..कधीकाळी..

December 15, 2011 8 comments

अर्धवट तुटून पडलेली ती हिर्वटलेली भिंत, केशरी-तपकिरी पानांचा तो एकेकाळी छोट्टासा असणारा अवाढव्य ढिगारा, विसरलेल्या आठवणींना कोंडून ठेवणारे ते जुनाट से झालेले दार, अध्न मध्न हलक्या मंद वाऱ्याने आपटत वाजणारी ती लाकड़ी खिड़की, वर्षांपासून धूळ खात पडलेली ती फाटकी पतंग, गच्चीवर जुन्या कुलर चे  गंज्लेले त्या जाळ्या,    एकेकाळी प्रसन्न असणारं ते उन्हात एक्ट स उभं आम्ब्याच झाड, मातीने झाक्लेली ती नाहीशी झालेली पाउलवाट आणि त्याच्या अखेरी मान राखत अजुनही उभी ती दोन मजलि इमारत. पण लहानपण पासून सर्वेच त्या जागेला “वाडा” म्हणत. वरच्या खालच्या जिन्यांवर मोजून सहा कुटुंब राहत असे आजीने कधीकाळी सांगितले होते.  घरांच्या दारान मधील अंतर पाहून असे वाटे कि गेली कित्येक वर्ष ती सगळी कुटुंब सोबतच असावीत. सण, लग्न, वाढदिवस, वर्षगाठी – आणि अश्याच कित्येक तरी आठवणी सगळ्यांच्या एकाच, पण तरीही खाजगी असाव्यात.

दिवाळीत निरनिराळ्या रांगोळ्या बनव्ण्यारा त्या लहान सहान छकुड्या आणि त्यांच्या उत्साहात भर पाडत त्यांच्या आया, चिवडा लाडू चकल्या आणि आंबट गोड लागणारे ते डब्यात ठेवलेले फरसाण लपून खाणारी चिमुकली कार्टी,  वहीचे कागद फाडून, वडलांचे फटके खाऊन, जिद्दीने बनविलेले ते आकाश कंदील, मग त्यावर रंग नसल्यामुळे आईचा ओरडा खात तिखट हळद पाण्यात घासू घासू त्यास लाऊन प्रदर्शनास बाहेर लावणारे तीच थोर्ल्यांची टोळी, आणि जास्त फटाके नसले तरी देखील मातीच्या त्या किल्ल्यांमध्ये दिवे लाऊन आनंद साजरा करणारी वाड्यातली मंडळी सहजच डोळ्यांसमोर दिसते. तेव्हा तुळशी विवाहाच्या आनंदात लहानांची उडी मारत मारत ज्येष्ठ  मंडळींना  “आजोबा तुळशीचे लग्न झाले” अशी बातमी पोहचविणे सुद्धा आजीच्या शब्दांतूनच  बघता येते.

डाकवाला कधी आपल्या दिशेने येतोय एवढेच बघत बसत तासं तास घालविणारी ती पोट्टी नेहमी त्याच्या कडन सायकल ची एक चक्कर मागायला कधीच चुकत नसे. बेल बॉटम घालून हातात आठ आणे घेऊन मोठ्या थाटात stall च्या तिकिटात सुदामा टाकीज मध्ये सिनेमा बघणारी ती मुलींची टोळी आणि “त्यात तुझी आई आणि मावशी” असे सांगून आजी आईला आजसुद्धा चक्क लाजवीते. जवळ झेंडा चौकातले ते गजानन महाराजांचे देऊळ, त्याच्यात आजीचे असंख्य असणारे ते सखी ( पारायण मंडळी, कीर्तन मंडळी, पालखी सदस्य, गुरुवारचा  नैवेद्य करणारी मंडळी) आणि आणखी समोर असलेले लक्ष्मी नारायणाचे देऊळ आणि तिथल्या आणखी सखी सई संध्याकाळी नित्य नेमाने भेटत. परत येतांना विदर्भ बुक डेपो मध्ये डोकाऊन समर्थ रामदासांची पोथी किवा दासबोध किवा असे काही चाळत चाळत घरच्या दिशेने यायचे. येतांना मात्र जोशी मंगल कार्यालय जवळ असणाऱ्या भाजीवाल्या कडून भरताची वांगी, कोबी, एखाद जुडी मेथी, पालक, कोथिंबीर, मिरच्या आणि मुख्य म्हणजे बीड्याची पान असा बाजार करत यायचं.

कळत नकळत, दिवस, दिवसांचे महिने आणि महिन्यांचे वर्ष त्या रोजच्या गोष्टींची फक्त एक गोड, अविस्मरणीय आठवण होऊन गेले. बेहेरे काकुंच “नरड भरे पर्यंत खाऊन घ्या लेकांनो, मग जर भूक भूक केली तर गाल रंगाऊन काढेल” हे बोलण, पोकळ्या भिंतांमध्ये हरवून गेल. त्या चिल्लर पार्टीची उन्हाळ्यातली सावली असलेली ती विहीर एकटेपणाने “भरून” गेली. गेल्या त्या पारायण कीर्तनाच्या मंडळी आता रेशीम बागेत राहायला, आणि एकटे पडले हाती चिलीम घेउनी, संत आमुचे ते गजानन. डाकवाल्याचा मुक्काम पोष्ट आता सापडत नाही आणि हरवल्या त्या गोंगाटात सायकल च्या सुमधुर घंट्या. म्हणे प्रगती झाली. कुटुंब सर्वे नागपुरात बिखरले. आजोबांनी मात्र बाजूचीच जमीन घेऊन घर बांधले. येतात कधी, कुणी आठवण काढत भेटण्यास आजीला. मग निघतो पाटाखालन तो आठवणींचा गोल डबा. निघतात बिड्याची पान, अडकित्ता, ओलसर सुपारी, लवंगा आणि थोडा चुना. कधी लग्नाच्या पत्रिका, कधी नातवंडांची बातमी तर कधी दिवाळी चा तो आंबट गोड फराळ आणि करंज्या, कारणे कधीही कमी पडत नाही परत यायला.  बोलतात बरेच बदलले.

जणू सगळेच बदलले. रस्ते, रहदारी, ईमारती. लोकही. पण नाही बदलला फारसा तो वाडा. शांतपणे उभा राहून पाहतो तो आजू बाजूचे बदल. टाकून दिलेल्या त्या अचेत गोष्टीन मुळे अजूनही जिवंत असणारा तो स्थिर सा वाडा . आजही वाट बघतो त्या गेलेल्या वेळेची. आणि वाट बघतात ते जुने कुटुंब, वाड्यात्न येणाऱ्या रुपयाची.

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..It was time..

October 3, 2011 2 comments

She glanced at the watch hanging on the wall. It was time. Or was it? Raindrops tearing the silence of the dead summer’s noon reminded her of the tears she had seen on his face then. Boyish face. His hair kept shadowing those hollow eyes which begged her not to let him go. He never was the one to emote his feelings. Lips set straight, firm jaw as was all the times, hands left loose hanging in defeat, sweat beads on palms, and a lowered chin. But his eyes drew her attention. The usually hopeful, if not cheery, content in misconstruing her empathy for solace, and hollow, were not the same then. They conveyed an island of lost hope. Barren. Bare. Hollow. Eyes that saw her shallow love right through. And yet they pleaded for her to stop him. Tears surfaced on his face without a sigh or visible despair. For every tear she saw, her heart wrenched in agony shouting a million muted cries. Yet he had to go. He was meant to go. And so he went.

It was time. Clouds thundered and raindrops broke a roof tile that summer noon. The clock chimed. In vain. Mellowed. He stepped out of the jeep. She ran to the entrance, undaunted by the fears of rejection. Hope gleaming in eyes. Tears surfaced on her eyes like pearls shimmering hope. He saw her in her eyes. It had been long. Indeed long. May be a decade. May be less. But it sure was long. His jaw was firm. Lips straight. She couldn’t read his eyes though. They were ambiguous, uncertain. Her hope was dimming. And then, and then a small curve appeared. His lips moved. In a smile. She bit hers as raindrops shadowed her tears of joy. She smiled and waved her hand. He stood smiling and gently waved his. It was time. They met.

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..And other..

July 18, 2011 2 comments

Mani - A leader hired.

He had small eyes. Wrinkled at the edges, battered by the times they’d seen, misty, and yet brooding, may be contemplative. They sure did have an iota of timidness in them. Or so was my perception. Frail, calm and numbed by age, he led the way. Clouds hovered in the skies raining needles of agony. It did not deter him. Neither did the chill accompanying the mad wind which sent his tarpaulin fluttering – exposing his thin, almost uncovered frame. An uphill climb, taking the rough terrain head on, yet again, he showed no signs of  weariness. Hands tucked behind, head slightly lowered, eyes fixated on the next step, he took one small step after the other. And other.

*

I was late. I thought I was late but my rational self prodded me into thinking I might be late by the baseline time standards as mentioned in the email, but I was in no way late by the desi time standards. Between scurrying back home to fill up a sack with some last available clean clothes, to hitching into a bus packed with turbo charged rebels, to the time I cursed my alter ego to subject my rather heavy body to drag all its way up a mountain, my rational self had won. The bus came almost about an hour late. So I wasn’t late. The journey had begun. Yes. I went trekking. The couch hitting indolent bear had once, just for this once, not procrastinated and had managed to get his rear in some activity which involved physical exertion and abstinence from the weekend experimenting with magic potions.

  *

As we began the ascend, some of us trekkers led him – our hired leader, our guide for the trek. He had his eyes fixated only on the next step. Taking one step after the other. And other. Distant intermittent chatter, gushing waterfalls, rumbling trees and the occasional thunder in the sky was pleasing to begin with. An hour more into the trek and he was leading us. It started pouring next – slowly, steadily and then heavily to the extent where the senses went numb white. Blood sucking leeches made us stop more often than desired for they needed to be plucked. He stopped at such times, patiently standing still, never saying a word at what was a common occurrence for him.

More than 3 hours after trailing him for an unending 30 minutes, we saw his faint outline perched atop, standing still through the dense fog. No movement. No foot forward. Hands folded, he wrapped the green tarpaulin tight around him in vain to avoid cold winds. One look at him and he nodded once in agreement conveying ‘summit reached.’ Though an expressionless face, his brooding eyes drifted in opposite direction once his nod was cheered. We had reached summit after about three hours (plus delta) and much debates & show of hands on continuing / turning back. On the summit, we shuddered with cold, braved the gusts of fury winds, unpacked some eatables which were drenched nonetheless in water, munched on some, tried in vain to dissipate some warmth in our bodies, plucked more leeches, had a yahoo moment and began the descent – again, led by him.

I once saw him sneeze and pluck a leech out with his bare hands and throw it nonchalantly. First signs of almost being human. I followed him till he decided on his own to wait for others before darkness enveloped day. I got chatty with a fellow trekker and lost him soon as the path became less strenuous. For one stride of mine, my fellow trekker possibly took two, and many such strides and stories brought us down at the base camp much before anyone else. I saw him come almost after more than half of us came, with the same unyielding calm on his expressionless face. He hadn’t eaten anything, nor had he sipped water all this time. Mani,as I later knew his name, after a brief pause, bared his teeth in half a smile, squinted his eyes briefly only to open wide again and look straight into mine, and struck half a salute on being offered a packet of biscuits. Sometimes, necessities indeed are rewards when you least expect to get them.

*

I lay anchored in my bed the next morning. I plug the earphones in and Pink Floyd plays ‘Echoes’ in my head. I observe drop after drop of water trickle down in a slow rhythmic pattern from the end of a terracotta roof tile and time stops ticking for the while. The leaves lay unperturbed, glimmering, waving gently with the wind, only to stop and sway again. The wind carries a chill in it. Clouds close in on their descend to earth and the glimmer on the leaves disappears. Slowly it begins to rain. The trickling drops from the roof now become a small stream of flowing water. The song ends. Time starts ticking again. The cycle of continuity unpauses. Time comes for me to take one step after the other. And other.

Categories: Abstract Tags: ,

..On the way back..

June 1, 2011 1 comment

It must have been a bump. A big one. Only a big bump could jolt me from my sleep after the debacle last night in Lonavala. As my head bangs against the glass walls of the volvo, I see enormous farms of sugarcane under the shadow of summer skies. The landscape has been etched in my mind against my wish and yet brings a feeling of nostalgia, if not comfort. I straighten my reclined seat and in the process manage to displace the elbow of the guy sitting next to me. I look at his face and force myself into an apologetic smile and an unconvincing “oops”…He smiles back and simultaneously pulls back his elbow. His face looks raw. 24 – 25 might be the age on paper but his face conveys the innocence of a 20, if not less. He reaches for a phone in his pocket…takes it out and hits a random contact to call on. There is a momentary hesitation before hitting the call button. A quick glance at the nothingness of the landscape out the window and he presses call.

“हेल्लो..ह..मी आहे..काय म्हणतेस…कशी आहे ?” A smile appears. Eyes wander away.

“हो… नाही ग…मी निघालोय बंगलोर साठी…सध्या बस मध्ये आहे…आताच पेठ नाका पाठीशी गेला .”

“हो का ?… खर ?… कुठे ?… समोर एक हॉटेल आहे दीपक म्हणून. अजून समोर ? उम्म्म.. एक झाड आहे मोठ. मग एक जुनी पडलेली बिल्डिंग दिसतीये. ” He leans across me oblivious of my presence. Eyes expectant and perky all of a sudden.

” देऊळ ? वडाच झाड ? उम्म थांब बर …आग नाहीये ग…किती…अजून समोर ? नुसती थापा नकोस मारू …तू नाही दिसलीस न, तर पुन्हा भेटायला यायचं जमायचं नाय बघ माझ ….आणि मग फोन वर गळा नाही काढाय…..दिसलीस !! ” A lean figure appears on the sides of tar..Head covered with a pink dupatta and a hand held to the forehead to avoid the glaring sun..The guy breathes in the phone without saying a word..Eyes are lost…Frozen smile conveys woe and joy bundled tight on the face. Breathing continues with the phone glued to his ear. “हलो..?….हलो..? ”  He stares at the missing bars on his phone for a second too long and slides the phone back in. Gently he slams his head on the headrest and stares at the roof.
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I cross my arms, let out a yawn, stretch my legs and recline the seat. For some reason I now cannot recollect what I was thinking about some 10 minutes back. As my eyelids shut themselves off, darkness descends and infatuating memories seduce their way in. FML !!
Categories: Abstract Tags:

..Smile..

April 16, 2011 2 comments

Night again now..It rained in Bangalore while it was still evening..Soft, caressing wind brought in some twigs & the smallest of  leaves flying in my workspace and it felt welcoming, to be here. A summer friday on the calender, clouds in the sky and drizzle on the streets..Smiling, content and elated faces making their way through, to meet others – to smile, to laugh, to chat, to hold hands, to walk, to share an evening, to be a part of each other..even if for some it meant for just this little while..At moments such as these when anticipations are high and expectations low, one can smell roses in the air..Or if  it has rained, like it did today, the air smells of earth..

I walk to the same bus stop on my way. I glance at those expectant radiant faces, waiting, with impatience, who have someone to go to..I wait with them..Just another speck in the universe, I get in the bus and get down at my stop..I walk..More faces..more smiles…more laughs..I walk with them, yet away from them..When its time to switch off the lights,I switch off the lights & look out the window..Its dark..Alluringly and enchantingly dark..I think of those smiling, laughing faces, I smile..Its night again now for some more time.. Night again..

Categories: Abstract Tags: ,

..in pursuit of..

March 3, 2011 2 comments

The last few days have been quite taxing on me. Not because its the month of March, but rather because folks at work have started messing around with my mind. Its just that its not messing around, but screwing around..and its not my mind..but my nirvana. Anyways, leaving those details to bite dust (where they deserve), I am planning to clinch my nirvana back. Like they show in the sci-fi movies, I blink my eyes real slow to open them up to a world that is oblivious to a thought process dictated by my brains.

I see a battery of machine men moving around…an array of lips forming shapes..speaking incomprehensible words that I do not care to make sense of..Wrinkled foreheads, presumptuous authorities abusing power using demented minds, superficial smiles, maladroit and false assumptions inspiring confidence in unenlightened bodies of flesh..and inquiring, inquisitive eyes..I shift my gaze outside the walls of caged capitalism and look at the one leaf lying unruffled on the dent in a trunk of a tree. Brown, weathered, withered and yet unwavering, even in the gentle attempts of gusts of wind to be blown in their direction, it just sits there…at peace..in its own nirvana.

With a pat on my back, it’s a friend who says..”Chai peene aa rahe ho? Saala ye log dimaag ki bahut maar rahe hai.” I snap out of my epiphany, nod my head and walk off along with him.  “Its my birthday in a few days“, I tell him “and I intend to be away from this ominous dark hole. Any suggestions?”  “Take me along” comes the reply. I smile. So the agenda is set. On my 24th birthday, I am going to do good to me by not showing up at work. Cheers to that. Cheers to me. .

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QnA

February 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Q: Why are you single?

A: I tend to like very bitchy women. I find myself most attracted to smart, sarcastic, bitchy women.

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