Sunday, August 13, 2017

नादान अल्फ़ाज़

वक़्त जिसे हम कभी मुलाक़ात कहा करते थे,
अब इत्तेफ़ाक़ बन गए |
दिल की धड़कने तब भी थम जातीं थीं ,
बदस्तूर आज भी रूह कांप उठती है,
जब कभी इत्तेफाक़ो  की नवाज़िश हम पर होती है ।

इत्तेफाक़ो  में खुदा की इनायत शामिल है,
मेरी खवाबीदा  जुस्तजू वाबस्ता जो तेरे नाम से है ,
मुख़्तलिफ़ है, मुख़्तलिफ़ है |
मेरा उंस मुसलसल है |

तेरी क़ुरबत का क़ाफ़िला हमसे जुदा हुआ ग़म नहीँ,
तेरी नज़ाकत , शिद्दत और इखलास
मेरी साँसों में मयस्सर है |
मुख़्तसर ही सही तेरी उल्फत,
कोई रंजिश नहीँ दिल में मेरे |
रिफाकत , रग़बत तेरी ,
फ़ज्र तेरे साथ जो गुजारीं ,
नदामत का नाम न दे इन्हें ,
तबस्सुम इन्ही यादों में है ।

मेरी मोहब्बत की नुमाइश नही,
तेरी मोहब्बत की अज़मत बयान कर रहा हूँ |
मसीहा था तू फ़क़त मेरी ज़िन्दगी का,
जिसे अल्लाह ने भेजा था |

अल-वदूद तो खुदा है
उसकी मोहब्बत के हम सिर्फ
क़ासिद हैं
अभी काफी कलबों में
चिराग जलाने हैं ।

Friday, August 11, 2017

When it Rains, I Bloom

Rains. A five letter word which when manifests itself bewitches me, I forget everything and my only desire becomes to walk in rain, dance in rain, feel the little drops of elixir from Heaven above and to allow them to penetrate into my soul, to think endlessly about life while in rain, feel every drop that falls over my head and gently nod my head in acknowledgement of the blessing that lies in every single drop. I really do believe that rains are blessings from Heaven above and invariably whenever I feel them nudging me gently and with so much love and warmth, my entire physiological system, psychological being and spiritual essence bloom into ecstasy, rapture and a sense of immense and inexplicable peace dawns upon me. And when that happens my eyes get automatically closed and a gentle smile adorns my lips. Rains are a blessing and I love spending time in rains for as long as I can, forgetting everything.

My mind feels decluttered when I am in rain, more deeply resigned to my own world. It is like being somewhere else altogether or I get transported to my own Utopia and Elysium when I am in rains. The entire environment is rendered cool and cleansed after rains, the leaves shine, the sky is clearer, the petrichor proves that certain things which are beyond sight can only be felt with eyes closed : its like everything that comes in contact with rain retains a part of it, becomes better after the episode and rejoices that rain was there. Exactly like Love is, ought to be. 

Although there is no reason for why I love rains but I believe and I believe strongly that rains are nothing but an expression of Love. The kind of Love that soothes our souls, cleanses our spirits and invigorates us with its utter innocence, freshness and warmth. The kind of Love in which you trust so much that you just close your eyes and enjoy the "Here and Now", the present moment and feel it, cherish it and express gratitude for every single second of companionship. The kind of Love that really justifies the unconditional nature of Love, the giving nature of Love, a selfless Love, a Love that knows nothing about exclusivity or special relationships, a Love which just is, to everyone and to no one. That way rains become personified and teach me Love. Rains are such beautiful creations of Lord. 

And so, when it rained today and I was at office gate, I rushed to my cubicle, threw my mobile and rushed back in open space and enjoyed the rains. 30 minutes. Bliss. Even now as I write about it, my eyes shine, I am smiling, a kind of smile which lands on the Lover's face when he sees his Beloved and realizes that the Beloved is also looking at the Lover, my heart is beating perfectly and my breathing is peaceful. That is the magic of rains. That is the magic of Love, Love which only now I seem to be learning and which is making me unlearn everything that I ever believed was Love. 

Dear Lord, Thank you,
Your Ungrateful Child.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What Could I Possibly Give You?

I believe there are no endings to stories, stories evolve in the sands of time, interspersed with times of togetherness, moments of emotional aloofness, finally to find a place in the corner of our hearts where they are safe and secure. But I believe the best thing about stories is the creativity they leave us with. I always say one thing: "The Beloved can depart, vanish, walk away on her accord or be taken away, but the Muse always remains, none can take that away."

It's your day and you wonder , 
What is it that I present you with,
But since you know me,
You know there is really nothing in store 
Or in surprise wrapped in gift papers. 

It seems awkward to gift someone ,
Who gave you so much in a brief time,
What could I possible give to you? 
Oh! My friend, my beloved, my first real love story. 

No gift would ever do justice ,
To the time you shared with me,
To the piece of your heart that you gave me,
Which sleeps with me at night and
Wakes up with me before the sun rises in the sky.

Your warmth , your unspoken words,
Lost for me, you'd like to believe,
And find solace in my demeanor,
A visage of indifference, 
That hides a vast ocean,
The waves of which have only one name,

What could I possibly give you?
Even thinking of something,
My inner self chides me,
The beloved teaches love,
In the process she gives the lesson
Of the most esoteric elixir ever to exist. 

The lessons you taught me of love and warmth,
No gift stands in front of them,
The piece of your heart, 
That you thought I deserved,
Is your gift to me , Oh! My Unworldly Love! 

And so you know, and know quite well,
What I have to say on this day,
A call , a message, 
If you have stories to tell or ring a bell,
I'll come to you even if I am in hell,
When you close your eyes. 

A voice of yours if I ever hear,
I'll ask you if you desire me near,
We shall together make,
And that's all I can give you dear,
My presence and my ear,
Which promises to always hear,
To every piece of your heart, My Dear.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

"On Living and Dying Well" : Reflections on the Panel Discussion

On 19th July 2017, I attended a Panel Discussion held at TERI, Bangalore. The theme of the discussion was: "On Living and Dying Well:Important questions and conversations between generations". The discussion was scheduled to start at 6:30pm in evening; I reached TERI at 6:50pm. (I should have started earlier). 

The auditorium at TERI was jam-packed, it was a small auditorium. Cautious not to disturb the already seated people by walking in between the chairs, I carefully ensconced myself on the stairway, adjacent to the row end making self comfortable on the carpet. There were old people all around, adults, ladies, men, grandparents; basically I was the youngest, second only to a small kid. Quickly after coming I began to make sense of what the speaker (Mr. Kishore S Rao) was purveying. Slowly, I began to understand what was being discussed, not completely but I could make out what the discussion was about. The discussion reminded me of Atul Gawande's book - "Being Mortal". Yes, the talk was about "End of Life Care", EOLC. 

There was discussion on "Advanced Directives". I had heard the term for the first time. For those who do not know what that is, allow me to put a brief definition: "An advance directive is a document by which a person makes provision for health care decisions in the event that, in the future, he/she becomes unable to make those decisions." For more please read: .There were discussions on "withholding" and "withdrawing" care. Simply speaking, the panel discussion was about questions of health care and health when we become old. There were questions floating all over like: "Who will take decisions on a person's behalf when he/she is no longer able to?", "In which cases should the treatment be stopped?", "What decision should be taken at the most critical moments?", "How would I want to die, with six tubes in and two tubes out or I'd rather die consciously while suffering?", "What to do when the family is pressing for a ventilator and the doctor feels otherwise?", "What to do if the two sons of the father are divided on the decision to be taken, what does the doctor do then?", "What about patient autonomy?", "What to do if the person is Christian and his partner Muslim and he knows that there is going to be an altercation on the mode of last rites after his departure?". These are just few of the many questions that formed a vast nebula in the auditorium. I was quietly trying to make sense of all that was being said, questioned and posited. I never knew this discussion was so important. 

There was also a categorical suggestion that parents must discuss "How I'd like to die?" with their children, stating clearly what they want and much more clearly what they do not want. The speakers mentioned that one must discuss without any hesitation with their family members about their deaths, about degree and mode of treatments in their twilight years, about medical intervention or no medical intervention etc. One of the speakers also mentioned that in his discussion with his children he told them, "I do not want to be put on a ventilator. Keep us comfortable. Let us depart peacefully". He alluded to a text in literature whose import is something like this, "Dear Lord, bless me in such a way that when I leave I am conscious, conscious so that I can thank you one last time as I start for the Heavenly abode". Profound! That really sent some sort of vibration inside of me - "keeping Lord's name on lips as the lips prepare to freeze forever". I never knew such kind of discussion is important, I am not sure if I really feel that even now. But there is one thing that really does seems congruent to my line of thought, the fact that at the most vulnerable point of life in someone's life, when the person is physically weak, emotionally vulnerable, may be too much of lancets, tubes, machines and a struggle to save the person might defeat the purpose and only emaciate him further spiritually. One must be allowed to die with dignity. 

"Dying with dignity" reminds me of my grandfather who passed away when he was around 67 years of age. He was admitted at AIIMS, and one evening my doctor called my father and told him that he can be taken back to his village for he will not survive any longer. My father immediately acted on it,  me and my brother were having exams during that time in school. It was hardly two days after my father and grandfather had reached our village in Bhopal that my mother got a call from my father. Our grandfather had died surrounded by all family members in the village, all kith and kin, far and near ones, the entire community was around him as he bid good bye to all of us. The next moment we were in train on our way to Bhopal, four of us, me, my brother, our infant sister and our mother. Devoid of having seen or felt what a grandmother's love looks like, our grandfather also left us before we could make sense of what having a grandfather really meant. But he wanted live, that's what he kept on saying to my father, "Pappu, save me". As much as my father would have wanted to, he could not, it was terminal cancer. He died with peace and with the name of Lord on his lips. This is the closest I have been to death so far. I never had tears in my eyes back then we he left, but every time I think about him in my growing years it is hard not to have wet eyes and a choked throat. 

So, in a way panel discussion was an important lecture which I could not have missed. It also talked about adults having discussion in their families about institutionalization for care. Often due to a, "false sense of guilt" in Indian society or the fear of what society would say, people dread sending their parents to old age homes. There was a discussion on that also. It is tough to arrive at a universal consensus on this for every case is different, but the speakers had stated that rather than be led by society one must be led by the preferences of person in need of care/help/medical support. One of the speakers was a General Surgeon (Dr. Srinagesh Simha), who was very articulate in the way he made the audience understand the nuances of "End of life care". His one statement reverberates in my mind even now, "Doctors should treat the patient and not the relatives' anxieties". Often times, relatives and the close family members create a difficult situation for the doctor in which he feels paralyzed to take the decision, this should be avoided and the doctor trusted. Given the critical moment of the situation, rather than fighting or exhibiting, "who cares more", the time is to take decision with an objective mind such the patient's dignity is maintained. Mr. Kishore narrated an incidence in which the patient's worry was not whether he'll be able to live further but his deep fear was that the family will be divided on the decision as to which religion to follow for the last rites. He was a Christian, while his wife a Muslim. In India this is a BIG problem and a BIGGER debate.  This dilemma was skilfully handled by the doctors; the two families were asked to come at disparate times to see the patient after he died. There are many other stories and many other issues and confusions regarding EOLC, every case is different.

The speakers also mentioned that their experiences tell them that poor people are still easy to handle as compared to the rich ones. The poor men believe in what the doctor says and acknowledge them, while the rich ones can be imposing, disrespectful and a threat sometimes so much so that the doctor can be coerced to take the action those rich ones are commanding in order to prevent jeopardizing the hospital and his practice, lest there should be a case filed against him. In such situations the doctor is on the horn's dilemma. 

Thus, the panel discussion was a good investment of my evening. I did learn a lot and now I acknowledge that discussion about death is important. I have many times asked myself, "How I would like to die?" even before I attended this lecture (there are times when we do think about our death and deaths of our close ones), and surprisingly there has always been one answer. I would want to die peacefully, as swiftly as the sun rises amidst the darkest hours of the night, as naturally as the petals of a flower bloom in the sunshine, as happily as I am today that I am alive and breathing, walking, writing, talking, seeing, hearing and feeling. I would like to die peacefully and quietly in my research chamber surrounded by books and my diaries, with the thought of my parents in my heart.

This post would be incomplete if I do not thank Uma Chandru due to whom I could attend this lecture, thank you Uma. You teach me how important unconditional knowledge sharing is.

Disclaimer: The thoughts presented in the article are personal and do not bear any association with any Organization, Person or Community. Corrections and amendments are always welcome.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Farmer Was He

Was a man in lands far and obscure, 
Living a life, as everyone of us, for sure. 
Dreams had he, Desires had he, Fantasies had he.
The desolate life that he had decided to live,
Was joyful and peaceful to him,
In the solitude of the day and nights,
Soliloquy was all did he .

Seizing the day, with every morning ray,
walking with his bullocks to the field,
Humming songs to self, delighting if the birds joined,
delighting if none joined,
delight was all he,
in the solitude busy was he,
making self better and better than he'd ever be.

One fine day, in the market place,
which lay on his way to field,
saw he that which never had seen he,
eyes as beautiful as the shining sun,
a gentle smile came on his face,
he smiled and nodded, 
smiled and walked away, 
walked away keeping memory of the light in the eyes, 
walked away reminding himself that, a farmer was he,
whose bullocks were waiting for him,
his field calling him.  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Nostalgia of rustic roots in the big city

I think the worst thing about living in big cities is the lost connect with the most simple, elegant, innocent and beautiful things. In cities where everything comes packed in a bottle, a plastic packet, polythene bags, paper bags, it becomes difficult to live in such a packed version of the simple, elegant and beautiful life I have lived when I was studying and used to stay at my home closer to farm lands, closer to surroundings where everything to a city dweller might seem rustic but on the contrary, where everything was fresh, pure, unadulterated, un-gased, un-packed, un-boxed. I have such fond memories of Sundays. My father used to go to sabzi mandi, which was one hell of a fish market but where green meant green, where red meant red, vegetables and fruits in all hues and colors, shining under the blue sky. Some times I used to accompany him and never liked the hassle that involved buying vegetables, shifting from one shop to another eyeing the best of the best, the most fresh among the fresh ones. That place was huge, big and flooded with people seven days a week. I miss that. I miss the glory of buying vegetables from sabzi-mandis where you could believe the freshness in the products even though it was never claimed. I miss the delight in my eyes that used to be there while carefully observing all green vegetables, neatly kept, carefully arranged, regularly kept fresh by sprinkling water every now and then - those were the beautiful days I never realized the beauty of. The fond memories have been of buying paneer - protein treasure for vegetarians. It used to well-kept on BIG ice cubes and you could feel its charm, fresh dairy product, the moment you taste it, you know it has been made with utmost purity without addition of vinegar or lime as I have to do with today. 

Every time I buy paneer in this BIG CITY, which comes in a packet and is tight, stiff, I inevitably imagine the sabzi-mandi and the paneer and everything about it. It makes me sad really. Eating in big city to me has become just another chore. Time back then was joyful, I used to buy all kinds of vegetables and my mother cooked better than any chef in the five-star, six-star restaurants of this big city. Everyone's mother is a wonderful cook, isn't that an amazing fact? Alas! I have to make do with whatever best I can find in this city where everything comes packed in plastics, card boxes, polythenes. It really upsets me to live in a city like this. There is a trade-off certainly. But one thing is clear, I would not want to live in a big city which has lost its rustic charm. I have always loved those places, people of those places, the pace of those places, the peace that you can feel when you are walking on the roads, the innocence which is conspicuous in the scorching heat of the noons, the roads are improper, yet the nature is unadulterated, the breeze is not choked with pollutants, where people are not concerned about how sophisticated they look, where indiscriminate construction is not going on in every nook and corner, where life just seems to be PERFECT and in BALANCE. 

I miss that kind of place. Times have disastrously changed. Development comes at an enormous price. But one thing is clear, I do not belong here. I  belong to simpler places, places whose name people would not even know, places where people live simpler lives yet their knowledge, wisdom and hard work cannot be questioned, places where people gather around a fire and talk to each other, places where when some dish is cooked in one house it is sent to neighbors also, places where children have huge grounds to play and explore, places where life can actually be savored, lived and felt every single day. 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. I cannot help but conclude this post with this song which is very close to my heart. 

Yeh Daulat Bhi Le Lo,
Yeh Shohrat Bhi Le Lo,
Bhale Chheen Lo Mujhse Se Meri Jawani,
Magar Mujhko Lauta Do bachpan Ka Sawan..
Wo Kagaz Ki Kashti, wo Baarish Ka Paani.. 


Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Zahir: After Thoughts after Second Read in Seven Years.

Today I finished reading "The Zahir". This is the second time I have read this novel. The first time I read it was in 2010, when I was in college, a teenager exploring love and life. Seven years down the line, lots of things have changed, experiences gathered and definitions of love changed. Seven years is a long time for transformations to happen. Love, obsession, infatuation, passion of love, torridness of lover, maturity of love, unrequited love, romantic sentimental valentine-type love, - the way I feel or do not feel about all these terms has undergone a humungous change. The first time I read the book, I was just confused, but I did like his quotes related to spirituality and love. Seven year down the lane, I still highlight the statements but novel does not strike me as much as I would have liked to. May be I have never been like Esther's husband. 

And I believe that readers when they read a book try to identify those parts of the book with which they find themselves connected to. All readers seek their realities in the words that are portrayed in a book. I am sure many people will love this book, many people have and there is nothing antagonizing about that fact.  But there are many lines which I like. The one that says, "We need to forget our personal histories in order to become the instrument of love and allow the love to flow", this  I find fascinating. I see truth in this statement. 

Another line that I absolutely cherish is - "They are capable of limitless love, because they no longer have anything to lose". I believe this is what love is at the first place, I do not claim I know love. I do not know love, it always eludes me, surprises me. When I feel prepared for the next game, the rules of the game change :D . But as mentioned in the book, "submission, recognition or gratitude", seeking these from the beloved is not love, cannot be. Love, it says, is a journey that transforms you in ways you have never imagined and in ways you cannot express. 

"It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it does not matter what we call it: what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over". Thought-provoking. We have this habit of clinging to past in our thoughts, memories, writing poems and then erasing them, inadvertently we open our mobiles, type the text or almost call someone-from-past, and if the call gets connected, we sheepishly admit that it was "just-a-mistake". That is  unnecessary emotional  dragging. Clinging to past prevents us from better love-stories that are waiting to happen in our life, better investments in human relationships, better lessons and opportunities to change lives of those people in ways only we can :) :)

"Some things are not logical" Yes, and when it comes to love, it is insulting if we combine or even try to combine love with logic and rationales. However, I am still not very clear on this. I believe Universe will help me in this :) Love is not logical, but can it be inappropriate ? I WONDER.

"The important things always stay; what we lose are the things we thought were important but which are, in fact, useless, like the false power we use to control the energy of love". This statement I believe has a potential to provide solace to the hearts of people who have lost much and often. However, I would not go on to admit the uselessness of the things we lose, for they bring us closer to the things that will stay or be useful. Now I wonder, laughingly, if there is any "THING" that stays forever? "I AM" stays forever. Everything in life was the part of the plan, its coming was not my desire, its going is not under my control. I allow things to come, I allow things to go. 

I think in matters of love, what really connects with me is what Mahtria Ra says,
"I am having an affair with love, people come and go". 
And this line sums up my Zahir.

नादान अल्फ़ाज़

वक़्त जिसे हम कभी मुलाक़ात कहा करते थे, अब इत्तेफ़ाक़ बन गए | दिल की धड़कने तब भी थम जातीं थीं , बदस्तूर आज भी रूह कांप उठती है, जब कभ...