The distant star

One fine cloudless night,
I saw a tiny little star,
Twinkling shiny and bright,
From its peers above par.

I stood like a timid kid,
And dreamt if it I could touch,
Twirling my fingers roundabout,
To mock its grab as such.

I wished I had the wings,
To fly up in the sky,
To hold that distant star,
That miles away so high.

Gazing through the clouds,
I sought its flashing light,
It played me hide and seek,
All through the sleepless night.

I thought if they ever meet,
Laying modest, meek and coy,
The angels in the sky,
To a mere earthly boy.

The Hug

I was just five, still fiddling around with putting up my shoe laces, packing my school bag, racking my books, doing my school tie, tidying up my hair and completing my homework on time. Still, my tiny little brain would be rather more amused by those fantasy cartoon shows, featuring a super hero flaunting a rugged muscular figure clad in garish bizarre outfits, running and flying over the cities and saving the world just in time. Still, reading the newspaper was no business for me, except for the Sunday magazine, that included those fancy fairy tales and the many a no-brainer puzzles like joining the dots to shape it into some figure, finding the way through the maze and discovering differences in the two almost identical pictures. Still, crosswords and the Sudokus made absolutely no sense to me.

So I was still a kid, a regular school going boy, devoid of any intellectual upbringing as yet. I scored good grades at the school but despite of that, like all the other kids on earth, I loved to play and utilise any opportunity to refrain from studies. 

It was the summer vacation, the books were all racked up in the closet, and like past few years we were going to spend holidays at my father’s native, a small town spread within a few kilometres where our paternal ancestors had been living for more than a century. It was an overnight journey and with the light of the morning the pictures of the last few vacations were going to come to life again. I was excited.

It was eight in the morning we reached the place, an old house with battered walls, wooden creaky hinged doors. We spiralled through the narrow, almost standing, staircase to reach the dwelling of the progenitors of my progenitors. The uncles, aunties (bua), the grandmother, and the domestic help were all scattered around the narrow door to welcome us, as if we had returned from a foreign tour. Someone took the heavy bag from my father’s hands and the eldest of my uncles grabbed me and put over his shoulders, the aunts trying to snatch me from him, and after failing to do so attempting to pull and kiss my cheeks. Very soon the cheeks were all stretched and wet. We all went to sit in the living room. As soon as my uncle dropped me back to earth, I ran over to reach my grandfather’s room. But he was not there. 

“Where’s Baba gone?”, I came querying back to the living room, looking at the grandmother. She told me he had been out of the city for some work and would return in the evening. I ran back to the porch adjoining his room. Pictures from the last vacation ran through my mind. I remembered him sitting on the wooden rocking chair lying there, savouring the fresh morning tea with the newspaper in his hands, and me sitting over his lap asking all kinds of silly questions looking at the images in the newspaper.

One of the aunties suddenly came running, finding the oppurtunity to pick me up in her arms, offering me biscuits and other stuff to eat, again kissing my cheeks all wet. I wiped the moisture and reconfirmed from her when Baba would return home. She had almost the same response.

The day went on with all kind of pampering done to me. Uncles took me to the market picking me up in their arms. Being five, it had been quite unusual since a couple of years that I would be raised up in the arms and be transported. I, rather, walked on my feet now. Moreover, I was allowed to choose stuff to be bought for me – the sweets, the candies, the chocolates, the soft drinks, the cakes, the ice-creams, the toys and what not – a luxury that my parents had not allowed to me, atleast not to the same measure. Somehow, I loved every bit of it.

Later the grandmother took me to the cow house at the backyard of the house to milk the cows. I loved the smell of fresh cow milk. She brought a glassful of fresh milk sweetened with jaggery for my consumption. I remembered Baba doing the same for me with I sticking to his back while he milked the cows. I gulped down the milk with the thought in my mind. We came back from the cow house and she filled the bucket full of milk into a huge traditional pot shaped vessel and put it over an earthen chulha. She sat near it for a while to air the flame, occasionally letting me do the activity, a rather playful one for me. At times she would wave her hand through my hair spilling them onto my face.

The lunch had been done; the sun was losing its ferocity; the evening tea was on the cards. Porridge, one of my favourite, was being cooked separately on the earthen chulha, the domestic help was sitting nearby and constantly stirring it through a ladle. I looked at the sun and it told me it was evening, but Baba had not arrived yet. 

I went to stand at the iron grill at the balcony adjoining his room. It faced the market, and made the path to the home. I looked at the people passing by, examining each face if it was his, with the apprehension that the year-long mutations on his skin might have made it hard to recognise for me. Constant disappointment took toll of me and I came back to the living room. I felt as if he would never arrive, as if there was some conspiracy going on letting me know that he would be back by evening. The sun had died; the darkness was all around both outside and inside my heart and soul.

Baba did not arrive and the eyes, sleep deprived and desperation craved closed down for the night. 

The next morning, I was in the bed, and I could feel tickles in my stomach. I opened my eyes to see a grey haired moustached broad face talking to me. My eyes were still closed. But, at an instant I could make out the familiar voice. “Baba!!!”, I cried out. “Myyy son..” he replied back mocking my tune. Instantly I stood up afresh.

He took me into his arms and hugged me tight. He was a broad shouldered strong man, and the clasp was tight enough to partially choke me. It sent me waves all through my body. I could feel the warmth of his skin. He held me for a while patting my back, clasping me again and I felt all those cuisines tasteless and worthless.

I felt a sudden emotion, deep and vivid, the very emotion written in the numerous sagas of literature, expressed in the eternal harmony of music, rendered in the picturesque portraits of nature, observed in deep alleys of philosophy, analysed in sophisticated realms of psychology and deemed universal in the undulating values of spirituality, and yet I was a mere five year kid, devoid of any intellectual upbringing as yet. 

It was herculean for me to put the feelings into words at that age but deep inside, it was all penned down somewhere at a corner of my soul.

 

Life goes on…

Life goes on…
Through gloom and mourn.
Life goes on…
Through prick and thorn.
Life goes on…
Through satire and scorn.
Life goes on…
Through ripped and torn.
Life goes on…
Through retreat and adjourn.
Life goes on…
Through washed and worn.
Life goes on…
Through rejection and forlorn.
 
 Never get bound to the shackles of slumber,
‘Coz after every dusk, follows a dawn.
Life goes on and on and on…

The Green Obsession

The green blot was flashing bright right against her name on the top header of the screen. ‘Hello’, I typed it out, after containing myself for long. It was just a matter of hitting a key through my pinkie, but inside, it was like pulling the trigger for a spacecraft launch at NASA, or dropping a bomb at the Gulf. The nerves in my head had turned into electrical wires, carrying alternating currents of a frequency of a million hertz, the brain into a supercomputer, processing millions of computations every microsecond, just to evaluate if it was the right moment that five lettered text should be sent out, as if it had the potential to blow the world out. The faculties opposing the motion, eventually, got the better of it. A long press at the backspace key made up for the manifestation.

The text box had been evacuated, the turbulence subdued. I peeped at the bubble again, and it still flashed the eternal green. I waited for a few seconds gazing at it, hoping to see the mark ‘typing…’ emerge at the screen, but it never showed up.

I scrolled through the window traversing through the texts all along our previous chats, those meaningless conversations at length, exchanging songs, good wishes, stories of past breakups, consolations, reminiscences of the old days at college, clips of my guitar stints, links to my blog posts, her appreciations, pictures of her photo shoots, my appreciations, and all the clutter of all sorts of coloured graphics – the smiles, the winks, tongues sticking out, the roses, the hearts – each making up for a different emotion everytime. It was a month back I had put my heart out to her and things had quite rolled over since then. The toasts went smaller, monosyllabic; conversations turned less frequent, folded and formalised. 

Three days had passed and there was no communication. Every moment passing by was adding to my discomfiture. It had never been in the past few months that we hadn’t talked for so long (yes, three days was quite a long time considering the intimacy we shared in the past few months). Suddenly I was hit by a train of thoughts -Why had she been online all the time (although she had told me she was quiet busy at work and had limited access to internet)? Why was she never writing to me? Was she preventing herself not to provoke my sentiments to bloom into obsession? Or had she simply turned indifferent? What if she had found someone? The last one struck me deep. I remembered she had told me about an old friend and I could, feebly, remember his name. I went on to look for his profile. He appeared to be a decent face, possibly good enough to beat my looks, had a job that was likely to pay him way more than mine, and was definitely more stylish and fashionable than me. My heart was skipping the beats, but his pictures soon revealed that he was into a relationship with someone, making me heave a sigh of relief.

I tuned on to some songs on my phone, the default play list, my mind was far too occupied to create one. The music seemed to soothe my mind. I closed my eyes to let the stream of freshness suffuse into my nerves, but the lyrics from one of the songs let the flashes of past invade through them. I skipped to the next song – her favourite, the next – I played it for her on the guitar, the next – we heard it on one of the dates, the next – another story. I pulled the earphones out of my ears, looked up on my phone if something was there from her, but not yet. I dared not to look at the green bulb again. 

I went to the kitchen to appease my starving belly, but more to distract my attention of that green spot. I looked for some bread in the refrigerator, and there it showed the green circle on the packet cover, and it reverberated the flash of that psyche for an instance, although the mark had meant to signify no harm to any mortal. 

I moved out for a walk to a park close by, letting my phone at home. Sitting on a bench laid in for the purpose, I saw the people walk by, kids running haphazardly, school boys playing cricket, ladies chatting while circling around the park, possibly to revive their pre-marital anatomies, birds flying and chirping, and a bunch of dogs playing around. It seemed that the entire universe was gleeful, and nobody could ever assume a heart grieving in pain. I look at the green grass, the grasshopper chirping over, the leaves of the tree shading the bench, the tennis ball of the children playing cricket, the algae covering a puddle of water, the cucumbers and the water melons with a roadside vendor, everything so beautiful and vivacious and all painted in green, and yet I was grieving the green of a small dot, the dot that had ached my heart, blemished my soul, let my conscience stoop low,and left my brain brimmed with obsession. 

Walking back home with the realisation, I thought, I would write to her, immaterial of how she would take it, of whether she would reply or not, of whether she wanted to talk to me or not. I took my phone off charging and opened the messenger, my fingers quivering to beat the keys and type out the yell of my heart. But to my surprise, the green had greyed out. I felt a sudden pang in my heart, my mind went berserk. I wanted to write to her desperately. It was as if the fall had arrived. I kept staring at the screen hoping the spring to return soon. After waiting for a few seconds, I closed my eyes, imagining going back in the past and sending out that ‘Hello’, the conversation picking up, things getting reconciled, jokes, teasers, smileys being exchanged. 

I opened my eyes, and I saw the green was flashing again. My eyes widened, my hands trembled, my fingers went numb. I wanted to write, I wanted to type, but my mind was void of any thoughts. I typed at random, my fingers fumbling over the keys, the auto suggest messing around, and before I could weave a tiny piece of legitimate text, a toast came flashing on my screen. ‘Hello’, it said. And before I could type a reply I was bombarded by many more. ‘What’s up?’, ‘How are you doing?’, ‘Where have you been?’, all sorts of questions queued up on the tiny window. She sent me a link and urged to me have a look at it. I told her I would see it later as my internet was slow, but she insisted and I had to obey the commands. 

It was a flash movie, with pictures and video clippings, all of mine and background scores from the better of my struggling attempts at the guitar. It was all sourced from my online account, and out of a sudden I went through a phantasmagoria of flickers of all I had been thinking of her online status. 

I sent her a smile, a wink, a heart, a kiss and she echoed the same to me. Things had started rolling over again. I looked at the window and it had started raining outside. The green was blooming all over again, but this time in its true very essence. :-) ;-) <3

O dear come along!!!

Though the wind that blew was strong,
The sun was set and the journey was long,
Yet my lips never gave up that song,
O dear come along, come along.

You have been away, many a furlong,
I forgo the pain, never making a moan,
And I am still smiling, seeking you along,
For I do to you and you to me belong,

The time has been fleeting, chiming a gong,
I have been waiting, waiting for so long,
My heart might cease the beating, something has gone wrong,
Make me wait no more, just come along, come along.

 

 

Delhi

I feel sorry for my grave and dull tone, but that’s how I have always felt about this estranged land. I have been staying in Delhi for about a decade now but still every other day I feel myself like a complete stranger to the city. Out on the streets I feel like a traveller with lands unseen to explore, men, strange and unknown, to meet, adventures, hitherto unexperienced to seek and new horizons to unfurl. Years back when I first appeared here with an intention to shape myself as a man, I travelled around the city, to help myself make my both ends meet, with the public buses from DTC, in those crammed boxes on wheels, to be boarded from massively crowded stops, with beggars begging, hawkers yelling, men puffing off smoke and spitting pan-masala, and rowdies, wearing long hair and slim fit jeans, ogling and jibing at the pretty young women waiting for the buses. But now things have changed, both for me and for city itself. It’s been quite a time I have boarded one of those crowded buses, that seemed never to fill up.

Today, I mostly commute by what is supposed to be the lifeline of this amazing city, the Metro. They say it is one of the most sophisticated rail transit systems in Asia, even better than its Japanese counterpart, The Bullet Train. So unlike the crowded stops, with infuriating summer sun, pouring rain-clouds, and chilly breezing winters, you board in the vehicle at one of those built and maintained establishments, where you buy tickets in the form of small magnetic disks(the smarter masses prefer cards with prepaid value so to prevent being in queues) and check in to register the source of your journey by passing through automated pass-ways that open up to allow the passage for a single mortal, on the ticket being touched at the designated spot. Most stations would have escalators, moving or still, supposed to ease you reach the point where the train stops just at your face, the doors open up out of the blues just like you would have heard in those childhood fables of Alibaba and the forty thieves, without even one uttering those magical words.The insides are lovely,clad in off white walls, with all sorts of references to public education about hazards of smoking, symptoms of anaemia, eradication of polio, planting of trees, prevention of AIDS, use of condoms, birth control and everything else the Delhi outside of Metro is concerned about.

Each car, they call it a car but it best describes a bogie in a traditional railway, has long benches of metal lying opposite to each other, with a few seats reserved either for ladies, senior citizens and the disabled. Above each of the doors, that open and close automatically at the stations, is given a diagrammatic representation of the transit line with the passed over stations lit up in red, the upcoming blinking, and the last again lit up in green. So informative!. Every now and then announcements are made both in male and female voices, alternating in English and Hindi about the upcoming stations and the general conduct to be followed inside the train and station premises, not to forget the attention to possibility of a punishment in case of a violation. Besides the long benches, there are two pairs of two seat benches at both the corners of the car, opposite to each other. Often you would find there love birds chirping and fondling each other, trying to take advantage of the corner, hoping to hide themselves from the gaze of fellow men and women. But things worth hiding are always seen. If you preferred to move your eyes around you would easily spot young boys, devoid of pleasure as yet, staring them like hungry dogs at a piece of flesh, or the occasional aunt, who would alternate having a glimpse and making a vow not to look again at the heinous deeds performed, possibly grieved by the diminishing sense of values, impact of westernisation, internet, mobile phones, social media, the metro itself and everything that didn’t exist in their time, may be the opportunity. Every train has one car, the first in the moving direction, reserved exclusively for the women, and the announcements, as I mentioned, would keep warning about men entering it being punishable. This is something Delhi Metro introduced keeping in mind the security of women, though the number of rapes reported have been on a constant rise. Not sure if it protects the women but it surely diminishes the probability of an accidental fling for youngsters like me.

To be continued…

Somewhere down the lane

With a hope in my heart,
I walk that road again,
That I would find my love,
Somewhere down the lane.

Hitting the pebbles with my feet,
And watch them turn and roll in rain,
To hope I would find my love for sure,
Somewhere down that drenched lane.

The street might fill with leaves of fall,
But I would look to the spring again,
Yes, I will find my love there,
Blooming somewhere down the lane.

The sun might throw its furious flames,
But I keep walking, my sweat would drain,
And find my love in an evening stroll,
Breezing somewhere down the lane.

When snow would freeze in the boulevard,
And the skin would shiver with the chill insane,
I would seek the fire of my heart,
Burning somewhere down the lane.

 I keep moving there till lost, 
And stroll down the road in vain,
To think she’ll hold my hand,
Guiding me back up the lane.