Friday, 9 September 2016

Achhi Khabar

Subah se chali thi khabar,
Shaam tak shaayad pohonche,
Khushboo se pehchaan hogi ki achhi hai ya buri,
Achhi hi hogi, buri toh dann se padti hai,
Aav na taav dekhe, badi mauka parast hai,

Aati hogi purwaayi ka daaman thaamkar, chhup ke peeche se,
'Dhappa' deke yaad dilayegi,
Achhi buri khabron ka khel hi hai zindagi,

Lo pakad lo, phir jee lene do ek aadh pal khushi ke,
Mujhe kahaan raas aayi hai vaise bhi, jo ho mere hisse se zyada,

Pee loon do ghoont yahin,
Bhar loon ise aankhon mein,
Khaali kar hi degi,
Buri toh phir dhoond hi legi mujhe!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

"Beti"


Ashaadh ke chauthe din ko woh mere ghar aayi thi,
Madhur sureeli muskaano se goonji meri angnaayi thi,
Dekha uski aankhon mein jab, meri aankhen bhar aayi thi,
Mook, salone se naino mein, meri hi parchhayi thi,

Aas padosi, rishtewale, na aaye the tujhe liwaane,
‘Ladki hui hai’ ye sunte hi, yaad aaye the unhe bahaane,
Jabki pichhdi soch ko guzre, beet gaye ab kayi zamaane,
Phir bhi kitne ‘padhe-likhe’ bhi, suna gaye the humko taane,

Tere seene par sar rakh, jab teri dhadkan sunta hoon,
Tere bole bin hi tujhse, dheron baatein karta hoon,
Kabhi-kabhi toh bhari dupahari, jhat se tu so jaati hai,
Kabhi-kabhi phir der raat, humko ratjaga karaati hai,
Tere uthne ki chinta mein, main bhi kahaan so paata hoon,
Ek aankh se sota hoon, dooji se taktaki lagaata hoon,

Main na padh-likh paaya gudiya, tujhko magar padhaaunga,
Apne saath bitha kar tujhko, main bhar pet khilaoonga,
Seedhi saadi tu hogi toh roti paka khilayegi,
Ya phir ban kar ‘Laat-mem’ tu seena mera phulayegi,

Tu apne in haathon ki rekhaaon se mat dar jaana,
Inki baaton mein aa kar, hath se peeche mat hat jaana,
In ka kya hai, ye toh kewal baadhayein dikhlaati hain,
Samajh-boojh aur himmat se, saari baadha tal jaati hai,

"Beta toh beta hota hai", har jan yeh dohraata hai,
"Byaah hua so gayi, kandhon ka bojh aur badh jaata hai",
Jaane kyun in Beton par, saara jag itna itraata hai,
Beton par utsav aur betiyon par shok manaata hai,

Tu chhoti hai mat kar parwaah, samay badal hi jaata hai,
Beta-Beti ek hain dono, samay yahi samjhaata hai,
Beta phir bhi aage chal biwi-bachchon ka ho jaata hai,
Beti jitna saath aajkal beta kahaan nibhaata hai,
Beti jitna saath aajkal beta kahaan nibhaata hai.

"Of Malignancy of Life, (and benignity of Death)"


It was about 4:30 a.m. in the morning and I hadn’t rested even for a minute through the night. Lack of sleep however was no excuse to the long list of work that waits for me every day both at office and home. Although the attention to my two little kids was unavoidable, to continue with my job was now a distant reality for me.

And it all happened because of that one phone call…

I was a young woman with two young boys aged 5 and 7. A vegetarian, and almost insanely weight conscious, I believe I had a relatively healthier lifestyle as compared to women of this generation, many of whom I knew took to smoking and drinking right after school. I worked as a systems analyst in a multinational technology company and my husband Swastik was a Director in a consulting firm. Needless to say, we could afford the best school in the neighborhood for our kids Zeeshan and Rayhan. The point that I am trying to make is that we were financially quite comfortable. My husband, a smart man, seldom failed to display his well practiced financial wisdom (leveraging his financial consulting experience at work), and had planned for each expected fund outflow in advance such as travels, children’s education and marriage, estate investments, retirement and almost everything. So I never had to worry as far as money matters were concerned.

I had no family history of Cancer, and I was almost certain to death that I was never going to die of Cancer. We had just returned from a week long family holiday to Tahiti islands, the largest island of French Polynesia in the southern Pacific Ocean. We had all gone scuba diving, snorkeling and beach rafting. The kids had a marvelous time at the beach and the resort. After a long time and a full year of hard work, Swastik and I had found some really romantic moments together undisturbed by the con-calls and e-mails. The last night at Tahiti was like reliving the honeymoon, as magical as the teenage puppy love, coupled with a night of an absolute mature and daring lovemaking. After we had two great sessions, Swastik touched me again, desiring for a third. Only this time, he thought he felt a lump below my right breast. He brought my hand over it to make me feel it myself. Painless and definitive – I suddenly remembered faintly the words of my gynecologist at the time Rayhan was born; that it’s a lump that usually doesn’t hurt and is what you should be looking for. The flight back next day was unusually disturbed and uncomfortable in the awareness of the new suspicion. Hence, as soon as we arrived at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in the afternoon, I immediately went to the doctor for a mammography.

I hated the hospital environment for the anxiety issues it induced. It was the place where many times in the past I had confronted the unhappy reality of death and dying. As a matter of fact, I had never seen a severely ill patient ever come alive out of the hospital – as if it’s almost certain that if I’m severely ill and in the hospital, I would most definitely die. That very moment was when I felt the fear of dying, and realized that I was surprisingly more scared of dying than I thought I was. May be it was not for myself, but for my kids and my husband. In the latter part of the 33 years of my life, I had seen the death of family members, friends, and friends of friends, acquaintances, colleagues – of natural causes, diseases, murders, suicides, everything. None of it could be compared with what I felt at that moment. It was me this time. And believe me when I say this, it is difficult to imagine one’s own death.

The biopsy took a long time, as the pathologist needed to be convinced of the situation before issuing a definitive diagnosis to what could have been a prospective cancer patient.

There were unexpectedly too many people in the oncology unit of this hospital, mostly older men and women, and while Swastik was away at the hospital canteen to arrange a quick bite, I took time to observe their faces. Most of them looked well acquainted with the department and the doctors, had thick files in their hands and seemed at ease. They remarkably looked ‘Okay’ with their circumstances. “They might have older kids and have lived their share of healthy lives”, I thought to myself. “I am only 33 with 2 young kids and a bright career ahead! It cannot happen to me.”
And then I got the report with the devastating news. My world came crashing down. It was like a nightmare, and I hoped that I would open my eyes in the next second, and everything would be normal. I had always thought cancer happened to older people. It was like watching a movie, the only difference being this time that it wasn’t a movie, it was me.

And from that moment on was when the real issues of life started dramatizing themselves right in front of my eyes. All the savings my husband had planned for us, now appeared insufficient. Because, guess what, we hadn’t planned for a cancer at 33! Treatment was necessary, as it was the only option. Life had suddenly become grueling for Swastik who now found himself solely responsible to fund my hospital expenses, the already running EMIs, the apartment rent, his expenses, and those of the kids. I felt so helpless and thought my immediate death would have been better for him. He wouldn’t have to do all this alone, and at the same time see me suffer. It was as if this malignant situation of mine was trickier than a sudden and benign death. And when I told him how I thought, he hugged me tight.

The clock starts ticking in a countdown fashion, and everything happens quickly when you’re told that you’re diagnosed with cancer. You become conscious of the fact that there’s so little time left for you and your family to be with you in this world. The kids had to know that their mamma wasn’t well but they could hardly understand. I hoped that I’d get better after the treatment soon and be back to the role of a caring mother, though there was no such guarantee. Swastik was my biggest support in these times to keep the children’s life as normal as possible.

The cancer was at its second stage. The doctor assured that about 50 percent of the patients survive if detected in the first 2 stages. I was referred to the best cancer hospital in Bombay and the treatment started immediately. Life changed strangely with doctors who were now scheduling surgeries, chemo sessions, admitting me for days at stretch for radiations. The medicines were so expensive that our pockets bled. The property at the Pali Hill had to be mortgaged to arrange for the hospital payments. Our parents and my brother occasionally flew down from Delhi to assist Swastik in attending to me during my surgeries and chemo sessions, but ultimately that slowed down to the extent that almost every week Swastik had to take time off his office to attend to me. I lost my hair and had started looking older. Swastik got me a wig to wear so the kids won’t get startled when they come to meet me.

On the other side, my older one had figured something wrong in the situation and was failing in his grades in the school. In the meantime my mother had developed a knee issue and was advised bed rest for six weeks. Swastik missed his promotion for the first time and had been rated as an underperformer for the year. My sabbatical had been quite long as per my company’s standards and some people at the top decided to terminate my services after contributing meagerly to the hospital expenses in lieu of the insurance premium bit of the CTC that they paid to the insurance company for me. Life had always been so beautiful for us, but as they say like the tides of the sea, the day and the night, no one told us that life will always be a bed of roses. But sometimes, even when you lose all hope, people who love you don’t let you give up. I give all the credit of my survival today to my husband Swastik and pray that we all be supported by our families in the times of test.

My treatment continued for three long years in hospital. Zeeshan is ten now and has become a very introvert and reclusive child. Rayhan is okay though he has very few friends. I only have to take the medicines now that are usually prescribed for a longer period to avoid recurrence of the cancer, but again, there is no such guarantee. What has changed now for a not-so-young-and-vibrant-woman-anymore like me is the way I appreciate life and the value of being part of a supportive family. Nevertheless, I am proud of myself too that I could instill the inspiration that I received from my loved ones, and kept myself high on the spirit even when the time turned against me – in a countdown fashion. With this new perspective, at 37 I now walk free from cancer, but at the same time much more conscious to the short lived and uncertain nature of the life we are living every day, and the inescapable death.


(Images may be subject to copyright)

Thursday, 23 July 2015

"Schizophrenia"


Thinking deep takes up a lot of me. As much that I feel breathless. Sometimes I wonder what good is a mind to disrupt a smooth sailing life? Everything was perfect. A steady going career, a charming husband with his caring family, a set of beautiful parents and lovely sister to share my life with. My wedding was a dream. Until a few years back, there were no long term ambitions and no unrealistic realization about having done something or not having done another. It was all about going up the ladder and earning a bit more than today. It's only time that unleashes the reality, that as you grow and spend more years mapping your life, everything around you grows too. The problems, the complications, the expectations and the doubts. When you're dealing with humans, you can trust no one you know. Truth is difficult to express as well attain.

I grew up like everyone else. I had issues. But I was lucky. I eventually found the truth.

Lately I had started seeing things around me that wouldn't appear to be true to other people. I had visions of people and things being around me constantly telling me what I ought to do and who I should trust. I was a true believer in science - although I studied it pretty briefly. I understood the chemical bonds, the physics and the quantum, the mechanical and electrical functions, and the anatomy of plants and animals. I was not untouched by the adversities of life, so as my grandparents died, whom I undoubtedly adored and was attached massively to, I comforted myself by assuring that death comes to all. It separates and unites at the same time. Its only for one to lead a certain part of their life entirely independent of influence of any kind. I appreciate that fact and have so long endeared everything life ever since brought me to.

The other day when I was getting ready to leave for my work when I saw the bedside table moving on its own. As I looked closely into the mirror I saw it move an inch forward and again backwards. I ignored it at first. I often experienced moments of dizziness because of a constant dearth of energy in me. I turned and moved towards the door constantly gazing at the table and to my shock, it moved forward and dropped a business card from on top of it. I went closer and picked it up to see it was a hotel in Indore where my husband stayed for the weekend. It was a work call. I almost forgot about the strange movement of the bedside table as I noticed a pinkish stain on the card that appeared to be of a lipstick. At the back, there was a phone number written in a running hand. ''Bad idea'', I thought to myself, but kept the card in my purse. I didn't think about the table after that.

Back at work, I became almost mechanical. The students, the fellow staff were all the same people I saw everyday. It was the same subject that I taught over and over. And all across the world, there were innovations and experiments and researches happening every second. Every second a theory was getting rejected and another being accepted. Every one learned had understood the necessity of being a skeptic - and yet again I read the same subject over and over in the same form and meaning and blurted out in my lecture. Someone should have invented a superlative for monotony. I could think of none!

In the staff room, I heard a strange noise growing louder towards the end of work day. It was the fan. I was trying hard to ignore since a couple of hours and suddenly a peon passed across the corridor giving me a strange look moving his gaze to the fan. I stealthily looked up, and among all the dirt on its wings, I noticed the third wing constantly stopping at one of my colleagues Cyrus at every circle it took. I knew there was something wrong about him. He never looked like a genuine person at the very first instant. Yesterday I was watching a couple of British students caught travelling to be a part of ISIS in Syria. With the long beard he had in spite of it being a rule for the gentlemen to remain clean shaven in their lectures, I always felt he had some kind of a disregard to the larger civilian laws. Well, I wasn't in the hiring committee else I could have done something about it, but then I promised myself to be on a look out of one reason to complain against him. It is a college with young vulnerable minds and we don't need a fanatic misusing it. 

The number at the back of the card I picked up from the bedroom was constantly eating up a piece of my mind. I took it out and dialed it. As expected, it was a woman. I disconnected. No wonder this was a result of my being so concentrated on kids and students at work. Praveen was a good man but this was his way of getting back at me. Fine. It was time I told myself that I didn't need a husband. Well anyway there was nothing I could do about it. I had no authority or access to his work life as he has always been a private person. It's only that he had placed his mules strategically around me that I found myself worried about. Like his driver who dropped and picked me up everyday. The logic was that he cared, where now I feel it's more supervision than care. He doesn't want to get anything back at him for his deeds. 

I got back home drunk. He was waiting in the living room with his regular drink and children asleep. I entered trying to stand up straight and walked inside and crashed without saying a word. I hadn't changed and was inebriated. But I saw my husband coming in, switching the light off, cover me with a blanket and leave. As he left, I saw the bedside table swiftly move towards me as if expecting a pat on its back.

I smiled in my dream that night. 




Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Pause

Writing for my book "Poignant Silhouettes - The Book"
Coming soon

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

"Aaj main candle nahi jalaaoongi"



Aaj main candle nahi jalaaoongi,

Jal jal ke pighal gayi hain kayi candles,
Aur saath hi pighal gaye, bade shehron ke buland darwaaze,
Nahi pighle jo, hain kuch bigde dil yahaan,
Barson se liye, aankhon mein, nafrat ke angaarey,
Dhadhak ke hain laal, jo badle ke laave se,
Riste rehte hain, kishton mein,
Anayas hi de jaate hain, apni naraazi ke kuch zinda, kuch murda saboot,
Zinda murda ho jaate hain, aur murda khabar bankar,
Agle din bade kaale aksharon mein,
Meri subah aur kaali kar jaate hain.

Pichhli baar jab maine candle jalaayi thi,
Socha tha... ki jin dilon ko insaaniyat garm nahi karti,
Unhe woh shaayad kuch raahat de,
Mere saath tum bhi toh the, us bheed mein shaamil,
Jahaan ghairon ne bhi, wajah se rishte banaaye the,
Aadhe jhuke hue the wahaan, raeeson ke bhi parcham,
Aur gareebon ne jholi bhar ke aansu lutaye the,

Aaj phir sane hain khoon se, pade hain sadkon pe, school ke baste,
Chhide hain goliyon se, kuch nanhe paak zehen,
Gine nahin, par aadhe kaafir, aadhe mazhabi honge,
Par ab murda hain, toh koi mudda hi nahin.
Mat chhuo, pade rehne do, in pighle hue lawaaris armaanon ko,
Jaise ghar jaane ke baad, pade rehte hain peeche.. pighle mom ke kuch pulinde,
Jab chhant jayenge mitti mein, jo hain ghair mazhabi badan,
Aur reh jaayenge fakat mazhabi, 
Tab shayad pehchaan hogi, apne hi mustakbil ki,
Gussa shayad phir thanda ho!

Aaj tum candle mat jalaana,
Iski law se aur na uble, ruthe huye dilon ki fitrat,
Jal jal ke pighal gayi hain kayi candles,
Pighla sake bigde hue dilon ko koi,
Sard ho aahein, garm kare in mein jazbaat,
Main woh gunguni shama jalaaoongi,

Par main candle nahi jalaaoongi.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

"The Feather under the Hat" #33

Feels like a long time. Being away from writing doesn't really help. The emotions do dwell, the words continue to take shape and remain bottled up waiting to be released and revealed to the outside. But again, they get mingled and exhumed in the scarcity of time, list of priorities in the world of appearances, relentless desires, the usual. So after this long time I thought of starting at the same place where I left it - the hidden lessons in my routine stricken mundane life, and others around me, the Feathers. That, contrary to the other material possessions, are safer when shared and dispersed, worthless and forgotten otherwise.

'I' am important to me. 'I' is pretty, good to everyone, jovial, kind, sensitive, principled and impartial. Yet, is misconstrued by the peers as self-seeker, quick tempered, moody, unfriendly, domineering and a non-conformist. The difference here is in the self and others' perception and more often than not, is not merely a misunderstanding. And while I do not have an outright solution to make them both concur on the preferable image of one's own, I only intend to insist that its recognition is as important, as one's priority of creating, maintaining loving and peaceful relationships with other people. If you agree with me, you may want to follow some of this in order to resolve a problem, on immediate recognition of the difference:

1. 'Acknowledge' the difference.
2. Take an impartial stand in every instance of 'encounter'. In a discussion, appreciate on genuinely good suggestions, but do not criticise, condemn or complain.
3. Improve communication, personal and public - The lack of it spirals and populates the difference.
4. Avoid sounding desperate. Remember that everyone craves (note, not needs but craves) 'love and peace'. Don't overdo the 'Hi', 'Sorry' and 'Thank you', just be your regular nicer self and define it as 'Neutral'.
5. Lastly, absolutely not let the history of conflict intrude. Look at everyday and everyone as 'New'. It's important to forget the bad days, remember the good ones, and make the next one beautifully memorable.

I'm not a Sage and I often falter on the above (more than you think!). I can't be a fake, smile when I am hurt or angry, or make everyone fall in absolute awe of me. And quite frankly, I would just like to be surrounded by loving friends and family. But with my other relationships, I would like to maintain the peace, civility and order, not only to avoid confrontations, cold wars and so that they don't prick me in my sleep, but also since you know, 'I' is a good human being (wink!) ;).

 

Friday, 31 January 2014

Suno!


Suno. Ruko.Yahaan. Main hoon.. Main hi hoon!
Chupchaap aaine mein main tumhara ‘aks’ hoon,

Yun toh tum aur main rahe hamesha baraabar,
Par faasla ye hai ke be-awaaz reh gaya,

Gham aur khushi tumhari pe mera hai sab nirbhar,
Aitbaar toh kiya magar aitraaz reh gaya,

Ye aaj hi ki hai baat ke himmat hui hai kuch,
Pehli hi baar ki hai ye koshish maine sach much,

Kehna jo chaahta hoon, chhoti si baat hai,
Main kya bada kahoon, meri kya majaal hai,

Tum nahin par tum jaisa dikhta zaroor hoon,
Badle mein bewafa khushi ke par bikta nahi main hoon,

Shohrat nahi chaahta par zameer par guroor hai,
Saath rehkar bhi raha ajnabi, kya mera yeh kusoor hai?

Laute ho jab kabhi bhi tum zara aur bik kar,
Gire badan se hain kayi hisse mere bhi tootkar,

Kehlaya nahi par janam se rishta mera bhi tha,
Bhooli bisri kahaniyon mein ek lamha mera bhi tha,

Yun jab kabhi bhi tum palat te ho tasveerein purani,
Chhoti badi khidkiyon mein dikhti hogi ek shakl jaani pehchaani,

Woh shakl hai wahi magar badal gaya main hoon,
Tumhari galtiyon mein main ulajh gaya sa hoon,

Suno zara ruko, yeh main tumhara ‘aks’ hoon,
Aage nikal gaye ho tum, fisal gaya main hoon.

Monday, 23 December 2013

"Gratitude"


As far as you think, mine is good to go,
I’m not satisfied.
Yours is what you think that I said, Mine is what I think should have.
Mine is higher, where as Yours is your own.
Mine is priceless, as the grandest diamond,
Yours is a moment of judgment, a peek at the obvious,
The hidden is mine!
 
Mine doesn’t end anywhere, as it ends where I end,
Yours is conclusive.
The expression of me, is mine, the basic,
The collection of views, is yours, a serious inseparable concoction.
Yours is affection, friendship and love, Mine is competition.
Yours is diluted, Mine is nature.
Yours is kind, Mine is the teacher.

Yet, yours is important, as much as mine ever was right from the beginning,
As yours, is what I write it for, compare it against.
Yours is appreciation, Mine is gratitude.
 
Yet, in spite of Your’s benevolence, and the honest appreciation,
I’m not satisfied.

Monday, 2 December 2013

"For all the firsts, with you"

" Tu badan hai, main hoon chhaya,
tu na ho, toh main kahaan hoon,
mujhe pyaar karne wale,
tu jahaan hai, main wahaan hoon,

Hamein milna hi tha humdum,
Kisi raah bhi nikalte,

Yeh kahaan aa gaye hum, yunhi saath saath chalte.."