on Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's after long that I have gotten down to blogging. The reason for that, simply, have been the rains. I have already published blogs about rains, and still, the most prominent source of inspiration as far as writing is concerned , has only been 'rains'. Today as well, it is no different. Rains definitely form the back drop of my narrative, but, the perspective has altered. The joy associated with raindrops touching my skin has long disappeared. Now, there is a shadow of gloom forever marking my face.

The rains have continued for far too long. Or may be, it is the first time I am perceiving them that way. Hindrances to already delayed constructions works, traffic snarls, puddles, difficulty in commutation- if you(the reader) think these are the sources of the absent enthusiasm in my heart, then you are highly mistaken. These are the things that I laugh at. Then what is it that is letting this tangible, yet incomprehensible melancholy fill my being?

A single peek of sun from behind the clouds makes my eyes shine with alacrity; but this revelry is rare to visit my door. I was sitting today for really long in CP, by a huge window, which gave me the most spectacular view of mud hills lining the roadsides, cars of every color and brand stuck in an unending ennui, white colored Victorian buildings damp and their paints chipping, and a grey, almost-black canvas of a huge cupola of clouds, which seems to have sworn sun-protection to all citizens of Delhi for quite some time now. I was sitting and sketching the scene in front of me. Not that i am good at drawing, but i was just trying my hand at being a bit destructive (of the beauty of the scene), a bit disappointing (of my famous sketching abilities) and a bit disgusting ( to my companion who himself is acclaimed at wielding magic as he draws).

Anyway, point was, i was doing it, and in a very sudden, or rather, unnoticeable manner, an unmistakable feeling of grief started springing inside me. I tried to fight it, but i sensed my mind submitting to it. As a natural reflex, the first thing i did was to figure out reasons. My jejune brain first held Ghalib culpable for my condition. Yes, you are right, the same, old, Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. Why, i will tell later. I was almost about to take punitive measures against his long deceased soul, when i was held back by an expeditious onset of slumber. It was in that sleep i found answers to my heart's unease. It was a dream...a dream which made things lucid to me...dream-

"I was sitting on a hillside. My favorite hillside. The air was damp. Sun nowhere in sight. The valley was green; it's depth not calculable. Cottony fluffs of clouds were rising from deep down. My side of the hills were iridescent with flowers of variegated hues smiling from both corners of my eyes. I was sitting quietly looking blankly at everything around. Only my eyes were peculiar. Water was running down my cheeks. I am not sure if it were tears, because my heart was devoid of emotions. I felt no stabs of sadness. I only cried. Suddenly, a divine person came into the picture. Filled with clemency, benevolence, and sure 'answers' to my discomfort, he came and sat by my side quietly. I said nothing, just stole a sideways glance at him. He was dressed in casuals- green T-shirt and denims. He had a white, perfectly chiseled face. His hair and eyes were unnaturally black. His lips were pink, with a cleft which could be missed sans close scrutiny. He started gazing straight ahead, where the view of the opposite hills was being blocked by the nascent clouds. He sat observing the clouds. With no warning, he raised his fingers as if a seasoned pianist is preparing his agile fingers for a concert. His fingers started moving in incongruous patterns in the air. I was about to ask him, but he shushed me even before i could utter a word. Gave me a glance which conveyed- "patience". After about fifteen minutes of this queer activity, he gave himself a satisfactory smile. Then, he kept one hand over my head. He said, in his soft, echoing, almost a chime-like voice- "Clouds are my most formless creations, but when I make these clouds my canvas, and my fingers the paintbrushes, my mind can picture them in a thousand different shapes and forms and meanings. I gave these clouds nothing. I gave them a transient existence. But then never complain. They utilize their short life giving shade and hope to the others. When they die, they weep- the only, and the final expression of their grief. But, even as they weep, they lend smiles to many. People are glad for the water, relief, rain, respite but no one cares for the very clouds who carry these droplets safely till they are delivered at their destination. But, they carry on, continue, persevere." His gaze pierced through me as he said the last word."

I did not even see this divine creature walk away. I was woken up as we were getting late. I saw the unfinished sketch lying in front of me. I raised my head for a final gaze, intending to finish my sketch, but the only detailing i added to it were the grey, almost black clouds in the background.

Mr. Ghalib, aptly, can find his mention here. He writes the most beautiful lines, and has this uncanny, unmistakable ability to stimulate that corner of my heart which hitherto was latent. This time, the lines were as follows-
"Dil hi toh hai, na sang-o-khisht, dard se bhar na aaye kyun?
Royenge hum, hazaar baar, koi humein sataaye kyun?"
(It is only a heart, not stone or mortar, why should it not fill with grief?
We will wail a thousand times, why should anyone torment us?)

For me, a better translation of the above lines is- The heart is heart, it will weep. Why should anyone be critical of my grief?

I walked down the footpaths of CP, trying to fathom my dream. May be I did. May be the Almighty was fed up of the incessant tussles i have with him, and wanted to talk about the many basics that i ignore while censuring him for my mundane problems. May be he was genuinely concerned with my listlessness about where to head as i found myself without support, care, concern, love and understanding from anyone i hold dear. And then, he sent me this quote in my Gmail inbox-"You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering"

Whatever it meant. Whatever it was. One thing I will surely laud Him for is the medium he chose to communicate with me. This one voice, i can never ignore. Never.

My Happiness Pill

on Sunday, August 1, 2010

It was one of those days again. Exactly one of those days. Grey days. Blue days. Whatever they are called. Days, when i ask myself too many questions. Or may be one single question. I let the question(s) take root in my mind, become a part of my subconscious self, assimilate information and experience required to arrive at an answer...and then, answer blossoms in my mind even before i know it.

However, what i was thinking, rather, asking myself today, was both, unwelcome and perplexing. To add another word, the specific time i chose to reflect and concoct answers, also made this question ironical.

"Why do friends become so important to us in life, that after a point, it starts hurting?"
(In case the paradox is not ostensible, it is the first Sunday of August today, which the world celebrates as Friendship Day)

I woke up in the morning, and cast a half open glance at the slightly ajar door of my balcony. Hardly any light was coming in. It was dark, overcast, I could make out. I pulled my knees close to my chest, tightly wound my hands around my bosom, and gave myself the warmest hug I could, to counter the effects of the chilly air flowing into the room, and then sprang out of bed. With eye lids refusing to cooperate, i somehow managed to locate my slippers, but accidentally placed my feet on the icy floor. Within a matter of seconds, a current of chill ran up my legs, and my spine, hit my head, and culminated into a smile. The same, old, faint, silly- my favorite smile. Thus i proceeded on my 'arduous' walk to the balcony, ten heavy steps....

I collapsed on the cold balcony floor, in an attempt to embrace what nature was offering. It was colder than inside the room, so i brought myself closer together, once again pulled my knees to my chest, and started imagining the aroma of coffee beans. Had only been a second, when my 'pet' tree, right across my balcony, broke out into a dance- gracefully swaying side to side first, and then going wild, mad, to the tune of the flowing breeze. My tree was welcoming me to become a part of this private celebration of nature, whatever was left of it amid the chaos of brick and mortar which we call our 'habitat'. Having performed the invocation, my tree invited all the other trees, and birds, and clouds, and winds, and rains, to join in this mad revelry, and they all gladly acceded.

What then ensued in front of me is not in my capacity to describe. Any other person would have described it as a heavy, torrential shower. But, was it just that? There were people down in the street, scurrying in all directions to look for a shelter. Hapless people. The more fortunate of us homo sapiens were the half naked street kids, splashing in the puddles, laughing, shouting, dancing....being purified, washed clean directly by the heavens. I broke into a subtle laughter at their sight, and started enjoying the raindrops being tossed in my direction after hitting the balcony railing. I was happy. Innately happy. Infinitely happy. These weren't just rains. This was the most basic and personalized invite that the heavens sent to all of us, to, for once, abandon our synthetic existence, and befriend nature. I did.

I sent a 'thank you' in the direction of my 'pet' tree, which has been my friend ever since i shifted to my current accommodation. Initially frightened by it's eerie silhouettes in the dark of the night, it soon became my companion for the solitary moments i spent in the open, often understanding and sharing my thoughts. Today as well it was listening, as i asked myself a question, and then quickly rubbished it. This very question had caused an immeasurable disarray in my interiors about a day or two back, but today, it was inconsequential. There was a reason to it. And i want that reason to know that it was the reason for the calm and balance i expreience right now.

I met a friend yesterday. A friend, who has forever been a friend, a close friend, but separated by large distances. When i felt cold today, i remembered the warm hug my friend gave me yesterday. When the damp weather's chicanery was coercing me to become gloomy, I rememberd this friend's laughter and his concern for my happiness. When strange thoughts were complicating my routines, i rememberd his simple ways and his humble eyes. I was elated, elevated, and infinitely comforted.

At first, I could not recognize him. He appeared from amid a crowd, his bag hung over one of his shoulders. I knew he was coming, that is why i was waiting for him, yet, the first glimpse i caught of him was laced with disbelief. I was still not humble to the fact that i would, finally, be getting to spend time, in person, with him. He looked better, smarter than ever i had known him to be. He in no way looked dapper, all his charm emanating from the casual, easy way in which he carried himself. His manner was courteous, yet not even a feeble measure of formality streaked his demeanor. His smile was contagious- i call him my own brand of "happiness pill". The best thing about him- he made me feel at home.

He made me realize that dubious questions, such as the one quoted in the beginning, are nothing, but a travesty of the word 'friendship'.

Sitting diagonally across me, with a hot cup of Mocha in his hands, (and a semi alcoholic Irish Coffee in mine), he incited me into self dialogue as to why such a special friend is to be separated by such long distances. We jabbered incessantly about everything that came to mind. We took short, reflective breaks to understand and absorb the importance of the time being spent together. We gave each other little gifts, for this is the only time of the year we could meet, but those gifts in no way could amount to even an approximate measure of how loved we wanted to make each other feel. "The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people." The artist inside me was failing me. I had wanted to tell him so much more, hear so much more, share so many thoughts, tears, laughter....

Time for departure was too quick to come. I was sad. Little. I was happier to have met him. He has a little thing about him, which revives my faith in everything good and positive around me. I live for my friends; but when it starts getting too much, he inspires me to perfect the balancing act, and not sway to the extremes. The people i love, and begin to hate because of unfulfilled expectations, suddenly become blame free, and i give myself a slight rebuff for letting negativity brew in my head. The good part is, despite being benevolent and magnanimous, he never makes me feel indebted. He says its mutual, and i comfort him as much as he comforts me. I like to believe it. Its so easy to be friends this way. He holds infinite respect for me, as i for him, and while respecting each other, we learn to respect every other good thing/person in our life which deserves to be respected.

My tree still stands there. It has noticed the droplets forcing their way out of my eyes. In its reckoning, i was infinitely happy, so why the droplets? I don't know. May be i am sad for not having been able to give him a last, warm hug as he disembarked from the metro at Rajiv Chowk, and mumble an apology. May be i am happy (mushy-happy), and i have been happy for so long that it can no  longer be contained inside me. May be i am both. One thing for certain- this friend will remain with me, even when that tree dies down. If ever he goes away, I will understand that there must be a reason for it. This season, and the next, and the next...i'll remember to smile whenever the rain fed weather's beauty is beyond description, for it is on one such day, i spent the most marvellous moments of my life with you.

Keep my faith breathing....