Saturday, June 28, 2008

ख्वाहिश एक कुत्ते की

कभी देखा है,
किसी व्यस्त सड़क के
एक किनारे खड़े
किसी कुत्ते को,
सड़क पार करने की ऊहाँपोह में?
किनारे पड़ खड़े
वह दौड़ाता है नज़रे
हर तरह, हर दिशा,
असमंजश में, लपलपाता है अपनी जीभ
और हिलाता है ख़ुद की पूँछ |

उस पार सड़क के
खड़ी दिखती है, एक कुतिया
आँखों में भरे उम्मीद, उसके आने की;
कुत्ता, देख कर उसकी आँखे,
कूद पड़ता है सड़क पर, अन्धाधुन्ध,
बिना कुछ सोचे, बिना कुछ विचारे |

अचानक, बत्ती चमकाती एक कार
बजाती है हाँर्न,
कुत्ता दो कदम पीछे हटता है,
तभी पीछे से आती है
हाँर्न की एक और आवाज़,
कुत्ता आगे गुज़री गाड़ी के
पीछे से लगता है छलाँग
और हो जाता है रस्ता पार
पीछे से जाता ड्राईवर
करता है गालियों की बौछार
पर क्या फर्क पड़ता है?
आख़िर ध्यान तो उसने ही रखा
की कुत्ते की मौत हो |
सड़क पार वह कुत्ता
मिलकर अपनी कुतिया से
खुश हो, हिलाता है अपनी दुम |

बात साफ़ है -
अगर पार करने की हो ख्वाहिश
तो सड़क पर उतरना ही पड़ता है,
राह गुजरते कुत्ते को
हर कार बचाती जायेगी;
सड़क किनारे खड़े रहे
तो क्या ड्राईवर को सपना आएगा
कि कुत्ते को है है रस्ता पार करने की ख्वाहिश?

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Scent of the soil

The scent of the soil

“What does your name mean?” I asked my ten year old nephew.

“It means the good smell of the mother earth… you know… when it rains for the first time… after the looooong summer,” he stretched the word, long, along with hands to describe the intensity of the heat, “…when it rains for the first time, our earth smells good and nice. And that is what Parimal means, the good and nice smell of mother earth after the first rain.” He smiled after he finished his elaborate explanation of his name. And when I told him that he had a wonderful name, he bungee-jumped from the sofa to express his happiness of my positive approval of his name. It wasn’t a genuine approval though, I must confess; I usually appreciate his efforts and things he likes, just to watch the innocent expressions of happiness that he exudes when I do so.

The thought of this conversation crossed my mind when I boarded the bus, after the first rain of the year, from office back home. It was around eleven in the night. The roads were less crowded and so the bus was running faster than usual. The rain had stopped but it was still drizzling outside. Through the window, the drizzles fell on my face as the wind flew in. It was a wonderful feeling. I talked about the rains and the love of it with a friend of mine. She told me her childhood stories that how she used to dance on the roof on the days of first rains of the season. I told her about the paper boat competitions we held in the open drains and road that used to get flooded with the rain water.

I could sense the smell of the onion pakodas and tea that Maa would prepare in the evenings. It was the favorite of the season, and still is; just that I don’t get to eat it anymore. In the days of my childhood, we used to sit together, almost the whole family, for our evening snacks and would laugh at the antics of the people who would try to save themselves from the unannounced arrival of the rains. They would try to cover their heads from every possible thing – plastic bags, towels, books, dupattas.

Every rainy season has a tendency to draw us to the rains of the past. We almost do the same thing – talking about the rain stories. But, I think, there is something special about the rains that we don’t get bored of the monotonous activity. May be, because I tell the same stories to a new set of people every year and get reciprocated with a new set of stories from them. And today was one such day, again.

Through out my short journey from office to home, there was something that I was happy about. The moments played a hide and seek in my mind. In a second I was in the present and in the next I was in my past. I was smiling to everything that I saw around – the wet trees, the people standing at the bus stop waiting for their last buses, the gang of the guys roaming like the kings of their own world without a care of getting soaked; almost on everything.

When the bus was about to reach my stop, the rains started again, heavily. I just said to myself, “hmmmm…. Ok!” I was not carrying any umbrella. It didn’t take even a few steps to get wet, when I got down, so I decided to walk on, rather than looking for a shelter.

While walking from the stop to my home, I have to pass through a small slum area that is architected around a big open drain. Just when I reached that area, my attention was caught by an object that dropped in the drain. Then I saw, three small kids came running and jumped into the drain. And they swam to and fro, happily. It was almost twelve in midnight and these children didn’t give a damn to it! They were happy; simply, purely happy. I smiled as I knew the reason – this was the first rain.

When I reached the gate of my building, I took a minute to stand there. I wanted to soak myself in something, something that Parimal, my nephew, had described to me in his explanation of his name – the scent of the soil after the first rains. And this day I realized how my appreciation for his name was true.