Friday, 1 December 2017

10 Ways How Theatre Has Made Me A Better Person


I clearly remember one of those ‘90s summer afternoons. The cruel heat of scorching sun had compelled people to hide inside their homes for shelter but could not prevent a bunch of young, enthusiastic boys and girls who sat under the modest shade of a Banyan tree, gleefully working on a special project. Between the ages of five to fifteen, these lads were so absorbed in rehearsing an act, which I guessed must be a stage drama that they seemed to care two hoots about the agony of the brutal weather. They were practicing a script. Sometimes laughing boisterously and sometimes weeping tears that could melt a stone heart, they intermittently created background music with their implausible voice modulations. The place was an open playfield in the Jawahar Bal Bhawan (Dramatics) back in my hometown, Allahabad, which I had joined with a school friend to utilise our summer vacations more creatively.

 A new teen that I was, stepping into the touch-me-not girly phase of adolescence, I’d have hated to even stand under the sun for a couple of minutes, when the grit and commitment of this group left me mesmerised.  Who are these people? What bonds them together in the thread of diligence? What drives them to work tirelessly in tough conditions and yet be thrilled about it? How do they create such magic with their art?
Returning home, I slept with the restless imageries of smiling pink faces wet with dripping sweat, that spoke more of the ecstasy of their work than of the fiery suntan imprints on their body. 

In hardly a few days, I joined their theatre troop. My journey from dust to gold, an effortless priming to become a better human being, had begun.
My theatre training, thus, started.

As I grew up, time took its own toll. After completing my academics, I joined India’s biggest power sector conglomerate, got married, made babies, dabbled in an alternative career of an author and got attuned to regular lifestyle of a modern day working woman. Theatre, like a noble first love, quietly receded into the background giving me space to work out priorities. It had already given me more than I could have asked for. It didn’t matter any longer where was I and doing what, theatre was so ingrained in my being, that in all moments of conflict I found a lesson from ‘Dramatics Training’ to fall back on. 

When I look back, I can easily list down some of the most valuable lessons from theatre that have chiseled my being and helped me evolve. Here are my favourite 10:-


1. It teaches how to give the best with whatever we have in hand
Every theatre artist would vouch on the days when a play had to be produced on a shoe string budget, zero sponsorships, borrowing of clothes for costumes, making props out of waste and setting up stage like it was a giant SUPW project. The days when few cups of tea, and samosas, if we were luckier, was all that the team could have during day long rehearsals. Theatre taught me how in even in the least magic can be made.


2. Deal with different people and celebrating differences.
A theatre group is often a funny and interesting mix of strikingly different people. From a sombre script writer to a joker in the pack of actors, from a lethargic light assistant to a hyperactive sound engineer, from a director who thrives his day on chain-smoking to his assistant who is forever hungry for food, the team is like an entertaining mash up of varieties of personalities. Theatre taught me to celebrate differences.


3. Strategize and execute
Every single play put up is a massive project management assignment. It needs to be have a goal with a vision, be put on paper in blueprint, financially be vetted for viability, manpower resources hired, strategies detailed and execution done as per a well laid out plan. There are silos of in numerous work activities, like light design, sound engineering, set design and construction, public relations, acting, directing, producing, marketing, ticket sales, customer service, ushering, make-up, and costuming. Theatre basically taught me project management.


4. Improvisation
No matter how well rehearsed, there would be no play executed without unforeseen mishaps taking place. Goofing up of dialogues, wardrobe malfunction, stage setting giving away, sudden mic failures or missed entrances, something which was so meticulously executed during rehearsals would go wrong at the last minute and suddenly, without any prompts, someone from the team would voluntarily step in to cover the accident. Theatre taught me to pitch in for others and fill up gaps with quick and wise acts.


5. To value the power of communication
I have seen theatre productions which have moved audience to tears, have made the house laugh, brought a turn-around reform movement, interrogated a belief, broken a stereotype, and left us all with thought provoking questions. Theatre has unfolded how powerful communication can change the world around.


6. Make difficult choices and Experiment
Audition - A good friend who is an ordinary actor or an acquaintance who is exceptional? Director – Someone with low credentials, backed by sponsors or a fresh talent with promising potential? Venue – Closed or Amphitheatre? Script – Pick-up or Rewrite? Rendition – Traditional or Experimental? I learnt not only to make difficult choices but also to do fearless experimenting. Theatre prepared me to take fearless risks.


7. Take criticism and move on
“Dramatics profession will give you nothing.”
“What a silly play was that?”
“There are hundreds of actors as ordinary as you. ”
“Forget it, you have no mettle. ”
“Oh, she will never make it big! ”
Give me the name of an artist who hasn’t been told any one of those. Theatre has taught me to take criticism and still be focussed on following the life’s call.


8. Hard work
If you have been to the green room, you would know that even the celebrity theatre artist who delivers impeccable performance on stage leaving his audience spellbound is actually a nervous, diligent, school going child backstage who rehearses his lines a hundred times before rendering the final performance. Theatre taught me there is no substitute for discipline and hard work.


9. Placing Us before Me
So many times it would happen that a protagonist in one play would be given a one-line dialogue in another, or somebody who we saw as a deserving lead actor would actually land up getting role of a stage assistant. Yet, no one would complaint. No role was too small for a contribution and no opportunity too big to claim stardom. Theatre taught me to place the team effort before individual credentials. 


10. The show must go on
In the middle of a play when the protagonist’s part was half over, a team member informed him about his father having met with a brutal accident. Even before the nervous team began preparing contingent plan with co-actors volunteering as his substitute, he gathered his strength and walked up on stage to stand until the end. Once the curtain was pulled down, my friend broke up. Poor health, irritable mood, cruel tragedies, come what may, Theatre taught me how to keep the show going on.


Years down the line, I may not be in the mainstream profession of theatre but I haven’t missed practicing any of the lessons I incidentally learnt. Theatre and I have almost become inseparable.

Remember, what Oscar Wilde once said -

“Theatre is the greatest of all art forms,
the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.’
_____________________________________________________


[Originally published in Repertwahr, The National Theatre Festival's Blog; Nov 21, 2017]

Monday, 6 November 2017

Unchahar, Rise And Shine





Neat, pristine, illuminated with countless dazzling lights all round the clock, long unwinding byroads rendered so clean that they give back a mirror reflection, a waft of pure air, no traffic rules yet civilian norms that better all set standards and a close knit territory of affection between people, who we proudly call the NTPC family. This is not a utopia I am talking about. This is my first home in NTPC, my love, Unchahar.

The place where a timid girl in early twenties landed with her one year old baby to join the much prestigious unit of the country’s biggest power conglomerate, NTPC Limited, as a newly recruited officer. Away from the rustling humdrum of city life, at a location sparsely explainable to common man, I made my little first nest of love here. The inhibitions of being a stranger in township, hesitation of embarking a new journey and turmoil of how would I be able to bring up my baby (and connect my husband, Priyank) in this bizarre place was just brewing up when the people in township pitched in to adopt our small family of three.

Within days, I was surrounded with so much of love, affection and a hand of support that I smirked at my pettiness of judging the place even before I stayed there. While my year-old baby girl fondly lapped from one arm to another in her newly founded neighbourhood, Unchahar flung its hearts open to espouse Priyank, like a son-in-law. Meanwhile, corporate stalwarts of the Company, posted in the station, mentored me with utter prowess leading my way to learn the finesse of my profession.

If there was anything more heartening than my new work and home, it was the strange indescribable bond of affection floating effortlessly in the township’s air. It was just meant to be! A culture I had neither seen nor heard about anywhere else, even in the texts of hundreds of literature I had read.

The memories of the next five years I spent in the township remain fresh and crisp like dried maple leaves. A grand stadium where I took my baby for a stroll, the swimming pool exclusively for township residents, the clubs where thousands of us gathered to celebrate Holi together breaking all barriers of gender, class or corporate levels, Dussera that ran for a fortnight under tight CISF security, cultural evenings on any random occasion, fun-fares every quarter, housie, quizzes, competitions, dramatics, musical evenings, live concerts and to top it all, splendid new year’s eve ending in incessant dancing, without least pandemonium, that lasted up till new sun’s break. Apart from this, our weekends got booked for personal birthday parties, which is pretty obvious when your number of acquaintances run in hundreds within a periphery of five kilometers. 

I would have remained deluded forever in the warm memories of Unchahar until the ill-fated evening of 01st November, 2017 when one loud thud from an industrial accident in the newly commissioned sixth unit of the power plant jolted us all. The tragedy had claimed innocent lives and many got severely injured. Sitting in the regional headquarters at Lucknow, the  heartrending news over a phone call changed the entire gambit of emotions.  

In less than a second, there was no time to stop, think over, talk, discuss or even cry over. It was time to act! And act at a lightning speed!

The real story begins here.

The story of last five days when I saw NTPC, my Company, rise like Phoenix from ashes.

I was right there at the Control Room at Lucknow witnessing what goes into handling the aftermaths of tragedy forsaken people. Media was flashing news of haphazard, piece meal stories of an incident that had not even completely gotten over, across all channels. Within minutes, my PR section ran desperately from one pillar to post to prevent false information doing rounds while the top bosses of the Company immediately flew down to take stock of the situation. They cared two hoots about how anyone around would blame, accuse or react. If there was anything in mind, it was quick relief work and rescuing of lives.

Within next couple of hours, three Control Rooms were set up parallel at Unchahar plant, NRHQ-Luckow and Corporate Centre-New Delhi. Volunteers stepped in to take charge of various post duties at Unchahar, Raebareli, several hospitals in Luckow and Delhi. The duties extended beyond 18-24 hours and yet none, not even one volunteer, gave a whimper. In last five days, I have seen, junior engineers to senior most officials of the Company skip their meals, night sleeps, priorities, familial obligations and even regular medicines to be able to give their complete being into fixing the situation.

Some would have toddler kids suffering with fever back home, spouses staying alone in remote locations or dependents in hospitals yet there wasn’t anyone who wanted to back off. Provision of medical aid, disbursement of compensation, entire fraternity of executives pledging one day’s salary, one volunteer with each patient taking care right from arrival to his dignified return to hometown are just couple of relief measures. But what goes behind healing of Unchahar is a much deeper sense of love and belongingness.

There remains moments which can neither be documented, nor be spoken in words. Moments that shake us from inside and change the person we are. In times to come, there might be many stories going around on the Unchahar tragedy or the heroism with which it was dealt with but no one will ever tell you what it feels to be a part of the tragedy.

There would be stories citing certain number of people died but I bet, no one will tell you how much it pains to hand over body of a young boy to his old, dependent, helpless and tearful father. Stories telling how injured people were medically treated in the hospital but no one will tell you what it is to hold the hand of a patient writhing in bed and yelping in pain. Stories telling you about dignified farewell to the deceased but no will tell you how a mortuary smells! Stories telling how stupendously the Control Rooms executed the relief work but no one will tell how the heartbeat sinks every time you hear the injury toll increase.  Only our NTPC family would know who are healing the wound with their love potion!

This too shall pass! But the solidarity that binds us together to rise through difficult times will remain indelibly imprinted in our lives forever. No one and nothing can tear us apart.

Until things go right, Unchahar, we shall stick together.

May you rise and shine!


Saturday, 28 October 2017

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Stories make up life. From stories that inspire to those that conspire, from stories for kids to tales for the athirst, from stories that can be penned down to those that be dramatically narrated! Essentially a writer, speaker and storyteller, and occasionally a senior Corporate HR facilitator, there could be stories we could share with each other. 

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Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Buddha Is Everywhere, Except Perhaps For Our Hearts


We live in the glorious times of the Buddha.
No, I have not lost my mind. Neither do I have a time machine that can take me to the 6th century BC. I write today because everywhere I look I see representations of the Buddha—tokens and tokenisms. Literally everywhere!
A little while ago I was sitting with a neighbour in her posh apartment and lo and behold, there was the Buddha right behind me! Printed on a silk cushion cover. I complimented her on her aesthetic choice, at which she exclaimed—"The Buddha never goes out of fashion, you see. Look at his eyes, so seductive—you can drown in them!" What a bemusing choice of adjectives for a spiritual great known for his serenity and renunciation of worldly pleasures. I'm sure if he'd been around to witness this exchange, he'd have been beyond appalled. The next moment, she tossed another Buddhism-themed cushion at my lap, saying, "Be comfortable! I have many more in various designs." I nodded politely, curbing the temptation to tell her: "Yes, I know it is fashionable to have Buddha cushion covers, but don't you want him and his teachings in your life as well?"
The Buddha has been one of the most influential spiritual leaders to ever walk this earth. But now our culture seems to have appropriated him in an entirely material sense.
There is no doubt that the Buddha has been one of the most influential philosophical and spiritual leaders to ever walk this earth. But right now, our culture seems to have appropriated him in an entirely material sense. Blame it on the style industry, mystical monasteries or the austere good looks of disciplined monks, but somewhere along the way Gautama Buddha has become a fashion statement, an on-trend motif.
I have lost count of the Buddha figurines I have spotted on assorted terrace gardens, placed appealingly amidst white stone pebbles and small waterfalls. Or, the serene statuettes carved in costly white marble, put in the middle of artificial ponds with floating plastic water lilies. What a serene sight for guests to behold! Light some scented candles around and it is the perfect ornamentation for a party. Who gives two hoots about what he stood for anyway? After the party, maybe.
A friend of mine has displayed a series of paintings of his tranquil face done in various abstract forms, running all across the corridor to her bedroom. Every picture lit under a different lamp shade. Another has got her kitchen window done with a glass painting of Buddhist symbology. And then there is someone who uses blinds printed with thousands of tiny Buddhas.
Ask them about their devotion and they speak of the heavenly aesthetic of the Buddha and Buddhist motifs.
I am yet to see an exhibition, a handicraft mela or a mall's home furniture showroom that doesn't feature multiple Buddhist icons.
I am yet to see an exhibition, a handicraft mela or a mall's home furniture showroom that doesn't feature multiple Buddhist icons. How ironical that this is the same Gautama Buddha, the man who once walked in flesh and blood, who surrendered worldly pleasures to lead a life of utter simplicity.
Long years ago, his disciples travelled across the world to spread his teachings and mark his presence in every possible household. The message has indeed reached and how! Today the Buddha is ubiquitous—you'll see him on handmade-paper bags, expensive T-shirts, bed covers, keychains, earrings, tattoos, mobile cases... the list is endless.
Recently, when I visited Gangtok's crowded M.G. main market, I stood mesmerised along with hundreds of other tourists, lost in the beauty of Buddhist tokens stunningly displayed by the street vendors. Everybody was eager to take back little miniatures as gifts for friends and family. While a Delhi gentleman standing next to me asked for colourful prayer flag for his car's back window, another from Bangalore demanded 50 such pieces for his newly opened Café. A lady thought the collection of flags would make for a good toran on the entrance door while another grabbed a piece for her office work station. Each prayer flag had a long prayer written in Pali, but no one asked what it meant. The aesthetic mattered, not the message.
Some token collectors contend that Buddhist images and artefacts imbue serenity to a space, but how many of them practice his teachings?
Some token collectors contend that Buddhist images and artefacts imbue serenity to a space, but how many of them practice his teachings? They are often people who are governed by anger or enslaved to their repository of wealth, friends, jobs and pleasures.
I've been gifted many, many Buddha keepsakes over the years, but the most precious of all the artefacts I have are books on the life of the great thinker, carefully placed in my library. Sometimes when I feel frayed, I return to its flagged pages, anecdotes, life lessons and quotes.
If for just one day the Buddha found his due place in our lives—beyond tokenism, aesthetics and as a fashion statement—there would be so much more peace, tranquillity and forgiveness all around. Remember what he endorsed, "There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path"!
                                           .     .      .
[This article was originally posted on The Huffington Post on 25/09/2017 8:46 AM IST]

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Bittersweet Monsoon

                                                                    [Pic courtesy: Wikipedia Commons]

There were times when thinking of monsoon brought before us imagery of joy. Of dark clouds overshadowing the sky, intermittent break of thunder claps and benevolent downpour wetting not only the land underneath, but also soaking us deep within for relief from fierce summer. One couldn’t resist from running into the rains to get drenched from head to toe and never missed opportunities to ditch boring raincoats or umbrellas.
As young girls on bicycles commuting to school under heavy monsoon downpours, we laughed at the disappointed faces of people trapped inside cars, buses or under shades, torn between the longing to get wet in rain and preventing their expensive ensembles from getting color washed. Those days, when deliberately jumping into puddles of water on roadsides, making paper boats, taking a rain shower or watching every green leaf swirl with joy, ran synonymous with a day of bountiful monsoon.
The neighboring muddy field suddenly got transformed into a football court, with boys of all age, sorts and sizes displaying their machismo while playing a sport which looked absolutely picture perfect in rain. Little children ran around the field’s periphery, chasing frogs and imitating their hop, while their concerned parents kept calling out for them to return home.
However, that was years ago.
Of late, the imagery of Monsoon has slightly changed.
One gets to know that rains have arrived in neighboring cities only once the social media timeline begins to get flooded with messages of traffic jams. Photos of hapless office goers commuting to their workplace in two hours for a distance they usually cover in twenty minutes, begins to do rounds on facebook. Angry emojis, distressed pictures of people caught in ruthless jamming of vehicles and even videos of verbal spats arising in a traffic going berserk, conveniently replaces happy memoirs of a rainy day.
In a place like Delhi which makes headlines for being eleventh most polluted city in the world, monsoon comes like an impending horror. A little drizzle and the half patched roads and pot holes at every second road turn, wait to swell into mini lakes. What looks like a small and neat puddle to splash into, might actually be a deep manhole that may gulp down an entire human body into city’s sewer drainage running into Yamuna.
One no longer drives to office but river rafts the vehicle through flooding roads. Obviously, the walk from parking to the building is also no less than swimming through a kiddie pool. While the hygiene conscious or high on maintenance colleagues of mine make faces of wrath at plight of dirty water around, the adventurous ones take to the game of filming garbage floating around and click ruthless pictures of the filth. Sharing on social media, however, would be an option contingent on the benevolence of the network provider, who most likely would have taken a day off on the occasion of rainy day.
One midnight some years ago, I not only got stranded in office for six hours but also lost connection with my family who finally swam their way through dark streets to rescue me.
I’ve come to believe that if there’s anything that can make life messier in an unmanageable monsoon, it is poor mobile connectivity.
Just in case it rains torrentially for over 24 hours, consider taking a boat ride in place of vehicles, local trains or metros to prevent getting marooned at one place. Besides, it’ll also give a feeling of riding a Gondola in Venice! How interesting is that! Drop the idea of taking a bath at home and instead, enjoy a natural waterfall under drainage pipes from buildings. This also encourages water conservation. How about snorkeling for goodies that got drowned in deep floods or roping in your friends to play Waboba in office?!
Disappointed with the rains, are you? Not everyone is. The few species that really make merry of the season are tiny monsters of Darwin who know how to ‘survive as the fittest’ in rainy froth and compost, littering in open streets – Mosquitoes, moths, bugs, viruses and flies!
Sometimes I wonder, why do we even call it raining ‘cats and dogs’ when it actually rains ‘mosquitoes and flies’ in monsoon?
Nevertheless, if there is anything that could bring a rainy day to a perfect closure, it is Single Malt or chilled Scotch, flavoured in liqueur aroma. If that doesn’t work, try our desi cup of hot ginger tea with some steaming homemade onion pakoras. A perfect panacea for relief from headache of traffic jams and fatigue of water sports we have had throughout the day. Thankfully, some nice things about Monsoon never change!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

मुझे सजाओगे?



तुमने क्या सोचा था?
कि सिल्क पर जरदोज़ी का काम की हुई
साड़ी का तोहफा देकर खुश कर दोगे मुझे?
हो जाती मैं...
पर तुमने साड़ी के साथ ही मुझे लाज का एक कपड़ा जो पहना दिया -
ढ़क के रखो
ऊपर से थोड़ा सा और नीचे से वो टांग भी
घर के भेद, तुम्हारी अम्मा के ताने, तुम्हारी बुरी आदते,
यारों के भद्दे मज़ाक, हमारी तू तू मैं मैं, मेरी शिकायते,
सब ढ़क लूँ मैं, छः फीट साड़ी के पीछे?

तुमने क्या सोचा था?
कि मीना जड़ी सोने कि खनकती चूड़ियाँ और मोती जड़े चांदी के छ्नकते झांझर
ब्याह में पहनाकर कर खुश कर दोगे मुझे?
हो जाती मैं
पर तुमने चूड़ियों और झांझर के साथ ही मुझे ताउम्र बेड़ियों में जकड़ लिया -
वहाँ मत जाना, उधर मत घूमना, इतनी देर घर से बाहर कैसे रह गयी तुम?
 किस्से पूछ कर गयी थी
और वो कमीना जिसे दोस्त बोलती हो, सोचा भी कैसे कि वो तुम्हें घर छोड़ेगा?
मायके में भी कोई इतने दिन रहता है भला?
उड़ना चाहती हो तो उड़ो पर याद रखना
एक बार जो तुम्हारे पाँव डगमगाए तो मेरी ये चूड़ियों ही संभालेगी, संभल के चलो।
उफ! बांध लूँ मैं खुद को तुम्हारी दहलीज़ कि चूड़ी से?

तुमने क्या सोचा था?
कि Loreal के मेकअप, Lakme कि lipstick और
Chanel के perfume कि खुशनुमा किट से खुश कर दोगे मुझे?
हो जाती मैं
पर तुमने मेकअप का एक ऐसा mask पहना दिया जो मेरा था ही नहीं -
नयी बहू के सिर पर पल्लू अच्छा दिखता है,
बड़ो के पैर छुआ करो फिट चाहे भले ही वो कपटता कि चलती फिरती दुकान क्यों न हों
ठीक है पड़ोस का लाला रोज़ पी कर गुंडागर्दी करता है,
तुमसे तो नहीं की न? फिर चुप बैठो!
अरे, कभी कभार गुस्सा आ जाता है तुम पर,
तो ऐसा क्या हो गया?
आँखों कि सूजन पर काजल के एक मोटी लकीर,
गाल पर पड़े उँगलियों के निशान पे गुलाबी blush
सिर की खरोच के किनारे पर लाल बिंदी,
और अंदर के घाव पे वक़्त का moisturizer लगाना ही तो है,
और हाँ, अपने होठो पर न सही, ज़ुबान पर lipstick लगाना मत भूलना
ताकि नाप तौल कर public में मुंह खोल सको
पर यार कुछ भी कहो, बहुत सुंदर दिखती हो तुम।
तुम्हें लगा, मुझे Mrs India सा महसूस होता है तुम्हारे दिये मेकअप के पीछे?

चार साल की थी जब सफ़ेद घोड़े पर सवार, वीर राजकुमार की कहानी सुनी थी
ना ना! वुश्वास थोड़े ही ना किया था!
मैं किसी कहानी के किताब के दबे अक्षरो में पिरोया पात्र थोड़े ही हूँ?
जीवित हूँ,
सोचती हूँ,
महसूस करती हूँ,
ज़िरह करती हूँ,
प्यार करती हूँ...
पर लगता है तुमने भी वो ही कहानी पढ़ी थी?
और हास परिहास में खुद को सफ़ेद घोड़े पर सवार वीर राजकुमार समझ बैठे
और मुझे?
साड़ी, चूड़ियो, झांझर, रंग और इत्र में लिपटी एक राजकुमारी
जो ठीक किताब की तरह चुप छाप पन्नो के बीच दबी रहती है
जो चाहे, जब चाहे खोल के पढे और ना पसंद आए तो, धपाक! Chapter close!

पर मैं तो बोलूँगी,
तब तक बोलूँगी जब तक तुम्हें ये ना दिखे
की मेरी साड़ी एक छह फीट का लबादा नहीं,
वो नरमाहट भरी छाह हैं जिसमे हर रात तुम अपना धिक्कार छिपाते हो,
वो ममता है जो तुम्हारे सात पुश्तो के घाव पर रेशम का मरहम लगती है,
द्रौपदी का वो तूफान है जो जब बंटता है, तो महाभारत के युद्ध का यालगार होता है,
जब फटता है, तो हर करुणावती का एक भाई तैयार होता है,
और जब कमर पे बांधता है, तो झाँसी के किले की 22 फीट की दीवार लांघ एक कोमलाङी का बिगुल बजता है
ये साड़ी नहीं क्षैतिज का वो चादर है
जो अगर फट पड़ा, तो सैलाब बरसागा!!

देखो, मैं तो बोलूँगी,
तब तक बोलूँगी जब तक तुम्हें ये ना दिखे
कि मेरी चूड़ी काँच की कमजोर कड़ियाँ नहीं,
वो खनक है जिसने तुम्हारे आँगन के हर कोने की मनहूसियन में रोजाना अपना मधुर संगीत छेड़ती है,
वो गोल चक्रवात है जिसकी दुनिया तुम्हारे प्रेम के इर्द गिर्द घूमती है,
पर जब टूटती है तो जीवन से जुड़ी तुम्हारी एक डोर भी टूट सी जातो है।
कि मेरी lipstick होठों पर जमा लाल रंग का वो पैबंद नहीं,
वो सुर्ख चुंबन हैं, जो तुम्हारी काली कड़वी ज़ुबान पर बैठ उसे रंगीन कर देती है,
वो हस्ताक्षर हैं जो रात दर रात तुम्हारे शर्ट पर जीवन संगिनी होने की मीठी पहचान जड़ जाती है
पर जब बिखर पड़ता है तो खौलते खून के उबाल से नासूर छाले छोड़ जाता है।
कि तराशे काँच में रखा महंगा perfume, बोतल में बंद हमारे सपने नहीं
वो खुशनुमा हवा का झोंका है जो तुम्हारी रूह में मेरा प्यार और अस्तित्व, दोनों को घोलते है
और हमारे छोटे से घरोंदे को यादों की गमक से सराबोर कर देते हैं
पर जब बोतल से उड़ निकलते हैं, तो तुम्हारी दुनिया से सब कीमती लम्हे अपने साथ हमेशा के लिए ले जाते हैं।


दरअसल, मुझे खुश करना बहुत आसान है।
ज़्यादा भारी नहीं पड़ेगा तुम्हारी पॉकेट को,
बस कुछ छोटा मोटा समान जो इज्ज़त की दुकान में बेमोल मिलेगा,
साड़ी की जगह, उड़ने के लिए थोड़ा सा आसमान
चूड़ियों की जगह, तुम्हारे हाथ का सहारा
झाँझर की जगह, नन्हें सपनों के पहिये
Lipstick की जगह, मुझे ना बोलने का हक़
और इत्र की जगह, तुम्हारे भरोसे की गमक


क्यों, तो क्या सोचा तुमने, मुझे कैसे सजाओगे?
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