मुन्तज़िर (Awaiting)

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…

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Wither

Dressed in a peacock blue saree, her glossy wavy hair subtly hanging at the ends of her shoulders, she wore a daunting red dot in the centre of her forehead. Wanting to be her best, for him. It was to be the end of that relentless waiting, that dreadful loneliness, when time had hung heavy on her, it was to be the end of it all.

There could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison as theirs. They were meant to be together.

She had bought fresh garden orchids and had stacked them in the glass vase, they loved orchids. How, she remembered he would cheer her up with orchid bouquets whenever she would break down or get worked up! They would sway in the aroma of orchids all day all night, he would tickle her toes with the tiny buds and she would laugh her heart out. Soon their lips would clasp into a subtle kiss!

The sound of the doorbell excited her, she ran to the door, the sound of her anklets laden feet echoed in the whole vicinity, her heart beat surged up. She lit up all the chandeliers in the hall to welcome him back. Opening the door wide she found a letter saying – “I give up.” Where she thought of basking in his warm hugs, running her fingers through his hair, kissing every inch of his face; she was served with despair, beyond repair.

The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.

She stared at the letter in her trembling hands. The hands that he kissed now held the testament of his incapacity. A heaviness took over her, a heartache, a numbness. Under the shower broke out a river of tears from her colossal eyes, the Kajal smothered…dribbling down with tears.

It had been years now that the orchids had withered and she hadn’t disposed them off. Today another year passed and she again dressed up in that peacock blue saree, with a daunting red dot now on her wrinkled forehead, put on Kajal in her eyes with her trembling old hands, and waited for the doorbell to ring! Waited…under the Amaltas tree in her garden, among the autumnal winds, the summer sun, the swirling spring and the dying winter. She waited onto him. Waited with those dried buds of orchids in her aged palms.

They say with love comes longing! And a love even for sometime is enough to last for a lifetime!

And then he came….with the orchids in his hands and pain in his heart. At a loss of words! “Sorry” was all he could say and she was no more there to forgive him with that subtle kiss!

The ceaseless ache

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!

Melodic melancholy

Barefoot, I sauntered on the old, cracked wooden floor of the little deserted cottage that I had rented for a week in the unruffled backwoods of Dagshai. The morning mist collided with my face, with the gush of raindrops, numbing my nose. With no hint of morning sunlight, the fog grew denser and rested on my gossamer covered body. The frozen wind sat cross legged on my nape, and untied the knots of my hair.

And there was a sound…

A maiden voice, practising the morning Riyaz, the Farida khanum song woh jo Hume tumhe Qaraar tha….tumhe yaad ho ke na ho..” escorted by mild tabla flaps, along the wistful wailing of the melancholic flute. I could hear the subtle tinkling of her anklets and treading of her soft slumber feet. With the murmuring shadow of the intricate raag and riyaaz in that dark dawn, my oblique memories of you filtered.

Years ago when we were here, under the evening sky and the faint scent of the sultry air, resting together in the great lone hills in the storm filled weather, watching the skies as they paled and burnt. Under the shade of crimson dyed Palash trees, I rested my head in your lap, looking at your sunlit, passionate eyes, touching your roseate velvet skin, slipping into a brisk siesta. Waking up from which, I know not where you went! Maybe you hid yourself behind the branches of the Palash or went wandering alone in the woods…Or got lost in the hills somewhere, and you never came back…just never!

Now when I stroll in the Moreish calmness, amidst the squealing sound of towering pine trees, I feel your placental presence, your fingers locked with mine, your cologne mixes with the fresh roses in my hands, and walks with me to the cemetery, where you sprawl in the moist mud, recline in the turf of grass and whisper with the wind, lifting the strands of my hair and blowing soft kisses on my ear, giving me chills…still!

वो जो हममे तुममे क़रार था तुम्हें याद हो के ना याद हो
वही यानी वादा निभाः का तुम्हें याद हो के ना याद हो….

Here At dagshai, by your side, I too shall sleep, a sleep that lasts forever, too deep for dreams….in flesh and blood we couldn’t mingle, maybe among the shingles and mud our dust may mingle. I haven’t forgotten that promise! I wouldn’t!

Picture credits : Pinterest

F(O) re (VER)

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!

Shades….

In the cloudplay on a blustery day and dead drizzling on a stormy night, he came to my mind in shades of greys leaving me in blues. The winds whispered to my ears a thousand memories of him and I sauntered down the memory lane.

Standing on the edge of a cliff, ready to take off, his deadpan gaze at the world beneath his feet, so unflinching, so passive, his glider would unfurl and I would skip a beat, and open my eyes to see him flying, higher and fearless! Those were the times he would forget me….forget himself…..forget the world!

On the moonless nights, we would stare at the shallow sky and talk of this and that! He would warm up my cold feet under the sheets and caress my nape with his soft lips until I fell asleep! I’d wake up in the middle of the night to a balmy view of a thousand glittering lights festooning the hills and his head on my my lap, and I would feel complete!

The dark dawns would keep us in covers for a little longer, and I’d feel melancholic with the thought of letting him go! He’d hold me closer and whisper to my ears- “these mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.”

And I saw him slowly and hazily disappear into a thick, dark forest, dispersing into a thousand shades of grey, swaying away with the winds, far away somewhere where he greets me when I’m lost and blue!

The times past.

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!