Sunday, January 15, 2017

दो कमरों का घर

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सब कहते हैं बड़ा मकान खरीद लो 
कब तक किराया भरोगे 
दो कमरे छोटे नहीं लगते क्या तुम्हे ?
बच्चों को भी जगह चाहिए। ... 
नया घर होगा, नई खुशियां आएंगी 
मैं सोच में पड़ जाती हूँ 

ये दो कमरों का मकान 
घर ही तो है 
मानती हूँ दीवारें थोड़ी पुरानी हो गयी हैं 
पर वो जो लकीरें तुम्हे चुभ रही हैं 
वो मेरे बच्चों की पहली लिखाई हैं 
वो पहली तस्वीरें, जो किताब में होतीं तो मैं संभाल भी लेती 
हर जगह ले जाती 
पर दीवारें नहीं उठा सकती 
सोचती हूँ कुछ पल और जी लूँ उन्हें 
धुंधली हो जाएंगी अपने आप जब 
तब नया घर ले लूंगी। 

तुम कहते हो जगह चाहिए 
शायद देखा नहीं तुमने 
साथ बैठे कितने अभिन्न हो जाते हैं हम यहां 
साँसों का संगीत तक सुनाई देता है..... 
थोड़ा रुको 
जब कदम बढ़ेंगे महत्वाकांक्षाओं के साथ 
अपनी जगह भी खुद बना लेंगे 
तब तक जी लेने दो यह करीबी 
हर किसी को नसीब नहीं होती 

दो कमरों का मकान है 
यादों से सजा 
भावनाओं से भरा 
थोड़ा बिखरा सही 
थोड़ा मैला सही 
पर खुशियां भी सजी यहीं हैं 
आंसू भी थमे यहीं हैं 
तुम्हारे लिए ईंट और पत्थर की तंग दीवारें हैं 
पर मेरे लिए यही घर है 
मेरे दो कमरों का मकान। .... 

Linking to #MondayMusings at Everyday Gyaan

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Three Leaves, Three Roots and a Dream - A reading of Ann E. Burg's Serafina's Promise

Indian Bloggers

"Banza, I have nothing to give..." so says Serafina to her dog as he wags his tail and follows her. Serafina is busy with the daily chores she ought to complete. She has no school to go to, no time to play with friends either. But the faithful dog follows her, seeking only her love and affection. The elders tell her that a 'kind heart is the fanciest dress' and Serafina is kind. But she is unhappy too.

Serafina's Promise by Ann E. Burg is one book that will stay with me forever. I read it in one go - a story in verse form. It revolves around the little Serafina, who grows up in the earthquake-ridden, flood-prone Haiti. Full of Haitian wisdom, the book makes a compelling read. Just when the 11 year old's dream of going to school is fulfilled, hurdles cross her path. Serafina is beset with questions. She cannot find answers to all her doubts. Why does one need to remember? Wherein lies the bravery of fighting if it means losing your life? What is it that the flag remembers? Is the petty grudge she harbors for her friend who goes to school really worth it? What does it mean to be really educated? Is learning a colonial language a betrayal or a means to achieving a position from where one can speak? She slowly discovers for herself the complex thing called life.

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Serafina yearns to be a doctor. But poverty has trapped her. The death of her brother is followed by the birth of another one, whose arrival she thinks will make up for all the losses she has suffered. His birth is a hope that clings to Serafina's heart. She wishes to be just like Antoinette Solaine, the nurse, who tends to the children in the village. Grandma tells Serafina to stand up for herself - if you want your eggs hatched, you need to sit on them yourself. Serafina's father too pushes her to speak, to assert, to convince others of her beliefs. Despite the restraints imposed on her dreams by her financial conditions, Serafina promises herself to become a doctor, to save those in her village from ailments, from misery, from death.

Serafina's mother is reluctant to send her to school but she loves her and helps her wade through the rising waters. Serafina's father is poor but 'happy' that he could 'afford ribbons for Serafina's hair'. Amidst all the trials and tribulations, Serafina discovers something :

I wonder what hunger is like
without a family
to fill the emptiness.....

It is not a perfect family but it definitely is the strong foundation on which rests Serafina's life. After all the failures, one has to try again. After falling down, one ought to get up again. No matter what happens, one has to "beat the drum and dance again".

The book emphasizes how history is a significantly defining factor of who we are today. Remembering is a way of showing respect. Remembering is a means of assuring that the past sacrifices were not in vain. It is important not to forget so that it does not happen again - the injustice, the anguish, the sacrifice. 

Three leaves, Three roots......

To throw down is to forget.....

To gather up is to remember.....

'Twa Fey' or Three Leaves - The song is indigenous to Haitian culture - a song of recollecting, of bearing testimony to the struggles the country has been through. It is part of incorporating a 'collective consciousness' among listeners, and singers. They stand united in memory, in thoughts. Twa Fey is a song of blending in, of unifying, of solidarity within a group that shares a common past. Twa Fey for Serafina stands for her family, her village, her country.

Serafina gives back. Her kindness makes her courageous too. And in testing situations, she fights back. She keeps her promise. She embraces the 'conqueror's language' for the time being, to equip herself, to gather the right tools to bring the change she longs for....

The sun rises
the sun sets,
little by little the bird
builds its nest!

The book is meant for young readers. Brimming with wisdom and raising topics to help young minds think and interrogate the 'givens', Serafina's Promise is a promise of betterment to reconstruct the society on the foundation of hope, memory and courage.

The verse form of the narrative is captivating and keeps the reader engaged. Ann E. Burg has managed to insinuate on topics that would be tough for young minds to comprehend in an ingenious way. The everyday struggles of people living in poverty, the desperate need for medical aid, the utmost and indispensable necessity of dreams and a firm belief that they will come true one day are some of the crucial themes in the book. The "stethoscope" may be "broken" but its very presence is an indicator of hope. The "doctor's bell" may be like a "misplaced star" but it still emits light. 

In the poem titled "The Problem with History Books", Ann E. Burg states that "research has its limits.." It is true as far as fiction is concerned. And the beauty of poetry is precisely this - it lets you expand your horizon. It lets you imagine. Serafina's Promise gives space for imagination to soar as the little girl dreams and ventures on a path that is unknown to her. As she tries to light up the lives of those around her, her own life starts radiating too. After all the devastation of floods and earthquakes, her dream lingers as a promise that she can keep forever. It will "sprout" too like the seeds she has sown in the soil. It is the "history of the human heart" (to borrow the words of William Collins) that the mesmerizing poetry of Burg's novel chronicles - a history of hope, of dreams, of promise. 

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Yellow Notebook

The yellow notebook was filled with gray lines - contoured into alphabets that said something, meant something. People said that she had written them every single day of the last year. Those words that seemed meaningless, like a forgotten memory, were part of her life each moment of the last twelve months. But to her they seemed like shady shapeless figures, visible now but disappearing the very next minute.... like figures in the foggy mornings of chilly winter months. Each word dispersed an aura of emotions that was alien to her....She could smell not their scent as they looked like flowers blooming bright on the spring canvas that adorned her wall. They looked beautiful but emanated no fragrance.

She struggled hard to gather them up in one coherent chronicle but they fell, like leaves falling in August. She shuffled them, rummaged through them but the rake of her mind worked to no avail. The task became laborious to her. She tried to shrug away the helplessness but it stuck on her like sweat pasted on the forehead in the months of May and June.

Exhausted, she planned to dump them , like some leftovers of the New Year party. But despite the cleaning, the crumbs lay hidden in the corners, on the counter, on the table..... poking her to pick them up as she got up the next morning. She took a deep breath, and opened the blinds to let in the sunlight. Then, very slowly she drew them together. They needed nourishment. She poured them in her lap. Steam rose from them reminding her of steam rising from the cup of simmering tea, her morning companion. She got up, cupping them in her hand. Then, she turned the stove on to prepare her favorite brew. As she dropped tea leaves in the boiling water, she realized it was time to spice things up. She added ginger. The pungent aroma enlivened her spirits. She hugged the words she was holding and then let them fall in the brewing pot. It was time to create a new concoction.

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(My post begins with the words 'the yellow notebook' and 'gray'- I borrowed these from one of the most touching children's books I have ever read in my life. It is titled Serafina's Promise. Written by Ann E. Burg, it is a novel in verse form. I strongly recommend it to everyone....will be reviewing it soon....)

Linking it to Indispire #151

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Let the Light Shine Bright This Year

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This New Year,  I came across two brilliant posts on word of the year as blogger - one by Shailaja and the other by Alana, I wondered whether I should have one too. And if yes, what would that word be? Three words kept holding my attention - Joy, Promise and Light. I could not in any way decide on one and let go of the other. Then, help arrived. In the form of a sign. A surprise so unexpected that it filled me with joy and showed me the promise of future. A promise that lay in the endeavors I would make if I remained true to myself. The surprise was a book I received through the Costco Connection Book Giveaway wherein Costco members can enter for a chance to win a signed copy of the book of the month. Since I had entered so many times with no luck, I had quite forgotten about it. But last night, when I checked the mail box, a white bubble wrapped package awaited picking. Still having no clue as to which book I had got, I opened the package and what did I see - Anthony Doerr's All The Light We Cannot See......

The book was on my wish-list for a long time but because it was in such high-demand, it was forever off the library's book-shelf. I could not believe my luck as I stared at the book, smiling like a child who had found a lost toy. 

And, if you have guessed it by now, the word of the year for me was decided. It would be - Light.

I remember a story I had read a long time ago. A master had to run some errands so he asked his disciple to take charge of his house. The only task the disciple had to do in his master's absence was to keep darkness out of the house. The master left. As the day descended, darkness started creeping in. The disciple was clueless. In his ignorance, he started beating around with a broom, thinking that would be enough to keep the darkness out. By the time the master returned, the disciple was exhausted and the house was dark. The master lit a candle which radiated the surroundings. 

What does the story tell us? 

The disciple focused on the darkness while the master brought out the light. 
Shifting the perspective towards one positive thing helped negate the gloominess of the house. 

We mortals have our flaws. We suffer from jealousy, anger, bias, ego and what not. All this blinds us. Our hearts close. Our eyes are shut. We forget what it means to be receptive, or loving or caring. We fail to see the light. It is not possible that we will not make any mistakes. We will. But when we fail to rectify the wrongs that we have done, we fail to see the light. We choose to be blinded. 

This year I will make every effort to see the light and be guided by it. 

This year I want to see What Else is Possible? A beautiful thought that stays with me from the past year. I borrow it from Andrea Davis Pinkney's The Red Pencil, a stirring portrayal of the genocide in Darfur, as seen from the eyes of a twelve-year old girl, Amira. Since I cannot do complete justice to the beauty of this thought, I am including the bit where it appears in the book:

Will you too, dear friends, see the light this year?

Will you too try to find out what else is possible? Will you too be guided by the light within and without to open the closed doors of your hearts?  

Linking it to Alphabet Salad Word of the Year Linkup - 2017 and #MondayMusings at Everyday Gyaan

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Water Flows..... - Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad

Indian Bloggers

 "Water does not resist. Water flows.....Water is not a solid wall.......But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it.......Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does." So advises Penelope's mother to her daughter. An advice that she understands not much at that time, but applies later in her life, while waiting for her sly, adventurous husband to return. Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad  is a re-telling of the Greek myth but from the point of view of the muted, 'shrouded' queen Penelope who is plagued by suitors devouring her estate. Her son Telemachus is a patriarch-in-the-making, expecting her mother to 'behave' in an 'appropriate' way and disregarding her as a figure of authority in his father's absence. With little support from anyone in the household, Penelope turns to the youngest 'twelve maids' who work as her spies, sometimes being raped, sometimes loved, but forever bringing news to the Queen. Odysseus's nurse, Eurycleia, is not consulted, not confided into the matter. A fact that causes much misery and deaths in the end. Atwood uses the element of story-telling while being aware of the fact that a story remains a story - a version that might be different and at times contradictory to some other version of the same thing too. Odysseus's adventures are stories heard by his wife through various sources and there is no way to authenticate them other then just believing them. But when it comes to the 'story' of Penelope, and her maids, some periods are imposed to bring 'closure' to the narratives that exist in the 'master's' absence.

The killing of the 'twelve' maids is a strand that runs through the novella, questioning justice and fairness in a patriarchy that demeans a woman by raping her, by considering her as a 'prize' or 'trophy' - a thing to be kept locked up. Atwood questions the objectification of women through history and myths in the chapter titled 'The Chorus Line : An Anthology Lecture' where the maids stress that they are "pure symbol". They continue to haunt Odysseus after death. In Hades, after re-births...probably asserting that injustices continue to happen, the male continues to wander off, and justice never delivered. Penelope tries to dissuade the maids but they shun her too, and Atwood leaves us to speculate Penelope's thoughts as she sees their feet 'twitching' - unable to touch the ground.

The book is a quick read, blended with humor and sarcasm. Atwood's use of The Chorus helps in setting a pace for the novella, reminding the reader about the temporal setting of the narrative but then the prose breaks through it and reemphasizes that the issues raised are far from that - they are persistent and move beyond time and territory.

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(This review has been posted on Goodreads)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Music is the language of love.....

I am writing this blog for #MusicDilSe Blogging Contest at

For rules, and details, see this link

The prompt I have chosen is Music is the language of love.


"You're too well known, Wladek. And you know what? You musicians don't make good conspirators. You're too...too musical."                                    

                                                                                                  Jehuda Zyskind in The Pianist

In the movie, The Pianist, there is a beautiful scene. The protagonist of the film, Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Jew, has been discovered in the ruined city of Warsaw, by the German officer Hosenfeld. In a gripping plot where suspense over his fate looms large, Szpilman plays Chopin's Ballad in G Minor. The officer listens quietly. The music reflects the agony of the pianist in ways words cannot describe. The effects of the brutality of the war, and the utter hopelessness that human race has been subjected too, are well-countered by the sound of music. The harmonious impact of music melts the officer's heart. Instead of exposing Szpilman to his mates, the German officer aids him in hiding and keeps bringing food for him later in the film. Mind you all, this is not just a scene in the film. It is part of the real narrative of the life of the pianist during the second world war. He plays on his music while everything around him dies. Yes, he is lucky to survive. But yes, his music helps in a major way too.

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In another real life instance, Jack Tueller, a war veteran from World War II narrates an incident where love conquers the savagery of war. A German sniper is hiding and ready to attack. Amidst all the tension and in the face of possible death, Tueller thinks about his trumpet. That moment makes him realize the loneliness of his enemy. He picks up his instrument and plays a German love song Lili Marlene. The lyrics of the song go like this :

Right next to the barracks by the main gate
there stood a lantern and stands there up to date
We're going to meet there again
Next to the lantern we will remain
Like then, Lili Marlene
Like then, Lili Marlene 
(For full song translation, click here)

The sniper comes out crying - a young officer, undone like many others, by the illogical, heartless war. The thrust of the trumpet's tone has shaken him to the core. His hearts beats for his beloved again, and all he can think about is not, war or death, but love. That is the power of music.

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The two instances I describe here are important because of the time and situation in which they occur. What hope can there be from a bloodthirsty and merciless war? Not all those who fight in wars want it really. Music brings out their humanity. Words cannot reflect the miserable pain they feel due to the circumstances they are trapped in. Music brings them out from the coma induced by the barbarity of war. Music in a way, conquers war. And sends across a message of love - universal love, a shared brotherhood that unites all humanity.

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Pete Seeger says it right when he says that songs can change history. The power of music is something that can only be felt as words fall short in conveying the depth or the intensity that music creates. The magic of pitch, the spell of melody, the bewitchment of rhythm, the dynamics of the instrument used, and the enchantment of the voice that is lost in the incantation are mesmerizing and enrapturing features that place music above everything else. Throughout history, songs have been used to build bridges, to consolidate communities to a cause, to fortify the feelings of patriotism. Music is medium that connects the devotee to his/her God. It is the language of love, the language that needs no translation, the language that surpasses all barriers.

If I were to think of a song that has touched hearts across time and history, a song that has moved generations, a song that has impressed upon each one of us the importance of unity and love, then it would be We Shall Overcome. The song has its origins perhaps in the Civil Rights movement in US. But it has been adopted as an international anthem of peace. It is a straight song with not much twists or complexities and yet, it manages to captivate hearts and transmit a message of hope, love and peace. It is just one example of how a simple song with an easy melody can empower people and strengthen their beliefs. It is not just a song of protest against the injustices of the society. It is a song of promise. It believes that love and unity are the only way things will change. Martin Luther King, Joan Baez, Robert F Kennedy, Roger Waters are just a few popular names who used the song in support of their cause. They all supported peace and stood up for universal love.

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What role can music play in one of the most violent cities of the world? I am talking about Caracas, the largest city of Venezuela. And yet, Jose Antonio Abreu chose this city and its kids to spread music and counter the ill-effects of the extreme poverty they live in. His organization El Sistema works with the underprivileged children. They are taught music. They sing, they play instruments, they work together in an orchestra. The power of music enables these children to think differently, to be more humane, and according to Abreu, to fight against "poverty and inequality, violence and drug abuse".

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Music is magic. Music is remedy. Music is probably the most powerful way to bring unity. It is a language even a baby relates to right from, or even before birth. Music speaks in its own way, whether we know the language of a song or not. And that is why, it bridges the chasms of prejudice. Many people around the world have used, and continue to use music as a means of bringing change within their communities. I was amazed by the whole range of results my google search came up with when I started reading about music as a means of change. It just proved my belief that Music is undoubtedly the language of love.

Written for #MusicDilSe Blogging Contest at

For rules, and details, see this link

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Indian Bloggers

Dear Zindagi,

कहाँ से शुरू करूं ? Ruth Ozeki की किताब A Tale for the Time Being पढ़ रही हूँ।  कहानी में Nao , जो प्रमुख पात्र है, इस ही सवाल का जवाब सोच रही है और उसको जवाब मिलता है कि जहाँ हो, वहीँ से शुरू करो।  बात अच्छी लगी तो मैंने सोचा की क्यों न ये करके देखा जाए।

तो नवम्बर की मीठी ठण्ड में सुबह ५ बजे उठ कर नाश्ता और lunch-box तैयार करती हूँ।  सारा काम ख़त्म  होते ही अदरक वाली कड़क चाय और bread के दो toast बना कर बैठ जाती हूँ, तुम्हे ये letter  लिखने के लिए।  India में होती तो मम्मी और भाभी भी चाय के साथ कुछ गप-शप लगातीं और चाय पीने का मज़ा दोगुना हो जाता।  पर New Jersey के शहर Edison के एक apartment में बच्चों के उठने से पहले ये चिठ्ठी लिखने का मज़ा भी अलग लग रहा है।

बाहर बिलकुल अँधेरा है। खिड़की के blinds हटा के देखती हूँ तो आस-पास बस छोटी-छोटी टिमटिमाती lights नज़र आती हैं।  न कोई चिड़िया अपने घोंसले से बाहर आयी है और न ही कोई इंसान।  Blinds बंद करते हुए ख्याल आता है मम्मी की kitchen की खिड़की का।  पिछली बार जब India गयी थी तो वो खिड़की तो जैसे मेरी दोस्त ही बन गयी थी। जब भी बाहर देखो तो, Dear Zindagi , तुम अनोखे अंदाज़ में मुस्कुराती इतराती नज़र आती थीं। कोई गाय अपने झुण्ड के साथ जाती दिखती थी, तो कोई scooter वाला ऑफिस जाने की जल्दी में तेज़ रफ़्तार से निकलता नज़र आता था।  कहीं स्कूल uniform में बच्चे bag और पानी की bottle उठाये बस का इंतज़ार करते दिखाई देते थे।

खिड़की के बाहर, सड़क के किनारे एक पेड़ था। मम्मी ने माली से पूछ के बताया कि वो kigelia का पेड़ है - हिंदी में बलम -खीरा कहते हैं। न जाने मैं कितने साल उस पेड़ के नीचे खड़ी हो के अपनी स्कूल बस की wait किया करती थी।  उसी पेड़ के नीचे पापा ने एक चबूतरा बनवाने की सोची।  गर्मी के दिन बहुत थकान वाले होते हैं India में। पापा ने सोचा की बहुत चलती सड़क है , तो क्यों ने राहगीरों के लिए एक पानी की प्याऊ बनाई जाये। पक्का चबूतरा बनवाया गया।  मिटटी के मटके रखे गए - आह क्या खुशबू होती है मिटटी के मटकों के पानी की ! आते-जाते प्यासे राही जब वहाँ रुक कर पानी पीते तो लगता था कि प्याऊ का होना जैसे सार्थक हो गया।  पर ऐसा बहुत देर तक नहीं चला।  जानते हैं क्यों - क्योंकि शायद पानी की प्यास पूरी करने से ज़्यादा ज़रूरी कुछ और लोगों की अनजान पर महत्वपूर्ण ज़रूरतें थीं जो मटके या मटके के ढक्कन को चुरा कर बेचने से पूरी हो पाती थीं।

खैर, प्याऊ का अस्तित्व बनाते मटके गायब होते गए।  हार कर मटके रखना छोड़ दिया।  बेचारा चबूतरा तनहा हो गया।  एक सुबह खिड़की से देखा कि zindagi  एक नए रूप में चबूतरे पर सजी थी।  प्याऊ की जगह चाय का खोका खड़ा था।  सर्दी हो या गर्मी, चाय पीने वाले मौसम नहीं देखते।  धीरे-धीरे जमघट बढ़ता गया और चाय वाला तुम्हे, Dear Zindagi, एक बार फिर से ख़ुशी से जीने लगा।

कुछ दिन बीते। जाने चाय वाले की चाय ख़त्म हुई या फिर उसको zindagi ने कुछ नई राह दिखा दी, वो भी चबूतरा छोड़ के चला गया। पेड़ की हरियाली चबूतरे के खालीपन को कुछ दिन तक भरती रही।  कभी दोपहर में खिड़की से बाहर नज़र जाती थी तो दिखता था कि दो बंधु पेड़ से कुछ तोड़ रहे हैं।  बलम-खीरे का उपयोग जोड़ों के दर्द, गठिया के उपचार आदि के लिए किया जाता है। शायद घर के किसी वृद्ध के दर्द दूर करने के लिए बंधु पेड़ पर चढ़े होंगे।

एक दिन देखा एक सफ़ेद गाड़ी से एक आदमी बाहर निकल कर चबूतरे पर कुछ कपड़े रख रहा है।  सस्ती टी-शर्ट्स, जो न सिर्फ कीमत में पर देखने में भी सस्ती लगती थीं , उनका खरीददार कौन होगा, ये सवाल मन में उठा।  पर जवाब जल्दी ही मिल गया जब सुबह, दोपहर और शाम, कई दिनों तक, चबूतरे पर लोगों की भीड़ लगी रहती।  साइकिल सवार हो या बड़ी गाड़ी चलाने वाले अंकल, सबको उन टी-शर्ट्स में कुछ तो बात लगती थी।  समय बीता और zindagi का ये रंग भी किसी और गली-कूचे को रंगीन करने निकल गया। 

पर चबूतरा तो मानो सबको मोहित करता था।  कुल्फी वाले भैया ने वहां खूब कुल्फी बेचीं।  लोगों को गर्मी से राहत मिलती और भैया की जेब थोड़ी गर्म हो जाती। 

हम खिड़की के इस पार  खड़े यही सोचते थे कि अब ये जाएगा तो कौन आएगा। जैसे कोई मंच  हो मानो , जिसमें एक पात्र अपनी भूमिका निभा के जाता और फिर दूसरा आ कर उसकी जगह ले लेता। 

zindagi आगे चलती रही।  पर चलते चलते कभी पैर थके तो कभी जूते फटे।  चबूतरा सब देखता रहा। जहाँ कभी कपड़े , कभी पानी और कभी चाय या कुल्फी थी, आज वहां जूते रखे गए।  लोग आये।  जूते पहन कर देखे।  किसी को भाए तो लिए नहीं तो आगे बढ़ गए घड़ी की उस सूईं की तरह जो किसी का इंतज़ार नहीं करती।  

Dear Zindagi , कितने रंग हैं तुम्हारे!  तुम्हे जीने के लिए इंसान क्या नहीं करता। क्या हो तुम - एक उम्मीद , आगे बढ़ता एक कदम, एक छलावा, या एक भटके हुए राही की आखिरी मंज़िल ? उस दिन जब वो शराबी, जिसे किसी ने पागल कहा और किसी ने तिरस्कारा, क्या वो तुम्हारे आँचल में छुपा तुमसे कुछ सवाल नहीं पूछ रहा था? चबूतरा शायद उसको एक पालने के जैसा लगा होगा तो वो नशे में चूर हो वहां सो गया।  kigelia के पेड़ के तले कुछ गहरे सपनों में खो गया।  सब ने दूर से देखा और कहा कि शायद कोई पागल है, नहीं तो कौन भला ऐसे सो जाएगा।  कुछ पल बीते, कुछ घंटे और फिर पूरी रात।  शायद तुमने उसको बहुत थका दिया होगा zindagi .... तभी तो इतनी देर तक सुषुप्त रहा। सबने सोचा की शायद मर गया।  नींद में चबूतरे से नीचे सड़क पे भी लुड़क गया।  भीड़ जमा हुई।  सबकी साँसें थमी थीं कि जाने कौन है , क्या हुआ है।  कोई हमदर्दी से पास नहीं गया शायद, पर उत्सुकता ज़रूर उसके पास खींच ले गयी - सब जानना  चाहते थे कि ज़िन्दगी ने उसका साथ छोड़ा या नहीं।  

कुछ पल बीते।  साँसें चल रहीं थीं।  चेतना लौटी और शराबी/पागल अपनी मंज़िल की ओर बढ़ गया।  देखने वालों को कहानी मिली सुनाने के लिए और देखने के लिए मिला zindagi का एक और रंग। चबूतरा चुप-चाप एक मज़बूत मंच बन डटा रहा, जैसे कह रहा हो कि कोई भी मौसम क्यों न हो , मैं zindagi को बुलाता रहूँगा , कोई गीत गाता रहूँगा। धुन कभी दर्द देगी तो कभी हंसाएगी, पर ज़िन्दगी यूँ ही चलती चली जाएगी। 

ये सब लिखते हुए न जाने कितने पल बीत गए।  लगा कि मैं  फिर वहीं उस खिड़की के परदे खोल रही हूँ।  पर परदे उन यादों के खोल रही थी जिन्होंने मेरी ज़िन्दगी को सजाया है।  कुछ खट्टी यादें, कुछ मीठी यादें -  नम आँखों से टपकती यादें, मुस्कुराते होठों से छलकती यादें।  कहानी तो चबूतरे की लिखी पर स्कूल से सफर करती हुई आज के पल में आ के ठहर गयी।  कितना कुछ खोया इस सफर में - पापा की हंसी , भाई की शरारतें, बेपरवाह बचपन।  और कितना कुछ पाया - भाभी के रूप में एक पक्की सहेली, मम्मी की निकटता, बच्चों की मासूम शैतानियां। खेल खेलना खूब जानती हो तुम zindagi , कुछ लेती हो, कुछ दे जाती हो।  

क्या शिकायत करूं तुमसे.... मालूम नहीं।
सोचती हूँ बस चलती रहूँ। 
मंज़िल कहाँ है, क्या पता।  पर ये जानना शायद ज़रूरी नहीं। कुछ रास्ते छुपे रहें तो ही अच्छा है।  न जाने किस मोड़ पे कौन सी  खिखिलाहट रू-ब -रू हो जाए।  रही बात आंसूओं की, तो उनसे बातें करना तो तुमने सिखा ही दिया है। 

स्नेह सहित 
zindagi के मंच की एक पात्र 

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