Mohabbatein

 

Aur bhi dukh hai zamaane mein mohabbat ke siva

apne kaha toh maine maan liya

dohraati rahi baar baar isi jumle ko

socha ki kabhi na kabhi khud ko sun lungi

 

Magar aankhon ki is nami ko kaise samjhau?

kaise keh du ki tera gham kuch bhi nahi

tera ye rona jaaiz nahi?

 

honge zamaane mein aur dukh

magar mera dukh dukh nahi,

ye kaise maan lu?

 

Mohabbat bhi badi ajeeb hoti hai

ye duniya aur duniyadaari iski samajh se baahar,

aur mohabbat iss resham-o- atlas se anjaan hoti hain

 

Zamaana ibaadat todti reh jaaye,

mohabbat ise jodti.

 

aur main inke sangam ke intezaar mein sarmast.

 

Tabhi toh gham- e- dahar mere ghamo se lad padti hai

kehti hai ki zara nazre idhar bhi toh palat,

dekh in khaak mein lithde, khoon mein nehlaaye jism ko

 

magar mera dil pooche

ki uska tootna, kisi desh ke tootne se kam kaise?

 

Chaahe woh akhbaar ke panno mein chhap kar bat jaaye

Ya uss ek khat mein siyaahi ke daag banker reh jaaye…

 

Dard aakhir dard hota hai.

 

Honge aur bhi dukh zaamane mein mohabbat ke siva,

Magar vasl ki raahat si raahat aur kahan

Limbo

“Write a story”, you said.

“Whatever’s on your mind right now, just write that”.

Why you said it, I don’t know.

Why I had to walk away from you right then, I don’t know.

How do I tell you that everyday I’m writing hundreds of them,

And erasing each, before they are inked.

Because every time I look at the words

Staring back at me–

I wonder if I should own them.

Or let them go,

Like I never knew them.

Like I never knew you.

Why are you so hard?

to understand,

to stay away from,

to fit into my life,

So hard

to

love.

Why are our loves so different?

I can’t save the last piece of chocolate for you,

or give you the only Oreo from my shake.

I can’t wait for you when you say you’re not coming back.

or call you six times in the morning.

(I’m the youngest you see.

I’ve only been loved.

Never been asked to love back)

How do you do it for me?

You say it’s who you are.

And I’d like to believe you.

You say you would do it for anyone.

And I’d like to believe you.

 

I cannot write a story.

Because the only characters I think of is you and I.

A story comprises three things, I’ve been told.

Us?

We’re stuck.

Our beginning, middle and end, are lost.

We begin with our end; end in the middle

And the middle ends up being our beginning.

What if?

 

“thank you for the support <3”

Her message popped on my phone screen.

“what?” I replied, surprised.

“for being there for me during finals”.

Oh that. Of course.

Now I remember.

I was going around telling people it’ll be fine.

Giving them hugs and words and love.

Finals week can be hard,

And I?

They assumed I was fine.

And strong.

And the happy person I’m known to be.

But you knew I wasn’t.

You knew I was breaking down too.

Maybe for different reasons, but breaking nevertheless.

And you were there for me, calming me down, telling me I can do it.

When all I wanted to do was cry myself to sleep,

You put aside your work, and drew schedules for me.

“Kya subjects hai tere. Chal bata”.
“Lit. Theory…Early Brit. lit…”
“Early… kya??”
“Haha, EBL. EBL likh”

You held my lifeless shoulders

and got me to look into your eyes,

when I only wanted to stare at the ground.

“idhar dekh? Ho jayega. Pakka.”

I don’t know if I believed you.

But I had to start somewhere.

You talked me through all of my ideas.

My ideas,

that eventually became ours.

Our ideas,

that the world now knows as mine.

Is it plagiarism if the ideas were mine, but the strength to own them came from you?

I wonder.

 

When she thanked me today, I felt guilty. Why?

Everyone believes in me.

But believing in someone is a little different from getting that someone to believe in herself.

You did the latter.

You sat me through hours of am’s and pm’s,

reminding me to eat,

to write,

to smile.

Now when my parents tell me they’re proud of me,

that they knew I always had it in me, I wonder…

 

Is it really enough to have it in me, if I can’t get it out?

What if I always need you?

What if I always need…

What if I always…

What if…

What…

 

Ek Aisi Mulaakat

 Zindagi ke iss mod par,

 Socha na tha ek aisi mulaakat hogi,

Aap kisi aur jaahan ke the,

aur hum jee rahe the kahi aur…

Na jaane kab ye faasle dhundla gayi,

Na jaane kab ye iztiraar pighal gayi,

Itni shiddat se jo tujhe samajhne ki koshish ki–

tere har nukte pe maine apna nukta daala,

tere har us harf ki aawaz ko dohraaya,

par tera woh lehja…

Kya kabhi seekh paaungi?

Tujshe guftgu karne ko jee chaahta hai,

tujhe samjhne ki ye chaahat, kaise samjhau?

Mere alfaaz tu na samjhe, aur tere, main.

Ye kaisi na insaafi hai?

Magar kabhi kabhi lagta hai,

Iss khumaar ki kya bhaasha ho sakti hai.

Mere angrezi zakhmo pe marham sa tu,

mere ba-dastoor zindagi me darmi sa tu,

mere raftaar bhare dino mein sukoon sa tu,

Uss khuda ka toh nahi pata, par tujhpe ibaadat kar baithi.

Aakhir tune apni baahe khol hi di,

Iss laapata musaafir ko panaah de di,

Ye sheher ab itna bhi anjaan nahi lagta,

Sochti hu, isme kahi tumhaara haath toh nahi?

Bolo! chaloge mere saath, phirse?

Unhi galiyon me..Usi raste se hokar

Sab jaana pehchaana hai,

magar ab, aur bhi khoobsurat.

Kaha se aaya tujhme ye noor,

Ye saadgi bhari ruhaniyat?

Zara humse bhi toh baat le?

Waise bhi kisi ne kaha tha,

ki baatne se khushiyaan badhti hai.

Khush toh main hamesha se hu.

Magar adhoori bhi thi, ye jaana hai.

Mohobbat na jaane kabse kar baithi,

magar izhaar, izhaar na ho saka.

Aakhir seekh rahi hu tere ye labz.

Kisi din rubaroo hona tu,

Teri zuban hogi, meri aawaaz.

Ek kadam tu chalna, ek main.

Shayad bol saku dil ki ye baatein,

bina gaano se lafz churaaye,

bina kisi aur ko sunaaye,

bina itna ghabraayein,

Tab tak,

Intezaar kar.

 

Welcome to English.

Who knew I would choose to be an English Major?

(Maybe everyone except me),

This world is so beautiful already.

And I haven’t even plunged into the waters yet.

The waves touch my scared feet

And I?

I take a few steps back.

I don’t think I can do this.

The water can still reach my feet,

And it gently caresses me.

It convinces me to stay for a little longer.

So I do.

These waves have come into my life just recently.

The world teaches me to distance them.

It tells me that we have a predetermined relationship.

Governing it with laws of hierarchy

and power structures.

They teach, you learn.

But somehow,

These waves are different.

They always felt different.

The shore had blurred into the sea,

and I hadn’t realized.

With every passing day,

alongside classes and readings and piazza posts,

we’ve somehow grown into each other.

Gathering snippets from each others’ lives–

And today, all of a sudden,

we began writing a new novel.

India. New Zealand. Delhi. South India. Sonepat. Ashoka.

English. Punjabi. Hebrew. Hindi. Malayalam. Tamil. Telugu. Urdu.

Elder sibling. Younger sibling. Mothers. Home.

Vegetarian. Non vegetarian. Soy milk. Gajar ka halwa. Cake!

Fiction. Non fiction. Poetry.

Welcome to English.

‘English’, I thought, was a language.

A foreign tongue, in fact.

I didn’t realize it was only a signifier,

Signifying the ‘thing’ness in nothingness.

English is colorful walls and dim yellow lamps,

English is paintings and world maps.

English is old Hindi songs in the background.

English is books perched one on top of another–

stories and stories waiting to be unraveled.

And written.

English is politics, religion, language, laughter and gossip.

English is humming the same song,

and hoping that the lead would take care of the lyrics.

English is laughing at a joke only we would understand.

Because explaining it to you would mean bringing in a whole theory.

English is the glass window, staring into noisy streets and calm trees.

English is the sunshine outside and inside,

guiding the birds back home.

English is waiting with its arms open,

to embrace me into itself.

So I leave my sandals and worries at the doorstep,

and smile as I walk in.

The Lucas To My Haley

 

 

IMG_20151101_240652595.jpg

Lights fade and music blurs in the background,

As I walk hand in hand with you.

On that little stretch– back and forth.

You take me away,

Just as I’m about to cry and embarrass myself.

You take me away,

To you.

To me.

To where I don’t have to worry

About this performance I put up every day.

To where I can laugh and cry as much as I want.

 I’m learning to live in this strange place.

It has a weird mix of scents.

And emotions.

The rays that shine and burn and hurt.

The droplets that seldom fall and never stay.

The fog that suffocates during the day and cuddles me to sleep at night.

No matter what the weather, you, my sun, always shine on me.

I don’t have to see you all day.

I don’t have to have classes or courses or assignments with you.

Our paths may be very different. And yet. Our journey, somehow the same.

 You have faith in my frail academic endeavors.

You battle my questions for me– what do I like doing? What would I not mind doing for a long period of time? What is it that gives me a living but also a life?

You pretend like you don’t care.

And cutely fail.

 The world can struggle to fit us into some category.
 And us?

We’ll do what we do best.

Our drama.

And laugh at the ones who fall for it.

But really, what are you to me?

Whatever it is, it’s very close to family.

 

I wouldn’t be surprised if I find out you’ve been planted here.

By my family back home.

Because you’re a bit of home in this unfamiliarity.

To make sure I survive all the intellectualism.

To get me food in the middle of nights.

To let me be whiny when I feel like it.

To tell me it’ll all be okay.

To teach me to be strong.

To remind me that it’s okay to be weak.

To give me doses of warmth.

To be the Lucas to my Haley.

Not Again.

Are you ready to talk now?

Or will the eyes and the sighs do the talking still?

Remember winter, last year?

Winter is here again.

But it’s so different.

I wasn’t thinking of you.

Or writing of you.

Until you knocked.

But why?

I don’t understand.

You never asked before you decided to leave.

You never told after you left.

So, why now?

 

It was always just me, wasn’t it?

Me: worrying about your medicines.

Me, wanting to see you smile

Me, pouring in time and effort and love

Me, wondering what I’d done wrong

Me,

Me,

Me, left alone.

 

But I see this has become about you now.

Okay, you then.

Thank you for all those memories.

Thank you for being that wonderful friend.

Thank you for those basketball moments and those walks and talks and TT matches and winks and smiles and laughter.

Thank you.

Thanks also for making me…

Strong? Stubborn? Indifferent?

I don’t know.

Now, I just am.

I am by myself.

Without you.

I never asked for it, you know.

But you gave it to me anyway.

You taught me how to live without you.

I’ve finally learnt,

And hope you understand,

That I can’t volunteer to let you break me.

Again.

It Was Always You

You saw it in me way before anyone else did.

Did you always know that I was a seeker of stories?

When I was a child, you asked me to carry around a little notebook wherever I went.

You even told me how to do it–

 

Take down points in the moment.

Then you can go back and knit your story.

And I? I never did it.

I never believed in myself.

I don’t know if I do, even now.

But I believe in you.

And I believe in your belief in me.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be who you envision me to be.

I don’t know if I’m already that, to you.

But you?

You have always been there.

Holding my tiny hands,

walking me on the roads when I could barely walk,

Buying me coconut water and candy,

Raising me to the top of my world–

So I could touch the wind-chime and giggle loudly,

You sat me on the verandah so I could point at apatanes. 

I wish I had remembered the times before apatane changed to aeroplane.

I wish I had listened to you and written down points.

Of a life I don’t remember.

Of I life, I crave to reconstruct.

All these stories you tell me,

are the only bits I have now.

I don’t even remembering living them.

But you’ve made me relive them so many times,

that I wouldn’t be able to tell even if I had.

You made me realize that writing doesn’t always have to be perfect.

It never can be.

You taught me that it is in fact, an attempt to hold on,

To immortalize, to relive and to re-write.

I told myself that I’ll make you proud.

I wanted to hide and learn and practice,

and come out as a beautiful writer,

To surprise you!

But guess what?

You surprised me!

Because now, I don’t aim for perfection anymore.

I know I’ll only be as prepared as today.

I write and re-write and laugh at my own words.

But at least, I get them out.

These days, I’m scared if I don’t, they’ll go away forever.

It’s become a restlessness more than a habit.

I’ve become possessive of my life,

My family, friends, and the world around me.

So I want to write about all of them.

But not for anybody.

Not even for you.

Not even for me.

Because words can’t belong to anyone, can they?

They’re like birds set free. From the cages of our hearts.

You have to let them go.

I can’t write for you.

But I can thank you for giving me this beautiful gift.

I know you’ll say you didn’t.

You’ll say it was meant to happen.

You’ll say it’s God’s gift.

But to me, you’re the closest I’ve gotten to God.

So can we please make up this story?

Just like all those childhood stories I repeat to my friends,

without even knowing if they’re true.

Believing them by believing you!

So let this be our little secret,

Let me thank you for giving me my voice.

Thank you,

Dear Grandpa.

 

20604_831323566963313_7918952098507278633_n

 

 

 

Safe and Sound

And they would cry.
Finding reasons to let those caged tears free.
And finally letting go of the reasons too.
Is this what a safe haven feels like?
Where you are held tight and allowed to cry?

And they would talk.
About how scared she was.
Of growing up,
Falling,
Flying,
Breaking hearts,
Losing people,
Making friends,
Living.
Dying.

And they would laugh–
At how smart they are.
How stupid they are.
How nothing makes sense,
And yet they try finding meaning.
In search of meaning, they look at the sky.
They laugh at the stars which are on vacation.
They laugh at the impermanence of things, and people and emotions.

In the warmth of his touch
And that familiar scent,
She quietly comforts herself.
And then,
For a while, they don’t cry.
For a while, they don’t talk.
For a while, they don’t laugh.
Her ears pressed to his chest,
His heartbeat beating as if in her,
For a while, they stay.

If anyone could calm the chaos in her head,
It was him.
He was always there for her–
To silently take care of her.
To wake her up to the sun,
(Making sure the light doesn’t hurt her eye).
And put her to sleep,
Under the gentle moonlight.
To caress her hair,
Kiss her forehead ,
And whisper to the sleepyhead,
“Daada loves you”.

Damned Site

84edb094-592f-471b-a9a2-5071ef8d332b

Nature has it’s own charm. It’s filled with subtle life. A life that never imposes it’s presence and yet is always there. In the sound of streams and cooes of birds. The warm sunshine and gentle drops of rain.

She looked at the snow capped mountains of himachal and thought– this is my wallpaper. I’m going to carry it with me wherever I go.
And there she was a week later- sitting under a mango tree in a remote village of Madhya Pradesh, with a bunch of villagers discussing their land which was under submergence.
How quickly her wallpaper had changed.
Snow capped mountains replaced with a dam far away, threatening to ruin innocent lives. Homes that were either gone or waiting to be flushed away. In a few days? Months? She wasn’t sure. No one was.
What was this dam thing anyway? Built out of nowhere, on their lands for someone so distant.
What were they to make of it?
The answer they would hear is- Vikas. Development. But for whom? Now that is a tabooed question.
Arey inhe vikas nahi chahiye. Inhe toh bas ye chahiye ki koi inke zakhm bhar de. Dam me pani nahi.
She shuddered.
How could people talk about it so freely?
About not having a place to live in. Not having their lands to cultivate. Not having familiar paths that their feet are used to traverse.
She secretly shot glances towards the dam and turned away before anyone noticed.
Why was she so scared of looking at it?
Maybe she was reminded of  her childhood when her mother threatened her of a monster who would eat her away if she didn’t finish her food.
So this is how that monster would’ve looked, she thought.
In the evening she was sitting on the charpai, sipping on hot chai and listening to cows moo, when a family of four crossed her on a motorbike.
Dongar bhai looked at her curious face and told her that they were going to see the dam. It was their family outing, he said.
She felt guilty.
There was something about her life that made her feel responsible for the injustice happening around her. Can no one else see it? Or are they so used to it that it’s no big deal now? She couldn’t quite figure out. All she knew was that the sight of the dam and the talk of it made her uncomfortable. Like she was being charged for a crime she was unknowingly involved in.
She buried her face in the cup and didn’t look up.
A few days later, she was riding on a bike behind Dongar bhai and he suddenly pointed to a sign board that said ‘uppar Veda pariyojana’ 2km.
“Didi dam dekhna hai aapko?” He asked her excitedly.
She sulked again.
The same feeling took control of her body.
“Nahi Bhaiya. Ghar chalte hai” she managed to mumble.
“Arey itni door aake aap dam nahi dekhoge?” Dongar bhai insisted and turned the motorbike towards the signboard.
How a place that devastates your life can be a vacation spot, she couldn’t understand.
In a few minutes, they were at the dam site. More like the ‘damn’ed site. There it was. Standing tall and long. The monster eating away their lives bit by bit and then all at once.
She looked at the fresh water flowing below her. It reminded her of the streams in himachal.
There was no snow, but the huge rocky structures could pass for mountains.
The only thing that bothered her was the concrete. There was too much of it. Demanding its presence in the water, from this end to that.
But not being able to fit in somehow. It might’ve been a magnificent construction. A great token of “development”. And yet it seemed out of place.
Concrete can never be stone, you see.