Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Life of a Pappu in Delhi!

"कमेटी आ रही है... गिराओ  रे तम्बू ! " (Committee is coming.. pull down the tent!)

He shouted at the peak of his voice as he saw the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) vehicle approaching towards his tea-stall.  In a flash went down the bamboo dragging down the tent along. Our eyes pervaded in anxiety - Will he survive the day?

Cluttered with thelas and redis stormed the vehicle towards Pappu's stall as my heart throbbed, "Please! Save it .. just for today."  In a gaze of fear and hope stood Pappu as the vehicle neared; it had slowed down. Fortunate for him, the vehicle passed away unstopped.  "पप्पू, बच गया तुम्हारा दुकान आज..!"(Your stall survived the day Pappu!),  I shouted in joy! Pappu straightened his bamboo up, smiling. It was tense!

I sipped another cup of his refreshing tea as I read the newspaper apprising us of the various tales of the legendary actor Dev Anand who passed away a couple of days ago. In  another section of the paper, in a corner, appeared Markandey Katju's article. The former Justice of the Supreme Court and the present Chairman of the Press Council of India, Mr Katju, resented over the front page coverage of Dev Anand's death. He contended - "Are the lives of the hundreds of farmers committing suicide on a daily basis inferior than Dev Anand's life"?  I could make sense of his contention now.

Me : " कितने दिन पर आती है MCD  की गाड़ी ? " (How often does the MCD vehicle come?)
Pappu: " हफ्ता-दस दिन में... " (Once in a week or ten days)
Me :" कितना देते हो? " (How much do you pay[bribe]?)
Pappu: " 100 -125  , दिन अच्छा रहा तो 70 तक में मान जाता है!" (Rs. 100-125 , 70 on a favorable day)

Welcome to the life of a street vendor of the capital city of India! An industrious man who gets up as early as 5:30 in the morning in an ice-cold Delhi to serve us with that morning tea.  A man striving to provide to his family the daily bread, leave aside education and health! But belied he stands, of all the promises made in the preamble of his Constitution.

Sounds like a typical scene in a typical Indian movie, ain't it? Only with a slight difference - here, the State is the mafia!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

वो सनकी

वो सनकी ख्वाबों के बोझ  तले दब जाता है
अपने मरे शरीर के आगे घी के दिए जलाता है
गा कर , हंस कर अपना मातम मनाता है
आंसू भरे भगोने से गंगा जल पिलाता है
अपेक्षाओं की मार से लहू लुहान  देह को
समाज से मिली उलाहनाओं का कफ़न ओढाता है
"राम नाम झूठ है.."  इसके नारे लगता है
अकेला ही खुद को शमशान पहुंचता है
वो सनकी अपनी मौत का जश्न मनाता है
अपनी चिता को वो खुद ही आग लगता है!

Of Dreams

खंजर से छुभने लगे ख्वाब जब
आँखों का लहू तब  दिल में उतर गया
सीने में लगी ऐसे आग तब..
पानी भी उसमें जलने लग गया
जी करता है खुद को भी जला दूं उसमें
कर दूं भस्म, हो जाऊं सती
लहू का कतरा कतरा बहा दूं उसमें
बहने लगे मन की ठहरी नदी


Monday, December 5, 2011


Strangled in the fibers of life
I assess, I ponder
Of the losses and the gains
And of other things, I brood over.

I chuckle with delight
at the times that were good
Contrite at the others
I delve into a pensive mood.

As I dig deeper
I hear countless cries
Piercing my rooted soul
Watering my dessicated eyes.

Incarcerated for ages
In the ring of the rings,
The infinite cobweb
Imploring freedom from their cages.

In horror grim and furor
I shut my eyes and ear
And throw myself away
To the vicious cobweb, its prey.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Of Mistakes - A narration [Part -2]

contd.. from Of Mistakes - A narration [Part -1]

The latter question is a no-brainier. Every human being needs a companion , who better than your wife who can gratify you physically apart from looking after your mental steadiness and household affairs. My  father did not think differently. I might want to accuse him of his self-oriented need of a bahu (daughter-in-law) who can look after him, and especially my mother during ill health or aging. Somewhere, it might even turn out to be true. But largely, it was not the case. I was sure.

It takes us to the first question then. Why did not I want to marry?  My father obviously thought that I had an affair with another woman and that is why I was refusing all the proposals. As furious and ashamed he would be if this were to be true, he still extended the offer to accept that woman as my wife. It made me extremely irate. "I don't have any love affairs! Why don't you understand?" , I would shout. My father would yell back at me - "Then why don't you want to marry?". It grew extremely uncomfortable, not just for us, but for the whole family.

In the three years of work before I got married, I lived alone in a city that was 1500 km from my hometown. In the name of company, I just had Raju. He would stay only for half an hour to cook my food. And I would be on my own again. I enjoyed isolation. During the weekends, I visited ISKON, a religious and spiritual group. The bhajans and mythological stories of Lord Krishna made my happy and their spiritual sermons made me confident. I met people who after earning coveted success and financial asset, abandoned everything and joined ISKON in search of spiritual happiness. My belief in a solitary life got strength with each visit.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Of Mistakes - A narration [Part -1]

I glared at her picture through the smoke rising from the joss sticks alongside.I still couldn't believe it. A part of me knew that she was gone, but I refused to agree. One by one, all my friends left.  And here I was, with my head sunk deep into despair. I wished I had the slightest of courage to face my family, especially my father.  It had been a couple of years since we talked emotively.
My marriage was not one of those moments that ought to be cherished, by me or by my family. In fact, it turned out to be an event to fulfill the obligations on our parts respectively I married because my father would be saddened to see me unmarried. He got me married because he felt obligated to do so by virtue of a good father. It was akin to a funeral given the lull and ire that accompanied the whole ritual.

I remember my elder brother's marriage. I had never seen my father that excited and my mother that energetic in the 27 years that I had known them. My grandmother oozed with exuberance, after all it was her eldest grandson's marriage. They had all come - tauji, mamaji, mausaji, fufaji etc. and their respective families.
It was more of a festival than a ritual! For them, not for me however. I was charged with so much responsibility and work that I hardly had the time to relax and rejoice the fact that my elder brother was getting married. My cousins would tease me as I rushed in and out - "Dewar ji! Get something for Bhabhi too!"  Indeed , it was a festival.

A year had passed since then. And it now knocked my door - the dread of marriage. Even before my elder brother's marriage, I had proclaimed aloud my averseness to it. And I reiterated it vehemently when my father first mentioned a marriage proposal to me. With each passing month he would come up with new proposals and new ways to persuade me, and it irked me more and more. Half a year had passed in this exercise and the temperature had started to rise on either sides. My father was getting tired of my obduracy and I hated his. Both of us thought the other to be stupid. There were questions that had to be answered -

Why did not I want to marry? and Why was it so important to my father that I get married?