ज़ीना ज़ीना उतर रही है रात
बुन रही हूँ रेशम ओ अतलस में टूटे हुए दिल की बात|
सबा के साथ गुज़रती है मौज-ए-दर्द-ए-फ़िराक़-ए-यार,
आज भी कर रही हूँ जल्वा-गाह-ए-विसाल में तेरा इंतज़ार|
तू नहीं तो ज़िंदगी में और क्या रह जाएगा,
दूर तक तन्हाइयों का सिलसिला रह जाएगा|
मैं कब तन्हा हुई थी याद होगा…
तुम्हारा फ़ैसला था याद होगा…
वो ख़त पागल हवा के आँचलों पर …
किसने तुम्हे लिखा था याद होगा …
मुलाकातें अधूरी रही,
मुकम्मल करुँगी ये वादा रहा…
तन्हाइयों से भी मैं तेरी,
बातें करुँगी ये वादा रहा…
Leela’s eyes had lost none of their glitter nor her walk it’s old rhythm.
She ascended the stairs, her anklets jostling, her infectious giggle rippling like a fresh brook finding its way into the locked domains of his heart.
The memory of that moment hit her like a surging ocean wave- drawing her into it, the sour smell of darkness, those sobs erupting like an echo from a bottomless pit. She held his burnt photograph in her old, wrinkled hands feeling odd how simple things can still remind one of those terrible times and how the moment one tries so hard to forget becomes ones sharpest memory!
He caught her by her tender arm ornate with green glass bangles that made a cracking sound. His lips whispered “leela” in her ears, she shivered and giggled and started running…he ran after her and caught her by her slender waist….delving deep into her fragrant jasmine adorned hair, he felt her entering into him through the forbidden passages.
She thought about all the rules they broke in the name of love. Those evenings at Assi ghat when on the far end they mused over the pyres burning, and feared they’d too die someday, feared about who would be left alone if one of them dies early! She walked on those water smeared steps telling him to take her away….it was time she turned on the radio, and request for the song ja ja ja o bewafaaa….that played every evening on one of the monks radio on the ghat, he would’ve been a victim of unrequited love, she thought then, and empathised with him now! And with a cold sigh, “Angad” she would say….and lie on her broken chair, plunging back to thoughts of him that were now 40 years old and still new!
But he IS there…she knows, in the balmy Subha- e- banaras, whispering her name in her ears. He is there in the orange embers spitting from the pyres, he is there among the boats on the Ganges, in those simmering hot tea cups, he is there in the evening Aarti on the ghat….he is there in the floating oil lamps, he is still there holding her by her old tender waist….he is there like no one else ever was, or ever would be!
Tonight, the moon waxed among the garland of a million stars glimmering in the inky sky. I sat in the balcony, alone, dreading the loneliness for the first time. My coffee and my life were at parallels, dark, bitter yet strong and addictive.
The only noise was of an old owl howling and the evening egrets flapping their little wings and my noisy stream of thoughts. I wished for his balmy touch on my cold shoulders, his soft lips on the back of my head, his ticklish whispering in my ears that would make me laugh, his taking my hand in his virile hands and twirling on any song we hummed under our breaths.
After a fatiguing day, I would retire to my bed, a bed hardened with the bouts of his thoughts and incessant tears that desired for his presence. How he would curl his arms around my waist, and cup his chin in my shoulder, how I would hold his hand and feel safe. Now it’s just a dark forest where I walk alone, following my own breath, nobody to comfort me, nobody to walk along, my feet tired of walking, stop somewhere where I see him, calling me to soak me in his arms…and disappearing all the same! His illusion keeps me going! His vague presence makes me toil. He’s far…very far…but his thoughts keep me alive!
The sun sank lower in the sky, changing to shades of tangerine and the cotton candy clouds blushed pink with the balmy touch of the setting sun, and there I waited near a bangle sellers cart, for him to come, hoping to recognise his face; after all it had been a dozen year! And there he was with a smiling face and I waved at him. Soon we were walking through the piazza, my eyes shifting from him to the glittering lights and sky and people around, and back to him! “Coffee?” He asked and soon we were strolling past the unfamiliar faces on that evening, the two of us….in search of a coffee shop! On entering the coffee shop there was a silence that enveloped us, and we decided to break the ice by placing an order. I saw him go to the billing area and saw him come and we talked about this and that! I was opening up to him like a blossoming bud.
Then, I saw his face lighted up among those dim coffee shop lights, and his attentive eyes and that strong shot of cappuccino and my endless talking, and his yes’s and no’s (mostly yes’s) and I had found someone whom I wouldn’t trade for life, someone on whom I could count! But now I see him as someone whom I used to know, and suddenly nothing matters, everything has faded like the world to a blind man and fog after the sunrise. It isn’t easy to love someone who doesn’t love you back in ways you want her to love you! There was tranquility in the way I love him, there was no obsession, no possession….only tranquil love, a love that his somatic, carnal blurred eyes couldn’t see! To love someone isn’t in our control but to walk away from that love is!
The frozen fingers of the wind clutched my hair back and my still numb eyelids from the last night’s crying, felt even heavier as I walked in that blustery morning. Crying is purgatory. The flurries of rain that came with the gushy winds masked my swollen eyes to the world outside.
I travelled back in time when in a similar windy night, with the snowflakes falling and shimmering on our hair, he took my hand and graced my finger with a trinket, and called me family. I smiled and never smiled that way again. It was the miles we vowed to cover together, to live the dreams of one another, to go places, to escape to someplace where water sparkled with starlight and, where the silence bewitched our souls. We danced that night, danced till our aching feet could take it no longer! And sat, breathing heavily with the disco lights flashing, faces gleaming, and time running fast. I could feel my throbbing pulse and it soared whenever I saw his face filtering from the shaft of glimmering lights. His words lost in the sound of music reached my ears in fragments but reached my eyes completely!
Moments later we found ourselves wrapped in one another’s arms with warmth intact and I wondered whether it would last forever? And he sang “itna Na mujhse tu pyaar jata, ke mai ikk baadal aawaara, kab tak kissi ka sahaara banu, k mai khud beghar bechara.”
And we mused over the lyrics and felt it impossible to unclasp our arms and let go each other. And now walking in the windy morning, I felt a sorrow that even tears couldn’t wash off, wanting to turn back the clocks, to die in that moment when he held me in his arms!
Now that he’s gone I have a desire, a hope that makes those voids even deeper….and I reminiscence over the past, the pain surges high and bursts into incessant tears, but I wish I could explain how joyous and relieving it is to be devastated in love! To be liberated yet caged! How beautiful the pitch black night seems when the dagger of his memories plunges in my heart and I’m lost in his reveries….forever!
Since the New Year’s Eve, a lot has changed! I’ve stopped dreaming, dreaming about how perfectly I could be with someone, how easily I could fit in his jam packed life, how mildly I’d run my fingers through his dark, wavy hair and lock my fingers with his! How I wish I too could complete the years of togetherness with someone and post it to the bewildered, curious social eyes, glued to their phones and desktops! How I wish I could return to someone from my past, who already knows the tit- bits of me, and so easily I revert, as I know past has nothing new to offer anybody.
My crestfallen heart pours out its lament in the darkest hours of the night, when I unplug from the outer world, retire to my cold bed and throw off that mask. I go through a pattern of multiple pains that make me weak, weak to face the next dawn with a smile on my face. Weak to get up and show up no matter how I feel.
I feel homesick for the arms that will no longer hold me. The feels come back and go like the ocean waves and I dive into that wide somber sea that embraces me like no one else! I am used to the dark creature that resides in me, that visits me every night and sleeps with me in my cold bed, that holds on to me. I feel home with the darkness that rests in me and talks to me every night! The dark creature manifests itself in pain and tears and slowly the lights get dimmer or maybe my swollen eyes nearing sleep. I smile, I’m in love.
In the colossal depths of my reveries,
I see aches and wounds and filth,
My self stained with spleen,
And the rejections I’ve been blessed amply with.
Colliding with souls in haze and haste,
Do I know where I am destined?
My maiden thoughts about the world so chaste,
My doleful encounters doth have ruined.
Launched and lounged in another tale of woe,
My stories seem not to halt,
Inviting my sorrows for a hot joe,
For discussing a fair record of (my) faults.
Deserted I stand as the world paces,
Drowning in suffocating thoughts
I see all those masked faces
To loathe their unmasked self my words fall short.
Picture courtesy: tumblr.com