Sunday, 17 September 2017

The Box

The doorbell rang. The shrill note woke him up from his reverie.

Raghav had been sitting on the balcony watching the shades of twilight. His mind was blank and his heart seemed to sink with the sunset. The doorbell sound saved him from drowning in sadness.

Raghav walked up to the door and opened it. It was the courier boy who greeted him with a grin and handed him a big box. As Raghav retired again to the balcony carrying the box, he wondered who must have sent the box and what was inside it.

He sat down heavily and looked at the box with indifference. He did not feel like opening it. But then he wanted to be done with it, so he started opening it slowly removing all the tape which was all over the surprise box.

As he listlessly did the job he thought how passive and lifeless his life had become after Revati had separated from him. Their only child Reeva was now in the boarding school as her parents tried to figure out what had gone wrong between them and how to deal with it. Differences had overcome the common bond between them which was love. How and why did that happen ? Neither of them had a clue. It just happened and shattered their happiness.

The box was now open. There were many smaller boxes or packets inside. All of different shapes and sizes. What was there in those boxes? Who had sent them? What for?

As he took out the boxes one by one, he noticed they were all sort of DIY - Do It Yourself kits. At the bottom of the box was an envelope. He picked it up. There was a note inside by....Reeva ? Oh ! so the box was from Reeva. What was the need for her to send him this box with a note? Raghav started reading the note eagerly.

"My dearest Papa,

I don't know why Ma and you have stopped living together. What I know is that living away from each other has made both of you sadder than you were before separation. Papa, I do not want to put pressure on you to be together because of me. But I want to tell you all the same that I am happy living together as a family with both of you. Do you think we can give ourselves one more chance ?

Here is the deal. I am sending both of you a couple of DIY kits. I have been very upset in the last few months. So are you. Both of you. The difference is that I am in a school. So I am still learning. Learning the tricks of the trade ? Well ! You could say that. One day our class teacher gave us an assignment which was a kind of DIY stuff, an assortment of all sorts of things. We were asked to create something out of it. Points for the originality of the idea. 

It was fun Papa. The results surprising. Every one of us had made something we could be proud of. The teacher said, " That was the whole idea children. What you have in life is what you make of what you have. "

That's it, Papa. All of a sudden it struck me. Life is a box of assorted Do It Yourself toolkits. Not everything is to our liking. Whatever it is, it belongs to us. Life provides the stuff. The ideas have to be our own. We can do our best and make out of it what we can. And have fun while we work on it.

Perhaps, it will not be a perfect situation. But Papa can we not try to have fun together working on our own things to do ? You and Ma know better of course !   

If life is a box of individual assignments and assessments, can we not try to figure it out together ?

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Thursday, 14 September 2017

अपने मन की भी कहना

नदी में बहते पानी
सरोवर में खिले कमल
पहाड़ों पर जमी बर्फ़
खेतों में खिली सरसों
बच्चों से भरी स्कूल बस
पुल पर से गुज़रती रेल
कच्चे पक्के घरों
शतरंज के मोहरों
सियासती पैंतरों
किस्मत की लकीरों
अपनों की बेरुखी
पुरानी चोट की पीर
वक़्त की बेअदबी
झरने सी हँसी
जानलेवा रूप
खिली खिली धूप
सामाजिक मसले
रिश्तों के पचड़े .. 

और ऐसी तमाम बातें  . .
इन सबके बारे में लिखना ।

जब सब कह चुको ।
वेद पुराण बाँच चुको,
तब एक बात,
बस एक बार,
अपने मन की भी कहना ।

Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Window Seat With A View

Those who travel in Mumbai local trains know that getting the window seat is like hitting a jackpot ! And a bigger jackpot if one gets the window seat in the direction of the wind ! Specially in the hot and humid weather ! More so it is a heroic deed if you can achieve this feat in the peak hours or office hours !

Well, coming to the point ! There is more to a window seat than just being a comfortable seat for a short nap or for relaxing by listening to music and reading a book. There are groups of daily passengers who sing in chorus all the way. In the ladies compartment, there are other activities also like knitting, chatting, sharing snacks and even chopping vegetables for the meal to be cooked soon after reaching home in the evening !

I commuted on the Harbour Line of Mumbai locals for more than 20 years ! A daily affair ! Going to the office in the morning and returning in the evening ! One usually catches the same train every day meeting the same passengers daily. You just notice some people and watch silently, you exchange smiles sometimes and you become friends with some who may be sharing the same thoughts or interests. For many years, I also was part of a group of like-minded people. We used to share seats by turn. Singing was a favourite past time. Quite energizing in the mornings ! In the evenings, most of us were tired so we ended up either taking a nap or talking to the friend sitting next to us or standing opposite us. Or sometimes, just looking out of the window. 

Looking out of the window of the local on Harbour Line ! Many would exclaim in wonder ! Goodness ! What's there to look out at ! Everyone knows that on looking out all you can see is the dirty slums and the open drains ! Nothing scenic !  Add to that the pathetic signature smells of different stations ! Alright ! But is that all ? No.

In the mornings, it is rejuvenating to feel the fresh and cool wind on your face, part of the way ; before the foul odours start flowing in. When the train crosses the bridge over the sea, watching the soft sunshine playing with the waves and the fishermen's boats dotting the vast expanse of the sea while the singing group chants stotras, has a calming effect on you and sets a positive mood to embrace a new day. 

As the train moves on, you can see flowers blooming on the plants growing in a solitary tin can. It brings a smile to your face. Beauty finds space in an already cramped shed like home. Wait ! Home after all ! Because only a home can offer you room when there is hardly any room at all !

When you are commuting back home in the beautiful evening twilight, you are reminded of what Emily Dickinson wrote, "Tell all the truth, but tell it slant." The orange tinge of the sunset waves goodbye to you. As it becomes dark, one by one the lights switch on in the apartment windows of buildings in distance and in the slums very close to the tracks. You wonder about the activities going on in the flats. May be those people have already reached home or may be the people at home are waiting for others to return from work and watching TV. 

As far as the slums are concerned, you can see everything inside when the lights are on. Long ago they must have stopped bothering about that. In a small space, there is a small TV,one cot,and racks lining the walls. On one side the clothes are stacked. On the other side is the gas stove with food cooking on it and the very few clean and shining steel utensils neatly stacked in the racks. Somehow, it impresses upon you a sense of orderliness amidst all the chaos of slum life. Is that what you call the zest for life ? A lone bright flower smiling in a tin can .. clean tiles and shining utensils in a very poor home .. all defying the stench growing out of the open drains flowing right next to them. So why do we keep complaining about so many things all the time ? It makes you think.

Thank your stars if you get the window seat and you can look out of the window to see things you may like or you may not, things that will make you uncomfortable and things that will stay with you all your life ! Make your choice !

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Happy In Any Case

Those were the days. I used to wake up with the sunrise. My bed was at a vantage point. Near the broad window. Every morning the soft morning sunlight would pat me gently and the birds on the trees outside my window would strike a cheerful chorus. And I always fell asleep looking out at the sky with the stars twinkling at me. Between the two ends of morning and night, the day was filled with the drill of going to school, homework, meals, roaming around the garden adorned with flowers of numerous colours and sitting on the steps gazing at the long winding narrow road which connected our house with the main lane. I just sat there and looked as if I was waiting for someone to come.

Such was my life. Except that it changed a little for a few days. Someone did come down from that road.

One day I saw a cycle rickshaw heading in the direction of our house.A boy much taller than me with brownish hair sat on the passenger seat. There was a trunk near his feet and a school bag like sling bag on his shoulder. As the rickshaw drew near, my father came out to receive him. As the welcome ritual went on, I eyed the boy suspiciously and thought about why the boy came with a luggage and if he would stay with us long. Suddenly, my father turned towards me and introduced the boy to me. " Partho, this is  Neel. He is like your elder brother. He is going to stay with us for some time. Come on take him to your room and make him comfortable ! " 

I nodded and glanced at Neel who looked at me and smiled. Somehow, that smile allayed all my fears of a sabotage and invasion of my room's privacy. I clicked him okay mentally.

There was hardly any conversation that day as he took bath and settled down in the room....took his meal and went to sleep.

Later, my father told me that Neel's father was a military man and he was missing in a war. There was no one else in the family to take care of him. My father was a friend so Neel was going to stay with us till his father was traced.That kind of melted my heart. 

Neel hardly spoke but he always smiled at me. He used to go for long walks and would never part with his sling bag. One day I asked him if I could accompany him on his walks. He smiled and nodded consent amiably.

That day I saw the sadness in his eyes as he looked at the flowers and foliage growing around and explained things about them. Later, we sat down near a pond.Then I asked him, "You must be missing your father badly. Are you very unhappy ?" He thought for a while and then smiled at me saying, "No. Hopeful."

I admired Neel for the way he dealt with the complicated and scary situation. The first lesson I learned from him was to be always hopeful. Thereafter, It became a routine for both of us to wander and observe. To be happy in our surroundings. To wait and to hope.

Neel told me stories and poems he had learned at school and from his father. We talked about everything under the sun. He taught me to make useful things from scrap lying around. I actually loved to think of him as my elder brother and did not want him to leave ever. At the same time, I wished and prayed earnestly that he would soon be with his father.

The prayer was answered. It was time for Neel to leave. The day he was preparing to leave, I was both sad and happy. Happy for him. Sad for myself as my closest pal and actual brother was leaving. 

I was sitting on my bed trying to be brave holding back my tears. Neel sat down next to me and put a notebook on my lap. He said, "This is for you. Whenever you feel like talking to me, write in this notebook."

Neel went away. After one week, when I was missing him badly, I opened the notebook to write. On the first page, Neel had written...There is a Swedish proverb I learned at school - "Those who wish to sing, always find a song."  Whenever you miss me, look for me and for happiness in all the small and beautiful things around you. Life is a journey of discovering these keepsakes."

That was the most precious time and keepsake experience of my life that taught me to be happy in any case. I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop. Be with Neel always.But since that is not possible, I go on living and discovering joy all the way.

Sunday, 27 August 2017


हमसे मिलिए !

हम इस सदी के 
महानायक हैं !
हम करुणानिधान, दयावान, 
सर्वत्र व्याप्त,
सबका भला चाहने वाले,
प्रेम से पगे
जगत उद्धारक हैं !

हम भावुक, 
सबके दुःख से द्रवित 
सद्भावना की मूर्ति हैं !
सोचिये तनिक  . . 
प्रस्तर प्रतिमा की 
बंद आँखों से 
आंसू बहते हैं !

किसी की कथा-व्यथा 
जान कर,
हमारा मक्खन-सा  
मुलायम दिल 
झट पिघल जाता है !
और पट हम 
सोशल मीडिया पर 
साझा करते हैं ।

हम चूकते नहीं !
अपनी सामाजिक ज़िम्मेदारी से 
मुँह मोड़ते नहीं,
तुरंत कार्यवाही करते हैं !
हम सबको बताते हैं,
क्या करना है !
जैसे  . . हम 
अथक परिश्रम करते हैं !
हम लगातार 
बिना रुके 
सोशल मीडिया पर 
शेयर करते हैं !


Thursday, 24 August 2017

बहनें ऐसी होती हैं

बहनें ऐसी होती हैं । 

बड़ी हों तो, 
हाथ के बुने 
स्वेटर के नरम फंदों जैसी, 
उम्मीदों के 
बेल - बूटे बुनती हैं ।
शीत के दिनों में, 
आग तापने जैसी , 
ममता की 
ऊष्मा देती हैं ।
बहनें ऐसी होती हैं । 

छोटी हों तो 
वर्षा की बूंदों का 
जलतरंग बन ,
जी बहलाये रहती हैं ।
खट्टी - मीठी गोली जैसी ,
जीवन में 
स्वाद बनाये रखती हैं ।
बहनें ऐसी होती हैं । 

हमउम्र हों तो 
हमजोली होती हैं ।
झूले की पेंग होती हैं ।
मन के ताल से छलकती ,
जीने की 
उमंग होती हैं ।
बहनें ऐसी होती हैं । 

दिन में सूरज की रोशनी ,
रात में चंदा की चांदनी होती हैं ,
बहनें बहुत अपनी होती हैं ।

अबूझ पहेली होती हैं ।
चुपचाप बलाएं ,
अपने सर ले लेती हैं ।
अच्छे दिनों में 
शीतल छाँव सी ,
आड़े वक़्त में 
ढाल बन जाती हैं ।
ज़िंदगी भर लड़ती - झगड़ती 
तंग करती हैं ,
और ज़रुरत पड़े तो 
दुनिया भर से 
लड़ पड़ती हैं ।
सुख में ठंडी बयार, 
दुःख में 
मीठी लोरी होती हैं । 
बहनें ऐसी होती हैं ।

Sunday, 6 August 2017

We Shall Overcome

Ever thought why the morning sunshine is so rejuvenating and even the mellow twilight is so reassuring .. if you choose to look at the half glass full ? Makes sense ? Yes. It does. It is as if after a hard day, your inner strength hugs you and says - If only you believe.. We shall overcome.

The faith that if we just hang on, we can beat all the odds, can make us do unbelievable things.It is a promise to ourselves that we will sail through the storm if we stick on a little longer. Sometimes it is with your family, sometimes co-workers, sometimes neighbours, sometimes friends and sometimes complete strangers. The common denominator is the indomitable human spirit.

It is the zest, love, and passion for life that keeps you going, Whether it is disease, poverty, old age, poverty or heart break; any adverse circumstance can be countered with grit and courage. And can be overcome.

Scriptures, great literature, and experience .. all instill in you a belief that the tide can be turned, difficulties can be surmounted and sorrow can be overcome with the will to prevail and never let it go.

Every father, mother, and teacher in this world teach their child and student to never give up, come what may.  For they know, there will be bad days and nobody can be trained or taught enough to deal with every dead end they will ever come across. So they teach them to believe - We shall overcome.

The Bible says, Even This Will Pass Away. Buddha says, "In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins.Not through strength, but through persistence."  Whether it is one of the most loved tales of the world - O Henri's "The Last Leaf", or it is one of the most inspiring songs of our times - Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore's "Ekla Cholo Re" ; the thought that resonates from the great works is - We Shall Overcome.

The anthem of a well-lived life is - We shall overcome.