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Halftones

the motley musings of a maverick

अहम् के बहाने?

कोई कला का कैदी तोह कोई कृत्य का

बिच में उलझेलूल हम

क्षणिक सुख की झलक क्या मिल गयी

तलब पे उतर आये हम

 

सोचा था कि अपने बारे में कभी न बोलेंगे, पर

क्या करें

अल्फाज़ मुलाज़िम जो ठहरे सुर्ख आँसुओं के

दबी हुयी दुखों की बुनियाद पे

जिंदगी खड़ी तोह नहीं की जाती

हर ग़फ़लत की जड़ अहंकार तो नहीं होती

अगर होती तो

खामोशियों से यूँ दोस्ती न होती

सालों की बारकियाँ

आज बिखरती न दिखती

बर्फ से बनी मकबरों में हरियाली की अहद न होती

हम तुम न होते तुम हम न होते

आज तूफ़ान भी एलान कर रहे हैं

खुशी की

पलों में बसी दास्तांओं की

 

आज आगाज़-ये-कार कला व कृत्य की मिलन की

लफ्जों में एक पल को कैद करने की कोशिशों की

खुदा की चाह की

 

कल का क्या पता

कहीं वज़ूद को कायम किये बिना ही

मुक्त न हो जाएं हम

 

क्षणिक सुख की झलक क्या मिल गयी

तलब पे उतर आये हम

CORRIDORS OF TIME AND THE WITNESSES

The eucalyptuses swayed, embraced and kissed, and swayed away. The wind blew harder and they swayed again, this time embracing each other for a longer moment before they swayed apart. On the backyard, I stood amidst the bamboos and wilderness, withdrawn from the world, my eyes following the movements of the two eucalyptuses.

The wind had not blown so fiercely in the last two years. The scene outside was exhilarating. In fact, coming from a world where sounds of drilling machines, horns and loud stereos reign, I didn’t have any idea what it was to see and hear nature dancing to its own tunes. I came out of my room to feel the first drops of rain on my face, to inhale the scent of earth, to turn nostalgic.

“Laal? Where are you heading to in this storm?”

“To fetch the cows, they must be frightened. This time we are going to get a good harvest, though.” He went on, whistling.

Laal was the oldest man alive in the village, still hale and hearty in his mid-eighties. He often whistled while feeding or rearing his cattle. I caught the festive mood too; I brought my umbrella out and stepped on the first puddle, then the second, the third and marched ahead, splashing mud and singing to myself without any destination in mind. Yet, I knew I would struggle between my heart wanting to cut short in front of Deepti’s house and pay her a visit and my mind forcing me to shed off any hopes lingering at the back of it. I turned to take the outer road, the road which passed behind Deepti’s house and in front of the richer part of the village with wealthy settlers and a buzzing market area.

“Samiran, it seems you are enjoying the weather. What about a hot cup of tea?” Nirmaali offered, standing sheltered in the verandah of her house.

I halted at their entrance. “No thanks; some other day.”

“Out on business?” she asked again, smiling.

“Yes.” I lied and sauntered on.

I reached the abandoned rice mill from where the main road divided into the inner and outer road. I saw the eucalyptuses moving to and fro. Tall as they were, it was easy to notice them from any point in the village. Some used to say a young girl hanged herself from the large peepal tree behind the mill and her spirit roamed about.

A while later, I crossed the largest grocery shop in the village; it was owned by Dhanuaa, a short and stout man in his seventies. His son Mantu ran the business now. He was younger to me by a few years but he looked older and wiser; unlike me, he had stayed in this village since his birth.

“How is it going, Mantu?” I greeted him.

“Good! Good! Where are you heading to, Doctor?” Mantu asked, as he pushed a carton of uncle chip packets inside the shop.

“Nowhere in particular; just enjoying the weather.”

Thunder cracked again and the wind blew harder. Shivers ran along the exposed part of my hands. I bade him farewell and walked ahead. My heart thumped louder as I approached Deepti’s house. She always brought the worst out in me; at all times her eyes were aflame Continue reading “CORRIDORS OF TIME AND THE WITNESSES”

Pichavaram: the aquamarine charm of Tamil-Nadu

The sight of a family of seals staring back at me, through the patchy openings of a thick mangrove forest, with their round and gullible yet inquisitive eyes, was incredibly delightful. At least for those rare moments I was delivered from my certainty of a distinctive existence to that of one where I might be the alien instead: unfamiliar and ready to be accused of trespassing or experimented upon! Thankfully the population of these curious seals is way too less to be a threat to us humans- the constantly burgeoning mass- on the surface of earth. We- my friend, the boatman and I- travelled for some distance, rowing through a narrow waterway between two mangrove islands and them-the family of seals- travelled parallel to our route through the forests on our right. To listen to the squeaks of the little seals was another delight, and I asked the boatman to row the boat closer to the forests.

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The head of one seal: My reflexes aren’t good enough to capture “the” moment; it usually passes by the time I recover from my awe and remember that I need to capture it, nor was my camera pro enough to capture telephoto shots. Hence, the pointer to help find the main object of my focus.

 

Pichavaram is the first mangrove forest I have seen closely in my life. The boatman- a robust Tamil fellow in his early twenties perhaps- told us that the mangroves are not only home to the seals, the fascinating migratory birds, the fishes and crabs but also the only major livelihood alternative to farming for the villagers. They have shaped the lives of the villagers as much as they have for the estuarine biome. If it were not for the mangroves, there would have been irredeemable damage to the villages of the region during the devastating Tsunami on 26th of December, 2004 that ruined many coastal areas in South-east Asia beyond recognition.

What makes it a wonder:

At some places, as we rowed, the route turned pitch dark, the prop roots and branches of the relatively short Rhizophora trees hung over us and some prop roots protruded lower near the ground to interweave with their neighbours, creating some forbidding motifs, all of which reminded me of fictions and movies plotted in the Amazon rainforests and the like: eerie! Numerous unfamiliar small insects and butterflies abounded these zones. Now and then, I spotted small crabs crawling on the roots as well.

the-crab
A tiny crab

However, silence is no stranger to me and to anyone who’s familiar with nature’s Continue reading “Pichavaram: the aquamarine charm of Tamil-Nadu”

Epilogue to Her Fancies

In her childhood Beth often listened to her granny’s wondrous tales, as she rested on a cot under the starlit skies…

“…and the fox turns into a huge gourd, it slopes down swiftly through the dense jungles to reach me…”

Nine times out of ten she fell asleep before the story ended; her night a world of vivid dreams.

Then, in her teenage, she read Marquez: of colourless glasses turning blue when people are in love! Perhaps they did too! Why, even the most ordinary villagers had so many extraordinary tales to tell…

“…there’s this brook in our village, which lend gold to the villagers in their times of need given they promised to repay back. Sometimes someone wouldn’t and no sooner were they filled with greed that the curse of the brook brought grievous calamity upon them!…”

To Beth, Marquez’s world frequently came alive when villagers regaled such stories and in

Continue reading “Epilogue to Her Fancies”

Tourism Industry in Sikkim: Boon or Bane?

Just three days in a place like Sikkim and that too in the rainy season didn’t quench even a speck of my thirst for the beauty I encountered. Surely another trip is due and next time I’ll stay for a longer duration. But my observations while travelling around the place and my word with a knowledgeable local man led me to a lot of pondering, which, it seems is going to culminate into another post in my blog.

I had been hearing and reading a lot about Sikkim off late; especially about the Kanchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI) taken up by ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development), based in Nepal, and assisted by Indian institutions like the GBPIHED (Govind Ballav Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development). A large part of Sikkim (in fact, almost the whole of it) falls under the Kanchenjunga Landscape. So, when I got a chance to visit Sikkim (I was to accompany a family member) I took it.

Transboundary Ecosystem Management is a growing need of the world. During the present UN Decade for Biodiversity, focus has been largely placed on conservation of biodiversity through ‘ecosystems approach’. Sustainable development strategies, of any country, work

Continue reading “Tourism Industry in Sikkim: Boon or Bane?”

To a John Keats of Today

IMG_0323

 

O Love,

 

Why’d you wait with bated breath?

For your Bright Star: a glimpse, a word, a dewy-eyed kiss?

The romance has gone, my friend, the winds restrained

It is Love that’s lost; it is Love that we miss

Continue reading “To a John Keats of Today”

As the Ice broke, Water was Everywhere

IMG_3349.CR2

She was there,

Where it all began and all ended

Neither the bright afternoon knew

Nor the sad evening

For they were mere visitors

The tree, though, seemed to know it all

Continue reading “As the Ice broke, Water was Everywhere”

ख़ामोशी-ए-लब

IMG_3225.CR2

ए फ़क़ीर,

तू अपनी सुना

अंजाम-ए-कहानी होठों पे ला

 

तू भी था ख़ौफ़ों और शकों की

बेचैनियों में बंधा?

या…

सहसा, दुआओं की ऐसी भीड़ लगी

Continue reading “ख़ामोशी-ए-लब”

Suspended in Space

(I)

The night drew out on his last words.

Silence, like a palm reddened in vermillion,

Tenderly touched and left its print on a new leaf.

It’ll die with the mark, will it not?

(II)

Many a winter stumbled

Over the heap of results of someone else’s

Continue reading “Suspended in Space”

the mad man

what in us

the teaching thorn

the hardened rock

the wonted morn

for him

the swaying of a tender leaf

in his heart

and he dreaming

Continue reading “the mad man”

Lacuna

Lacuna

 

The eternity of a farewell rests in their love.

Time loves Lacuna but all they say to each other is farewell. They are ever bidding farewell to each other and in farewells they exist.

Time relentlessly runs from the past to the future: past-future, past-future, past-future… The ending of one farewell is the beginning of another.

“I wish there was a present. I wish I could live our love. I wish I could see you twice. I wish I could see you twice even if in the fleeting moments.” Laments Lacuna.

“Fleeting moments? What could you ever mean by that? I never stop; a moment does not

Continue reading “Lacuna”

পৰ্বত শিখৰৰ অনিত্য সেই ফুলবোৰ

সপোনত চৰি ফুৰা সাৰংগজাক
উদ্ধাস্তু হ’ল 
ভাওঁনা আৰম্ভ নহওঁতেই 
হাতত সাৰে ভৰিত সাৰে
সূত্ৰধাৰে 
কাণৰ কাষত দি গ’ল
বোধন মন্ত্ৰ

তাৰ পিছত

কোমল ৰ’দজাকে ক’লে
সন্ধিয়াৰ বন্তিগছিয়ে ক’লে
মূক কবিৰ ক্ৰন্দনেও ক’লে
এনুৱা সোঁতত নৈয়েও মূৰে-ভৰি কাঢ়ে

বুকুত পাখী গজিলে হেনো
বান আহে 
কিমানৰ বুকুতে যে পাখী গজে
নাৱৰীয়াৰ তলি উদং
নাৱে কৰে তুলুং-ভুটুং

পৰ্বতৰ মূলত লীন যায়
অঞ্জলিৰ ফুলৰ পাহি
শৃংগৰ পৰা শিপায় 
অনুনয়

পাখীৰ ঠাইত গজিল কুঁহি
গছেও ক’লে 
বুকুত পাখী গজিলে হেনো 
বান আহে

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