Monday, February 01, 2016

Language of silence

The world is watching
The souls remain silent
The eyes speak something
The lips speak another
Words are exchanged
Meanings to be read between the lines
What remains unspoken
Is what is to be understood…
Muted sighs
Stifled desires
The sizzling magic concealed
 from prying eyes
The soul  listens
The heart understands …

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

When the Mask becomes the face -EPILOGUE


Some years later

Jalaja went back to her haven in the metro…she settled into her life…got used to the city life…and then when she found her bearings, she went and adopted a little girl child from an orphanage…and her life followed a new direction..she sought to give her daughter all that she craved for in her life-her life became meaningful…

(I wanted to channel Jalaja’s life along a new direction…but did not quite know how to go abt it- lots of practical problems surfaced like how she stumbled onto the decision- mebbe she developed a fondness for the little daughter of her maid- and then may be I could kill the maid- and make the little girl an orphan- and then Jalaja would automatically adopt her- then how would she solve the problem of looking after the child- when she went to work- then shud I resurrect the maid- mebbe jalaja cud adopt her or just sponsor her education and upbringing- , the mother notwithstanding- crèche- play school- tiresome…and its too tedious to weave all the details- and I’m already upto the nose with Jalaja and her woes…so I just ffwd ed the story for u :- )

And yes, this story has been woven around someone I happen to know quite well in real life…her life is presently at the point where I ended the story (before the epilogue) and I hope and pray that her life also finds a direction of purpose and fulfillment in some way or the other…

(Some years later, a young man- proposed to  Jalaja. He was one of her brother's friends and she had always been comfortable welcoming them to their home. She was pleasantly surprised but couldn't bring herself to accept the proposal. She knew her parents wouldn't approve and she was worried about what others would say. Eventually, however she accepted the proposal but the marriage was solemnised without her parents blessings. She lived happily until....

Yesterday evening, December 25th 2012, Jalaja passed away. She was severely sick. I hadn't known that she was back in Trichy, I hadn't known she was unwell... I wish I had known, I wish I had gone to meet her, I wish I could have spent some time with her...

When the Mask becomes the face -4

Finally, Jalaja managed to land a job! The bonus was that she was posted in a bustling city far, far away from this hell hole. For the first time Jalaja felt a new sensation- maybe this was what they called “happiness”? She had no touchstone to compare, but she was content. Finally, she was an independent woman- well into her thirties - she was eager to join work. It had become so painful to ask for money for her bare necessities. Lately Jalaja had begun to feel resentment creep into her father’s words too- she was a reminder to him of failed responsibilities, he too chose to lay the blame of Jalaja’s crosses on her.

To Jalaja, her job was the gateway to freedom- an escape- the job by itself was not easy- it was at a call center, but she was prepared to hold onto it for sanity sake. The life in the metro was too unnerving- the world was different and she felt she belonged to another generation. Her age too made it difficult to learn new things, but she was determined..and she persevered. It was her only refuge. Initially, she lived with a couple of colleagues- as paying guests, but the younger girls' shoddy ways and habits irked her. She began to assume a matronly, domineering air and they were clearly uncomfortable. Jalaja realized that she was the odd one out and at the nearest opportunity she moved to an independent accommodation.

Jalaja tasted delicious freedom in her new “home”. She enjoyed keeping her home, doing up “her” home. The weekdays were hectic, and she fell asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow. Though the days were monotonous, she relished her independence and freedom. But she dreaded the weekends. Loneliness threatened to gobble her up, and she had nowhere to go- Music and books helped only so much. The city outside would be freaking out and she would be languishing in solitude. She tried out several recipes, but how much could a single, lonely person eat? She did not feel like visiting her folks back at home either. They too had got used to her absence.

And now with her brother’s wedding next week she had no choice but to peek into that strange, unfriendly world once again. She dreaded the festivities, the meeting guests and relatives, the questions looming large in their eyes, but there was no way out. Some things just had to be done. It would be sheer torture to keep smiling, to laugh, to talk…it was like she had to visit another planet and she did not know the language- Jalaja was painfully conscious as to that every face would be looking askance- wondering how she was reacting to her brother’s wedding- Jalaja felt the need to smile wider, laugh louder…when actually she wanted to scream out… she felt she could “hear” the unspoken words of derision, sympathy, for the “poor,unwed" sister. But she had to play the game- She had to keep the Mask on- Tears could wait, atleast until she could crawl back to her haven..far far away from this mad din…

When the Mask becomes the face -3

Jalaja hated stepping out of the house- the neighbours' stares seemed to pierce her soul, some filled with blatant pity, others with barely concealed contempt- She longed to break free, to escape to some far off world, but she did not know where it was or how to get there. She sought refuge at many a door- learning languages, getting a glimpse into Spirituality- the latter helped her for a while and she was lulled into a sense of security but that evaporated with time- it was an illusory respite. Her emotional travails managed to creep into her acquired sense of security and continued to haunt her daily existence.

Then she tried to get a job, but the job market seemed forbidding and her acumen was jaded. Jalaja trudged through her life like a lost soul, wondering what purpose her existence served in the scheme of things- everything seemed such a waste, and yet, one had to simply continue to live because one breathed.

Years sped by, Jalaja’s friends went on to become wives and mothers. Jalaja was left behind staring into the horizon. She recoiled from having to attend weddings. Her mother’s words became sharper, her father seemed to have forgotten that perhaps he had left something unattended. Jalaja’s presence was like one of the pillars in the house- supported the house and yet went unnoticed.

Jalaja’s mask had come to become her face, she had no idea of her own thoughts and feelings- so out of touch she had made herself with “her”. Her tryst with Indifference strengthened…To others, Jalaja came across as this stern, arrogant woman who was untouched by the things around her. A woman who was used to domineer, who seemed condescending- there was a “touch me not” aura about her that made people stay aloof from her. None knew it was all just a veneer- just a defensive stance against all hurt and pain, an invisible barricade against the tsunami of tears that seemed to loom larger with every passing moment. Nobody realized that Jalaja too was unaware of the intensity of the emotions lurking underneath, that perhaps threatened her sanity even.

When the Mask becomes the face-2

With years, Jalaja had got so used to the secondary treatment, and any residual bitterness that may have lingered was left unattended. Her life had become a legacy of mute acceptance. She refused to let her thoughts hover over it.

Her father had been away from the family most of the time, and when he was around treated her like an adult always- she did not ever remember feeling or reacting like a child- she had learnt to do the chores around the home very early- and when she became good at it- her mother just withdrew and the entire burden of maintaining the home slipped onto her. She had not even realized it. Only when she went to some of her friends’ homes she saw how different it was- and even then she did not think much about it- she was actually irritated by her friends’ childish tantrums, and she perceived their parents' as anomalies. Today, she did not like it if her mother did something around the house once in a way, and her mother was only too glad to leave the tasks to Jalaja.

As the years passed by, and there was no sight of a willing groom, her mother began to get impatient, and did not mince words with regard to Jalaja’s homely looks. The wretched mother took out the frustration piled upon by “well meaning” relatives on Jalaja…and the thickness of Jalaja’s mask increased steadily…

Mother and daughter had screaming sessions followed by sullen silence which was deafening. Four souls lived under one roof stranger than strangers. Nobody said kind words, nobody cried, nobody offered solace. The looming silence was denser than the surrounding walls.

And to this house, a young girl with dreams was to set her feet in a few days. A feeling of pity rose in Jalaja’s heart. She had lost touch with softer emotions, and this new feeling was unfamiliar to Jalaja.

to be contd...

When The Mask becomes the Face-1

Jalaja wiped her tears in a hurry as she heard footsteps approaching- she tried to retain a nonchalant expression which had become her mask for a long time now…that she felt she looked like a wax image- she had learnt not to let her emotions show on her face. But she realized that in an attempt to wear an impervious expression, her features had assumed a kind of stony arrogance. People often misunderstood her to be a defiant person. But she did not care- why should she, they never bothered to delve into her mind- to try to know what she actually felt- they only wanted to pass judgments-

Her trail of thoughts were interrupted as her father came in.

“We’ll leave by tonite’s train to Chennai Jalaja, get done with the shopping by tomorrow evening and be back by the night train.”

Her father seemed to look at it as just a chore, a nuisance to be done over with. She and her father were going to buy clothes for her younger brother’s bride- and as usual her father did not consider it necessary to take her mother with them. He always considered Jalaja’s mother to be an uncouth ,illiterate woman and treated her with scant respect. Her mother did not expect otherwise either. So here she and her father were going to buy clothes for her would-be sister- in –law – Jalaja thought of the young girl with stars in her eyes- dreams in her heart- she wondered what kind of a life she would be leading in this house…

Jalaja nodded in affirmation, and continued packing her bag. Warm, angry tears flowed down her cheeks- Jalaja was not sure what emotions ran through her these days- she was so confused- was it sorrow, remorse, jealousy, anger? She just did not understand anything anymore. She also felt guilty about the flood of emotions that threatened to submerge her entire being- it was slowly eroding away her spirits- and she dreaded facing each day. But there was nothing that she could do, she just had to trudge through each day with determination…there was no escape- she felt like she was caught in a quicksand.

“Why am I feeling so resentful? Is it possible that I could be feeling envious of my own brother?”

They had never been very close though there was only a difference of only two years between them. Her mother had never bothered to conceal her soft corner for the male child- Jalaja’s tryst with indifference began early.

to be contd...

When The Mask becomes the Face-2

When The Mask becomes the Face-3 

When The Mask becomes the Face- 4

When The Mask becomes the Face- Epilogue and Concluding update

Silence reigns…

The soul awash with despair
Thoughts, feelings gushing forth
But alas! No words enough to hold them...
Silence reigns…
They fall back into the depths of my soul
As simmering sighs…
Thoughts borne in the recesses of the mind
Waiting to be uttered as words and sounds

Just behind my lips...

Friday, December 18, 2015

You alone...

You seem so far, far away,
another time, another life
another reality...
your words, your looks, your touch...
now seem like a dream
everything else an illusion.

I can accept the truth of Existence
the secret of the cosmos
But for you- you alone.

I need, I believe
You are me
and I'm you;
inseparable, irrefutable,
my life, my soul, my being...
all else is nothing...

the trivia of life and its mundaneness
just cease to be of meaning
our life together is my Blessing
the touch of God upon my soul...

( dated Feb 2012)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Gulzar’s “Kitaabein” Translation

Kitabein jhankti hai band almari ke sishon se,
badi hasrat se takti hai ye,
mahino ab mulakatein nahi hoti.  

Books peering wistfully through the glass windows
Its been months since we last met

Jo shamein unki shahubat mein kata karti thi
Ab aksar guzar jati hai computer ke pardon par
Badi bechain rehti hai ye kitabein,
unhe ab neend mein chalne ki aadat ho gayi hai.

Those evenings ,spent in their company once
Are now spent glued to the computer screen.  
Those books are now growing restless
And have begun sleep walking …

Jo kadre wo sunati thi,
ki jinkein cell kabhi marte nahi the,
Jo rishtey wo sunate thi
wo saare udhre udhre hai

The insights that they used to share,
with cells that never died on us
The bonds that they shared
are now threadbare

Koi safa palat-ta hun toh ek siski nikalti hai,
Kai lafzon ke maane gir pade hai.
Bina patton ke sukhen tund lagte hai woh sab alfaz,
Jin par ab koi mane nai ugte

Now when I flip a page, a sob escapes
Many words scattered, and hollow 
Looking  like withered stubs
Upon which another leaf might never sprout

Zabaan pe zaika aata tha jo woh safa palatne ka,
Ab ungli click karne se bas ek jhapki gujarti hai.  
 Bahut kuch tay batay khulta chala jata hai parde par.
  Kitabon se jo ek jyaati raabta  tha, kat gaya hai.

The flavour that used to linger on the tongue
As one flipped the pages
Now all it takes is just a click
In the blink of an eye
Much said, and much more revealed on the screen.
That familiar connect is now broken - 

Kabhi seene pe rakh kar let jaate the,
kabhi godi mein lete the, kabhi ghutnon ko apne rehal ki soorat bana kar,
neem sajdheymein  padha karte the.  
Chute the zameen se.  

Reclining with the book
stretched across the bosom,
sometimes nestled on one’s lap,
sometimes resting on one’s knees-
doubling up as a book rest
grazing the earth, Half- bowed in prayer …

Woh saara illm toh milta rahega aainda bhi,
magar woh jo kitabon mein mila karte the sukhen phool aur mehken hue roke
Kitabein mangne, girne, uthane ke bahane rishtey bantey the, unka kya hoga?
Woh sayad ab nahi honge…"  
All that  learning shall continue
but those dry pressed flowers, the fragrant notes
those relationships that were forged
amid borrowing, dropping and picking of books?
That perhaps may happen no more …

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Imprisoned Forever - Rohini Raja- (Translation )

Ehsaas-e-jurm ke karaagar Mein
 ek ajeeb si tanhai jhulthi gayi
Woh maafi ke chandh lafson Mein
 ek boondh rihaee takthi rahi
Iss baat se anjaan Ki na galthi Ki kabhi maafi hothi hai,
aur na kabhi ehsaas-e-jurm se rihaee...

Trapped in the prison of guilt,
tormented by an eerie loneliness,
she sought a sprinkle of salvation, with a few words of apology,
oblivious to the fact that -
there is no pardon for the lapse nor  reprieve from remorse...

Sachidanandan's " ശവമടക്കുകാർക്കുള്ള നിർദ്ദേശ്ശങ്ങൾ "- Translation

To the Pall bearers!

Steady ;as you carry me downstairs from the 1st floor flat- door no: 7;
An ash coloured cat that was fond of me
shall follow…
No! don’t shroud my face please ;
Let me have but one last glance of my neighbours…
My kin, let them take a look after I’m forgotten…
Let the Murraya (curry leaf) tree bid adieu-
Will it rain? Let the rains drench me like in childhood
The pigeon on the window sill shall also get soaked…
My desk bearing the warmth of my elbows, and a half- read book
shall miss me .
My pen remains open, waiting for the unwritten poem

on a blank leaf of paper
now like a deserted carnival ground ....
A siris blossom may fall onto my forehead
if the wind cares to remember…
The hearse reeking of preceding passengers
awaits impatiently at the doorstep;
Stop! Don’t recite the Gita!
Can’t take another battle!
And no flags please;
Its all about surrender.
Let the flames of another world
Blaze on the shores of Yamuna;
Can’t bear to be scorched beyond death.
The burning embers before moving on to another body;
mutters, “ my earthly sojourn was not too bad…
Perhaps I shall stop by again”…

Mera Kuchh samaan - Gulzar (translation)-

मेरा कुछ सामान, तुम्हारे पास पड़ा है
सावन के कुछ भीगे-भीगे दिन रखे हैं 
और मेरे एक ख़त में लिपटी रात पड़ी है
वो रात बुझा दो, मेरा वो सामान लौटा दो

Some things of mine are left behind with you-
Some rain soaked leaves;
And a night wrapped in a letter...
Wipe out that night,
Restore those things of mine…

पतझड़ है कुछ, है ना?
पतझड़ में कुछ पत्तों के गिरने की आहट
कानों में एक बार पहन के लौटाई थी
पतझड़ की वोह शाख अभी तक काँप रही है
वो शाख गिरा दो, मेरा वो सामान लौटा दो

Wasn’t that autumn-
And the rustle of falling leaves
That I handed over to you
After adorning my ears;
that bough still quivers-
Shed that bough, and hand over my things…

एक अकेली छतरी में जब आधे-आधे भीग रहे थे 
आधे सूखे, आधे गीले, सूखा तो मैं ले आई थी
गीला मन शायद बिस्तर के पास पड़ा हो
वो भिजवा दो, मेरा वो सामान लौटा दो

Sharing an umbrella-
Drenched in parts,Dry in parts...
I brought home the parched;
But perhaps I left behind my moist heart-
By the bedside…
Send back those things of mine…

एक सौ सोलह चाँद की रातें, एक तुम्हारे काँधे का तिल 
गीली मेहँदी की खुशबू, झूठ-मूठ के शिकवे कुछ
झूठ-मूठ के वादे भी सब याद करा दूं
सब भिजवा दो, मेरा वो सामान लौटा दो

A hundred or more moonlit nights,
That mole on your shoulder,
The fragrance of wet henna...
Let me remind you 
Of those petty quibbles, those false promises
Give all of them back …

एक इजाज़त दे दो बस, जब इनको दफ़नाऊगी 
मैं भी वहीँ सो जाऊंगी, 
मैं भी वहीँ सो जाऊंगी 

Just allow me this-
That when I bury these;
Let me lay to rest…

Saturday, October 24, 2015

In my dream again

In my dream again, you came last night...

I saw you again the other day,
and then again y'day night.
I saw you close, I touched you,
I spoke to you, I listened to you...
I called out to you again and again...
loud and louder
I enjoyed calling out your name loud and clear
this much I remember...

Those who have gone, when they visit you in your dreams...
the images, the feelings crystal clear
its like they never left
the feeling lingers, the memories remain
leaving one so confused when one wakes to reality
each awakening, a rude reminder of the absence, of the void...
one remembers calling out to them loud, loud, over and over again
so much more to have said, so much left incomplete...

see you again
in my dreams...


Ambushed by shrapnel words searing the soul piercing, lacerating vitriolic volley

bloodless wounds never to heal Invisible scars Silent screams Unshed tears Unspent fury

Sunday, September 20, 2015


My pupils, my children!
As I walk among you
And your screams rend the air
As you call out my name
I feel like a celebrity!

My pupils, my children!
Your brimming warmth and love,
Feels like a million blessings-
Enfolding me in a cocoon
Of joy and serenity.

My pupils, my children!
My prayers for you-
May you spread cheer
May you bring light into
Your life and other's too.

My pupils, my children!
May the light of love and compassion;
Lead you through darkness.
May your morrows;
Be filled with gladness.
May Life be kind to you…
May you fulfil your Destiny…
This is my prayer for you…