ocean air, as if inhaling the scenery before his eyes. Then, with the weight of his past and the depth of the darkness inside him, he speaks, "Soon. Very soon."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Kis kadar chot khaaye hue hain

Failing to be inspired in the way I used to, for a very very long time now, it is almost impossible for me to compose something original. Nevertheless, desperate times call for disparate mesaures :) , and so I have resorted to the next best thing - reading poetry, listening to old time melodies, ghazals and qawwalis. All this is just a frantic, though feeble at that, attempt to remain connected with that miniscule part of me which is still human. (at this point it becomes natural to question the nature of the other not-so-miniscule part of me, to which I would sadly clarify by stating that the other part is slowly but surely mouldng itself in the shape of a commonplace urban phenomenon - the cubicle rat).

These days most of my time is being spent on work related affairs, and all the other, ahem, affairs have taken a backseat. Nevertheless, once every few months, I still go into those moments of trance / insanity that give rise to blog posts such as those that shall follow this one. And, true to my human side, notwithstanding the minisculity of its form, this post is still a vehement representation of what I am and a stubborn reminder of the stain of the human emotion etched into my psyche. Some things just don't go away, do they?

Out, bloody damned spot!

I had first heard this song in a Bollywood masala movie from the 90s. It was well sung, well directed and eventually became a hugely popular song. That number was sung by Sonu Nigam. However, very recently I discovered a video on youtube of a version sung by a Pakistani artist, Ataullah Khan, who is a living legend in his own right (as I came to know subsequently). Further research and a couple of hours digging through the WWW, I found more versions sung as qawwalis by Sabari Brothers, Ayaz Ali and Munni Begum.

Each one has their own style of singing it. Although there is much speculation and conflicting views regarding the poet of the original verse, the poem itself is heart rending. I have compiled the present verse below based on multiple renditions by various artistes named above.

Although the theme is not sufi per se, there are philosophical undertones and a sense of renunciation mixed with a sense of loss and anguish. The beauty of the song, akin to Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, is that the tone of the verse depends entirely the approach the audience takes while interpreting the song.

Here's the verse.
इश्क में हम तुम्हें क्या बताएं

इश्क में हम तुम्हें क्या बताएं, किस क़दर चोट खाए हुए हैं
... मौत ने हमको मारा है अब हम, ज़िन्दगी के सताए हुए हैं

उसने शादी का जोड़ा पहन कर, सिर्फ चूमा था मेरे कफ़न को
... बस उसी दिन से जन्नत की हूरें, मुझको दूल्हा बनाये हुए हैं

सुर्ख़ आँखो में काजल लगा है, रुख पे गाज़ा सजाये हुए हैं
... ऐसे आए हैं मैय्यत में मेरी, जैसे शादी में आए हुए हैं

ऐ लहद अपनी मिट्टी से कह दे, दाग लगने ना पाए कफ़न को
... आज ही हमने बदले हैं कपड़े, आज ही हम नहाए हुए हैं

बिख़री जुल्फें परेशान चेहरा, अश्क आँखो में आये हुए हैं
... ऐ अजल ठहर जा चाँद लम्हें , वो अयादत को आये हुए हैं

दुश्मनो की शिकायत है बेजा, दोस्तओं से गिला क्या करेंगे
... झड़ चुके जिन दरख्तो के पत्ते, फिर कहाँ उनके साये हुए हैं

ज़िन्दगी में पलटकर न देखा, और न पूछा कभी हाल 'अफज़ल'
... बाद मरने के मेरी लहद पे, वो दुल्हन बनके आये हुए हैं

क्या है अंजाम-ए-उल्फत पतंगो, जाके शम्मा के नज़दीक देखो
... कुछ पतंगो की लाशें पड़ी हैं, 'पर' किसी के जलाए हुए हैं

दफ्न के वक़्त सब दोस्तो ने, ये चुकाया मुहब्बत का बदला
... डाल दी खाक मेरे बदन पर, यह न सोचा नहाए हुए हैं

उनकी तारीफ़ क्या पूछते हो, उम्र सारी गुनाहो में गुज़री
... पारसाँ बन रहे हैं वो ऐसे, जैसे गंगा नहाये हुए हैं

देख साकी तेरे मैकदे का, इक पहुंचा हुआ रिंद हूँ मैं
... जितने आए हैं मैय्यत पर मेरी, सब के सब ही लगाए हुए हैं

ज़िन्दगी में न रास आई राहत, चैन से अब सोने दो लहद में
... ए फ़रिश्तो न छेड़ो न छेड़ो, हम जहाँ के सताए हुए हैं

एक आँसूं न पलको से टपके, यह वफ़ा का तकाज़ा है वरना
... दोस्तो हम भी आँखो में अपनी गंगा-जमुना छुपाये हुए हैं

खोई-खोई सी बेचैन आँखें, बेकरारी है चेहरे से ज़ाहिर
... हो न हो आप भी शेख साहिब, इश्क की चोट खाए हुए हैं

I hope someday I am able to put up a translation of the verse for the non-Indic readers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A New End, A New Beginning.

I remember this from somewhere
In the end, everything's okay.
If it's not okay, it's not the end.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is so true.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Door's Open, milove ...

Here's something I wrote NOT quite recently. However, there's a bit of a story attached to this episode. I wrote this piece in a state of mind which one couldn't exactly term as "regular". Strange as I am, after I had jotted it down I couldn't resist sharing it with a friend.

Of course it was inappropriate at that time to have posted it on my blog, for the simple reason that such an act might have defeated the very idea around which the piece revolves. However, the friend liked the concept and the expression so much (takes a bow) that very soon the piece landed up on the blog of that particular friend.

It is today that I present to you, a true tale from the saumyajain archives. The "Whys" and "Whats" of it all ... (Now now now, don't take me seriously, I am just exaggerating stuff out of proportion. An old advertising gimmick, you see ... :D)

Read the post though, it was written on a sober thought. Here goes everything.
“People come in our lives just like someone visits our homes. We welcome them in. Show them a piece of what is us. Share a few moments. If they are formal, we keep them to the drawing room. If they are family, we let them in the kitchen and other rooms. Some of them get access to the living room. We call them friends.
We don’t mind them peering at our dirty socks or strewn about magazines. We feel safe sharing our lives with them. And when THAT special person comes in, one thinks about getting the house painted, maybe its time to move up in life.
Maybe its time to tidy things up.
Maybe she would want to move in.
...
Please, good God, make her want to move in!
Meanwhile, she moves about the house, arranging it with authority. I let her. Its as much hers as it is mine. She waves her wand and things seem to just fall in place. Oh! am I happy, or am I happy?

But then, something changes. She moves in close.
But how close is it?
Is it close enough? Is it far enough?

Is she here all by herself, or does she have to be told to? Do I want her to be told to be close?
I want her to want by herself. If that’s not there, it means nothing.

Nothing at all.

Is she just being “nice”?
Being so close and just being “nice”?
“Nice” means nothing to me. I am not nice.
I am genuine. Straight-in-your-face genuine.
I don’t like her being “nice” when she cannot really be close.
I don’t like her being close when she cannot “really” be nice.

I don’t want her to touch the things inside any more. I don’t want her to not to either. What do I want? I don’t know. All I know, I don’t want it like this. I don’t want any apparitions or fakeness. I can’t keep her close. I can’t keep her inside. I can’t keep her out too. She has to be around, but I won’t let her be close like this.

In my mind’s eye, I have placed her somewhere at the door. Neither moving out nor moving in. She can stand there, get a view of what is outside and a glimpse of what is inside. I have let her to decide what she wants. The door’s open and you’re standing there, milove. It’s your house, it’ll always be. Only thing is, if you want to come inside, you need to know that its your house, and you have to treat it as your own.

If you don’t or you can’t, the door’s open and you’re standing there milove.”

Much water has flown down the Saraswati (note the double pun!) since. But, although I am much, much, much (and much much more than that) wiser now than I was when I wrote this, the basic philosophy, the premise of the written word as it meant to me back then, hasn't changed too much. My inner thoughts would be still be somewhat reeking of similar concepts. Maybe the form of interpretation of the concept, the way it is understood and applied now might have changed. But this piece does sum a part of me up for good.

Why this post? Why now? Just like that. A thought tickled me from inside and felt like revisited this long-lost post.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Baat niklegi toh ...

Another masterpiece. Heard this today on a road trip across the countryside. Though I had heard and used the first line of this nazm so many times in the past, it was only today that I finally got a chance to hear it completely.

The beauty of this one is that it comes to me at a time when the lyrics are almost so relevant. Well, I could say that about any urdu piece but this one touched my heart today.

बात निकलेगी तो फिर दूर तलक जाएगी ...

लोग बेवजह उदासी का सबब पूछेंगे,
ये भी पूछेंगे कि तुम इतनी परेशां क्यूं हो ...

उगलियां उठेंगी सूखे हुए बालों की तरफ़,
इक नज़र देखेंगे गुज़रे हुए सालों की तरफ़ ...

चूड़ियों पर भी कई तन्ज़ किये जायेंगे,
कांपते हाथों पे भी फिक़रे कसे जायेंगे ...

लोग ज़ालिम हैं हर इक बात का ताना देंगे,
बातों बातों मे मेरा ज़िक्र भी ले आयेंगे ...

उनकी बातों का ज़रा सा भी असर मत लेना,
वर्ना चेहरे के तासुर से समझ जायेंगे,
चाहे कुछ भी हो सवालात न करना उनसे,
मेरे बारे में कोई बात न करना उनसे ...

बात निकलेगी तो फिर दूर तलक जाएगी ...

‍-कफ़ील आज़र

Glossary
तलक : Till
सबब : Cause
तन्ज़ : Taunt
फ़िकरे : Jibes
तासुर : Expression

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And time just flew!

It has been a long long time since I really blogged something. To be less ambiguous, it has been close to six months, save a fit of insanity last weekend, when I have ended up posting something.

Apart from the fact that much of what I was facing was totally unbloggable (or, from another viewpoint, a typical movie script and very much blogworthy!), and the fact that I simply had much much bigger things to take care of in my life than this (my very own crazy little real estate in cyberspace) I had been pushed out of my wits to post anything meaningful. It is certainly not that I wasn't inspired enough to write. It's just that, the pieces never seemed to fit. Last weekend's sudden departure came as a piece of good news which prompted me to complete a pending draft and put up a plagiarised-ish quick post.

You heard the good news, it's time for the better news, and as all the strange conincidences of my life, it is no wonder that it is my hundredth post that coincides with the news that I have finally ended the drudgery and taken up a job in a field of my liking, or I would put it, not-to-my-disliking. Here's a poetic flavour to the episode, and here's to my bright (or dimly lit, in the least) future ...

Looking back from where I stand
My shadow has turned darker, longer
Is it dusk? I wonder,
Have my demons become stronger?

Or is it the dawn, I wistfully think
The sun is on the horizon's brink
I was sleeping I do not know
If its coming or getting ready to go

My footprints have a clue to say
They seem to come from far away
How did I come here? I cannot tell
Did I walk or is it from the sky that I fell?

But then the sun does finally rise
And I fall into my surmise
The shadow has turned long
Its grown in character, nothing wrong

It is the depth of wisdom I gain
Though it comes with the cost of pain
Old memories, I no longer keep
That wisdom, paints my shadow deep

They look the same, Dusk and Dawn,
Its not our worth to ponder on
Our fate, it is us who's making it
Building it by hand or just faking it

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Firaaq

रात यूं दिल में तेरी खोयी हुई याद आयी,
जैसे वीराने में चुपके से बहार आ जाए,
जैसे सहराओं में हौले से चले बाद-ऐ-नसीम,
जैसे बीमार को बेवजह करार आ जाए।
(फैज़ अहमद फैज़)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kaka Hathrasi

Vinod has recently started a blog on Kaka Hathrasi's creations. Here's my (literal) two cents ... two compositions as my personal tribute to Kaka's legacy, in his signature style.

The first one was written during the Hindu festival of Karva-Chauth in 2007. Picking up from the usual Kaka-Kaki nok-jhonk, here's how it goes ...
काका से काकी कहिन , हमारा खूब बनाया मेल,
मैं भी खेलूंगी इस बार करवा-चौथ का खेल।
करवा-चौथ का खेल, रखूँगी मैं उपवास,
उम्र तुम्हारी लम्बी हो, जेहि है मेरी आस।
सुनते ही काका की बुद्धि ऐसी चकराई,
सज़ा-टाइम की EXTENSION भला किसी को भायी?
कहे काका कविराय हाथ यूँ जोड़कर, “काकी,
इतना जीवन कम था क्या, कुछ कसार रह गई बाकी?”

... and the next one struck me on the day I got to know about this blog. Here's how that one sounds like,
एक हमारे बन्धु भये, उनका नाम विनोद,
काका की कवितायें वो नित दिन, लायें खोद खोद।
लायें खोद खोद, करें हम उनसे विनती,
अपने रचनाओं की भी, कभी करो भाई गिनती।
कहीं काका कविराय मजा तोह तब आवेगा,
ब्लागस्पाट.कॉम जब दद्दू-गीत गावेगा।

Here's a hick-a-doo to Kaka Hathrasi, the nuffiest poet known to man.
Hickkk-A-Diddle-Dooooo!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

And then the old man said ...

Post Note : This is a one-time note. I am never going to write something like this again, and for no one else.

Like the archetypal character in Vinod's fantasy novels, each one of us in our lives has a "wise old man". He comes in different forms for different people. For some, its their fathers, for some its their uncles, their grandfathers, their neighbourly elder or someone. I found such an old man for myself in the early months of 2008. We immediately hit it off. He was about 3 years older to me, a man of principle and character. He was, so to say, someone whom I would like to live my life as sometime in the future.

In this place of "quick-to-change ethics" and magic words like "adaptability" and "fending-for-your-own", I had finally found someone who was "old school", who had the insight and the patience to look into the details, who used his homegrown intelligence to solve problems and someone who was oozing with confidence. He was someone I had once wanted to become. He was someone who made me realise that it was possible to live a life like that, someone who showed me how contentful it is to live likewise. He was someone who gave me hope.

Yet he was no superman. He was weak and vulnerable, just like me. I connected with him because I could. Very few could. But I was lucky. I was lucky to spend time with him. I was lucky to share thoughts. As much as I realised that it was only a tip of an iceberg that I could relate to in such a short time, it was still enough for my agitated mind. He could give me a sense of relief subconsciously which I had somehow lost in the past couple of years at IIT.

When I was packing my bags at IIT to return to my home for good, he came round and offered to accompany me, on my taxi, for the trip. I think I shall forever live under the assumption that this event happened just so that we could spend some more time together for one last time in THAT mode. Here's a brief conversation we had during that trip, amongst a lot of other "meaningless-yet-profound" transactions. (P.S : Don't mind the profanity, just look into the meaning)

He says, "You know what, you are a d**k."
I say, "Hmm?"
"Yeah, you are a d**k who is not interested in f**king."
"Hmm?" (BTW, this is the kind of response that I give to him whenever I want to keep him talking)
"Yes, and mind you, there are not a lot of people whom I consider d**ks."
"So what do you consider most of the people as?"
"Oh most of the people are c**ts. They are happy just getting f**ked. But you, you are the other kind, you are the one who has been made to f**k , but you're not realising it. You're simply not interested. Saumya Jain, work on this and you can really f**k the world. Realise your worth. You're a d**k and you know it!"
(I just smiled. At being called a d**k! And then he smiled, knowing that we both knew what had transpired in that heavily loaded Toyota Qualis speeding away on National Highway 91 on that scorching summer day)

I must say I was lucky to have stayed back in IIT that one extra semester. I was lucky to have met this wonderful person, who filled the proverbial much-needed-gap in my life. Here's to you, Raj, and I would gladly say that for me you have been the closest one to being the elder brother I never had.