Posted in Life and After

Wherever, Whenever, Forever

You walk across the street

holding my hand tightly,

running slightly,

avoiding the crazed traffic

thinking about the next treat.

I follow as fast as I can go,

giggling all over the road,

chasing the wild plans

we cooked together, all along

knowing half of them

wouldn’t come to be.

Not sure

where you are steering me,

nor does it matter to me,

for my hand is in yours,

in this knowledge, I am secure,

that you are with me…

Wherever I go,

however far I go,

in my half-cooked plans

and crazy schemes

and far-fetched dreams,

you were…

you are…

you will be with me…

Wherever, whenever, forever!


Author’s Note: For Manpreet

(For no particular reason, missing my bestie yet again)

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Posted in Random Thoughts

Happy Republic Day!

Happy Republic Day!

This is the day when India truly became independent because it was now that it adopted it’s new Constitution and shed the laws forced by British Government. It was the day when India declared itself as a Democratic, Secular, Socialist, Republic and hence created the foundation over which the new India rests now.

It is not perfect but it is mine! Like all of us, it is a work in progress. Let’s make our country great.

Posted in Life and After

Dark Alley

Moving in the traffic,

bodies pressed tight

in the train subway.

She returned home after

surviving another day.

Refusing to take from the good,

hungry in a world full of food,

wondering how she could get used

to the gnawing pain.

Her steps were slow

as she walked down the row

of alleys dark and dreary

in a blacked out haze.

A hand shot at her

out of a dark corner

and dragged her away.

The next day the priest

said last words on a grave,

“We lost a good man there.”

“Yeah, he was good,”

she smacked her lips,

looking in dark streets

for her next prey.

Posted in Life and After

Yarn

“There isn’t enough yarn left for him and you know it well.”

“But they have requested an extension. Maybe you could stretch a bit farther, say another six months?”

“Six months? He doesn’t have enough for six hours.”

“Then add a bit? Weave in another yarn. Jake here can help.”

“And then what? Once this one runs out, they will request an extension again.”

“Well, he’s a good man. You can’t blame them for wanting him around longer.”

“And how many times are you going to add to the yarn? And for how many of them? You know the drill, don’t you? Every time it is time for someone, everyone gets down on their knees and starts asking for an extension.”

“Well, it’s their first time and I can’t deny that. I have an image to uphold, you know. And when I say an extension is in order, you do as I say. I am supposed to be the God around here.”

“Well! You are the boss!” The Fates gave in and motioned Jake, the angel, to help them weave in the additional yarn.

An old man woke out of coma in the hospital, coughing and wheezing, as his grandchildren began shouting in celebration.

Posted in Random Thoughts

I hate rain!

Raindrop splashes

On my face

Running off makeup

That I hide myself behind–

Eyelashes thin,

Patchy skin,

Wrinkled eyes,

Lips dried,

Cheeks hollowed,

Darkening shadows,

Age creeping with all its might.

With brushes I fight

The unforgiving world

That expects perfection

In nails and shoes

And hair dos.

I wish I didn’t have to.

I wish I could just stand in rain;

So droplets would fall on face;

And let the facade slide.

Sigh!

Posted in Random Thoughts

Gehraaiyo Mein | Urdu | Nazm

Samandar k daaman mein dooba jahaz hu,

Bebak sahilo ko mera ehsas nhi.

Lehron ki gawahiyo par yakin na karna,

Gehraaiyo me utarna unka mizaz nhi.

Aab-e-ishq me tar h tute khidhki-darwaze.

Yado ki sevaro se saji hai dil ki deewaren,

Tute safine ki kismat yu to intezaar hai,

Sarbaraah laut aayaga, ab iski aas nhi.

Gehraaiyo me utarna unka b mizaz nhi…


Translation:

A ship drowned in the ocean

That shores forgot about;

Don’t trust what waves say

For depth they know naught.

Broken doors and windows let love flood;

Seeweeds of memories cover my heart;

Though wrecked ships are destined to wait,

The return of the sailor is a hope lost.

For depth they too know naught…


Author’s note: A Nazm in Urdu has multiple quartets stitched together chasing the same thought.

Posted in Love

Umeed | Urdu | Nazm

Baad-e-naseem ki aashnai me

Naseeb ki hawa narm nhi chalti.

Kul jama zindagi ka ye nikla–

Umeed lagane se duniya nhi milti.

Wo tajir h jo chahta h mohabbat ka sila,

Ulfat k bazar me arzoo nhi chalti.

Mangane pe karde jo ishq me dakhil,

Mehboob k dil me wo qitab nhi milti.

Umeed lagane se duniya nhi milti.

Chand ki khwahish rakhne walo me

Sitaro ki auqat b nhi milti.

Jinke muntazir ho guzari thi umr humne,

Unke ishq me wo raahat ab nhi milti.

Umeed lagane se duniya nhi milti.


Love for zypher of the west,

Didn’t keep away the tempest.

The sum of my life came to be,

Hope didn’t win the world for me.

Love-for-love only traders aspire.

Alas! In the market of desire

Longing isn’t a currency.

You wouldn’t find the register

in one’s heart to enter

Your soul’s muted pleas.

Hope didn’t win the world for me.

Who ask for the moon in the night

Oft don’t deserve the starlight,

Quit at onset of the journey.

A life wasted pining a-quiet

For love that doesn’t give respite

As once happened to be.

Hope didn’t win the world for me.


Author’s note: Urdu Nazm has several Quartets (4 liners) stitched together to convey the same idea. While translating, I have converted it into a combination of a Quartet and a couple of Sestets (6 liners) with rhyme, which is a first for me since, in English, I usually write in free verse. I couldn’t match the scale without changing meaning though. 🙂

Posted in Love

Matters of Heart: Act 5

I was supposed to have grown up a long time back. But somehow my brain had frozen at 12 in the same way as my height. I was still unable to understand the cryptic language used by wannabe lovers.

It was a hot and humid day and I was getting my scooter from the parking lot at the Law College. A couple of guys approached me smiling benignly like they were serving me a Happy Meal at McDonald’s.

One of them introduced himself, “Hi. I’m…” (I don’t remember the name.)

“Hi. How can I help you?” I was absolutely sure that my sideway-parked scooter was blocking the path to his Bullet and he was waiting for me to move it and lecture me on the merits of good parking manners.

“I want to become friends with you.”

I waited for the joke to be over. Who was he anyway? I’d never seen him before. He was a Greek god with pink glowing skin, chiselled features and towering height, probably a basketball player. I was slightly jealous–being a Marwari dull-brown and 5’2″, I felt like a muddy blotch on the landscape in front of him. He probably worked for a reality show where they made practical jokes on people. I waited for someone with a camera to jump out from behind the scooters and shout, “Gotcha!”

I couldn’t fathom a reason why anybody would want to approach anybody like that to be a friend. All my friends were made generically by sitting in the same class, throwing chalks at the same teacher…

Who made friends by approaching someone in the parking lot?

“Thanks, but I already have too many friends and I can’t find enough time for them.” I started my scooter and left.

On the way home, I racked my brain for some information on this guy. Nothing.

The next day, I was again in the parking lot and saw him looking expectantly at me. I didn’t understand that look. It isn’t a look I give to anyone I want to be friends with. Honestly, this whole seeking-a-person-to-be-a-friend baffled me. I didn’t like being baffled. It wasn’t my natural mode. I was usually a know-all of Hermione level, what with my love for books. I asked my travelling companion if he was a senior. She told me he was our classmate in the boy’s section. Our classes sat together often on days when there were less students.

Seriously? He could have simply spoken with us during classes. I shrugged and started the scooter. “Boys can be so stupid,” I decided.

Next day, I found a paper slip with phone number stuck on my scooter’s handle. I decided to keep it in case I have to report the weirdo to police in future. As I turned my scooter out of the parking, he was looking at me extremely happy that I had accepted his number.

I’m afraid, he might have spent the next few days waiting for the phone call, wondering why it never came.

I wish people did not speak in code. Sigh!

Posted in Love

Matters of Heart: Act 4

When I was in the third year of Bachelor’s degree, a friend who was a cousin of my neighbours called on the home phone on Valentine’s day and asked me to meet him. We had been living in the house for a couple of years. Several cousins of these neighbours were the same age as me. They lived in another city and would often visit and inform me as soon as they reached, demanding my instant presence. I always obliged.

Since it was an old practice, his demand of my instant presence made perfect sense to me, except it was Valentine’s day, so I declined. He insisted, “I’m here only for a couple of days.” I declined again. It was difficult to talk without raising suspicion anyway. Then, he asked his cousin, my neighbour who is a girl, to call again and insist. With a weary heart, I declined yet again, giving excuse of urgent college work, promising to come the next afternoon.

Let me set the context here.

Valentine’s day (14th Feb) is celebrated in India as the day of lovers. But when I was young, most lovers celebrated it on 15th Feb since 14th Feb was unofficially the Daughter Grounding Day for 90% teenage girls from Indian middle-class. The grounding is almost invisible, heavily veiled by well-meaning parents intending to keep their daughters safe from the wolves roaming on the streets on Valentine’s day with bouquets in one hand and chocolates in the other, ready to jump their ‘innocent’ red-riding hood.

If it isn’t exams, most parents persuade their daughters to take the day off schools and colleges. Some leave direct orders, “The fridge needs cleaning and the nuts need to be cracked. Once done, make some potato chips. If there is still time make potato paapad, rice paapad…yadaa yadaa yadda.” Others cajole girls, offering supervised trips to market, over-the-top lunches, picnics in the fine spring weather or a day off to due to such a cold/hot weather. If nothing else, pre-decided emergencies come in: a visit to doctor, dentist, a really old and forgotten relative….

If going out is imperative, the girl gets a guard of honour to and from the venue, and if possible, inside the venue as well. The guard of honour is often an unenthusiastic brother who would rather be out hunting his own girl rather than be stuck with his sister. If a trip to market is in order, an overenthusiastic mother would accompany the girl, get her to finish her business quickly so that they can go dress shopping and get back home together. If nothing else, the father would take the day off work, suddenly anxious to spend more time with his precious cutie-pie.

Boys are, of course, uninformed of this grounding day and spend the day unsuccessfully waiting outside girls college until the flowers wilt and chocolates are eaten.

Some of my classmates were deluded enough to throw Valentine’s day party with red colour as a dress code. They usually celebrated with only boys for company. I remember about a bunch of girls who were able to hoodwink their parents on Valentine’s day by leaving home in school uniform to meet their lovers in a restaurant. Someone noticed their school uniform, which proved they were underage (In India, schooling ends at around 17-18.), and reported them to Police. The Police caught them and, worse, handed over to their parents. The boys were booked for ‘enticing minor girls’ and, even worse, returned to their parents.

Once, one of my practical exams did fall on 14th Feb. I used to walk to school then. After my own exam ended, I stayed back to help a friend in her Home Science practical. After an hour, I walked out of school and found my father waiting for me since he ‘had some chores in the same direction’. Hence, I always kept clear of Valentine’s day invites. Since I never had a boyfriend until then, I didn’t feel the need to give my parents extra exercise.

Honestly, it was difficult even to answer the home phone (mobile phones were a rarity then) on that day without prying ears. One of my friends had birthday on 14th Feb. I never attended his birthday party. Whenever I mentioned calling him to wish him, my parents would agree but they looked rather incredulous, as if no child would ever think of being born on such a day, and I had a suspicion, or may be I was being paranoid, that I was being eavesdropped.

In the wake of these past experiences, when this neighbours’ cousin asked me to come over on Valentine’s day, I declined with the excuse of college work. I didn’t want to embarrass this really nice and genuine friend by bringing my father along who would invariably tag along on the pretext of going on a walk or visiting his family.

The next afternoon, when I went to meet him, he was rather upset at the supposed insult and I had my work cut out for me trying to make him talk to me, since I didn’t want to divulge the real reason. Why not tell him? Because there are some secrets that are better kept hidden from boys until they become fathers of young daughters themselves. And who knows, if nobody tells them, they might never figure it out and their daughters might be able to celebrate Valentine’s day on the actual day for once.

Well, one can hope…

Posted in Love

Matters of Heart: Act 3

In the second year of Bachelor’s degree, my best friend decided that she needed to join a coaching for English Grammar, one of her elective subjects. Since the coaching started half-an-hour after our classes ended, it meant she would have to leave right away and we would lose the one hour that we always spent talking about life in general and life in colour (we were both painting students and totally invested in the subject too). I would have joined the coaching myself but my father wouldn’t pay this time since he now knew that I could probably teach the teacher.

So, I started walking with my bestie to the coaching, which was in the next lane. And then, I would sit with her until her class started which was often 15-20 minutes late. Once her class started, I would walk back to the college, pick up my newly acquired scooteret and drive home.

Loads of students from other colleges also attended the coaching. There was a bunch of boys who spoke with us. When we had to find a test subject for Psychology practical exams, they even offered their younger sisters as sacrificial goats. My bestie was as thick as I, never getting the hint. I always assumed the attention was because of her (She got the spotlight wherever she went, or, may be, I was biased because I loved her.) and never took the hint too.

One day, after ‘dropping’ my bestie in her class, I started walking out of the coaching and, as a part of my daily routine, inside the pastry shop downstairs. Now that my bestie wasn’t with me and I wasn’t busy discussing colour patterns and test subjects, my senses were working as they should and I noticed footsteps behind me. Suddenly, I was hyper aware of the fact that I was alone with this person behind me. Everybody whose classes ended earlier must have left for home and the people waiting must have gone to the class that my bestie attended. I was on my own. Honestly, it was just a flight of stairs, some 20-odd steps but my life seemed to have slowed down dramatically, like a hummingbird experiencing the world while facing a predator.

In first few seconds, I took stock of my physical faculties: I was 5’2″, a pixie as compared to the trollish footsteps behind me. Having never played any type of sport except a few months of badminton in early teens, I didn’t have any strength. In theory, I did know one Judo move meant to incapacitate someone but I hadn’t tried it on anyone yet. What it meant was that I would have to depend on my wits.

In a quick move, I slung my bag diagonally across the shoulder to keep it out of the way in case I had to run.

In the same move, I pulled out my scooteret keys to use as weapon…

My fingers nails were long enough to pop out the eyes…

I really hoped he would bail if I enter the shop. Or the shopkeeper would call the police first…

As I entered the shop, the footsteps followed dashing my hope. I raised my voice to get the shopkeeper’s attention, “One Black-forest pastry.” Then I steeled myself and turned to look at the man standing right behind me for a face-off.

But he spoke first, “Make it two. I’ll pay.”

One of the tallest and thickset guys from the coaching was smiling down at me, standing so close that I had to tilt my head up all the way to look at him. He stood at the only door and I felt like a cornered animal. My heart was hammering against my ribs and I wondered if an elbow in ribs was allowed at this stage since he hadn’t really attacked me yet. First he stalked me and scared me half to death and now, he cornered me and wants to pay for my pastry? What does this guy think–I can’t pay â‚ą10?

Being intimidated was not my usual mode. I grew up with a brother who was quiet tall and occasionally practiced Judo moves on me and even he couldn’t intimidate me. Anger won over fear and with the sharpest voice I could muster, I replied, “I can pay for myself.”

I quickly paid and walked briskly to my scooteret in the college parking at a pace that could have won a marathon. My only thought was to get out of there. I kept looking behind me wondering if he had followed me and whether the police men who guarded my college from roadside-Romeos would hear me shouting.

Note that it was broad daylight, and I was in a residential area and not alone in woods at night. But fear had wiped out all rational thought. I started my ride and raced home, leaving Michael Schumacher behind.

I was almost home when I remembered something–when he had offered to pay, his smile was expectant, which had slid down several notches at my hostility. He was probably just trying to talk. But then, why did he choose to corner me when I was alone. I was at the coaching with my bestie for around 30 minutes when he could have spoken. The doubt still planted in my mind, I never went to the coaching again.

After 20 years, now older and wiser (I hope), I realise that in India of my youth where we had grown up watching cheesy romantic movies by Shahrukh Khan but not really entered the openly dating scenario, he had been probably made an attempt to avoid a too-public confrontation, which was the norm of the era. I was just born in the wrong era.

After all these years I spent wondering why nobody ever proposed me for the first 20 years, I finally realised there were probably too many people trying to get the message across. My receptors were just too weak to pick up the signal!

Posted in Love

Matters of Heart: Act 2

I was pursuing Bachelor’s as a day scholar then. But with unplucked eye-brows and a face that never saw make-up, you would probably mistake me for a high-school student.

I was what most people called a book-worm. With my nose deep in books and mind on the last mystery novel I read, I hardly ever noticed boys and never felt the need to groom myself. So, while all my classmates moved on to low-back latest-fashion salwar-suits with designer holes in sleeves, I stuck to dresses that were functional rather than fashionable. Never having dealt with men outside family and close-friendship circle, I was also ignorant in the vague terminology used by wannabe lovers and had no idea why, in Dil Se, Shahrukh Khan had to die alongside Manisha who never said ‘I love you’.

I was studying in a girl’s college, so naturally, more boys thronged outside our college at lunch hours than inside a boy’s college itself. But I never stopped to marvel at the paradox or the fact that police had to picket-fence the area around the college eventually. I would simply walk outside with my best friend talking about the latest colour scheme I had tried on my painting, ignoring everything and everyone in the vicinity.

When my best friend joined an English Speaking coaching during the first year’s summer break, I decided to join as well, else we would have to spend the summer apart since I lived on the edge of the Earth. (What else would you call a place that came with an attached forest?) If you are wondering, English Speaking institutes grow like mushrooms in India, since as a society, we take more pride in a borrowed language than our mother tongues. (We have 18 national languages:, out of which 17 are local but the 18th language, English, takes the top spot.)

The day I joined the English Speaking course, I could see clearly that I wasn’t taking home much except good manners of waiting for others to speak as well. But I was happy because I could meet my bestie everyday.

By the end of the summer break, the coach offered me a job as a coach at the coaching. I was overjoyed but after a couple of weeks, I left the job since it was cutting down in my study time. And I was seeing my bestie everyday at college anyway.

One day, I got a call from my ex-coach. He mentioned that I was an exceptional student and I had really helped the class move forward. And then, he said that there was a student who would appreciate my help; that if I could just talk to him over the phone for a few minutes everyday as a friend…

I declined to ‘help’ this ‘friend’, quoting that I didn’t even have enough time to talk to my existing friends. He insisted, but I was firm.

Once I hung up, my mother enquired about the curious call. Apparently, she had been listening in, like all dutiful mothers do. I shrugged my shoulders and quoted the call verbatim. Then she reported to my father, like all dutiful mothers do. My father then made an enquiry with me about what it was all about. He forbade me from talking to that coach again. He explained to me that the coach was just a medium. He was probably calling from some guy’s behalf as an attempt to get me to talk to him. I was confused, “If he needed to talk, he had two and half months when I was at the coaching.”

My father never explained to me the whys and whats of the story. He just smiled and agreed with me.

It took me 20 years to figure out what it was about.

I wonder what would have happened if he had simply talked to me at the coaching. He probably did try. I wouldn’t know–I spoke to a lot of people there. After all, the class was all about speaking. If he was still attempting to speak to me in person, either he was clueless that I was hopeless, or may be he was one of the super-positive people waiting for pigs to fly.

I also wonder what if he had called directly rather than through the coach. May be, he did call and my mum picked up since I wasn’t the one to hang around the phone. Mum was the Great Himalayan Mountain range that kept intruders out. If he had not hung up on hearing her voice, she might have asked his business for speaking to me (as all dutiful mothers do). Then, she might have asked if he was employed yet and how much he earned (as all dutiful mothers do). And when he didn’t bail out and yet failed to answer the questions to her satisfaction, she might have told him that I was buried too deep in books to fish me out and he would have to call again. No man ever born would choose to deal twice with the mother of an unmarried daughter. That was when he might have chosen the coach-route.

Either way, it wouldn’t have worked. I don’t work well with people who don’t speak clearly: ‘…talk as a friend?’

Seriously?

Life would be so simple if wannabe-lovers used a vocabulary that wasn’t so vague.

Posted in Love

Matters of Heart: Act 1

Author’s note: This is a republished memoir to build momentum for my coming pieces, all of which discuss my bizarre love-life, or rather lack thereof.

I was in grade 10–fifteen-years old and a book nerd. I was denser than my brother’s ten-pound dumbbells when it came to the matters of heart. It was easier to do ten wrist crunches in a second than to make me understand the cryptic language of would-be lovers. I knew more about Maneaters of Kamaun, thanks to late Jim Corbett, than teenage boys and what went inside their ever-busy brains.

Having studied at co-education schools, I had quite a few male friends. But when it came to heart-to-heart, they steered clear of me. Though, it could have something to do with my ‘incident’ with the class bully where I knocked some sense in his brain, literally. Or, it could also be the light ‘mustache’ I had grown over the adolescent years. Whatever the reason, the boys in my previous schools avoided any chances of a one-on-one with me.

When I moved to Aligarh, the boys in the new school, however, were quite ill-informed. They knew of my love for old songs and painting. Also, I looked less like a lioness now that I had cleaned the facial hair. It was a welcome change to have friends who weren’t scared of me.

After my first month in the school, I was moved to section D, which was a teacher’s nightmare in the best of days. There was a gang who never took classes and were always found roaming the corridors. The most ‘influencial’ boy of the class, let’s call him A, was their ring leader. The teachers were afraid to report them. Others caused enough noise to raise the dead. Nobody listened to the teachers. Our class teacher was also the school vice-president and never available to know what was happening.

Somehow, I never got to see that roucous part of our class. Initially, I was too busy with catching up on the work done before I joined the school, since I joined mid-session. Later, I began noticing that during the hours when the teachers were missing (mostly Geography by our class teacher), my class sang–All of a sudden, A had developed a love for singing. He was good at it too. Often, he would sit on the bench behind mine and begin singing. Meanwhile, nobody dared to speak or may be they were too enthralled. He attended classes everyday now, which was a first. Thanks to his newly well-behaved presence and active participation in studies, our class was too well-behaved for the teachers to believe. They probably considered it the silence before the storm or a stroke of luck that would eventually run out.

Soon, the bench behind me became the hub for all wannabe singers. We often played Antakshari whenever there was time (a game of replying to each other in songs). In the hindsight, I have a sneeky suspicion that some of them were trying to impress me–the latest addition to class and the only girl who still wore skirts rather than traditional salwar suit. I can’t be sure, of course. Nobody ever proposed me.

Except one day after school, when I was dragging my bicycle towards the clear road that had enough space to ride it, A caught up with me.

Okay, before I get into the detail, let me clarify one thing–In small-town India, dating is not a thing. Arranged marriages are preferred and going out with boys is looked down upon. At least, that was the case at that time. So, you didn’t ask a girl out just like that.

You talk about the weather…and family…and things she liked to do in her free time…and about her friends (to gaudge if there was a potential competitor)…and how there’s nothing much to do in small towns… If the girl hesitated, and you still had brains left, you scooted. If she answered all your questions in a pleasant tone, you asked about her plans on the day when you wished to take her out and wait for her reaction with abated breath. If her day is free, you talked about your plans and if she’d like to join.

A followed all the required protocols. While we were stuck in the traffic jam caused by the several hundred bicycles and thousands of young adults pouring out of their daily prison, he talked about the weather, my family, my non-existent social life and my interests and the lack of things to do in a small town. (a pretty dull conversation, if you ask me). Then, politely, I asked about his interests.

A grabbed the opportunity with both hands and plunged, “I love watching movie. Infact there is this latest movie (he named a Salman Khan’s latest movie) that I’m planning to watch but I’m not sure.”

I was human enough to get curious, “Why not?”

“I don’t have company.”

That was my cue to say, “Really! I’d love to watch it too.” But as mentioned in the first para, I was dense enough to not understand the cryptic conversation and missed the cue. Instead, I got more curious. How could the other guys not watch a Salman Khan movie. He was the God of Indian adolescent tribes. His posters were up on every male wall I knew, “Why wouldn’t you have company?

I guess, A wasn’t ready for that. I had been pleasant enough so far and hadn’t winced even once during the entire conversation. So, in an ideal world, I was supposed to ask him the time and show up for the show. Instead, I am asking a probing question. So he got derailed, “Ahhh…because the timings clash with namaz…” (He was a Muslim and so were his friends.)

Again that was my cue to say, “Oh! No problem, I’ll join instead.” But I missed the cue again and chimed in, “Really? Then, I think you should go for namaz instead as well. A movie isn’t worth it.”

A nodded his head, forced a smile on his face and bowed out of the competition, dragging his bicycle in the opposite direction, struggling hard in the traffic jam. He looked rather disheartened, if you ask me. But I could be wrong, afterall, I was too dense to understand the matters of heart.

Posted in Love

Khabar | Urdu | Poetry | Nazm

Teri khidkiyo se hawa takra k laut jati h,

Tu zulf dhoop me ab sukhaata nhi.

Andhero me doobi hui h duniya,

Tu khul k ab khilkhilaata nhi.

Mitti me ab wo khushboo nhi h,

Tu barisho me ab chhat pe aata nhi.

Meri kabr bohot maayus h, humdum,

Mausam ab teri khabar lata nhi.

______________________

Translation:

Breeze knocks on your windows and returns,

You stopped drying your hair in the sun.

The world is slowly drowning in dark,

Awaiting your laughter to bring the spark.

The ground does not hold its familiar fragrance.

Don’t you step on roof now when it the rains?

My grave is gloomy and desolate, love.

The seasons don’t bring your tidings now.


Authors Note: A Nazm is a piece of Urdu poetry that is made of several quartets, each carrying the same thought.

Posted in Love

Qabiz | Urdu | Poetry

Ek kamzarf Lubna thi qabiz wajood-e-Kais pe,

Humko BaKhuda kar de, hume bhi ishq karna hai.


A powerless Lubna permeated Kais until he ceased to be.

Permeat me, my Lord—I, too, want to love.


Author’s note:

“BaKhuda” actually means, “I swear by Allah (Khuda)”.

But “Ba” in Urdu means “permeated with” and “Khud” means “self”. Hence, I have used the word differently to mean “fill with Yourself”.


The story of Lubna and Kais is one of the most famous love stories in Urdu poetry, as Kissa-e-Laila-Majnun.

A very handsome man called Kais fell in love with Lubna who was very plain and dark as night (Laila). People were surprised at the match. At that time, the Arab law was against love marriages. They were separated. But Kais lost himself completely and was called Majnun (mad). When he found that his Laila has died of long suffering, he searched for her grave and died next to her—not because of the heartbreak but because of the ecstasy of finally finding her. Thus, they became one.

It is said that on the day of judgement, Allah will present Majnun to the mankind as the epitome of love and ask everyone why no one loved Him as much as Kais loved Lubna.

A question every woman asks her man…Sigh!

Posted in Love

Hawain (Breeze) | Urdu | Poetry

Jo chhod aaye the baad-e-naseem mashriq me jane ko,

Surkh khursheed ke phoolo se sehera khilane ko,

Laut aaye hain gulistan me sukoon pane ko,

Kehte hain hawao ne unka sath nhi diya.

*****

Tapish-e-shams se jab parwaz khak ho gye,

Au’ hauslo k angaar tufaano me bujh gye,

Bujhi hui mohabbat ki shama jalane ko,

Laut aaye hain gulistan me sukoon pane ko,

Kehte hain hawao ne unka sath nhi diya.


English Translation:

He who turned his boat to east

Leaving breeze of west grieving

To fill the desert with the

flowers of the blushing sun,

has returned to the garden

to seek the lost devotion.

He blames the breeze

had pushed his boat away.

*****

When the fiery sun

burnt his wings to ash

and the storms blew out

the embers within,

He returned to light

the candles of love again,

has returned to the garden

to seek the lost devotion.

He blames the beeeze

had pushed him away.


Author’s note: A Nazm is an Urdu poetry style where the same thought is followed in each quartet. Mine is a short and rather imprecise version since this is my first attempt.

Like most Urdu poetry, this one has dual reference where breeze of west or baad-e-naseem is considered as female. It also means the wind that comes from Mecca.


Posted in Random Thoughts

The Danger of Dreams

A story that reminds you the truth behind all wakeful dreams…

Tiny Tales

Wow, has it really been over a year since my last post? I’ve still been writing, reading, learning… And here, at long last, is a new story. I hope you enjoy.
Don’t forget to check out the Tiny Tales Podcast for more stories that you might not see here: https://www.tinytalespodcast.com/


The child lay on the shore of clouds and gazed at the world below. Beneath the pool of sky, land stretched green and gray and brown. The shadow of drifting feather clouds passed dark over the forest, pierced by the jagged arrows of bird flocks.

An arm sweeping, stirring the empty sky, the child watched through half-open eyes. Wind tickled his fingertips. He was wide-awake, dreaming. Walking the green stretches. Striding through the trees. He scaled mountains, forded rivers. Mighty Cirus. Unafraid.

Sighing, he stretched an empty hand to the open sky, shifting near enough to the edge that…

View original post 4,267 more words

Posted in Nature

Oh, Dear!

“Surely, you don’t expect me to jump from here!”

“Of course, I do! Didn’t you make a wish to go flying?”

“That was one month ago! I was young then! I was allowed to made silly wishes. And I meant flying with a glider!”

“You never mentioned a glider! Besides you don’t need one.”

“You know, I can sue you for child abuse!”

“Yeah! But for that you need to fly down the tree first, son.”

“Oh, dear!”


Author’s note: To my parents who forced me to fly

Posted in Nature

At Last

Author’s note: The first line of this story was offered by Elizabeth.

It happened at last but not the way I had hoped.

I didn’t have to stay in the river anymore. It was too crowded anyway–too many grand hippos, uncles, aunts and cousins left too little privacy. Too many family members shared the food that was mostly just grass. An occasional fruit would lead to fights among cousins where I always lost, being the weakest one. Also, too many fishes poked their noses in my business, gossiping about who I spoke to and how it all went.

I couldn’t get away from them fast enough.

So, I was happy, at least in the beginning, that I wouldn’t have to share my food anymore. Ever since they brought me here in that trailer, I had had more fruits everyday than ever in my lifetime. And I had the little pond all to myself without any gossiping fishes or frogs or uncles or aunts or cousins…

There was no one to fight for food and no one to gossip with or about…

I finally got the wish I didn’t want anymore.

Posted in Life and After, Love

The Bell

First line offered by Marina Osipova

The doorbell rang with shrill urgency. I opened the door yet again. No one was there.

Of course, it would be so. My doorbell was having a day. Nothing I did or said could make her let go off her fear. With all the anxiety, she was close to having a cog attack and I wondered if I should get her checked by a professional. Of course, they wouldn’t really understand the problem. They’ll just open her up, oil her, double check her wires for any cuts and, then, return with a suggestion of buying a new, more reliable door bell. And there lay the problem.

May, my girlfriend, had suggested just the thing earlier that day insisting that my doorbell never rang whenever she pressed the button. She believed the thing had a faulty wiring. Well, in a way she was right. It is wired to my jealous dead-wife’s soul.

When alive, my wife would call my office landline under various pretexts to check I was really there and follow me in her car when I was too cheery about the weekend fishing with my friends. But it was nothing compared to now.

Ever since she died, I felt I wasn’t alone; that I was being watched. I would glance over my shoulder so frequently, I had kinks in my neck every now and then.

When a few months later, I mentioned it to a friend, he suggested that the loneliness was probably getting at me. He set up a blind date with his cousin, May.

Once I reached the venue for the date, my car door wouldn’t open. I had to get out by breaking a window. A few weeks later, when my car failed to start every time I planned a date with her, I sold it and bought a new one but the problem continued and I could see a pattern forming. I started calling May to pick me up instead. It was then that my cellphone stopped working whenever I called her or she called me.

I could clearly see the issue now. The feeling of being watched was intense. I craved being left alone. Desperate to get out of the horror show that my life had become, I requested a witch doctor for help. He was quite understanding, having once suffered similar pain (Not my story to tell). He offered to cage my late wife inside a house fixture and asked me to choose one. I didn’t want her shaking the walls or bringing down the pillars, nor did I want lampposts falling on my head or door handles getting stuck. So, I chose the doorbell, which was out of the way, believing it would cause me the least distress.

Well, so we are here now. The felling of being watched is less intense and limited to the area around the doorbell. But ever since my girlfriend’s mention of a new bell, my doorbell has been ringing frantically every five minutes, demanding my presence. All coddling and reasoning have failed. Frustrated in extreme with the constant ringing that kicks up my heart rate and bring my blood to boil, I finally chuck the doorbell out of the door to be rid of her forever. She can spend the rest of her time in a landfill or, maybe, a recycling plant until the day of judgement.

It is quiet now. The feeling of being watched is gone and I am truly alone. I had believed I would revel in the alone-ness, but weirdly enough, I miss it. I look outside and think of my erratic wife lying outside in the snow. True that she couldn’t feel the elements anymore but still…she loves me, even if a little too much. And I still love her, even if she is being insufferable now a days.

Half an hour later, I still can’t get away from the window, watching her protectively. Car headlights flash ahead. What if it crushes her? I rush outside and pick the doorbell up from the freezing road and bring her back in where it is warm. Placing her on the table, I hear her ring without the wiring; a faint call, reminding she was still there. It is time for tough decisions.

I call May one last time and break up with her. Then I pull off the enchanted rope that the witch doctor had used to tie my wife to the doorbell.

The feeling of being watched is back.

I’m not lonely anymore.

Posted in Life and After, Love

Karwachauth

She sat waiting for him to return home. It was Karwachauth fast, so she was thirsty, hungry and crabby. She was also annoyed that seven years after their marriage, he would choose to ignore the day. He hadn’t called all day. Neither had he come home a little early like he did in the earlier days of their marriage.

It was almost time for the moon to rise, for her to break the fast, but she couldn’t eat or drink until he fed her with his own hands. She wondered if it was worth staying hungry for the long life of a man who didn’t give a damn anymore.

He was all work now, always at office, only returning to eat and sleep. Sometimes, he would play a little with the children but he didn’t have time for her anymore. Did it have something to do with that new pretty girl in his office, Priya? That day at the office party, she seemed too intent to please. Always hovering around him, “Sir this…”, “Sir that…”.

What would she do if he decided to ditch their marriage for this one? She worried with the lace of her red sari–one she had worn for too many years on too many Karwachauth fasts. It was the only decent red sari she had, the colour she had to wear as per the tradition. She hadn’t asked for another. It seemed weird asking for a red dress at her age. That too for just one occasion an year. Not that he noticed anymore anyway.

The bell rang, she almost ran to the door but collected herself together. She didn’t want to look desperate, so she called one of the kids to open the door.

Her husband walked in with a large package in his hand, which he handed to her with a sheepish smile. “Sorry, I’m late. You know how tailors can be. I had to sit there and wait until he finished. I could have called you but I wanted it to be a surprise. You already look lovely, but this shade suits you better.”

She opened the package. It was the perfect red sari ensemble.