Wednesday 27 January 2010

Antakshari

With a setting crescent moon
over the darkened hills,
a single, bright star
in a purple sky turning violet,
a cup of green tea in my hands,
a couple of crisp, marie biscuits
and a well-written book of history -
you might think Sunday was perfect.

But no, there has to be what's called
a society function - haldi kumkum this time -
in the lawns, ostensibly to celebrate
Makar Sankranti and related festivals.

I can't quite see where the thali
containing turmeric and vermillion is.
Instead there are plastic chairs
in a disordered semi-circle,
a sound system, a table with prizes
and another where snacks are being prepared.

A mistress of ceremonies,
who should be legally restrained
from coming within six feet of mikes,
women of all ages busy sharing notes
on silk sarees and bright jewelry
(dare I call them gaudy?),
men guffawing over some crude joke
but trying not to be too noisy,
and children being children -
all of them try to get as much antakshari
finished before the inevitable squabble.

Bad Bollywood and Indipop songs
are sung even more horridly,
and then the awaited squabble breaks out
in all its entertaining intensity -
over which word the previous song
ended in, over who deserves the prize,
and whose child is most talented.

And then it dies down, for folk are hungry
(better to finish off as much as one can
lest the organisers corner everything)
and the organisers look on in anxiety
(how greedy the society people have become,
next time we should not have buffet system
but limited snacks only).

The mike at last is silent;
under a navy blue sky
with Orion, the Pleiades
and the Dog Star shining on us,
my dog and I lie down
and gaze at the sky
revelling again,
in that eternal quietness,
that is Nature's night.

Saturday 23 January 2010

باغ / बाग़

آپ ایک بار میرے باغ میں کیا آئیں
گل کھلنے سے انکار کرتے ہےں ،
کہتے ہےں آپسے مقابلہ نا ہوگا۔

आप एक बार मेरे बाग़ में क्या आयीं
गुल खिलने से इनकार करते हैं
कहते हैं आपसे मुक़ाबला न होगा

अवाज़ / اواز

आपकी अवाज़ ही कुछ ऐसी है,
मेरी फ़ोन की घन्टी भी नज़ाकत से बजती है

آپکی اواز ہی کچھ ایسی ہے ،
میرے فون کی گھنٹی بھٰی نزاکت سے بجتی ہے

مینار / मीनार

تم نے بھی کیا مینار کھڈی کی داد دیتے ہیں ہم تمکو ، وہ آسماں کو چومتی اور تمہیں پناہ کہیں اور لینی پڈی

तुमने भी क्या मीनार खड़ी की, दाद देते हैं तुमको, वह आसमाँ को चूमती रही और तुम्हें पनाह कहीं और लेनी पड़ी

Tuesday 12 January 2010

K2

They say you can't be climbed in winter.
I wonder why someone would want to do that.
But then again, I wonder why someone
would ever want to climb you.

As 'Godwin-Austen' some have tried to name
the silent ice of centuries, locking time within itself,
that stood witness while men shed warm blood
in ephemeral lives and causes.

Some call you Chogori or Lamba Pahar
for you grow a few centimetres every year,
looming over your prettier sisters the Gasherbrums.
But you are only second-tallest on the earth,
- dulled, dimmed, diminished -
by that accessibly famous Mt. Everest.

They call you King of the Karakoram,
in your eight thousand metre magnificence.
You reach, yearn, lunge for the stars -
just as men with the ambition of kings
reach, yearn, lunge to conquer you.

Some call you the Savage Mountain,
the hermit among mountains -
in awe of your frigid isolation,
for they say, you cannot be climbed
unless you yourself will it.

It is well no one truly bothered to name you
For names have a beginning and an end.
But you were there in your nakedness
before the first of the humans
and you will be there after the last.

Monday 11 January 2010

Old photographs

Rummaging through old photographs,
I'm suddenly driving the wrong way
on a one-way street.

There's an old photograph of me -
eight or nine years younger perhaps.
Maybe if I shed some flab,
lose that double chin
and some of the gloominess -
You think, I can go back to that
fresh-faced twenty-something look?

There's one of my sister's friends
taken some years back.
Pretty bachelorettes worth a whistle
- when no one's looking, of course -
but they'll not be bachelorettes now,
perhaps not pretty even.
Who knows?

Further back in the pile,
a few snaps of my coming-of-age ceremony
or perhaps a losing-of-innocence ceremony.
There's me - eight years old - being
initiated into rites I'm going to abjure
a teenage rebellion later.

And randomly there's one I see
of Gomateshwara -
a tourist souvenir
of a visit to Shravanabelagola -
head too far up to capture in the camera
(probably the sun glared).
If he weren't a god or saint,
not a suitable photograph for ladies.

Old photographs in crumbling albums.
Certainly driving the wrong direction
in a one-way street.

दीवार

आज मैं उस सड़क से गुज़रा,
जिसपर हमारा कालेज खड़ा है.

और वह दीवार याद आयी|
वही दीवार, जो तुमने और मैंने
इतने साल भुलाने की कोशिश की|

पता नहीं क्या चली तब मन में|
मैं गया उसी कोने में,
जहाँ दिल का आकार बनाकर
बायीं ओर पर मेरे
दायीं ओर पर तुम्हारे
इनिशियल हमने खरोंचे थे|

उस दीवार पर अब शायद
पेंट की एक परत चढ़ गयी है.
या फिर हमारी ही तरह, बीसों युवाओं ने,
उसी मासूमियत से, उन्हीं ही ईरादों से,
अपने नाम तराशे होंगे.

पर नहीं|

वह दीवार वैसी ही है|
वह दिल का आकार,
वह इनिशियल बरकरार हैं|
बारिशों, हवाओं के वजह से
धुंधले होने लगे हैं,
शायद कुछ और साल में
पूरी तरह मिट जाएँगे|

मैं चला आया वहाँ से|
शायद जाना ही नहीं चाहिये था|

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