आओ किसी का यूँही इंतजार करते हैं..!

आओ किसी का यूँही इंतजार करते हैं..!
चाय बनाकर फिर कोई बात करते हैं..!!

उम्र पचास के पार हो गई हमारी..!
बुढ़ापे का इस्तक़बाल करते है..!!

कौन आएगा अब हमको देखने यहां..!
एक दूसरे की देखभाल करते है..!!

बच्चे हमारी पहुंच से अब दूर हो गए..!
आओ फिर से उन्ही को कॉल करते हैं..!!

जिंदगी जो बीत गई सो बीत गई..!
बाकी बची में फिर से प्यार करते हैं..!!

खुदा ने जो भी दिया लाजवाब दिया..!
चलो शुक्रिया उसका बार बार करते हैं..!!

सभी का हाल यही है इस जमाने में..!
ग़ज़ल ये सबके नाम करते है..!!

*50 प्लस के ऊपर के मित्रों को समर्पित!!*

Ocean Spirits

Every weekday morning, as the clementine sun rose behind the murky clouds, the man would begin his long journey up the cliff near his brick house. The mornings were serene, unrushed, so he took his time, listening to the soft lapping of waves against rock. Once he reached the top he’d run his hands over the mossy rocks near the edge, searching for a place to sit.

Once he’d found the perfect rock he’d flip open his cardboard tackle box, stuffed to the brim with leaves. He’d select the greenest, fattest leaf and fasten it to the end of his fishing pole as bait. He had crafted the fishing pole from a hollowed-out stick of a mulberry tree, a tiny iron hook, and a piece of silvery twine he’d weaved from spiderweb.

He would cast the fishing line deep into the tranquil ocean waters, aiming for the horizon. He’d let the line drift far away from his perch, rising the smooth current. And then he’d wait. At high noon he’d draw a rye sandwich from his bag and gobble it down, never taking his eyes off the fishing pole.

When he felt a stir at the end of the hook, a small whirlpool swirling around the hook, he’d reel it in with vigorous tugs. Curled around the leaf would be a faceless, twisting being, an ethereal vapor. Always of a blue color, but never the same shade; peacock to turquoise to navy. Cool to the touch, slightly rough, covered with flecks of salt from the ocean. He would cup his hands around the being, shaping it into a writhing sphere. He’d take a glass mason jar, thoroughly wiped clean with a wet cloth, and force the being inside before hastily screwing on the aluminum lid.

As the dark began to eat away at the sky the man would scoop his jars up into his bag and mosey back down the cliff, the furious sound of the battering waves behind him. Once home, he would unload the jars, taking a leather satchel from his desk drawer. Inside the satchel he’d take plastic berries and rich vines and decorate the jars, fastening the adornments with a tree sap adhesive. The beings would have turned an angry scarlet by then.

He’d walk to his small shop and stack the jars on mahogany shelves, eat roasted wild chicken or turkey for dinner, and sleep in his woven, netted hammock. On weekends, he’d open his shop to the townsfolk, who would rush inside waving paper bills in the air, clamoring for the newest jar to place on their white window sills or use as a centerpiece for their sleek dining tables.

But one weekend, as the man was preparing to return home, a young girl walked in, jingling the silver bells on the door. She was less than four feet tall, with combed blonde hair, tight pink shoes, and unnerving blue eyes. She walked around the store, bobbing up and down, observing the beings in their prisons. Each time ran a finger over a jar her eyes narrowed, fists clenched tighter.

The scream was unexpected, terrifying, horribly thin, shrill, sonic, even. It flew out of her mouth and bounced across the room in rings, shattering the jars as they collided. How someone could produce such a noise the man did not know.

The beings were free. The man crouched down, eyes wide as they peered over the counter. The beings hopped, leaped, bounded, twirled, experimenting with their newfound liberty, eventually coalescing around the girl. The spun around, faster and faster, becoming a red — no, blue, they had changed again — tornado, shot into the air, the girl in their clutches, bursting through the roof, leaving behind a gaping hole, soaring back to the calm ocean.

 

ज़िंदगी का रायता..

*हम तन्हा ही चले थे…*
*ज़िंदगी का दही जमाने*
*रास्ते में बूंदियाँ मिलती गईं…*
*और ज़िंदगी का रायता बन गया।*

The Nextworld

Perplexed by fear and soothed by calmness,

Feelings replaced by erroneous code,

A world full of ifs and else,

Nothing to ponder yet everything to express.

Machine learning is what they call,

Possibility of getting better than all,

It isn’t going to be a choice,

It’s going to be our way of life.

Productivity levels all time high,

Profits and margins soaring towards the sky,

Learning curve being as small,

Are we ready for such kinda haul.

Can we replace anger with love,

Will we be able to identify fear,

How will we differentiate ourselves from the rest,

For immortality remains our ultimate quest.

दोस्तो से रिश्ता रखा करो जनाब…

देखी जो नब्ज मेरी,
हँस कर बोला वो हकीम :

“जा जमा ले महफिल पुराने दोस्तों के साथ,
तेरे हर मर्ज की दवा वही है।”

दोस्तो से रिश्ता रखा करो जनाब…
ये वो हक़ीम हैं
जो अल्फ़ाज़ से इलाज कर दिया करते हैं।

खींच कर उतार देते हैं उम्र की चादर,
ये कम्बख्त दोस्त…
कभी बूढ़ा नहीं होने देते।

बच्चे वसीयत पूछते हैं,
रिश्ते हैसियत पूछते हैं,
वो दोस्त ही हैं जो
मेरी खैरियत पूछते हैं…..

War of the Clowns

One time two clowns set themselves to arguing. The people

would stop, amused, to watch them.

—What’s that? they asked.

—Why, it’s only two clowns arguing.

Who could take them seriously? Ridiculous, the two comedians rep-

arteed. The arguments were common nonsense, the theme was a ninnery.

And an entire day passed.

The following morning, the two remained, obnoxious and outdoing

each other. It seemed as though, between them, even yucca soured. In the

street, meanwhile, those present were exhilarated with the masquerade.

The buffoons began worsening their insults with fine-edged and fine-

tuned barbs. Believing it to be a show, the passersby left coins along the

roadside.

On the third day, however, the clowns arrived at acts of force. Their

blows became a disarray, their counterkicks zinged more across air than

across bodies. The children rollicked, imitating each jester’s blows. And

they laughed at the two fools, their bodies tripping upon their own selves.

And the boys wanted to repay the delightful goodness of the clowns.

—Dad, give me some coins to leave on the sidewalk.

On the fourth day, the jabs and blows grew worse. Beneath their

makeup, the faces of the clowns began to bleed. Some kids became

scared. Was that true blood?

—It’s not serious, don’t fret, their parents soothed them.

In failures of trajectory, some were struck by directionless wallops. But

it was light fare, only serving to add to the laughs. More and more people

joined the gallery.

—What’s going on?

Nothing. A friendly unsettling of accounts. It’s not worth separating

them. They’ll tire out, it’s nothing more than a bit of clowning around.

On the fifth day, however, one of the clowns armed himself with a

stick. Advancing on his adversary, he discharged a blow that tore off his

wig. The other, furious, equipped himself with a symmetrical beating

bat and responded with the same dismeasure. The wooden rods whistled

through the air in somersaults and deliriums. One of the spectators, un-

expectedly, was struck. The man fell, deadspread.
A certain confusion arose, the souls divided. Little by little, two battle-

fields began to form. Various groups traded drubbings. Still more were

felled.

It entered a second week and the surrounding neighborhoods heard

it said that a dizzied pandemonium had set in around the two clowns.

And the thing embroiled the entire plaza. And the neighbors found it

funny. Some went to the plaza to verify the reports. They returned with

contradicting and inflamed versions of their own. The neighborhood

continued to divide itself, in opposing opinions. Conflicts began in some

neighborhoods.

On the twentieth day, shots began to be heard. No one knew exactly

where they came from. Could have been from any point in the city.

Full of terror, the inhabitants armed themselves. The tiniest movement

seemed suspect. The shots spread. Dead bodies began to accumulate in

the streets. Terror reigned over the whole city. Soon, massacres began.

At the beginning of the month, all the city’s inhabitants had died. All

except the two clowns. That morning, the comics sat, each one in his

corner, and ridded themselves of their ridiculous dress. They looked at

each other, worn out. Later, they rose to their feet and embraced, laugh-

ing at the flags dispersed. Arm in arm, they gathered the coins from the

roadsides. Together they crossed the city destroyed, careful not to tread on

the cadavers. And they went in search of another city.

Possessions by John Smolens

When your wife dies you find music tastes different and food sounds the same. You don’t walk, you creep. Some days you crawl. Others, best just to lie still. The closets are full of ghosts. Blouses she wore when she was twenty-six. A denim skirt. Killer dresses. Shoes—heels, pumps, a pair of Capezio tap shoes—entombed in boxes. When you open the closet door her coats hold still, suspecting they’re gonners. Threads of memory. She wore this one there, that one here. Every garment a chapter. The clothes of the dead have no future. You could burn them. You could leave them be, decades of sartorial history hanging from a pole sagging with the weight of remembrance. You could cross-dress with a vengeance. Everything Must Go. Not discarded, donated. To the Women’s Shelter, cartons and paper bags and piles of clothes, until the woman behind the counter says they’re overstocked. You’re tempted to take them all back. Who denies the donation of a dead woman’s clothes? The rest to St. Vincent DePaul’s, and there her cottons and linens and rayon blends are added to bins heaped with corduroy and polyester. (But for one satin nightgown that will not be donated.) Until the closets seem empty. Your clothes don’t count—they aren’t you, but just neglected shirts, pants, and jackets. As summer wanes, you open a drawer and find sweaters, scarves, wool hats and gloves. Gear for a woman who understood winter. You send sweaters and shawls and silk scarves to the women and girls in her family. They respond with photographs of ten year old daughters wrapped in blue for the fifth grade’s Colonial Day. Still you are possessed by possessions. Even after you dispossess yourself, they turn up in the kitchen drawers and cabinets, where she kept jars of dry goods, beans and grains, future meals. And there, in the freezer, plastic containers: soups, tomato sauce, chili. Nutritional messages from the afterlife. Hoard them. Defrost only as a last resort. Yet through the winter the freezer becomes as spacious and cold as your heart. By the time you open the last tub, labeled Black Bean Chili 3/14/10, food no longer has any meaning. It’s no longer an act of love, a gesture of kindness. There is no intimacy in tuna salad or in marinating chicken thighs. It’s embarrassing to recall how often you ate by candlelight; it’s like the satin nightgown tucked away in a drawer you never open. Instead just heat and serve. Just nuke it. Just eat. Overcooked sustenance. When you eat dinner right out of the skillet or pot, the temptation is to glance over your shoulder in shame. No one is watching, except the cookbooks. Shelves of cookbooks, back issues of Gourmet and Bon Appetit, and a three-ring binder stuffed with recipes, a culinary legacy handed down from grandmother to mother to daughter. Recipes written in her short hand, scrolls and waves and loops fetching across the page with an occasional word, a white cap of English. Instructions for future meals, for candlelight dinners, for guests. There are no recipes now, there are no guests; no need for the wedding china, the good tablecloth. Don’t forget Widower’s Rule #1: Never turn down a dinner invitation. You’re the guest now. And after dinner you walk about the house, speaking to the dark. Go ahead, come back and haunt me. Move the book on the table. Slam the bedroom door. Anything, I’m ready. Go ahead, I dare you. Scare me to death. I am ready. The reply is the deepest silence. Yet sometimes you feel her in the silence: nothing moves, no hinges creak, no lights flicker. Just her silence. You bet, Stephen Spielberg; death has no special effects. There is no possession, just possessions. To break the silence you play music. CDs in horizontal stacks; vertical rows of plastic jewel boxes, never properly alphabetized (as she so often suggested). Songs with melodies, lyrics, choruses, verses, movements, codas. Songs you can’t live without. Songs you’ll never listen to again. Songs you know by heart. Songs you want to forget. Songs you can’t forget. Songs for dinner, for reading, for dancing, for killing a bottle of wine, for making love. Songs to break the silence. Songs against eternal darkness. But one day (maybe) you’ll make a deal with the silence. You’ll sit in her grandparents’ chair and it will only be a chair. Or you could give it away. All of it. Everything. Everything except the stones. She was forever (or so it seemed) gathering beach stones. She’d return from a beach with her coat pockets sagging, doing her best Virginia Woolf. Round stones, egg-shaped stones, disk-shaped stones, stones ground smooth by water and time. Stones from England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Turkey, Cape Cod. Stones stored in shoe boxes, in plastic bags, in bowls; clusters of stones distributed about the house like incense. She liked the look of them, the feel of them, rattling in her palm. You could get rid of it all, but not the stones. You could walk on them, sleep on them, sit on them, eat off of them. Your house would be silent, filled with stones. You would have solitude. You would not be alone. You would have the stones.

चांद भी क्या खूब है..

*चांद भी क्या खूब है,…*
*न सर पर घूंघट है,*
*न चेहरे पे बुरका,*
*कभी करवाचौथ का हो गया,*
*तो कभी ईद का,*
*कभी माशूक-ऐ सनम हो गया*
*तो कभी हो गया, मामा*

*ज़मीन पर होता, तो टूटकर विवादों मे होता,*
*अदालत की सुनवाइयों में होता*,
*अखबार की सुर्ख़ियों में होता,*

*शुक्र है आसमान में बादलों की गोद में है,…*
*इसीलिए ज़मीन में कविताओं और ग़ज़लों में महफूज़ है”*

A haunted House

Whatever hour you woke there was a door shutting. From room to room they went, hand in hand, lifting here, opening there, making sure—a ghostly couple.

“Here we left it,” she said. And he added, “Oh, but here too!” “It’s upstairs,” she murmured. “And in the garden,” he whispered “Quietly,” they said, “or we shall wake them.”

But it wasn’t that you woke us. Oh, no. “They’re looking for it; they’re drawing the curtain,” one might say, and so read on a page or two. “Now they’ve found it,” one would be certain, stopping the pencil on the margin. And then, tired of reading, one might rise and see for oneself, the house all empty, the doors standing open, only the wood pigeons bubbling with content and the hum of the threshing machine sounding from the farm. “What did I come in here for? What did I want to find?” My hands were empty. “Perhaps it’s upstairs then?” The apples were in the loft. And so down again, the garden still as ever, only the book had slipped into the grass.

But they had found it in the drawing room. Not that one could ever see them. The window panes reflected apples, reflected roses; all the leaves were green in the glass. If they moved in the drawing room, the apple only turned its yellow side. Yet, the moment after, if the door was opened, spread about the floor, hung upon the walls, pendant from the ceiling—what? My hands were empty. The shadow of a thrush crossed the carpet; from the deepest wells of silence the wood pigeon drew its bubble of sound. “Safe, safe, safe,” the pulse of the house beat softly. “The treasure buried; the room . . . ” the pulse stopped short. Oh, was that the buried treasure?

A moment later the light had faded. Out in the garden then? But the trees spun darkness for a wandering beam of sun. So fine, so rare, coolly sunk beneath the surface the beam I sought always burnt behind the glass. Death was the glass; death was between us; coming to the woman first, hundreds of years ago, leaving the house, sealing all the windows; the rooms were darkened. He left it, left her, went North, went East, saw the stars turned in the Southern sky; sought the house, found it dropped beneath the Downs. “Safe, safe, safe,” the pulse of the house beat gladly. “The Treasure yours.”

The wind roars up the avenue. Trees stoop and bend this way and that. Moonbeams splash and spill wildly in the rain. But the beam of the lamp falls straight from the window. The candle burns stiff and still. Wandering through the house, opening the windows, whispering not to wake us, the ghostly couple seek their joy.

“Here we slept,” she says. And he adds, “Kisses without number.” “Waking in the morning—” “Silver between the trees—” “Upstairs—” “In the garden—” “When summer came—” “In winter snowtime—” The doors go shutting far in the distance, gently knocking like the pulse of a heart.

Nearer they come; cease at the doorway. The wind falls, the rain slides silver down the glass. Our eyes darken; we hear no steps beside us; we see no lady spread her ghostly cloak. His hands shield the lantern. “Look,” he breathes. “Sound asleep. Love upon their lips.”

Stooping, holding their silver lamp above us, long they look and deeply. Long they pause. The wind drives straightly; the flame stoops slightly. Wild beams of moonlight cross both floor and wall, and, meeting, stain the faces bent; the faces pondering; the faces that search the sleepers and seek their hidden joy.

“Safe, safe, safe,” the heart of the house beats proudly. “Long years—” he sighs. “Again you found me.” “Here,” she murmurs, “sleeping; in the garden reading; laughing, rolling apples in the loft. Here we left our treasure—” Stooping, their light lifts the lids upon my eyes. “Safe! safe! safe!” the pulse of the house beats wildly. Waking, I cry “Oh, is this your buried treasure? The light in the heart.”