खेल किस्मत का

बुरे वक़्त में ना तू मेरी पहचान बना, ऐ हमसफ़र,
ये तो महज़ एक मोड़ है,
फ़िर ज़िन्दगी की तो लम्बी है डगर।

क्या पता किस पत्थर के नीचे,
मिल जाए पड़ा गिन्नी का सोना,
लाख इंकार कर ले मुसाफिर,
कभी तो पड़ेगा तुझे किस्मत की ताकत से वाकिफ़ होना।

तुम अपनी किस्मत के कवि नहीं,
किस्मत तुम्हारा काव्य नहीं,
भाग्य को ही बस में करले ,
ऐसा बुलंद किसी का भाग्य नहीं।

हाँ मगर किस्मत को ही अपने जीवन की लगाम थमाकर,
यूँ ही मायूस बैठ जाना भी कोई ढंग नहीं।
आखिर तुम भी कांच से तेज़ माँझे हो,
कोई बेजान सी लहराती कटी पतंग नहीं।

किस्मत तेरा वाहन बन सकती है,
पर वाहन के पहिये तू, तू इंधन भी है।
माना कि किस्मत में ताकत है,
मगर तुझसे तो कम ही है।

पलटने की तो फ़ितरत इसकी, किस्मत का क्या है,
कभी जहन्नुम सा सुलगता,
तो कभी स्वर्ग सा खुशनुमा ये जहां है।

आखिर न्यूटन के गुरुत्वाकर्षण ने भी तो कहा यही,
जिसे पूरे विश्व तक ने माना है,
चीज़ जो एक बार ऊपर गयी,
उसे कभी नीचे ही तो आना है।

ठंड के कोहरे को भी,
सवेरे का सूरज छांटता ही तो है,
भाग्य तुम्हे चाहे जितने दुःख से नवाज़े,
ख़ुशी उतनी ही बांटता भी तो है।

तोह दोस्त मेरे, अगली बार फ़ूटी किस्मत को
ना तुम अपने दिल से लगाना,
किस्मत को उसकी औकात दिखाकर,
नम आँखों से भी मुस्कराना।

किस्मत कि उंगली टेढ़ी हुई तो क्या,
ताकत अपनी भी तो मुट्ठी सी है।
जनाब शाहरुख़ खां ने ‘हैपी न्यू ईयर’ में ठीक ही फ़रमाया,
“किस्मत बड़ी कुत्ती चीज़ है!”

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The Depths of Depression

Slowly, the walls of my pit grow colder,
Its nooks and crevices slick with moisture.
The once green grass turns brown; paler, older,
As I’m shrouded in the sweet fragrance of death, decay.

The dismal abyss grows ever dark,
Its plethora of sinister sounds only grows.
Listen closely now, strain your ears, hark!
Vermin slowly slithers hereabout.

Eventually, I accept this abode of gloom,
Settling in these pits of despair,
Condemning myself to this life of doom,
I crave the inevitable eventuality of sweet, sweet death.

Presently, strains of laughter float down from above,
As gay gypsies set camp around my chasm,
Their refrains of cheer and songs of love,
Are unwelcome, out of place here.

Their peals of joy grate upon my ears.
The loud din of laughter masking my shout.
Do they not see me, can they not hear?
“Save me, help me. Pull me out.”

All You Need is Love (Or is It?)

It started as all crushes do,
With a funny feeling in my stomach, a tickle in the throat,
Breath that would start wheezing
And a heart that would float.

Those eyes were never ending pools of hazel,
Silently entreating me to lose myself in there till the end of time,
The lips slightly parted, saying nothing,
Yet emitting an inaudible, imaginary chime.

Every day I passed that face,
With features chiselled to perfection,
Every day I buried my head in my scarf,
Running till I got lost at a busy intersection.

My mind would urge me to meet those eyes,
Look into them till they became windows to the soul,
Yet I couldn’t get myself to actually lift my eyes higher than the cracked concrete I walked on.
I can’t. I shan’t.

Instead I would contend myself by peeking from behind books and laptops,
That body built with what magic is surely made of.
It walked to what seemed like a rhythm of happiness,
The lips moving in a poem of mauve.

Then one day that happened what always had to,
Those strong sturdy legs approached an unusual direction,
They proceeded steadily towards me,
Leaving me incapable of thought, speech or action.

“You look pretty today,”
The lips moved in three way harmony with the hands and eyes.
I gaped, unable to find any words.
I was stupefied, mesmerized.

The eyes implored me to answer,
But I stubbornly held my ground.
The face in front of me patiently waiting,
But eventually forming into a confused frown.

“Sorry, I’ve got to go,”
The lips turned in an apologetic smile,
The feet scurried away,
Merely a few steps but it felt like miles.

“What was that?” my mind angrily demanded
“I am shy!” my conscience reprimanded.
Even as my tongue ached to call after those fleeting feet,
I don’t, I won’t.

Days and months rolled by,
And increasingly it became evident,
We were but two flowers,
United by a single scent.

And however blissful it might have been,
It was nothing short of a struggle for sure.
We seemed to have contracted a contagious virus,
With no actual remedy or cure.

We might have run out of grit,
But love triumphed fear and we braved it.
We knew we could not stop now,
We shouldn’t. We couldn’t.

Shunned by all, we roamed the streets,
Hand in hand together, battling all the fear,
We smiled through the pain,
Till we had no courage to spare.

They gave our love a tag, a price on our heads,
Trampled on our hearts and tore them to shreds.
What was the most beautiful thing to me,
They called it unnatural, LGBT.

It was an affair completely in the dark,
One that no one could ever know about,
And if it ever came out in the open,
Both of us would be disowned as daughters, without a doubt.

Years passed, and life tossed us apart,
Never to meet again,
And though fate gave us enough to smile about,
Our hearts were never without pain.

***************

But on days when the sun shone brightly,
And streaks of white swam through the sky,
When the blades of grass felt full of magic,
And miracles seemed nigh,

I would picture myself in a place
Where I can step out of the closet and break free,
Spread my wings and proudly proclaim,
“Here I am, this is me!”

Dreamers

Of late, we’ve altered the meaning of dreams,

Trivialising its definition,
Limiting its vista to fit in materialistic seams.

On close scrutiny, it would seem,
We no longer can distinguish ambition from dream.

I used to dream to escape the clutches of reality,
To disguise possibility and don an unlikely costume,
An impossible wig.
But now I’m told to ‘dream big’,
And to think about my goals in life.
But oh how vulgar is this new meaning
And how very tolerant to strife.

What if I want to touch the stars,
But can’t dare to pilot a plane.
Do I not even have the right
To gaze at star studded nights,
To wander with stardust in my steps
And leave behind starlight with every leap,
Even in my sleep?

A child doesn’t dream of being rich and famous,
He dreams of living in palatial houses made of sweets.
A teenager doesn’t pictures herself working,
And climbing corporate leaders in her sleep.
But jumps up with joy on dreaming of her ‘prince charming’,
For a single heartbeat.

So let’s not spoil the innocence of dreams,
And pollute its definition with ambitious overtones.
For a dream defies limits,
And belittles possibilities.
Ambition stays grounded,
And relies a bit too much on logic.
Oh but dreams, my darling,
Dreams are the closest we ever get to magic…

Make Up

I went out with red lipstick and black liner one day,
And the boys pointed and sniggered,
“Here goes Stoker’s original Count Drac!”
Wiping it all off, out I went again,
And the girls whispered, “She looks so plain and drab.”
I sat at home for two days.
And out I ventured again.
This time with green lips and eyes lined with blue,
“Look, an ogre!” the boys chuckled,
“Look, a monster!” the girls cried.
“Look, a unique individual” thought I,
And walked on with my head held high.

Extra Credit

Once I was sitting amongst friends,
And talking about here and there,
Just because you do.
And I popped them a question,
Just out of the blue.
“What most scares you?”

A volley of answers flooded around me.
Everyone spoke up, instantly!
And the answers were more wide-ranging
Than I thought could be.
“Scary principals, prospects of a break-up,
Trigonometry and imperfect make-up.”
Lizards, roaches, dogs,
Haunted houses, creepy dolls,
Believe me, I heard it all.

Somewhere amidst all that,
A kind soul thought that it was only proper,
That I too got a chance to answer.
And though the expectations for a sensible reply were quite low,
I said something more bizarre than anything that they could conjure.

I’m scared of entering late in a room full of people,
And having all eyes upon me.
Or forgetting suddenly what I was going to say,
And fumbling during a debate rather foolishly.

Basically everything that makes people stop and stare
Yep, that is always a living nightmare.

See usually I’m this modest little girl.
But sometimes I give myself more credit than is due
I fell that I’m important enough for you.
For you to talk about me, long after I’ve gone,
And discuss my shortcomings from eve to morn.

Even when I’m on stage for just a couple of minutes,
Soon as I exit the spotlight,
I begin questioning myself.
Was my smile too bright?
Should I have spoken slower?
Were my expressions quite right?
Could the pitch of voice be lower?

 

You get the point, right?
I was suffering from social anxiety.
Every time someone laughed, I got a fright.
Because I didn’t know if they were laughing at me or with me.
Were they applauding me for real or just sarcastically?

So every time I sat on a noisy, squeaky chair,
Or laughed out a bit too loud,
I would turn red under everyone’s non-existent glare,
Filled with anxiety and self-doubt.

Thus I was hesitant while facing huge audiences,
Or speak in public, impromptu,
Because sometimes I gave myself extra credit
When I didn’t want to.

Eventually, I started retreating into my own quiet shell
Knowing that there,
I could keep all scrutinising glares at bay.
No need to talk to others, no compulsion to communicate.
I finally had my own way.

I was alone and happy and peaceful
At least that’s what I had thought.
Until one day it dawned on me
That the only one wishing me a good morning, day or night
Was the tiny little cartoon on facebook that is never quite out of sight.
Not because the others didn’t want to,
But because they didn’t know how to.
Nobody greeted me on my birthday,
Only because they didn’t know when to.

Soon I was regaling the pages of my diary with my joys
And smothering my sobs in my pillow.
Dancing alone when I was happy,
Resorting to writing when I felt low.

And so it went on…
A total whirlwind of emotions
Concealed by an unwavering poker face
Till one day I could take no more,
Without collapsing under a thousand hidden feelings
Clutching and clawing at my heart.
So I went out there and did something unprecedented.
I SHARED.

I talked; let people know how I felt.
And the world’s never been the same since.
For one, people are much nicer,
Less judgemental than I thought them to be.
And two, they are all a lot like me.
Seeking to function smoothly,
Turning to friends for help, whenever the need be.

I hold my emotions sacrosanct now,
Too important to be altered or hidden.
I come out of my shell more often,
Blasting open the closed door.
This poem has been one such occasion,
And I look forward to more.

Saving the World

I woke up this morning feeling prodigious.
Yes, that’s right! I wanted to be this city’s best friend.
I don’t know if it was a dream I saw or a story I read,
If it was a movie I watched or a song I heard.
But I woke up wanting to save the world.
I went out on the streets looking for people to save,
But no one needed protecting,
They were all perfectly safe!

Crestfallen, I wandered around,

Hands in pockets, eyes on the ground.
This city was like a perfect flowerbed,
No sign of any weeds.
I was but a superhero that no one needs.
Strolling around depressed,
I had almost lost my spirit.
And that’s when I saw it!
Wicked deeds happening right under my nose,
Those villainous creatures, mankind’s foes.

Taking a deep breath, I calmed down my nerve,

And reminded myself that it was humanity that I had to serve.
With sweaty palms and a mouth that was dry,
I stood petrified as a whole minute passed by.
‘Hey you!’ I called out.
‘Yes?’ he asked innocently as he turned about.
Oh no! These innocent ones are usually the hardest.
But I wasn’t going to be deterred.
Strengthening my resolve,
I told him in the firmest voice I could,
‘That empty bottle you just threw on the road,
Someone has to throw it in the bin, and I think you really should.
Turning red, he did what needed to be done,
And without quite meeting my eye,
Went away with a swift run.

And though for everybody else,
The city seemed pretty much the same,
Some little thing inside me had unfurled,
Now that I had done my bit to save the world!

Dissecting Love

A few years back,
I asked a girl, older than me,
What is love like?
She said, “You’re too young to know.”
But I pestered her. I pressed on.
“Is it an adventurous ride on a bike?
Perhaps a long drive,
Or maybe dinner in candlelight?”
“Well,” she replied.
All these are just clichés,
None work in real life.
“What then?” I asked her,
Hardly able to keep the excitement out of my voice.
“Okay” she smiled.
“I’ll tell you all about boys.”
Years have passed since that day,
And now I’m in a relationship of my own.
And let me tell you.
It’s not all breezy.
Being someone’s sweetheart ain’t that easy.
For one, you start losing your mind.
You’re filled with suspicion if you ever find,
Him talking to another girl.
It fills you with anger,
Leaves your head in a whirl.
But my benefactor had warned me,
All those years back.
“It’s very dangerous to think black.”
Forever since, I’ve been telling myself.
He’s entitled to talk to anyone he wishes to.
So long as he still means it,
When he says, “I love you. ”
Some say that a good boyfriend always buys you roses.
But mine never does.
Yet that’s alright, isn’t it.
If I had wanted flowers I’d had dated a florist.
At least with MY boyfriend,
I know that when I’m away,
I shall be missed.
In fact, I hate the world for commercializing love.
How can something like that,
Be quantified by red roses,
And perhaps a chocolate dove.
I also detest people for making me believe,
That for a relationship to work,
Both members have to contribute equally.
And have to do the same amount of things.
Talk the same, walk the same,
Feel the same, do whatever, just play the game.
I’ve sat through endless football matches.
I’ve learnt that Messi’s 10, Ronaldo’s 7,
And that Maradona has a hand sent from heaven.
I know every Tekken character that’s ever been.
But he doesn’t know the difference between,
A matte lipstick and one with a sheen.
He doesn’t know if I prefer sneakers or heels.
Yet I don’t think I’m the only one keeping us together.
I love him I really do.
But then, doesn’t he too.
I love listening to him talk.
I love the sound of his voice.
But some say that it is wrong.
That I shouldn’t be the silent one,
All day long.
To them, I ask,
Why does love have to be this barter, this give and take?
When he talks with his voice all excited and eyes glistening,
Why can’t love just be about listening?

Because No One Remembers

Today I went back to the place where I was born. The most bustling-with-life place in the entire city. Life was never dull in the narrow lane in front of the co-operative housing society where I used to live.
I remember every single thing that made life worth living in that humble society. Absolutely nothing used to escape the ears of Chadha Auntie, the ultimate go-to if you wanted the latest piece of gossip. Whether it was Bunty’s birthday or Sharmaji’s son had just got a CGPA 10, every piece of news reached her before anybody else. Then there was the clique of girls which every single girl aspired to be a part of. Good looks, good brains, and good manners; you name it and they had it. All cultural functions in the society used to be organised by the ‘Glitter Girls’ as we used to call them thanks to the shiny lip glosses they religiously applied everyday!
And then there was our group. The coolest posse of companions in the entire building. My pals and I went about with the name ‘Blaidd Drwg’. It’s Welsh for Bad Wolf. Rohan came up with it. He was a genius that way; an avid reader, we used to call him Harry Potter because of the glasses he wore. By merely being a member of the Blaidd Drwg gang, each boy instantly became more interesting than he would otherwise be. In the sense that girls were ‘interested’ in us boys! And I am not going to lie, I think a girl even had a crush on me, though why she would, I don’t know.
Anyway, I never did have time for love and other teenage fantasies. To me and my family, studies always came first. In fact this was why the other Blaidd Drwgs looked up to me with a certain awe. They were forever puzzled how I managed to get respectable scores with seemingly no efforts at all. But that’s where they were wrong. They had no idea how many parties I’d missed just so I could revise my syllabus just one more time. They didn’t know that I really wanted to watch that movie which I let go just because exams were round the corner.
Ah! So many reminiscent memories from my time spent here. And seeing how things are, I don’t think much has changed. The Blaidd Drwgs and the Glitter Girls have grown up of course. But there are others slowly taking up their roles.
I see a girl there tightly clinging to her mother. She had just come running across the road to meet her friends without waiting to see the car zooming towards her. It swerved away just in the nick of time. Her mother, with a clearly flustered yet relieved face, lovingly held her hand, fervently telling her daughter that nothing was more important than her life; not her friends, not her reputation, nothing. It’s exactly what my mother used to tell me as well when I felt scared before my exams. She told me once that every problem in my life was temporary, I was not. As long as I had me, every adversary could be overcome.
As I stand here today in this dark corner, life is going on as usual in this lane, this society. No one sees me. As I watch a former Glitter Girl and Blaidd Drwg who earlier used to dread being seen in each other’s company, now dating, my eyes mist over. This is what life could’ve been. When I see the lights go on and shadows dancing in the windows of the flat that I used to call my home, it finally hits me.
No one remembers. No one really remembers that this parking lot where little smiling girls are playing hopscotch was once someone’s deathbed. This happiness, this love, this festival called life is what I left behind when I jumped out of the 13th floor window just because I couldn’t get into IIT. No one remembers…
When no one remembers my death just one year after the fateful evening, would they have remembered what college I went to. I doubt it.

If there’s one thing to be learnt from my regrettably short life, it’s this. NO ONE EVER REMEMBERS.

Life Moves On

It’s in our darkest moments that we remember our best hours.
We never appreciate our beauty till it has been marred with scars.
Only in weakness do we appreciate our powers.
Never let adversary overwhelm you,
Confidence will always be the biggest weapon of ours.

Don’t be afraid to lose in a race.
Don’t let any problem leave you in a daze.
Don’t let anyone else dictate your pace.
Never let adversary overwhelm you,
Meet every problem with a smile on your face.

Remember, after dusk always comes the dawn.
If something is off, it can always be switched on.
Without problems, solutions can’t be born.
Never let adversary overwhelm you,
Come what may, life always moves on.