Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Unfinished Tales -1 (A Fruitless Existence)

(written sometime during 1980-82, Bhopal)
On Saturdays, the office gets over after lunch. Today is Saturday, and there is still almost half a day left before I can hit the soft oblivion of the bed. I dread these afternoons for their unstructured-ness. Sundays are somewhat more tolerable; I can always find a list of things to do to keep myself busy and useful, like washing clothes, stitching buttons, rearranging my room (and how many arrangements can you make out of a bed, two chairs, a table and an iron trunk), shopping for the necessities. But Saturday afternoons are different and dull. They place me with a large chunk of time at my disposal, and I am forced to take a decision about it.

I am one of the senior clerks in the office. If you go by my personnel file, I have twenty years of experience working this organization. The way I look at it is that I have one month of experience, which I have repeated two hundred and forty times. Two hundred and thirty eight to be exact. It is like the myth of Eternal Recurrence: every week I spend five and a half days in the office, and fumble around with the remaining one and a half. For the last two decades, this pattern has remained much the same, except for a few times when I had fallen ill, and once when I had gone to my native village to cremate my dead mother, the last of my roots. Of course, there have been changes. Nowadays, there are better photocopying machines, more educated peons, more frustrated bosses, more indifferent colleagues, and more arrogant customers. Over the years, the prices and disillusionment have increased, and contentment and intimacy have gone down. But these are only minor fluctuations in the looming background of my personal anonymity, which has remained perennial like some cosmic principle.

I loiter towards the Coffee House. A piece of sunlight is leaning against its door, ogling at the pedestrians like some street-side loafer. I push the door, and it falls flat on the carpeted floor. I enter, trampling over it, triumphant and privately delighted about my delinquency. Inside, it is dark, and a soft ubiquitous murmur pervades the room. I grope my way to a corner table, gradually getting accustomed to the darkness.

The room is littered with countless human islands, each characterized by its peculiar fauna.  There are islands of the literary people, engaged in their private battle of words and wits; of the city-bred intellectuals, gauging the trend of the contemporary world; of the disillusioned unemployed, struggling with their common sense of futility; of the young college-goers, enthusiastic about their frivolous exploits; of the young lovers, wooing each other in soft murmured tones. Beneath this heterogeneity of motives and directions, I feel there is a common striving for one's life and future. Probably, that is why I find this place so comforting, its involvement with life so very consoling. If so many people can be serious about it, then, apparently there must be something more to life than a series of ineffectual events bounded within the paradigm of periodicity.

The waiter passes by my table three times, feigning a busy indifference to my presence. I feel an affinity towards him and his indulgence in his contrived sense of purpose and importance. Since I am in no hurry, I abandon my fruitless efforts to attract his attention, and start scanning the room once again…

As usual, my eyes move towards the table at the far end of the room, just next to the window with the glazed brown glass. I realize that it has been so many years since I have sat there…

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

उम्र जलवों में हमेशा तो बसर होती नहीं...

मैंने जज़्बात के ज़रिये ही दुनिया देखी....
उम्र ढलती रही औ’ रास्ते गुज़रते गए
एक माज़ी - वो आँखें जो मुझे देखती हैं
उनका गुनहगार तो हूँ मैं फिर भी
मैं कहूँगा कि मैं भटकता रहा, लेकिन फिर भी
मैंने उजड़े हुए मंज़र, भटकी हुईं गलियां देखीं...
उम्र जलवों में हमेशा तो बसर होती नहीं...
मैंने जज़्बात के ज़रिये ही दुनिया देखी....

ढूंढते रह गए कुछ ख्वाब जो अपनी मंजिल
ख्वामखाह जीने की कुछ रस्में निभाते रहे
हाँ, सही है कि कुछ ले के चले, भूल गए
मगर ये पगडंडियों कहाँ से चलीं, और अब कहाँ लाईं
इनकी सोहबत में मरुस्थल में भी कलियाँ देखीं...
उम्र जलवों में हमेशा तो बसर होती नहीं...
मैंने जज़्बात के ज़रिये ही दुनिया देखी....

इक समन्दर की लहर जैसी ये दिल की हलचल
क्या पता किस भंवर में एक दिन सम जायेगी
फिर भी कोशिश तो करी थी उछल के छूने की
आसमां को - मगर न बाँध सके आँधियों को पर फिर भी  
उन चंद लम्हों में छिपी सी कई सदियाँ देखीं...
उम्र जलवों में हमेशा तो बसर होती नहीं...

- Jamshedpur (Jan-March, 2014) 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

...the magic of those yesterdays

those were the days (more than four decades back) when we in our late-teens were struggling to find/ guess what the life would be like... term like 'career', 'job', 'life-style', 'salary', etc, had not entered the lingua-franca in conversations with parents and among peers in that era
....

one of the co-travellers had written these blank-verses, which make much more sense now than they did then (or perhaps they did - and that's why I had preserved them)...



"When I go into the library of my life,
And see rows and rows of yesterdays
Neatly arranged in shelves
Yearwise - catalogued,
I always pick from just one shelf;
Oh, those volumes are all thumbed now
and there isn't a single experience
that I haven't lived each night...
And yet
Such is the magic of those yesterdays..
...that I come out
A wiser man!"

- Amitabh Lal

Sunday, March 02, 2014

मगर ये साल गलत लगता है...

मगर ये साल गलत लगता है...

मार्च आया, पर बंयाइन की बाँहों से
आज भी पसीने की गंध आई नहीं
मेरी खिड़की के परे आज भी बादल बरसे
ढूंढ कर गरम मोज़े मैंने पहन लिए
लग रहा है कि धरा ने बदल ली करवट
लग रहा है कि मौसम बदलने लगे
... मैं चला जाऊँगा कहीं कुछ चंद सालों में'
छोड़ जाऊँगा जहाँ मेरी गलतियाँ भी थीं

शायद इसीलिए...
ये 'रोमांटिक' मौसम  कचोटता है
 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

सोचता हूँ एक दिन ऐसा भी होगा...

सोचता हूँ एक दिन ऐसा भी होगा
खुद से मैं कह सकूँगा डूबती सी यादों में
अब न इंतजार, न मंजिल की तलाश
ज़िन्दगी गूंजती है कायनातों में...

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

और सोलह साल बीते जा रहे हैं...

और सोलह साल बीते जा रहे हैं...

जानता था, समझता, झुटला रहा था
एक परदा गिर रहा था, धुंध जैसा
और मैं सहमा हुआ सा, याद करता...  
एक पगडंडी जहाँ हम-तुम चले थे
साथ थे, पर तुम्हारी राह अपनी...

और मैं चलता चला आया यहाँ तक
जानता, इस दौर में मेरे कदम भी

एक दिन मिल जायेंगे वहीँ पे ...

पर मैं ये भी समझता हूँ... कि हमसब बुलबुले हैं
कारवां आते रहे, जाते रहे हैं...


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

उजाले अपनी यादों के, हमारे साथ रहने दो....

many, many years back, this couplet (don't even know/remember who wrote this) had a very different 'romantic' meaning in my then "life-in-progress" (as it is now), when one didn't know how life will unfold:

उजाले अपनी यादों के, हमारे साथ रहने दो
न जाने किस गली में ज़िन्दगी कि शाम हो जाये

..and December comes and the random disconnected images of Dec 1997 keep on cropping up...

hmmm... life happens! so be it!