Saturday, 27 December 2014

Aru Amma's Chikkis



Pic courtesy: upload.wikimedia.org

ARU AMMA'S CHIKKIS

'Chikki le lo chikki...5 rupaye ki chikki', the old woman kept calling out in a frail voice. Not a single child paid attention to her tired calls, all of them buzzed around the icecream cart.

Aru amma had followed her routine that day also. She had been selling sweets outside this school for as many years as one could remember. With the passage of time, the small school had also succeeded in attracting a rich clientele, and acquired a posh airconditioned building, a plush canteen and a fleet of luxury AC buses.

What had not changed over the years was Aru amma's tiny sweet stall on the platform around the neem tree, witness to the transformation of many fortunes. A few snazzy shacks had sprung up nearby, offering fast food, ice creams, bakery, sundry gift items and what not, keeping in view the fast changing tastes of the globalized youngsters.

Amma had been finding it increasingly difficult to sustain her sales, she tried a few variations in her chikkis but failed to attract new customers highly influenced by western confectionary items.

She was roused from her reverie by a sudden commotion....oh, the police walas again! Wearily she started gathering her wares as quickly as her old limbs permitted.

'O amma, ter ku kitni baar mana kiyela idar nahi baithne ka, koi chikki-wikkie nahi bechne ka...fir tum kai ku magazmaari ke waste roj roj idar aa jata hai? Chalo hatao apna tokra!' The plump constable chided amma spraying paan stained saliva on the neem tree.

'Saheb, mai kidar jaayegi, sara jindgi to mai idar hi chikki bechti thi', amma pleaded with folded skinny hands.

'Nahi nahi, tumhara chikki kha ke bachcha log bimar padega, hamara jo naya saab aayela hai uska order hai kuchh bi khula khana nahi bechne ka...uthao apna saaman nahi to mai fek dega,' the burly constable growled and stepped towards her menacingly.

'Aru amma! Mujhe maaloom tha aap abhi bhi yahi hogi!' The constable's hand froze in mid-air on hearing a suave voice.

'Bade saheb, mer ku yaha se mat hatao, mera chikki kha ke koi bachcha bimar nahi padta, mai saalo se idarich bechti!' Amma did not seem to hear anything.

'Amma, mujhe pahchana nahi, mai Sooraj...aaj mujhe chikki nahi khilaogi?' The 'bada saab' bent to touch her feet, leaving the constable gape mouthed.

Sooraj Pratap Singh, an orphan, had been fortunate to receive the benevolence of a rich benefector and get admission in the new school. After school, most kids would flock to amma's stall but the shy teenager and a budding sportsperson would never even look at it. It was Amma who had restrained him one day, tenderly wiped the sweat off his broad forehead and forcefully put a piece of her chikki in his hesitant hands.

That moment had forged a new relationship between an orphan and a childless woman. Sooraj had flourished under the tender loving care of Aru Amma and soon proved his mettle as a promising sportsperson. Within a couple of years he was recommended for scholorship to the new Sports Academy in the state capital.

The day he left, amma bid him farewell with tear stained cheeks, but still pushed a box of chikkis in the equally emotional boy's hands.

'Mai jaldi bada aadmi ban ke wapas aayega Aru Amma, teri chikki khane ku, aur ter ku apne saath le jane ku,' he had promised.

He had come back...to fulfill his promise.

As they say, it is never too late between two loving hearts.

LET GO

Posting a new poem from my FB page. 

LET GO

Sometimes
You feel bitter
At life's unjust ways,
Despair beckons you, 'come hither',
Gloom begets you, eludes you happiness,
You feel cheated, can't fit in with the world either.

Stung by callous taunts and dismissive jibes, 
You hanker for some well-meaning positive vibes.

Let go
Of the inhibitions,
Of the customs and the traditions,
Unfollow the crowd and the fashion,
Follow your heart with grit and determination,
Choose the less trodden path, pursue your ultimate passion.

Success serenedes you, awaits you joy and elation,
In God's select list, you will sure find a well-deserved mention!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Ab Aur Nahi

अब और नहीं 


कहा था माँ ने जब मैं पाँच साल की छोटी बच्ची थी,
कहा था माँ ने…कभी  झूठ ना बोलना
ना किसी से कभी मारना झगड़ना

सब कुछ ठीक होगा अगर तुम सच्चाई के पथ पर हो, कहा था माँ ने.
कहा मैं ने भी जब मेरी बच्ची पांच साल की थी
झूठ ना बोलना, ना मारना झगड़ना किसी से,

पर क्या वाक़ई सब कुछ ठीक है?

कब तक…आखिर कब तक अपनी अंतरात्मा से ये झूठ कहूँ?
कब तक अपनी बच्ची को दिलासा दूँ
कि सच्चाई से सब कुछ ठीक हो जाता है?

क्योंकि सच्चाई यही है कि कहीं कुछ ठीक नहीं है.
मेरे आस पास हर चेहरा सच का नक़ाब ओढ़े नज़र आता है
हर बच्चा डरा-सहमा नज़र आता है,

क्योंकि ये समाज हमारी अपनी कमज़ोरियों का प्रतिबिम्ब नज़र आता है.

नहीं, अब और नहीं …
अब और नहीं, क्योंकि ये भी कहा था माँ ने कि
समाज हम से है हम समाज से नहीं

जब भी अकेले-कमज़ोर पड़ने लगो
हाथ बढ़ाओ …कोई  तो मिलेगा जो कहेगा
मैं हूँ तुम्हारे साथ…तुम अकेले नहीं,

चोरी-बेईमानी, झूठ, आतंकवाद के खिलाफ इस युद्ध में हम सब साथ हैं.

नहीं, अब और नहीं …
अब सिर्फ आगे बढ़ना है,
हाथ में हाथ थामे, कदम से कदम मिलाये,

क्योंकि मैं ही नहीं मेरा देश भी सजग सशक्त बने
यही वक़्त की पुकार है.
हाँ, अब सिर्फ यही,

सिर्फ.... यही!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

सुहावना मौसम


फिर वही अलबेली हवा, फिर वही मनभावन खुशबू,
कहीं नरम सी खुसपुसाहट, तो कहीं गरमा-गरम गुफ़्तगू,  

फिर वही नए-पुराने वादे, वही धक्के वही टेढ़े-मेढ़े रस्ते,
और फिर वही पैरी पोना-गुड मॉर्निंग-सलाम-नमस्ते,

सब कुछ जाना पहचाना सा है,
फिर भी कहीं कुछ नए की उम्मीद सी है.

एक नया अरमान इस बेक़रार दिल में सुलगने तो दो,
एक नया सपना इन मनचली आँखों में मचलने तो दो.

उन्हीं जानी पहचानी पुरानी मंज़िलों में
एक नयी अनूठी पहचान तलाशने तो दो,

अच्छा है, लौट आया है चुनाव का सुहावना मौसम,
एक बार फिर से हरे-लाल करारे नोटों की नशीली गरमाहट मिलने तो दो.    

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Dhanteras

Story shared from my FB page

DHANTERAS

It was already 10 pm when she finally put away the heavy iron, sprinkled water on the smouldering embers and retired for the night.

For the last one month Rehana bi had been working harder and longer than usual. The festive season was approaching, there were more clothes to be washed and ironed. By the end of the day, tiredness would seep to the core of her bones, after all she was not
 as healthy and energetic as she was in her youth but she didn't mind the long hours because of the extra money extra work brought.
It had become very difficult to make ends meet with ever increasing prices.....she had lost her husband two years ago when a firecracker shop had burst into flames in the nearby market, and some of her neighbors too.

She would do anything to arrange enough money for the forthcoming festival, she had to buy new clothes and some sweets for her three children. Her heart ached when they went hungry half the time. This time she was determined to give them at least one good meal and one set of new clothes, even if cheap.
That day also she had literally fought with the '10 number wali Sharma madam' when she refused to pay her according to the prevalent rate for curtains' washing and ironing. And pleaded with the '17 number wali bhabhi' to give her a bigger bakhsheesh on this Diwali. When she went to deliver the clothes of the 'paanchve maale wale bhaiya' who always addressed her politely by her name 'Rehana bi' instead of calling her 'presswali' as others called her, she had once again reminded him of his promise for giving his old bicycle for her eldest son.
Squaring her sagging shoulders, she pressed her swollen feat as she lay down on her 'bed' still hot from the ironing it received everyday. With drooping eyes, the aging widow saw the same dream again..... to provide the best for her neighbor Rajni 's three children Asheesh, Archna and Anil whom she had taken under her care after their mother Rajni perished in the same fire which had claimed her husband too.

This Dhanteras, she hoped, would fill not only the hearts of children with the wealth of her love, but their shrinking stomachs with enough food too.

Wishing all friends A Very Happy And Prosperous Dhanteras
May your lives be filled with the wealth of smiles 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Story shared from my FB page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/MoodsGeeks-and-Freaks/1481103312141628

The Partition

Another burst of gunfire greeted the battalian. Both sides had been exchanging sporadic fire for the last ten days. No ceasefire in sight, the army command had deputed Major Rehamatullah and his troops to this freezing mountainous terrain to combat the enemy incursion.

Major Rehamatullah led his troops valiantly and succeeded in annihilating quite a few soldiers from the enemy side. All his men fought with perfect precision and coordination just like the cogs of a well-oiled machine. But the opponents were not novices either.....

Observing the direction of declining gunshots with his hawk eyes, the Major was sure that they had been able to cause major damage to the enemy. But then this sudden revival of shots worried him. He decided to go a little forward and see if the enemy had received some reinforcements. Instructing his friend and junior Captain Raman to hold the fort in his absence, he left the bunker.

Slithering stealthily, he moved forward inch-by-inch behind the thick forest cover. He had managed to cover just about half the distance between his troops and the presumed location of his foes, when he sensed something moving closeby. It could be an animal, but not one to ignore anything as insignificant, he turned to his left, pistol ready in hand to shoot.

In front of him lay the bleeding body of a soldier in army fatigue, but of the rival army. His first instinct was to aim and shoot but something inside prevented him. He crept closer but very cautiously lest it should be a trap. He turned the man on his back and checked his breath....he's alive. Captain Rajan Malhotra, read the badge on his chest.

Major Rehamatullah reflected much later.....He didn't know what had come over him but he took out his flask and sprinkled some water on the unconscious man's face. As he showed some sign of revival, Major opened his lips and poured a little whiskey down his throat. The Captain spluttered but opened his eyes in a few minutes.

The increasing roar of gunfire drowned his feeble voice but the Major caught a few words thanking him. The setting sun had dipped the temperature further. Major Rehamatullah tied his handkerchief on the bleeding arm of the Captain and offered him a chocolate, forgetting the boom of shots around them.

'You a Hindu?,' he asked a meaningless question.

The Captain nodded and added,'from Multan province.'

'Multan! Which village?' Major questioned him with a sudden glint in his eyes.

'Gujranwala', the Captain seemed to be gaining strength.

'Oh.....There was one Ashfaq Khan there, do you by any chance know him?'

'Why yes, my grandfather and he were neighbors......at the time of partition, he went to India with his entire family. My father Satpal was just like a son to him, he still remembers how he would play with Khan Chacha's son Rahim and even stay at their home the whole day.....he still rues the day the country was divided sowing permanent seeds of hatred, distrust and enmity between brothers, he has just one wish left now-to be able to meet Rahim Chacha once!..........he babbled on.
'But why are you asking? How come you know them?' The Captain queried.

'I am Rehamatullah, your Rahim Chacha's son!' Overwhelmed with a sudden gust of emotions, he hugged the Captain. He spoke on, unmindful of the purpose for venturing out of his bunker......
'Abbu is no more now, he died some years ago. But till his last day he kept hankering for one opportunity to visit his village and meet his childhood friend Satpal. On the way, grandmother and my father's brother were killed in an accident. On reaching India, grandfather and my father were given shelter by a Hindu family. Grandfather died soon afterwards and father was raised by his Hindu saviors.....as a devout Muslim.'

As darkness descended on them, the hateful guns fell silent slowly bowing down to the bone chilling cold. But nearby, two enemy hearts still beat loudly, warmed and united by the tales of mutual love and friendship that were going to outlast three generations, despite the cacophony of selfish political and religious divide.
LikeLike ·  · 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Delhi Diaries


The Last Duty

'Your mother breathed her last just now!' an apparently emotional voice from the Vriddha Ashram in Punjabi Bagh, squeaked through the old man's ancient Nokia 1100 cellphone. 
'Oh no, but I won't be able to come, I have been hospitalized for the past two years and am completely alone here, you see', he protested weakly.
'Yes, we see. No, in fact, we have not seen you since the day you left her here ten years ago. But since she wished to be united with you at least after her death, her body will reach the hospital in an hour.' the woman spoke in a more firm and assertive voice now.
'Why? I wouldn't even be able to perform her last rites'.
'But she has performed her last duty towards you!'
'What? What now?'
'Mr Kumar, your mother donated all her organs to the needy patients and her liver to you! And also five lakh rupees in a bank account in your name, saved from the salary she earned as the Matron of the orphanage here.'
~~~~~
'Mom, I am scared, take me home with you!' He had clutched her hand and pleaded with her on the first day of school.

'Don't worry my son. I will never leave you. I will be there with you always', she had tapped his hand calmly and assured him of her love and support, forever.
~~~~~
As he grew up, got married and settled down in life, fear of separation was gradually replaced with irritation and then contempt for her words of concern for him.
~~~~~
'I can't live with you any more,' he had shrugged off her hand on his arm, and left her in the Old Age Home, ten years ago, forever.

'Beta, how will I live here without you all? Please take me with you!' she had pleaded with him. 
But he had lead in his ears.
~~~~~
After the death of Kumar's wife two years ago, his son picked up a job abroad and flew away leaving him in this hospital, in Punjabi Bagh, forever. Even the cheques stopped coming after some time. Since then he had been surviving on his meager pension, biding his limited time in the hope of receiving a liver from some benevolent donor.
~~~~~
His mother never left him. She had come back to him today, to hold his hand, forever!

Friday, 26 September 2014

A Letter


From A Daughter To A Dad
And For A Daughter

Hello Dad, wish me a Happy Birthday!
But beta, it's not your birthday today, you celebrated your birthday only three months back.
Yeah Dad, it was your daughter's...my birthday in June, today I have been blessed with the most adorable baby girl, my life .......so I have also been reborn Dad, it is the birthday of a new me, a mom!
They say that we give birth to our children, but the truth is that our children make us a mom and a dad.
Bless me today, Dad, so that I can be 'you' to my daughter....
Bless me Dad, so that I could give her as much unconditional love and care as you have given to me.....
Bless me Dad that I will be able...
To not only protect her from all evil, but to also give her the wisdom to distinguish between the good and the bad....
To give her the strength and courage to fight for herself....
To make her understand the value of not only money but also relationships....... and above all,
To value herself!
Bless me Dad, so that I can make myself worthy of her love, her respect and trust as a Mom, and as a friend she can come to, for anything, at anytime!



Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Election Travails

चुनावी घमासान

अजब महाभारत, अजब घमासान है ये भाई,
चुनाव लड़ने से पहले हो रही सीटों के लिए लड़ाई,
असल बात जो है ये समझ में आई, 
रोटी के साथ चाहिए सब को दूध-दही और मक्खन-मलाई। 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Monsoon Diaries

The Game

Triiingg.....This must be that rowdy Ashu again, here to tease him again at the first opportunity. The old man had seen him wading in the muddy flood waters with a plastic bag in hand.
A few minutes ago, Raj Kishore had heard the drone of a helicopter and heaved his partially paralyzed body erect to peep out of his bed side window hoping t
hat someone would notice him inside and evacuate him. Without electricity, the television could not work, and his cell phone battery had also died two days ago,cutting him off from the world.
The septuagenarian had been without food for the last two days in the absence of his cook as the entire city had become inundated under the massive flood waters four days ago. For the first two days, he had managed to keep hunger and weakness at bay by munching on the packet of biscuits, some fresh and dry fruits and a jug of water that his cook had kept before leaving. His sugar levels and blood pressure had dipped to an alarming low. Now on the verge of drowning into oblivion, he resigned himself to his imminent death.
And then the doorbell rang again. And again, this time a little more insistently!
Willing himself to open the door and scold the irritating street urchin Ashu one last time for disturbing him with his stupid game of ringing the bell and running away, he forcibly dragged himself to the door.


'What are you d......' his squeaky reprimand stopped midway. 


'Daddu, khana...tumhare liye', Ashu handed him a white plastic bag full of food, bananas and water bottle he had snatched when it was dropped from the helicopter. And ran away.

Dreams-The Lifeline

सपने-ज़मीन ज़िंदगी की   

आरज़ूओं की लहरें पलट रही है करवटें 
अंगड़ाइयाँ ले रहे हैं आज कुछ नए सपने, 

सुना है सपनों  की कोई उम्र नहीं होती 
सपनें तो ज़िंदगी की ज़मीन होते हैं, 

दिल चाहता है पंख लगा कर उड़ जाए 
आरज़ूओं के सतरंगे आसमां में,

अंधियारी रात के बाद ओस भरी ये सुबह कुछ ख़ास  
भर जाए कुम्हलाये सपनों में एक ताज़ी उजास। 


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Monsoon Diaries

The Aftermath-A sequel to the story The Deluge.

The Aftermath

She looked at the little cherub through the curtain of tears clouding her eyes. A nurse from the children's home had brought her lovely daughter to her solitary cell for feeding.
Shyna had planned to sneak out of the temporary flood shelter where she had given birth to her child, as soon as the waters receded and the train services resumed. How could she snip off the wings of her innocent daughter before she had even grown them? How could she imprison her even before she had tasted the joy of freedom? She had hoped to reach Delhi undetected, ask her local contacts to get the baby's name added to her passport and fly to safety in America. But what she had not counted was the intelligence acumen of the Indian army.
Her tent and one mobile phone accidentally left behind by Ashraf and Asif while fleeing to escape the deluge, had been found by the army's anti-terror unit while scouring the underbelly of the jungles. Every link had gradually fallen into place and before she could plan her escape, Shyna had been tracked to the flood shelter.
The moment she saw the army commandos stealthily getting down the jeeps at a distance, she realized in a flash that her time was up. Carefully she tied the sleeping baby to her back, picked up her meager quota of food and medicines and sneaked her frail body out of the tent.
A kind Gujarati truck driver noticed a young woman and her infant crying by the puddles on the national highway in the dead of night and offered them lift till the nearest railway station. The poor farm hand mumbled to him in a distinct Bihari accent how she had lost her daily wager husband, all their money and belongings in the deluge. The trauma had led to a premature delivery. Overwrought by her sad tale, he had even offered the grieving woman some money to buy a train ticket to her village so that her daughter could be nurtured in the loving and secure lap of her grandparents.
The desolate railway station enticed Shyna with a promise of some much needed comfort. As she approached the lone bench on the deserted platform, she noticed them!
Even their civilian dresses could not hide the taut bodies and the guns in the pockets of the two army commandos from Shyna's trained eyes. Quickly bending down as if to pick up something, she moved her eyes around the station to find an escape route.
Ladies washroom...the light blinked at some distance.
She entered the dimly lit washroom, thankful for the brief respite despite the stench. It was also time to feed the weak and weary baby who had slept through the journey unmindful of the risks her new mother was taking to save her two weeks long life.
And then she saw a pair of hawk eyes glinting ferociously at her.
The events happened after that in such quick succession that she still struggles to put them in sequence.
It seemed that the commandos had followed her to the washroom and as soon as they heard a gasp, and some muffled screams, they banged the latched door down and pounced at the man clutching the slender neck of the woman.
Ashraf was killed on the spot. Shyna had never been happier seeing a dead body riddled with bullets.
She had surrendered and had turned approver. Her confessions and vital leads led to the arrest of Asif from his secret hideout in the higher reaches of the Himalayas.
Here she was, serving a ten-year sentence, still repentant for the five years of fanaticism and ruthless murders of innocents, but happy for her one year old daughter growing up fine under the tender loving care of the motherly matron of Palna, the children's home and school run by an NGO. She just prayed fervently that God would shower his blessings on her daughter and protect her from carrying any scars from the traumatic experiences of her childhood.
The nurse tapped on her shoulder and broke her reverie....laao, bachhi so gayi hai ( hand over the child now, she is asleep).
The prison door was locked shut suffusing her with an air of happy anticipation of a new beginning.......of the closure of her past, finally! 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Monsoon Diaries

The Deluge


The doctor congratulated her with a cheerful smile as she put the sleeping little cherub in her lap, 'You are so fortunate the jawans found you and brought you here. You were in such a bad shape you could have lost your child. You have a healthy baby, God bless her.'

How grateful she was to the complete strangers who helped her deliver her pretty daughter in the temporary shelter she had been shifted to by the army jawans!

Shyna had met Asif in a pub in New York while studying for her masters in computer engineering and had, very soon, fallen for his dimpled smile and rakish charm. He was serving as a doctor in an American hospital and was quite popular among his patients. Within months, she started attending the late night meetings in the upscale pub run by a fellow believer. Soon, she was convinced about the veracity of the dictats in the holy book and the war against the non believers. The hitherto hep, modern, jeans-skirts-shorts wearing confident young woman even took to covering herself with the hijab to conform with the instructions of her religious preachers. She felt quite proud of herself when she and Asif were chosen to take the fight forward for their faith. They acquired a new alias with the complicity of their alies in the govt offices and flew to Kashmir.

Shyna and Asif spearheaded the espionage mission against the Indian army and masterminded the hacking of their computers, gaining much vital information about army positions, their installations and their anti-terrorist campaigns, earning much applause from their bosses. And then came their new commander, Ashraf....with his ogling-eye!

She was ordered to 'marry' Ashraf.....she winced as she recalled how she had literally begged the 'supreme commander' to let her marry Asif, gone down on her knees even though her faith prohibited her from bowing down before anyone other than God. All to no avail....even Asif looked the other way!

She was a dutiful wife, always by her husband's side, aiding him in ferreting out the secrets from the enemy computers; blowing up schools, hospitals, trains; making no distinction between believers and nonbelievers, soldiers and civilians, child and adult, woman and man. Getting pregnant was the last thing in her list of priorities...... but when it happened she was simply overjoyed. She did her best to hide her pregnancy behind her thick veil as they were in the middle of a crucial mission, their most coveted one till date. And when Asharaf and others finally came to know of it, she was already in her fifth month, too late to abort the child.

During this stressful time, Asif -as the team doctor-was her constant companion and aide, looking after her health, nutrition, medicines and rest requirements with ample care. She continued to be the tech guru of the team planning each step of their most vile mission with precision. Two more months passed. The rains now restricted her movements to their secret camp deep inside the dense forests in the upper reaches of the Himalayas.

And then came the deluge.

Everything happened so suddenly that they had little time to react. The men gathered the laptops, the satellite phones, the guns, the ammunition and the money. And left.

Shyna continued to sleep all this while, unmindful of the storm outside, unconscious under the influence of the drugs Asif had injected into her body before fleeing with Ashraf.

A heavy downpour washed away the tent over her, thundering clouds and rumbling rocks woke her out of her drug induced somnolence. Still in stupor, she tumbled and fumbled over fallen trees, vomited all over herself, but determined to save her child, moved on clutching her abdomen, defying the freezing cold winds, the blinding downpour and hunger. 

A couple of hours later, a passing army convoy found an unconscious heavily pregnant woman on the washed out national highway and rushed the now-in-early-stage-of-labor veiled woman to the nearest flood shelter. It was here that she delivered her daughter behind hastily put up dupatta curtains, aided by the bare hands and caring, compassionate voices belonging to complete strangers. The comforting hands of mothers still grieving the loss of their children in the landslide had wiped the sweat off her forehead and soothed her parched throat with spoonfuls of heavenly water.

A medical team from Delhi had stopped by to check on the health of the stranded people and provided medicines and some food. 

The deluge had washed out everything.....from her misguided, tormented mind. And had become her savior.....and her little one's too!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Delhi Diaries

The Placement

Miss Ramya Narayan.....the name struck a chord! 

The placement season required Ajeet Prakash, the HR manager to coordinate with placement coordinators of various colleges across the country, but Ramya......was she the same genius Ramya, the 'hottie' with the most brains from his college, the most prestigious IIT-D? Was she the same nine-pointer, glam model, painter and part time poet with a massive attitude who had broken many naive hearts with her dimpled smile?

Shrugging off the tangled threads of suddenly revived memories of his youth, he clicked on the 'send' button. The last mail of acceptance sent, he left for his 'home'.

'Hi Mr Prakash, welcome to AES College!' A printed silk-chiffon saree clad lady with salt and pepper hair in a severe bun greeted him. 'Good morning Ramya ma'am', his hand was clutched briefly in a nicotine-stained hand. Picking up her heavy leather document folder, she led his team of recruiters to the auditorium for the presentation session.

'No.....', he sighed briefly through his bushy moustache,' she's not 'my' Ramya!' Squaring his sagging shoulders, he rested his heavy bottom in the plush arm chair and adjusted his thick spectacles.

And then the cell phone on the table came alive. On vibrating mode, her phone still flashed as the wall paper, a 25-year old black and white picture of a young, beautiful, cool dudette and a bespectacled, lanky young man; both flinging their jubilant black graduation hats in the air, the imposing building of IIT-D glorious in the background.

His solitary heart was finally 'placed'!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Delhi Diaries


The Release
A short story

Bagging his biggest export order till date, he called the branded furniture showroom in Kirti Nagar and made the payment for the ornate sofa she had fallen for, during their honeymoon last year. 

'The sofa set must be delivered at our Dwarka home today itself, it's our marriage anniversary,' he ordered.

Longing to see her radiant, ravishing smile once again, he carassed the fragrant bouquet of red roses and pink white tiger lilies.



Photo courtesy: imgarcade.com

As he clicked the door open, a whiff of spicy veg biryani hit his nostrils. A bottle of his favorite French wine lay chilling in the ice bucket, tempting his parched throat.

'Naina', he drawled softly, entering the hall. And there she lay sprawled, frothing at the mouth......on their new sofa.

A radiant ravishing smile on a pale wan face taunted him, celebrating her final release. Her wedding band adorned the worn out wooden stick on the corner table........

Saturday, 23 August 2014

SPECTRUM OF LIFE


For me

Beauty

In the lone fragrant flower

In my tiny bower

Blooming with the sunrise hour.


Creativity

In the little cherub's colorful hand-knit woolly cap

In her innocent smile beaming through the milk teeth's gap

The baby snug in her mother's warm and secure lap.


Serenity

In the chirping of the mellow sparrow

Flitting out of her shady tree burrow

Only to fly higher and then suddenly dip low.


Gaiety

In the first rain of the season

Little ones splashing in the puddles with passion

Grownups soaking in the downpour unmindful of any tension.


Amity


In the community, in the society

In our Unity in diversity

Through congeniality and cordiality, not hatred and animosity.


Perspicacity

In braving life's nitty gritty

In living a life with pride and dignity

Without any gloom or self-pity.


Divinity

In every atom of this beautiful planet

Which the eternal creator, God has let

Us, the mere mortals be blesst!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Delhi Diaries

Page 4

'Wow madam, our plan is successful. You are simply fantastic,' cheered the short, plump man with a cunning glint in his eyes.
'Our plan? It was my plan entirely, you were just a willing accomplice. For the love of some fat bucks. You just helped me in disposing off the properties. It was I who risked going to the banks and withdrawing such huge sums without raising any suspicions,' Janet glowered at the man insolently. 'It was I who got all the documents ready. So here is your share Mr Akhil. Take this and get lost', snapped Janet through clenched lips.
'What's this madam? Only twenty five lakhs?' screamed Akhil in his rustic English.
'Then what did you think, I would give you the entire five crores? Here, take ten lakhs more and leave. Just don't go back to your village, and now disappear from here, you foolish, uncouth villager!' thrusting some more notes in his bag, Janet picked up the currency-laden briefcase and drove away towards Terminal 3 with a delicious smirk on her face.....for a long sojourn in the Alps.

It had been only a half truth that Janet had told Neil about her growing up years in the convent and internship with Raul De Silva, the celebrity chef. The charming little girl had received much love from the nuns who protected the orphan from all ills, but she failed to honor their love and had fallen into bad company. The only good thing she had inherited from her mother was her love for and skill in baking.
When Raul De Silva saw a rare spark in the petite girl, the pathos in her deep blue-green innocent eyes appealed to him so much that he chose her as his intern over many other deserving girls and boys. And that, unfortunately, proved to be his undoing. Cleverly manipulating the guileless man, she made him sponsor her for an advance course in baking in the French capital. Her machinations won the heart of the terminally ill De Silva, making him emotional enough to will his luxe service apartment in the posh South Delhi suburb in Janet's name.

Being a realistic but ambitious girl with dreams of a luxurious life, she knew that the service apartment or her expertise in baking alone could never guarantee a stress free, wealthy, glamorous lifestyle she had always aspired for.

Then one day she read the interview of the new COO of the global confectionery giant, the dashing, handsome, eligible bachelor Neil Samson aka Neelotpal Patra with his story of a tragic childhood in an Odisha village.

And then she started cooking again.............a tempting plan for her new neighbour!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Delhi Diaries

Page 3

Handing Neil a tall glass of cold coffee and a platter of fresh club sandwiches, Janet flipped through the yellowing pages of the notebook that Neil had taken out of the brown packet.

'Thanks Janet! This notebook has unfolded a veritable treasure trove of #memories for me........and a new goal in life', wiping a hesitant tear Neil held her hand tentatively.

'Neil, the village #photographer was absolutely shocked to see me alive. But he still didn't want to give me the notebook his son Akhil had borrowed from you that fateful day. He was sure you would come someday to ask for your belongings. But when I read your school essay, I realized your dream for the upliftment of our village. I insisted upon the photographer to give me the notebook and assured him that I would find you.........somehow, somewhere, some day! And I did find you.......or rather our destiny found us!'

After a whirlwind romance and courtship of two months, Janet and Neil solemnized their marriage in the ancient village temple under the benevolent and delighted eyes of the village elders.

'Janet, I have signed the power of attorney in your favor, the loans are sanctioned, the building has been acquired and the machinery has also been ordered. Here's the cheque book for our new joint account with my signature on all cheques. Now you can get all the documents and permissions for our #bakery as also make payments without any trouble.'

'Yes Neil, finally your dream is going to come true. I will set the #bakery rolling by the time you return from the US.......that's a promise! Our parents' #souls would be blessing us for generating this big employment opportunity for our dear village folks.'

'Hello Akhil, Janet this side. Kaam ho gaya. All documents are in order. Kal hi jaana hai. Be ready at 9 o'clock!'





Thursday, 14 August 2014

Happy Independence Day





Saare Jahan Se Achcha

Rajiv tightened the bolts and removed the jack. The tyre fixed, the customer paid the mechanic and thanking him, drove away whistling a merry tune.

It had been raining incessantly since morning. There had been a steady inflow of cars and bikes which had broken down in the downpour and so Rajiv had decided to stay for the night in his garage only.

Wearily, he washed his sullied hands and sat down to have his dinner, a cold and soggy vada pao and an equally cold cup of tea he was in no mood to reheat. Oh yuck! One sip of the 'tea' and he was ready to throw up. And then he noticed it......!

Grabbing a long rod with a hook, he hobbled outside on his prosthetics. Cautiously draping himself on the slippery moss covered tree trunk, he lunged at the topmost branch and caught hold of the soaked and crumpled tricolor still fluttering with the gusty winds.

Apparantly the 'tiranga' had been discarded in the open garbage dump nearby and then somehow found its way atop the tall, voluminous Gulmohar. He washed it carefully and hung it to dry under the rickety fan.


Photo courtesy: hdwallpapersbackgrounds.com

He woke up at the crack of dawn, the sun still played truant and the sky was still overcast, he smoothed out the wrinkles on the flag and inserted a rod in the fold. As he reverently hoisted the national flag that he had also held aloft proudly at the NCC Day parade, the strains of the national anthem being played in the school nearby echoed in the valley, making him hum along.

'Happy Independence Day Flight Lieutenant Rajiv', he mumbled to himself.

Saare jahan se achcha Hindostan hamara.....crackled the ring tone of his ancient Nokia 1100 cell phone, setting off a flurry of memories rushing through his veins again....

How he wished the cab driver had not jumped the signal that night the five ambitious engineering students with fire in their belly and patriotism in their blood, had gone to a friend's place to celebrate his birthday! How he wished someone had stopped and rushed the profusely bleeding boys to the hospital in time! How he wished he had not lost his parents in that car accident when they were rushing to their only son lying critically injured in the ICU of hospital! How he wished his leg had not got crushed under the errant driver's truck on that ill fated day and ruined his lifelong ambition of joining the Indian Airforce! How he wished he had got that crucial fee exemption from the premier management institute! How he wished..........!


And just then the heavens opened up again efficiently wiping away the silent tears trickling down his cheeks!




Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Delhi Diaries

Page 2

The Williams!.....how could the girl have this photograph?

'Who are you? And how do you have this photograph?' demanded Neil.
'Who are you and why should I tell you anything?' forgetting her injury, the girl sprang up from the sofa and retorted in a familiar nasal twang.
'Janet William! But how......alive and here! You had.........?'
'Neelotpal Patra!

The Williams house had been attacked and burnt down by masked fundamentalists who believed the missionaries to be running a conversion campaign in the village. An asleep Janet was picked up from her bed by one kind soul among the perpetrators and left on the railway station nearby. The station master heard the wails of the little white girl and took her to the city church in the hope of finding her parents. Sally was sheltered in the church orphanage, studied in the convent school run by the nuns and served in the chapel to earn some pocket money.

Always a bright student with a flair for baking and cooking, she had been selected to intern under Mr Raul De Silva, the celebrity chef, famous for his patisserie. She had honed her skills in Paris and had ventured out on her own only recently. Mr  De Silva treated her as his daughter and had willed this apartment in a South Delhi suburb in her name. Currently, she operated her business from the apartment, explaining the early morning sweet smells.

She had always longed to find out about her roots, her parents and her early days in the small village she only faintly remembered. She had searched all the similar names on the internet and finally located the ancient village temple on a travel site.

This photograph of the Williams was taken on her sixth birthday by the soft spoken village photographer and carefully preserved in his dilapidated, musty shop in the hope of finding a claimant. He was the one who had helped fill in the gaps in the fading memories of her childhood and the attack on that fateful night when two happy families were entirely wiped out with one cruel stroke of the matchstick....... except one survivor.

And then Sally gave Neil the brown packet!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Delhi Diaries

Page 1

That familiar sweet smell of freshly baked cakes and cookies wafting across through the AC-vents from the neighboring flat woke him up again that morning. 
photo courtesy: hayasbakery.com

Rubbing his eyes, he stretched his tall lithe body across the bed and glanced at the clock.........6.40 am. Still feeling a little groggy having kept awake for a late night conference call with his company seniors in US and the Indian collaborators, he decided to go to for a refreshing jog along the artificial lake in the condominium.

30-year old dashing go-getter Neil Samson had only recently shifted to India from the USA as the COO of a multinational company introducing its chain of globally popular bakery and confectionery products in India. He was still trying to settle down in the plush service apartment on his first morning in Delhi, when that tempting smell of chocolate cake hit his nostrils and rekindled some long forgotten memories of his childhood.  

He lived in a small Odissa village with his parents and two younger siblings. They were not exactly poor. His mom and dad ran a small laundry. He went to the local school run by a Christian missionary couple from Scotland. The school children, along with her own six-year old daughter, would often be treated to goodies from Mrs Williams' clay wood-fired oven and that's how he had his first whiff of a freshly baked cake. 

One horrifying night, he was woken up by screams for help from the neighborhood, his parents had already rushed to douse the cackling flames shrouding the missionaries' thatched house. The cruel flames, emboldened by a severe wind, defied all efforts of the villagers and soon engulfed their own tenement too. Before his very eyes, the fire God snatched away his entire family.

Next day, the police scrounged through the still hot embers for some clue about the source of the devastating fire in which, they informed the villagers, the Williams couple had also perished along with their daughter. Some kind villagers tried to feed the inconsolable 8-year old for some days, then he found himself inside a city orphanage. Some months later, a childless couple adopted him and took him away to Glasgow.

Neelotpal Patra was now Neil Samson. But behind the stern demeanor of the COO, still lurked the fading faces of his parents, younger brothers and........Janet.

Sweating heavily after the five-mile jog on a hot sultry morning, he swiped the card-key to his apartment when he heard a faint cry. Turning around, he noticed that the usually closed door of the neighboring flat was slightly ajar. Curious but hesitant, he peeped inside the door. A beautiful girl in her late twenties was unsuccessfully trying to apply some ointment to her upper elbow. Knocking lightly to catch her attention, he asked if she was hurt and needed help. A little alarmed, the girl declined the stranger's offer and picked up the remote to shut the smartdoor. He turned to leave and then.........he saw the three happy faces smiling through the photograph on the wall!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

C-Sat Controversy-My Views


Candidates' grouses against C-Sat:
1. Inappropriate and incomprehensible translation of questions.
Agree.
The level of translation is pretty bad, the candidates blame it on Google translate. Am not sure of it but someone is definitely at fault. Solution is to provide comprehension passages and questions written in Hindi, not translated from English.
2. The logical and reasoning sections of C-Sat are detrimental to the success rate of Hindi medium, Humanities and rural background candidates, rather C-Sat provides undue advantage to the candidates with engineering, medical and management backgrounds. Hence C-Sat must be scrapped altogether.
Disagree.
I am sure, majority of the civil services aspirants would also be appearing in Bank PO, SSB, Teacher recruitment tests and other such exams where English, quantitative, qualitative, logical and reasoning sections are an integral part. Then, how can anyone claim incapability in attempting such questions and demand that UPSC should immediately scrap C-Sat?
Can any candidate who has been preparing for Civil services exams for years, say honestly that he/she has never consulted any reference book in English? Is all the subject material required for an in depth study of optional subjects for the Main Exam available in Hindi only? And moreover, anyone who is capable of burning the midnight oil for 2-3-4-5 years for the subject papers can surely devote some hours to the aptitude test questions too. UPSC has increased the age limit and also the number of chances for all categories of candidates thereby giving them adequate time for preparation. All of them, now, need to display a logical and rational attitude and accept C-Sat gracefully, instead of sitting on dharna and doing unreasonable protests, wasting precious man hours of Police, Administration, Parliament and above all, their own.
The govt and other authorities are trying their best to find a way out of this mess, ASAP.
What're your thoughts on this issue, friends?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

GOODBYE

GOODBYE

Goodbye 295,
Goodbye 18,
Goodbye logic,
Goodbye sanity,
Goodbye peace,
Goodbye humanity.

Welcome missiles,
Welcome mortar,
Welcome revenge,
Welcome fanaticism,
Welcome perversion,
Welcome.........humans? Anyone?

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Appalling, terrible, insensitive.....words!

Three news items in today's TOI (July 10, 2014).......

A young precious life gets snuffed because the colony park he went to play in, was fenced with barbed wire which was tied to an electricity pole with loose cable connection. The 14-year old child came in contact with the wire when he was trying to jump over the fence because the three gates to the park were closed and children were not allowed to play cricket inside the ornamental park. Some people had earlier reported mild current in the pole, two dogs had died........did the RWA or the authorities care to pay attention and get the needful done? Did they care enough to open the gates and allow the children unhindered access to the park? No.

Carelessness.

A senior BPO executive riding a bike on Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway gets hit by an unknown vehicle, gets thrown down the flyover near IFFCO Chowk, lands in the service road, is run over by multiple vehicles without anyone bothering to see and rescue him, badly mutilated body parts are found scattered over fifty meters.

Reckless driving.

An 81-year old senior citizen killed and burnt by her 21-year old domestic help who tries to mislead the neighbors and police by cooking up a story of robbery. On police interrogation, he later confesses to also raping the old woman after watching porn on his cell phone.

Perversion.

The common thread in all these stories-yes, these are stories, just stories for all of us until they happen to us-is lack of a humane attitude, lack of sympathy, lack of care and respect for other human lives.

Does anyone deserve such a gruesome death?

None.

Humanity, public responsibility, official accountability?

Just words!



PS-Date error at the top of the post is technical.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Rajneeti

राजनीति 


दिखा कर सपने सुहाने रंगीन,
अब तो सच्चाई-भलाई से भी है परहेज़ उन्हें,
कहते है जादूगर नहीं मैं,
न ही हूँ कोई छुपा रुस्तम,
न तो हूँ कोई तीस मार खां,
न ही कोई शेख चिल्ली का चेला।

राजनीति है मेरा धंधा,
नहीं लगाया कोई दान-पुण्य का ठेला।
मैं तो हूँ इक मामूली-अदना सा विधायक,
पोस्टिंग, ट्रांसफर, लाइसेंस, कॉन्ट्रैक्ट,
मुमकिन है इलाज, हो कोई भी बला,
पर नोट दिखाओ वरना मैं ये चला।   

Sunday, 29 June 2014

THE DECISION


It was a bright sunny morning with cool easterlies cheering up the freshly awakened Delhizens. Shyamolie banged her hand on the table clock to hush up the clanging morning alarm. She turned to cuddle her son and planted a loving kiss on the cheek of the little cherub, still dreaming with an angelic smile on his face. Ruffling the dark brown curls framing his innocent face, she woke him up and sent him to the wash room to freshen up and get ready for the school. Slowly she dragged herself out of bed and went ahead with her daily chores.


Her friendly neighborhood squirrel darted around the window sil in the hope of getting some crumbs and peanuts. Keeping a quick eye on the fast moving hands of the kitchen clock, she made herself a cup of lemon tea and quickly packed her five-year old son's favorite banana cake and vegetable cutlets in his Lion King lunch box. That day, in her husband's absence, she also had to drop him at his school before rushing off to the school where she taught English literature to senior classes.

Warm sun rays and the cool breeze filtering through the flowery blue-pink curtains draping the windows of the teachers' chamber, fresh and dewy blazing red and sunny yellow gerberas on the corner table, excited babble of a younger colleague about a chance meeting with the current Bollywood heartthrob, fragrant aroma of freshly brewed hot coffee...nothing seemed to cheer her up, she didn't know why. Perhaps it was just the effect of Monday morning blues-she tried to console herself. It had been a hectic week, the weekend had brought no respite to her what with guests at home and loads of notebooks to correct. Of late she had started feeling that the workload was simply multiplying with each passing day allowing her no time to enjoy the antics of her fast growing mischievous son, spend any time with her techie husband or any 'me' time for herself.

So she wasn't exactly looking forward to braving yet another day with six sets of naughty, boisterous and at times irritating students although she was quite fond of children.

The day went off just as she had anticipated-stressful to say the least-the children being in an unusually hyperactive and naughty mood ! By the recess, she was in a real mess. She had a splitting headache and even had a small tiff with a colleague which was a rarity because she shared a congenial relationship with most of them. She tried to soothe her jangling nerves by splashing her face with some cold water as she still had to teach three more classes.

She tried to console herself that it was just one of those days which comes at least once every year in every professional's life when one feels like calling it quits to move on to greener pastures. Yet, as she walked into the last class for the day, of which she happened to be the class teacher also, she was mulling over a very tempting offer she had received a week ago from a reputed international publishing house. A handsome salary with fixed working hours, no work to take back home and a plush air conditioned office- the offer was too good to refuse even in dreams.

A loud 'Good Afternoon Ma'am' jolted her back to the reality...oh, she was in her class!

Wearily, she started asking recapitulatory questions from the previous week's chapter. No answers forthcoming- not even from the best students of her class-now this was the last straw! She really blew her top. Venting her ire at the students, she refused to teach them any further or even be their class teacher in the next session. Having let out steam, she literally collapsed into the chair and closed her eyes to shut out the devastated students. They were perhaps too shocked to react-this was not their favorite affectionate Shyamolie ma'am! The classroom fell absolutely silent- so silent she could hear her own racing heartbeat.

Minutes ticked by...then a chair creaked, another, then another and then she felt a moist hand on her own and heard a muffled 'sorry, ma'am'! As she slowly opened her eyes, she found everyone standing up holding their ears, apology writ large on each face. A silent tear trickled down the cheek of the student in the front row. Her own wet eyes mirrored the agony of her students.

Perhaps she was just being a sentimental fool but the decision was made that very moment. This was her calling-among children most dear to her because of their special ways- mischievous, irritating but still very affectionate and affection was what they were going to get from her. The MNC with its plush office and handsome salary be damned!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

KAJRARE BAADAL (DARK CLOUDS)

कजरारे बादल 







फिर घिर आए है कुछ कजरारे बादल 
कुछ अलसाये कुछ शरमाये बादल।

प्रियतमा धरती से मधुर मिलन की 
आस लिए मुस्काते-मदमाते बादल।

प्यासी धरती की आस जगाते 
सौम्य सलोने प्यारे बादल। 

नटखट बच्चों का ध्यान बटांते 
ललचाते हर्षाते बादल।

चंचला-दामिनी को संग लिए 
गर्जन शोर मचाते बादल। 

शीतल बयार का साथ लिए  
गीली मिट्टी की सोंधी खुशबू उड़ाते बादल। 

अरुणिमा को शेष बनाते 
भूरे-नीले-काले बादल। 

किसान की आशा तो कुम्हार की निराशा,
पल-पल रंग बदलते बादल !  




    

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Appearances Are Deceptive

This incident happened some twenty five years ago when my husband and I were travelling in a UP Roadways bus from Kanpur to Lucknow. The sun was just setting on a cold winter evening. We noticed a smart, suave young man striking a conversation with a jeans clad girl (jeans clad girls were still a rare sight in UP in those days and were considered 'fast') sitting in the adjacent window seat. Disinterested, I resumed the novel I was reading while my husband decided to catch up on some sleep.
Alarmed by a sudden movement in the seat ahead of ours, I saw the girl squirm uncomfortably in her seat as the young man murmured something in her ears. Engrossed as I was in the novel, I did not pay much attention. But when I heard a sharp voice a little later, I could see that the girl was distressed by the man's attempts to get close to her and was telling him to lay off. As I tapped the girl on the shoulder and asked if I could help, the bus stopped at Unnav bus station. Still leering at the girl, the man offered to get her some tea or cold drink. When the girl declined angrily, he got down telling her he would be back soon.
The girl confessed that the apparently highly educated man with a clipped British accent was trying to touch her inappropriately. Enraged, my husband asked her to get into his seat beside me while he seated himself in her window seat. When the creepy lech returned a couple of minutes later, he was shell shocked to find my husband in the seat instead of the girl. A stern look on my husband's face told him in no uncertain terms to behave properly otherwise.........!
When we got down at Lucknow bus station an hour later, the molester quickly disappeared among the milling crowds without even a glance at us. The girl thanked us profusely for helping her. We offered to escort her to her hostel (she was a medical student) but she assured us that she could manage now.
Times have changed.....but has the mindset changed? A single girl travelling alone-'too modern' or a 'damsel in distress'? And in this case, contrary to general perception, the culprit, the oppressor was not a ruffian but a smart, well dressed, highly educated young man.

Readers' experiences welcome..........good or bad! 

Monday, 12 May 2014

MAI BANARAS HU

सभी भारतीयों को मेरा प्रणाम, 

मैं बनारस हूँ।  

फोटो कर्टसी : www.youtube.com

मैं काशी और वाराणसी भी हूँ। मैं एक पौराणिक शहर हूँ जहाँ के हर गली कूचे में हर -हर गंगे और हर -हर महादेव की गूंज सुनाई देती है। यहाँ के वासी कहते है बनारस की एक गंगा -जमुनी तहज़ीब है जो कई धर्मोँ को अपने विशाल आगार मे समोए हुए है। कुछ ज्ञानी निवासियों का विश्वास है कि बनारस का मतलब है इस शहर का रस कभी शेष नहीं होता इसलिए मैं बना +रस कहलाता हूँ। कुछ और बुद्धिजीवियों की मान्यता है कि हर शहर का एक मिज़ाज़ होता है और मेरा भी है। कुछ साहित्यकार मुझमें भारत की सांस्कृतिक धरोहर के भी दर्शन करवाते हैं, परन्तु आज मैं बहुत पशोपेश में हूँ।

मैं, भारत के तमाम अन्य शहरों की तरह नये और पुराने में  बंटा हुआ शहर हूँ, फिर अचानक ऐसा क्या जादू चला कि मैं देश की राजनीतिक राजधानी कहलाने योग्य बन गया हूँ ? गंगा आरती, हनुमान चालीसा और शंख ध्वनि से गूंजता बनारस रोड शो, रैलियो और घरघराते हेलीकॉप्टर के शोर में कहीं थम सा गया है। चाय की दूकान से सिमट कर चौपाल अब टीवी के जगमगाते पर्दे पर पसर गई है। गंगा के घाटो ने इतने टीवी camre और मीडिया वाले कभी नहीं देखे होंगे जितने इस बार। भूले-बिसरे स्वतन्त्रता सेनानियों, नेताओं और साहित्यकारों की मूर्तियों ने कभी इतनी फूल मालाएँ नहीं पहनी होगी जितनी इस बार के चुनावी संग्राम में। शहर के दरो-दीवार विभिन्न दलों के रंग-बिरंगे पोस्टरों से पट गये हैं…… 

क्या वाक़ई सामाजिक , राजनीतिक और आर्थिक बदलाव आने वाला है?   

कुछ चुनावी योद्धा टाइप लोग महीनों से यहाँ डेरा डाले हुए हैं।  एक नेताजी टीवी के पर्दे से एलान करते हैं कि उन्हें गंगा माँ ने बुलाया है, कुछ औरों को मेरी टूटीं-फूटी सड़कों , मेरी तंग गलियों , मेरे मन्दिरोँ-घाटों की चिन्ता यहाँ खींच लाई है। तो कुछ देसी टाइप शख़्स बनारसी बाबुओं को इन बाहरी शक्तियों की असली मंशा से ख़बरदार करते दीखते हैं। कोई बिस्मिल्ला की शहनाई के सहारे वोट छापना चाह्ता है तो कोई गंगा आरती के सहारे भारतीय लोकतंत्र की सबसे बड़ी वैतरिणी पार करना चाहता है। एक राष्ट्रीय दल बनारस के विकास के सुनहरे सपने दिखा कर वोटरों को लुभाने की कोशिश कर रहा है और उसी दल के नेताजी गंगा से अपने पुराने रिश्ते की तस्वीरें दिखा कर अपने ऊपर लगे बाहरी होने के आक्षेप को नकारने की चेष्टा कर रहे हैं । एक नया नवेला, राजनीति में अपने लड़खड़ाते कदम जमाने की भरपूर कोशिश करता दल भ्रष्टाचार, संप्रदायवाद और व्यक्तिवाद के खिलाफ़ जंग छेड़े हुए है। परिवारवादी राजनीति के वरद्हस्त के विरोध में भी स्वर बहुत मुखर हैं। ऐसा प्रतीत हो रहा है कि जाति और धर्म के नाम पर जबरन वोट छापने वालो को भी इस बार जनता ने गरियाने का मन बना ही लिया है।

मेरे निवासियों को आशा है कि बनारस के दिन अन्ततः फिरने वाले हैं क्योंकि यहाँ ---- आने वाले हैं , और उनके साथ देश के भी अच्छे दिन आने वाले हैं।

लेकिन चुनावी आरोपों-प्रत्यारोपों के बीच मेरे मिज़ाज़ का एक और पहलू शायद बिसरा गया है- बनारस के ठग! पिछले कुछ महीनों से, मठाधीशों और पंडो को पीछे छोड़, सफ़ेदपोश राजनीतिज्ञों का जामा पहने ये नये तकनीकी जादूगर एक नयी तरह की ठगी से शायद मेरा मन हरने की कोशिश कर रहे हैं .......

आज के इस आखिरी चुनावी दंगल में कोई भी जीते, बनारस की और भारत की जनता जीतेगी या हारेगी, इसका उत्तर तो भविष्य की गोद में ही छुपा है।

साभार ,

मैं आपका बनारस


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Earth Day

On the occasion of Earth Day today, I wish to share a beautiful poem titled 'Mother Earth'. I came across this poem in a table calendar a few years ago. Unfortunately, the poet's name is not known so the 'credits' part mentions 'Anonymous'. Happy Earth Day to all Friends! 

Mother Earth

Mother earth, if we do not protect
Will ring the death knell of the planet.
Air, water and trees
Do save them, O, please!
Environ's imbalance we must correct.
The wise and wonderful Bishnois
Collectively raised their voice
Against animal and tree slaughter
For the preservation of nature's water.
A perfect example for all, girls and boys!
We beg of you-for earth's sake
Please arise and please awake
To save its lakes and its lands
Its mountains, seas and its strands
For the planet's survival is at stake.
Now the earth's myriad creatures
Each with their own distinctive features
Cry-" forget us not, forget us not,
We, too, are an endangered lot,
Save us also, O conscience keepers!"
We have a definite role to play
In every season, every day
Called in human parlance
That of keeping the balance
In nature-and in its natural way.
If timely action is not taken
And our planet is forsaken
It will be a terrible shame
With only humankind to blame
If to this crisis we do not awaken.
This, then, is a wake up call
For women, men, children et al.
-Anonymous
P.S. I hope readers know the story of the Bishnois from Rajasthan.