Monday, 27 February 2017

Kagaz aur Kalam ( Pen on Paper: a poem in Hindi)

अरसे बाद आज काग़ज़ पर कलम आ रही है ।
विषृाम लगाया है आज बड़े बरसों के बाद ।
मुद्दतें बीतीं हिंदी लिखे --
माताृऐं मुशकिल में डाल रही हैं ।
जानती हूं खिचड़ीनुमा है शब्दकोष मेरा,
पर  Pilot  की नोक पन्ने पर यूं इतरा रही है
अरसे बाद आज काग़ज़ पर कलम आ रही है ।

याद आ रहे हैं वो fountain pen,
वो Waterman की शीशी, Royal Blue वाली...
और वो ink eraser जो उन दिनों rubber कहलाया करता था...
दाग़ कम, पन्ना ज़्यादा मिटाया करता था
शायद कुछ आजकल की राजनीति की तरह !
पर  Pilot  की nib पन्ने पर यूं इतरा रही है
चूंकि अरसे बाद आज काग़ज़ पर कलम आ रही है ।

याद हैं तुम्हें वो ink spots?
और वो blotting paper के चौकौर टुकड़े?
कितनी आसानी से छोटे-बड़े दाग़ मिटा देते थे वो ...
हमारी नादान ग़लतियों का विष चुपचाप पी जाते थे वो ।
 Keyboards की इस दुनिया में,
कहां से लाइगा ऐसे नीलकण्ठी blotting paper?
जो दिलों में भभकती इस intolerance की स्याही फो भस्म कर दें ।
Us और them की दूरियों में उलझ कर हताश हो रही है Pilot की nib,
क्यूंकि अरसे बाद उठी ये कलम, काग़ज़ पर आने से घबरा रही है शायद॥

Sunday, 19 February 2017

All is well

All is well in the Jain household.
That's saying something, considering Valentine's day came and went and no battles were fought, won or lost. Even the silent treatment didn't get aired or administered this year. What's going on?

Has the husband (and my Valentine by choice, not default) passed all his 'how to please the wife' training modules?

Has he, after nearly 25 Valentine's Days, decoded the elusive code to make me happy?

No and no.

Was it a piece of jewellery? Roses? Dinner?

No and No and nada!

So what happened?

I grew up. Simple. This year, at the ripe old age of 45, I suddenly felt all grown up and responsible for my happiness.

Flashback to when I was twenty-something and the husband was still a boyfriend...

This is what I expected from him on Valentine's Day and failing that, my birthday which was a few days away:

There'll be a beautifully wrapped box with a gorgeous dress inside with matching shoes, waiting for me in my room when I get back from work. On this box, there will be tickets to a concert and a voucher for a day long spa treatment with a love note from him telling me that a limo would pick me up at such and such time to go to the spa and then to the concert hall.

Cities changed, from Chennai to Calcutta to Delhi to London and now Doha, we wed and he became the husband, but my list of Valentine/birthday desires remained the same, more or less. Odd, when I think about it-- he didn't even know my shoe size then! And limo? At the salary we were making at twenty-three?

I digress.

My plans may sound awfully familiar to all of you who've either read Mills & Boon or watched Pretty Woman. I didn't say my romantic imagination was original. In fact, it's anything but. It's just what I'd expected for our first and every subsequent Valentine's.

REALITY check.

He did buy me a card for our first Valentine's.

I looked at it and watched the above-mentioned desires fall off the boughs of my romantic heart, one by one, like leaves in Autumn.

Disappointment often disguises as anger and mine did too. I was furious.

He misread the anger and assumed I had an inexplicable hatred towards cards.

Every Valentine's since then, he's asked me the same question, "Should I get you a card?"

My practical, pragmatic hubby has no clue ...not a peek into the workings of his wife's expectations.

And why should he? He NEVER expects me to get him anything either.

"Call yourself a feminist?" my seventeen year old son taunts.'s a thought. Maybe, feminism is about taking charge of one's happiness and being responsible. We can't be flinging the baton of equality when it suits us and then wait for that 'surprise' from the man to tick all our expectation boxes and make us happy. Do we even know what this surprise looks like?

I don't. But I've always managed to make him feel guilty because he doesn't either!

Yes, it's taken me two decades to get this.

And the result?

My best Valentine's day to date.

National Sports Day coincided with Valentine's Day this year, so he was at home. We went for a run in the park and I clicked this picture of a rose, growing in a friend's front yard.

Ah! the joy letting go of expectations brings...
A rose becomes my garden. 
 "All is well." has such a calming ring to it. The minute you hear these three words, the heart beats softer and starts to smile, No?

A few weeks ago, I happened to be on a Heritage Walk in Ahmedabad. A kite stuck on electric wires declared All is Well. Who was I to disagree?

It was early morning. Children were getting ready for school. Mothers were busy packing their lunches. Shops hadn't opened. Brooms had cleaned the streets recently. Chants of prayers emanated from Hindu homes. Jains dressed in white made their way back home from temples. Call to prayer had rung out an hour earlier from the nearby mosque. Some windows were shut and some were half open. Agarbatti (incense) infused zephyr blew down the pols and narrow streets. All was indeed well with the world that beautiful morning.

Are you ready to hop on?

Smiling faces agreed to be photographed. 
 Getting ready for the day's business...the ironing-lady.

I was admiring this beautiful door, when it opened and ...
the lady of the house beamed a smile...her son is in grade 5.

"Return to your Center"
The couple's Tao Te Ching by William Martin

If you make a show of your love,
it will hide itself.
If you babble on about it,
your words will fail.
If you grasp and cling to it,
it will slip through your fingers.

You cannot approach that which has no beginning.
You cannot lose that which has no end.
You do not have to protect it.
How then can you experience it?
As a swimmer experiences the water.
Dive in.

If you're feeling somewhat separate
and distant from your beloved,
do the things that stabilize you.
Walk, dance, paint, meditate,
write, build, play or sing.
When you return to your center
you will find your beloved waiting.

Have a happy, peaceful dive.
till we meet again...