Meri aaghosh mein so jao
Tapte hue bukhaar se tumhara badan
Fasaane sunane ke liye betaab hai
Ab chup raho
Meri aaghosh mein so jao
Main jaanti hoon
Tumhare naakhoon mujhe nochenge
Aankhein shikayat se dekhegi
Sookhe laboun par jamee hui
Thook ki safeid lakeer
Mujhe tumse door rakhegi
Magar tum aur main
Meri zubaan ladkhadati hai
Tumhare moonh mein
Baasi lafz baasi saanson mein ghul jaate hai
Mera ranjh tumhare daaman ko bhigota hai
Tumhari jhuriyon ke beech meri taqdeer basee hai
Magar hamara safar khatam hone ko hai
Kal tum nahin rahoge
Koi aur aajayega
Lamhe maheene saal
Woh bhi dafnayega
Wohi dastan phir dauhrayenge
Kyon rashk hai tumhe itna
Kyon haath nahin chhodte mera
Jab waqt tha tab tau nazrein churate the
Door se dua-salaam farmate the
Ab iss rishte mein rakha kya hai
Haan guldasta aaya hai
Kaanton ki chubhan se
Yeh tau mehsoos hua
Ke kabhi phool bhi hamare naseeb mein aaye the
Har baras nazrana hi hai
Eik aakhri baar
Meri aaghosh mein so jao
Tum tau rihaa ho jaaoge
Main quaid mein ghoomti rahoongi
Salaakhon ke peechhe se lagega jaise
Aasmaan ka bhi batwaara ho gaya
Kuchh aasmaan tum rakh lo
Kuchh aasmaan main rakh loongi
Eik aakhri baar
Meri aaghosh mein so jao
Phir udd jaana
Do-chaar pankh chhod kar
Meri zanjeeron ko behlane ke liye
Achcha khilona hoga
Eik aakhri baar
Meri aaghosh mein so jao
Ke main aane waale kal ko keh sakoon
Beeta hua kal mere kitne kareeb tha
Shaayad uspar itna tau asar ho ke
Har pal meri mohabbat ka intequam na le
Har pal mujhe yaad nahin dilaaye ke
Aaine ka maqsad chehron ko todna hai
Eik aakhri baar
Meri aaghosh mein so jao
Waise bhi tumhari fitrat mein
Jaagna kahaan hai
In a state of delirium, pumped up with medication, laid up in bed, swathed in white from a lightbulb that hurts the eyes, I can see clearly. I can see the reality of the unreal, the unreality of the real. A cliché would refer to it as truth being stranger than fiction.
You said in art there was no difference between the true and the false. Both could co-exist. But, you emphasised, as a citizen one must ask what is true and what is false.
How many times have we seen truth falsified and how often has falsehood been repeated to let each layer get calcified as truth?
I am lying down here and reading. Weapons are ready in little minds more lethal than guns. They are talking; they can only talk.
As you once pointed out, we too will have a Tony Blair moment with a child that survives and a caption that says 'grateful'. What are we grateful for?
We are grateful when those wielding arms declare a ceasefire. We are grateful when war-mongers decide it's time for peace. We are grateful for being alive among the dead. We don't even know we have gone through death in the mortuaries that our souls have become.
I am tired and dizzy. You are gone. It feels the same.
Let me switch off the white light and utter the words that will make me feel I am not alone: Talk to me, Harry.
I thought A.R.Antulay would stick it out. He had nothing to lose. He may have spunk, but he had lost out in the race…Minority Affairs Minister. That’s what they gave him as a sop to keep him happy.
We do not need such a ministry to begin with. We have enough mofussil organisations representing every religion, caste, cult, pimple, silicone implant. This Ministry has done nothing for anyone – the Parsis continue to fight in their panchayat, the Christians in Orissa have not benefitted, and the Muslims have got no reprieve from any of their problems. It is a useless ministry that is answerable to bigger powers.
Antulay raised a question that has to be addressed. Unfortunately, even as he spoke out those words “I said a man like Karkare is born among millions... Who pushed him into the trap of death? Who sent him there to be killed by the Pakistanis?’’ I had a queasy feeling that he would be used.
Suddenly, Muslim leaders came out of the woodwork; maulanas stood up for him. That is what bothered me. To question something ought to be a part of democracy and civil society. Antulay had never been a Muslim leader. So, now for him to be anointed the “Muslim messiah”, even though he had mentioned Pakistan terrorists, was reducing the argument to the lowest common denominator which we as a society are so good at doing.
Why did he speak out?
“Nobody spoke. But I did. I said so because it has been found that a number of things are pushed under the carpet in the name of a state subject. A federal agency is being made... I said it at an opportune moment as a reminder of duty.’’
Many people want to know about Hemant Karkare. Many people are interested that the probe into the Malegaon blasts must not stop. Some wonder about bad timing. Actually, this was the only time to talk because the events may not be connected like Siamese twins, but the Mumbai carnage has pushed the Pragya-Purohit enquiry on the backburner.
Antulay was planning to resign. He said so:
“I am a self-respecting person... forget the resignation. That is a very simple thing. I had resigned from chief ministership of Maharashtra...when 100% of Congress MLAs were with me.’’ Asked about clarifications, he said, “A clarification is sought when something is hidden.”
Today’s news is different. He has become much like Sharad Pawar who had wanted to take on the might of the Congress but finally copped out. Pawar had his reasons.
Antulay would have gone down as at least one who stood up and questioned. He would be known for more than arranging some stuff for Mrs Gandhi and becoming her fall guy in the cement scandal. He would have been A.R.Antulay who had nothing to hide.
Alas, today he sits with a tepid excuse from the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who described the rebellion as “to err is human”. Sure. We can extend this phrase for several other erring activities, Mr. PM.
Antulay told reporters, “There was no need for a further probe. The home minister has clarified all doubts.”
Really? Please tell us. You mentioned earlier that things were pushed under the carpet. Bring it all out on the rug now. You had suggested that Karkare’s killing was facilitated by those who were upset with the arrest of a group of ultra-Hindu radicals in connection with the Malegaon blast of September 29.
Has the home ministry exonerated these people? If not, then what makes you convinced about things?
Next time a politician decides to go public with such sensitive issues we should wait before we listen to her/him.
You must be wondering why the government is not letting him go or getting rid of him. It cannot. Right now, for whatever it is worth, he managed to get some Muslim support and also from other ‘silent liberal’ quarters. Not for himself as an individual but for his views. Throwing him out now would make him into a martyr and give the BJP one more reason to inch forward.
Now, the Congress will play Antulay like a flute. They will choose the tune he sings.
It is a huge tragedy for India that we are too insecure to even afford a rebel or two.
Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh donated a huge chunk of his assets - anywhere between Rs 4.6 crore and Rs 23 crore, 20% of his declared assets - to the Clinton Foundation.
He is keeping mum for the most part, except to say, that the “payment could have been made by someone else on his behalf ’’.
A report in The New York Times stated:
“Mr Singh visited the US in September to lobby for a deal allowing India to obtain civil nuclear technology even though it never signed the NPT. He met with Mrs Clinton who he said assured him that the Democrats would not block the deal. Congress approved it weeks later.”
What intrigues me is that until not very long ago Amar Singh and company were opposed to the Congress. Why was getting this nuclear deal signed so important to them? Is he going to use it to buy more tickets for the SP if they have an electoral alliance with the Congress? Is there is tacit agreement to prop up Hillary, who anyway collects loads of money, to get a prime position for herself in the Obama government? Is there a future possibility of kickbacks?
Why has one never heard about Amar Singh contributing such huge sums to Indian charities?
- - -
Talking of which, here is a rather interesting report. Highlighting such news is also important:
Foreign contributions to Indian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) rose by a whopping 56% from Rs 7,878 crore in 2005-06 to Rs 12,290 crore in 2006-07, according to statistics released by the home ministry on “foreign funds to NGOs’’.
Indian NGOs have not only been getting money from big donors like the US, Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Italy, but are also receiving contributions from Pakistan which contributed Rs 43.28 lakh in 2004-05, Rs 71.70 lakh in 2005-06 and Rs 21.99 lakh in 2006-07.
What is even more important is that the home ministry gave a written reply in the Lok Sabha saying:
“There are no specific inputs to indicate misuse of foreign contribution by the registered associations (under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) for terrorist activities.’’
The ministry pointed out that no association having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme could accept foreign contributions without registration or prior permission under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976. “However, as and when complaints relating to the violation of the provisions of the FCRA against associations come to the notice of the government, appropriate action is taken,’’ it said.
I want to throw up
And taste it again
To feel the bile
As it rests in my mouth
As though it is home
My tongue flutters over it
Like a curtain
The insides of the cheeks are walls
I can hear the bile as it dances
A solo dance
And then rises
To touch the upper palate
Hoping to cling
I open my mouth
It is all liquid
There is a moment of remorse
It happens when you lose
Even loose change that clinks
In your pocket
It happens when you lose
Torn socks you would never wear
It happens when you lose
A part of yourself
It happens when you think you have lost
A paper in the garbage
I rummage through it
Enter my veins
The page is now blank
I can start again
I am a mix of angry, very angry… Where are we heading with this? How does it help anyone?
We are manufacturing a state of tension. Who benefits from it we all know. The war hoopla cannot be dismissed. It is time to make these people who are promoting it answerable.
Those of you who are talking about war must pledge to:
- Send a member of your family to the war front.
- All casualties that might occur become your responsibility – which includes war widows, orphans.
- NRIs will vow to return to India and participate in the effort directly or indirectly, not merely with donations.
- Those who live and work in countries favourable to the government opposing us will pressurise that government to change its position. If they are not in a state to do so, they will leave their jobs and return to join the army to prove their loyalty to India and the war they are supporting.
- No Indian or person of Indian origin will work or live in a country that has an Islamic Constitution – therefore, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan will be struck out immediately. They will have to do that also if they indulge in Islamic bashing or referring to these societies as jihadis.
- I am assuming that you are serious about fighting terrorism and will therefore do so irrespective of the ideology the terrorists follow. You will have to give written assurances of your intent.
- Those of us who are opposed to any war will be compensated by the war proponents in the event of damage to person or property.
This is not a casual post. It is time we became pro-active and stemmed the rot of hyperbole and hot air. Let us make these people responsible for their rash war-mongering.
“This is the third Farzana we have had since morning,” she said.
I gave the polite smile one manages at beauty salons. This was at the reception counter and I was hoping to get myself some quick-fix solutions for the world problem during these trying times –a moisturiser to prevent the skin from drying.
She hesitated, “Parsi or Muslim?”
Ah, they had such brand names now?
She gave me the details of the other two.
Okay, so I was a Muslim. She then said her brother had been honoured “for fighting the Pakistanis”.
“I don’t know. Indira Gandhi was there.”
“No, can’t be Kargil. Must be the Bangladesh War.”
“No, no, when India fought Pakistan.”
I wanted to say forever, but by now we had become an item. She was attending to others, but she would glance at me. The expression was a mix of indulgence and confusion. She is a Parsi. I have no idea where she fished it out from, but she brought out an old clipping of her brother being decorated.
“You know I want to join one of these citizens’ movements.”
“Do you know all these CEOs came out in the streets?”
I went full-throttle about what I have written. It was time to go to the inner chambers…the wax seemed hotter.
The lounge at the airport. No announcement about delays. The television is blasting news about how we should deal with Pakistan. The channel is Headlines Today. Some punk who is referred to as ‘our defence correspondent’ is taking on Defence Minister A.K.Antony for saying that we had no immediate plans for military action against Pakistan.
The punk is screeching, because the lady in the studio is asking him to give his expert view from some strip of road he is standing in. He is screeching that this is not how the Defence Minister of the country should talk. His comments are “False and needless.” What?
This fellow knows more? These studio jerks are going to decide on such important decisions when some of us question even the powers-that-be? What is false about it? And why is it needless? Because these people won’t have anything to keep them busy and away from murders in our country, ordinary murders?
Mr. Antony has goofed up as Defence Minister on occasion, but the Government of India had not made any firm decision. He was merely reiterating the position he had expressed. It was needed because going to war is not like barking comments into a mike. Or sitting in on panel discussions. Or even writing. Yes. I am saying it.
Immediately after this they were showing Yousuf Raza Gilani saying that Pakistan does not want a war but if they were pushed in a situation they would fight back. This they thought was a pugnacious stand. What was he expected to say?
Then they had one more major reason to promote this nonsense. It happened to be Vijay Divas. I don’t know of many channels that make an issue of this day on other occasions, but now it was huge.
Does a person travelling from one point to the other on some work or whatever wallow in such sponsored bitterness?
I added lots of sugar to my coffee.
The checks at the airport are not as stringent as made out to be. They merely look at your photo ID before you enter.
After security check, my handbag stood on a counter. I waited. The security person waved me off. I kept standing. Don’t they want to see again what’s inside? My name, read my name, I wanted to tell them.
The guy smiled, “Theek hai.”
Ah, well, I had a new lipgloss. And I can use it as a weapon.
The man was playing the flute. “Hamein tumse pyaar kitna yeh hum nahin jaante magar jee nahin sakte tumhare binaa.”
I lip-synced the words. I could not see him, but his voice carried to the apartment. I marvelled at the way he managed the mudki… “Bhool gaye sayaan preet purani…and then dipped “qadar na jaani”. No one will know him. He sells flutes to children who wet it with drool as they blow into it and try and create some sound.
I love street sounds. That is when I am not in silent mode, which is often.
The hawkers: The one who blows a horn, a peculiar one, as he rides on a bicycle selling idli in a big steel tiffin.
The one who shouts late in the evening, especially in summers (which is forever in Mumbai), “Kul-piyeee”. It is for kulfi; he carries it in a basket on his head, the aluminium cones covered with red cloth. Then with a deft click of hand, he manages to slip it out and offers it on a leaf.
Mangoes in season; just about everything is sold. Brooms. Carpets. Knife-sharpeners.
Then comes the monkey man. I can imagine the monkey dance as he rattles the dumroo. I wonder how many kids would look wide-eyed now when they can get these games on their fancy gadgets.
During Ramzan, one man would call out, “Jaago, utho, rozedaaron”...and then intonate some naat. I remember him so clearly because one day I saw him. He was lame; it must have been painful walking through that lane to awaken people; sometimes he got a part of their sehri leftovers. Somehow, ever since I saw him his voice began to have more pathos. I don’t know why. It was as though he was singing in pain, about pain…
Then there are balloon sellers. I hate that grating sound they make with their fingers on the balloons.
Occasionally, when it is still at night, I can hear people talking in the street returning from some revelry. They are drunk and laughing. I wonder about them…or there are voices of the poor. Yes, the poor sound different. I can catch words. They fight. The poor fight differently. As though even the quarrel is a test of survival. There is something primal.
I listen to the sound of heels clicking on the street. A woman who wants to feel tall and is confident about her walk.
I hear the sound of a bike…I know this is some spoilt kid showing off. I imagine Ms. heel and Mr. Bike meeting. My attitude changes. She holds him round the waist or on the shoulder and they zoom away to look for a few hours of blissful togetherness.
I can hear the sound as the moon falls. You don’t believe me? Try listening carefully. When you listen to the wind hum and you smile, then you are the crescent fallen from the sky.
One is always as precious as the thing one loves.
Ke subah ho gayee
Aankhon ke jaam se takrayee
Aur pyaas bujh gayee
Kal ki raat itni lambee thi
Ke andhera ujaala ban gaya
Aasman ki kaali chadar mein
Sawera bunn gaya
Kal ki raat itni lambee thi
Ke khwaabon ne basera kar diya
Ghar ban gaya aise hi lete hue
Darwaza khul gaya deewar ke beech se
Kal ki raat itni lambee thi
Ke aaj tak muqammil hai
Uski parchhaeen ne har chubhti hui chingari ko
Maum bana liya
Kal ki raat itni lambee thi
Ke usko naap nahin sakte
Aur aisi gehree ke doob jaaye tau
Wohi nakhuda ban ke saahil tak pohuncha le
Kal ki raat ab raat kahaan rahi
Usne tau zindagi ka naqsh bana liya
December 12. The same article is reproduced in The News (Jang group) Pakistan. How do I get to know? When I open my mail and see a burst of abuses. "You have written for a Pakistani newspaper! Go there, live there!!" Nothing new. When words fail you, use exclamation marks...the more the merrier. And hello? What are they doing reading Pakistani newspapers at all hours of the day and night?
People who wear blinkers are not expected to read; they scroll; they see a byline. A name they think is suitable for target practice. They miss it by miles. If I had patience, I'd weep for them. They don't have eyes to scroll to the bottom where it clearly mentions the source where it was originally published.
I was not asked. But then this article would have been picked up by anyone, anywhere. And I stand by every word I have written and will write. Anywhere I want.
- - -
This brings me to the naive belief some people have that these attacks have united India. Which India? A bunch of politicians who got together and declaimed in parliament that they will fight terror? What were they doing all these years?
Groups formulating petitions? Who are they and where will they be a few weeks down the line?
The Mumbai of Malabar Hill or Mankhurd? When did you see them together?
I am not wearing blinkers simply because I am not a horse running somebody else's race.
Nice try, folks, but you will have to work harder to still my voice. I am sure in the din you create you cannot even hear it, to begin with.
Thanks for promoting this blog and getting a peek into my multi-talented personality. Yes, I can write poetry and paint as well...no enough is enough for me.
Have a good weekend. The weather in my city is getting better...wish you were here...and hope it was good for you...
The little girl ran through the lanes of what looked like a village. She kept tugging at people and asking them “Kismet baba kahaan hai? (Where is Kismet baba)” Her friends had told her something and even collected money, little coins…she ran in search. When she found him, a man was getting his arm tattooed, painful pricks as the needle created patterns.
She cringed, but after he was done she asked the artist, “Mujhe kismet chahiye. (I want fate.)"
I was surfing channels and I don’t quite know where I saw this. The line has remained etched on my mind.
The very thought that fate can be bought with coins, that it can be poked into a part of your body and stand out as embellishment, is so beguiling.
The girl was told it was painful; she said she wanted kismet anyhow and would not cry. I saw her face turned away as it got imprinted on her wrist. A fate she desired but could not look at while it was being written.
Are we ever witness to our fate when it is being formed? Does fate come in a ready package? Does it change? Like a tattoo, can it get infected if not cared for at the initial stages? Is fate as visible?
I want destiny too…it is never too late. I want an imprint. For long I have lived with soluble ink.
I love henna. Now they have cones; earlier there used to be silver needles, long ones. We would sit for hours as a design was made and that needle would tickle, sometimes prick us. After the mehndi had been done, we were told not to go anywhere near water. Our hands remained thirsty. Then they would dip cotton wool swabs in a mixture of lemon and sugar syrup and dab it lightly for it to stick. We kept it on all night; in the morning we awoke to find little flakes of black-green on the bedsheet, most of it had come off, but the pattern had embedded itself…peacocks, flowers, curves.
We took a blunt knife or spatula and scraped it off. No washing. How thirsty the hands would be. Then we added Vicks Vaporub for heat or stood before the gas flame, when the elders were not looking.
The colour darkened, from orange to brown…we showed off our colours...whose was darker? Unlike today where the cones have some additives that help you take off the henna within minutes and you end up with a decent dark shade, we went through the process…that is what made it interesting. Kismet took its time forming.
However, with or without additives, such fate was temporary. It would start fading, each wash proving to be its undoing. Slaking the thirst of hands one was washing away destiny.
The good thing is no one called it that.
I have got stick-on tattoos twice…I had pasted one on my ankle and the other on the nape of my neck. The ankle had a butterfly…perhaps my feet would flit about and sponge on the fragrance of flowers and pollinate the earth…as for the dragon on my neck, it slithered along the length, its tongue arching up to my ear-lobe in a desperate whisper. I would look at it and wonder: what if it had a life? Would it not kill me?
Does everything that lives kill and destroy?
Perhaps I will know only if buy kismet. The problem is I want it to appear without my asking, to fall into my lap and let me run my fingers through its hair, sing to it and become mine.
I would then belong to it. How can a needle that you desire ever hurt you?
Pink is not your colour, I am told. Red, that’s you.
Red as danger. Blood. Pomegranate seeds. Ferrari.
But red is also the stop signal. I don’t want to stop.
I don’t want to hear the wheels screech to a halt or a face, like a doe, looking frightened beyond the windshield, just saved from death.
I don’t want to wait for red to cross the street. I want open roads, like open doors, that I can go in and out of…roads that are not polished and shining, but are mud tracks where I can look for traces of my feet.
Of late, I have begun to embrace pink…the evening salmon-coloured sky as though the sea has risen all the way up. Candyfloss that sticks to the face like a childhood toy. Blush on cheeks as a smile creeps over the lips.
Red passion got where it was because it started out with pink, as flesh rose to burst out of skin and the creamy texture got tinged.
I did something I would not have done before. I got pink curtains, baby pink curtains. I have not yet hung them up, but I know that as the light penetrates through the window the room will glow as though it has been caressed.
One day I wore a touch of pink on my lips. It was long ago. Long ago there had been a day of pain and my teeth had bitten my lips hard to stifle a scream, a dream. Someone entered the room, someone I barely knew, and she asked, “You are wearing purple lipstick?”
I smiled. Who would ever understand that pink had been bruised?
I owe it to pink to give it back its luminescence.
“War clouds are gathering”.
I detest the phrase. But both countries have been going on about these clouds. Since 1989 Jammu and Kashmir has been suffering, so where were these war clouds then? Our little Kargil encounter was a result of the Pokhran blasts; Pakistan had to show it could retaliate.
Aryabhatas and Ghaznavis act like our ego-boosters.
Why is India demanding that Dawood Ibrahim be handed over? Are we trying to mislead investigations or saving our skin because our intelligence agencies and government fiddled?
Pakistan has refused to also hand over Tiger Memon and JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar too because we do not have an extradition treaty or evidence against them. If we provide it, then Pakistan will try these criminals.
I think this is fair, at least as far as protocol goes.
Now, there is a Pakistani view. I spoke with X who believes that this can be done. There are many such Pakistanis who believe that the government does not need to sit on ceremony or split hairs over legal issues. They are gathering groups and trying to make them see that a pugnacious attitude won’t help.
I agree with the theory that we don’t have to flex muscles. But why does India not provide evidence? Why did India not do anything when Dawood was in Dubai after the March 1993 blasts? Why did Chhota Rajan continue to hold his Ganesh pandals and become a ‘Hindu hero’ and patriot at the time? Why did they not get him, Dawood’s special man, to give the dirt on the D-Company?
India is in a precarious situation because we do not have enough information except that these attacks were done by those trained by the LeT based on the account of one captured terrorist. What does Pakistan do?
From a report:
A day after Pakistani security forces raided a terror camp in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and arrested a senior LeT commander believed to have been one of the masterminds of the Mumbai attack, the government on Monday vowed not to allow its soil to be used for terrorism.
Just like that they find someone who they tout as a mastermind? This report is strange and has little knowledge about where PoK figures in the Pakistani political scheme.
Asif Ali Zardari is a dithering man – he has been vacillating from the moment he became President. I don’t understand why we are speaking to the President of Pakistan when it is the Prime Minister who should be our man there. Zardari’s dream of being the Sonia Gandhi of Pakistan seems to have come true. The problem is he would not wish to get his son Bilawal to be the mascot, like Sonia has got Rahul, yet. He needs to taste real power for himself.
Before there is another coup. Yes. The Army is always prepared to occupy the political citadel. The ISI is doing pretty much what it wants. The grand display of removing its political interference was a cosmetic exercise. What is there to spy on local politicians, anyway?
This is how they react:
“The raid was carried out to get details about the activities of the group in Kashmir following allegations by India that the LeT was using Pakistani territory for training,’’ an intelligence official said.
Fantastic. It sounds like ‘mummy asked me to clean the room’ stuff. And if we are talking LeT then I do not understand why everytime there is a terror attack, we either ask for Dawood or demand the execution of Afzal Guru. Both are Indians. So we are at war with ourselves.
Let us just end this by announcing a general ceasefire with Pakistan and declare a civil war. We can fight with each other.
I dislike the word author. Not for itself, but when applied to those who use their skill with words. Author is a larger term. According to some rumours, god is the author or the world.
Am I an author?
I was told a few months ago that I ought to change my profile on this blog. Heck, I was told to stop blogging “like that” and posting pictures of hair, nose, eyes, bits of clothing…I was told to behave like I mattered. I said all the parts of me mattered; without them I’d be handicapped, especially the bits of clothing…
Therefore, with the confidence that comes with dotage (stop right there before you hand me the walking stick; dotage also refers to second childhood), I decided to let things be as they are. They are still true, perhaps truer.
People continue to ask me, “What do you do?” I swallow. No, I don’t tell them that. I swallow my pride - is pride liquid that it can be swallowed? Why don’t we chew pride into little morsels? - and tell them that I am hot, cold, frigid, old, young, over-the-top, under-the-weather, between a hard rock and the waves…I give them this gibberish, which really isn’t because I am all of these and some.
If they are nice, then they nod the sort of nod stewards give when a diner tries to pronounce some unmentionable part of an unmentionable animal they are about to order from the menu. Then, they ask, “And what else? Like what do work as?”
Right. I mumble that I write.
Now, writers can be village postmen penning letters to a beloved spouse in a distant city… “Chunnu ke pitaji, hiyaan gai-bhains sab kusal-mangal hai. Jagdisva ka pairan ma moch huvai, sasura peid par chadayee gaya. Aur haan, bahut laaj aave bolna ka, par aapai ki marji se huva…hamra paaon bhaari hai. Jab gaon aavo to peepermeint lana na bhulvo. Chunnu ko bahut pasand hai. Hiyaan sab yaad karat hai…”
Or writers can be researchers working on dissertations with big fat Greek wedding type sounding names like ‘An Intestinal and Infinitesimal Analysis of Anal Retentiveness in Constipated Minds from the Perspective of Dysenteric Verbosity in the Colon’.
Or writers can be time-pass keyboardists…or part-time poets…or…you get the drift.
So, the person asking me waits and wonders which category I could belong to.
Suddenly, it strikes that maybe I could be writing those mystery novels…like ‘Shhh… koi hai’ on TV where there is a murder, rape, robbery, and the culprit is never that character whose eyes bulge out of the socket and tongue hangs out and hair looks electrified. The questioner may look at my eyes, tongue, hair to ascertain the possibility, though.
Someone even asked if I wrote like Mills & Boon stuff. Oh, I so wanted to say yes. Imagine spending your life writing about women with perky breasts that are definitely more interesting than the women, and men who are very good at inheriting money to keep perky breasts forever perky.
Finally, the inquisitor stifles a yawn and says, okay, nice meeting you…do you know Salman Rushdie? Everybody knows Salman Rushdie. Even the paanwalla, especially the paanwalla.
Now I have begun to say author. It sounds authoritative. Like I am the author of this idea. I wasn’t sure. So I looked up the contract with my publisher. It says, “This deed has been signed by the hip and happening (arrite, poetic license this) FV, henceforth referred to as the author, and Harper Collins, henceforth referred to as the publisher”.
I guess that makes me an author because someone who does authors is saying I am one.
Then comes the next step. Which is deadly, “What do you write on?” I wish I could say food, mocktails, wine, fashion, how to make hay during an eclipse…stuff like that…I stutter, “Well, my first book is on Pakistan.”
“Oh…” (face falls), or “Oh!” (face lights up because s/he has visited there for cricket matches and been in love with Imran Khan who has the bitters/Wasim Akram who has diabetes/Shoaib Akhtar who has ..ne’er mind). Last month, and this is real, I met an educated lady. She was all about how the launch went and how wonderful it is that am on the shelf (hah). She paused and asked, “So you actually went to Pakistan?”
To mess up an old saying, Poori Ramayana padh li ab poochte hai ke Hanuman Lanka gaye ya nahin.
It’s been funny moments. I don’t mind. I like introducing myself again and again. What am I?
A character…I have been written and erased several times.
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I have been delayed, and some people who were supposed to post queries on my book (here) have not done so…you have some time. Or else I will use the email ones.