Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Daastaan... Adhoori si

 Chand nikla nahi tha shayad us raat
Par sitaaron ki chamak saath chal rahi thi
Kya hum ja sakte hain wahaan dobara?
Woh baat sun-ne ko jab dhadkan machal rahi thi?
Chaand keh kar pukara tha tumne mujhe
Tab halki si muskaan mein sharm sama gayi thi
“Pagal” kehkar matha thapthapaya tha mera
Kyun? Kya main woh ehsaas tum mein jaga gayi thi?

Amavas ko dhang se na samajh paaoon
So tumne chand se muqabla kar diya mera
Khush thi ki roshni ban gayi hoon tumhari
Par yeh bhi yaad ki chaand samete hai andhera
Poori qaaynaat par noor chhalkata, phir chhupata
Woh ek raaz, ek aas, ek aarzu, ek gumshuda chehra
Tum padh nahi paaye mere khamosh andhere
Ab dushmani kar baitha hai zindagi se savera

Thake kandhe par sar, haath mein tumhara haath
Main chali ja rahi thi machalti chahat ko dabaye
Sard raat thi, laal shawl ke neeche dil thithur raha tha
Par yaad is kambakht ko tab bhi tumhari saanson ki garmaahat aaye
Tumne hi kaha tha, thandi hawa pyaar ko bhadkaati hai
“Paas raho, ab chhoti si doori bhi sataaye”
Tabse kitni sardiyaan, ya kahoon sadiyaan beet gayi hain
Thandak phir badan ko choom ke gayi, par tum toh na aaye

Saal bhar mein se bas sardiyaan yaad reh jaati hain ab
Aksar tumhari baaton ki chaadar ke peechhe chhup jaati hoon
Na bebas hoon, na badgumaan, na pyaar kam hua hai mera
Main toh mushkil yaadon ki bhi dhun bana, usse gungunaati hoon
Dua ki chaukhat pe baithe dekha hoga tumne mujhe
Andar jhaank ke, main waapas bhaag aati hoon
Sochti hoon ki pyaar maang, tumhe chheen kar le aaoongi
Par wahaan tumhara aks dekh, tumhari khushi ke liye lalchaati hoon

Meri baatein, meri kahaaniyaan yaad hain tumhe?
Sunte-sunte tum aksar thak jaate the
Kabhi hans padte, toh kabhi tok dete, kabhi na samajhte
Baaton ke matlab musalsal, sirf lafz badal jaate the
Suno, azeem lafzon ki riyaasaton ke beech dekhna
Wahin kuchh chhote gaaon hain jinme maayne samaate the
Saath chal rahi, tum kaise meri aankhein padh paate?
Un dono mein hi toh raat ke bewatan kisse timtimaate the.

Woh raat chali nahi wahaan se, waqt mein tham si gayi  hai
Woh daastaan bhi badhi nahi aage, kaali syahi mein jam gayi hai
Waqt jo kilkaariyaan marta, gudgudee karta
Waqt, woh aansu chhupata, siskiyaan dabata
Waqt jo waqt jaisa nahi tha
Waqt, jo par lagaaye khada tha
Jise yaad kar, muskuraate ho tum abhi 
Jise bhool aaye usi raaste, usi raat kahin

Aansu behte hain kabhi kabhi
Par muskaan honthon pe tik gayi hai
Tum mujhe apni kahaani toh poori suna gaye
Humaari daastaan magar adhoori reh gayi hai

I could not have found a better artist than Afremov, yet again, to express in pictures what I have attempted to in words. When I recited the above poem in front of my classmates at college, one of them said in a tone of surprise, "Saumya, you are really romantic at heart!", and I was left scratching my head, wondering, how did she miss that! Another friend who heard it said that to have written all this, I MUST have felt an intense amount of love. I prevaricated, but smiled to myself. In my reckoning 'intense amount of love' is a euphemism of sorts. Adding figments of fiction to life is fun, but it also sometimes makes a spark into a conflagration. Building castles of love is not the most advisable thing to do, but hey, its a risk worth taking. I'll end the nonsense here. 

This is my first genuine attempt in Hindi. PACH made me do this. That same crazy, magical PACH. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

PACHyatra - to Sapera Basti, Mandi Village


In my last two letters, there is much that I have told you - about you, about me and about us. All of us. However, while glancing through them again today, I realized, I left so much unsaid. You know what, lets just summarize it in two words again - Crazy and Magic. Yes. That is what I have come to understand you as. After our last tryst, I am further convinced that you are capable of doing magic, and that too in a manner which is unanticipated and plain crazy. Yes, so while you are going crazy with excited disarray in your head, people still call you organized. Fun? May be. Humbling? Sure!

I did have an idea, but I could never have created a complete image of the place where I met you this time. You took us on a trip, literally and otherwise. Had it not been for you, I would never have known that somewhere, at the end of winding roads which are like modest boulevards lined with grandiose farmhouses, there exists a village of one-time snake charmers, which does no justice to the exotic image of India which the Occident created. Given animal rights regulations, most of these villagers could not take up their familial occupation, and many had to resort to odd jobs, or contend with being jobless, yet survive. In this Basti of Saperas, we met some little faces in whose world we got lost for hours. Not some, a lot of faces, different expressions characterizing different faces - innocent, naughty, sincere, curious, sulky, blank, eager, reserved, distant; and then, I think I saw some nastiness, and some awe as well in those faces. I am sure that the young ones of the entire village had assembled with us after a point - the point at which we stopped trying to ascertain what number of children are we trying to involve in our creative session.

Meeting Elizabeth and Shibumon - the minds behind Bharat Seva Samity - was an experience I was wanting to have, and needed to have. Their story is both, lovely and inspiring. So yes, PACH, thank you for making it happen. What I need to thank you more for is the kind of amazing day you gave us, in which, my friends and I, and the little kids we had just met, left nothing unexplored in the realm of creative arts. We made the kids dance, sing, draw, recite rhymes, share ambitions, and do just about anything that made them feel happy, and open, and confident. Did you notice the bright smiles on their faces? I know you did, but perhaps you were too tired to sit back and savour all the magic you spread. Still, what you should know is, halfway through the session, a child wanted to know if we were going to come back and do all the masti with them again. I don't know about you, but I was too touched to be able to answer it.

I have many favourite moments from the day, and I think I should take out some best frames to show those to the world reading this letter along with you. So yes, here.

That is my friend Neha. Umm, twin Neha. Till about a month ago, she would need a push to share her lovingly written stories with us, and this day, she confidently places herself in the middle of all the kids to narrate a story about her favourite being in the world - her pet dog, Chintu. Kids talked about their pets as well, and I stood somewhere, really happy to know, that her stories, written keeping children in mind, are now finally reaching their destination. 

Don't see these two for what they seem like. They are generally known as Anup Bishnoi and Sidhant Mago, but here they are Chintu doggy and Dolly baby, characters straight out of Neha's story, performing antics and enthralling children. Forget children, I caught myself bursting with laughs. Yes, bursting is a good word here. 

Thats Nabila Sadiq, the sincere one among us to have carried an original poem to share with and teach kids. More than the poem, what she aspired to tell this young crowd was that its important to dream, and so dream, they must. Along with her, it was only Shrutiy Chakraborty who got a poem customized for this very special gathering, but once lost in the world of kids, forgot to share. I think PACH feels bad, and has its ears perked up for a reading among an audience which is slightly elder, but only in years. 

Though I am not sure what exactly is happening here, I can take a guess. In this setting which reminded us constantly of Sholay ('Solay', as echoed), the famous 'Kitne Aadmi The' dialogue is being played out. Popular culture works so well to engross and amuse everyone! I loved this rock, and secretly hoped that I would get to climb up and settle there. But my back. Bah. 

This picture was clicked on request - I requested this star kid to pose with me, because I like to remember good singers.  And Ankit, for that is his name, is sulking because I made him stop drawing his red car under blue clouds for this click. He sang a romantic bollywood number with confidence and innocence which only someone of his age is capable of combining. 

This tiny tot, whose name I do not remember (Jatin, may be?) troubled me the most. However, I think I made good friends with him at the end of it all. 

The laughter he spread was so contagious and effective, it was only obvious that Sidhant Mago would end up being a huge hit among all the children. The caricature a child attempted to draw of him (successfully, of course) is only a proof of what kind of love all of us received at Sapera Basti. 

Among the many rhymes we taught them, I think we did this the best. Chubby Cheeks, acting out the Dimple Chin here. What an amazing feeling it was to hear these simple, childhood words being echoed all around us in a cacophonous chorus. I have no idea when I last did this, acting out rhymes. Its good, I've done some practice before I have kids of my own. Aah, I'll try and keep my focus. 

This girl wants to go to Mumbai when she grows up - her ambition quite evident in this picture. Like all, I too was pleasantly surprised when all this talent was unleashed on us by these incredible packets of energy. 

These pretty packets were put together with much love by some resourceful PACH members, and, more importantly, enthusiastically decorated by the tiny students of Crayons and Strokes - art school run by Aastha Seth, who is the creative genius behind all the unbelievably amazing posters which announce our fortnightly poetry sessions. Isn't it a wonderful thought, that little kids from one part of our city spent a day making colourful stuff for little kids located on the fringes of our city? Fascinating, for me at least. 

This is where the madness of drawing and colouring finally started. Calling it madness is an understatement. But I know each one of us enjoyed it, most of all, Aastha di, I guess. You can see her in the back, getting ready to manage her set of learners, while Anup settles right in the middle to spend a fun and harrowing time among all these fans he cultivated. 

Why am I the crazy, laughing woman in the picture? Because a very composed and bright girl named Pooja wrote a rhyme for me, and made it pretty with all these colours and a rose. When you go along with PACH, and return with a poem as a gift, it feels as if all the pieces have fit in perfectly. 

Applauses. This is what we gave them in copious quantities. We gave a lot of love too, but then, they gave more of it back. 

So, coming back to you PACH, tell me, how do you actually lead us to such 'scintillating' highs? No, how? Those who witness the day said that this party-like class was the best they had attended. Here, this is what Duolos Jose (he, of course, the person who made this event possible) had to say about what we accomplished on Sunday, and you must hear - 

"It was the longest event in this basti, they usually get bored fast (even when I show them movies)! Your interactions (mixed with fun) had a great impact which held them back for hours. Also, I never knew that some of the kids could dance and sing so well.. even paint so well. Hopefully, an artist shall emerge from that slum some day."

So, there. I am actually short of breath as all these musings come to an end. There is one, tiny memory which lingers on. When we asked the kids - "Aap bade hokar kya ban-na chahte ho?", a boy of about 8-9 replied, "Padhe-likhe". Just that. That simple, yet not.

May be I will come back here someday.

Crazy, again.
You're all of two months, and though you are growing at an alarming rate, these are still your nascent days.
And you're just not ceasing from showing us your magical ways.

PS - You can read about Bharat Seva Samity, and Elizabeth and Shibumon here -

Thanks Aaqib, Navin ji and Aastha di for the wonderful pictures. How will we ever relive PACH moments if not for you all. Thanks Archana and DJ for making this happen.

I loved quoting a particular verse (half of it, perhaps) in my school days. I  don't know the poet, but I am taking the liberty of reproducing it here, hoping that in some way it applies to all those kids we met on Sunday.
"Hum toh dariya hain, humein apna hunar maaloom hai
Jis taraf bhi chal padenge, raasta ho jayega"

Among my favourite pictures from that day.