Tag Archives: Salman

A Blown Eyelash

They are found in shooting stars,
and in flying dandelion seeds,
seen in extinguished birthday candles,
and also in other men’s deeds.

They have made lunatics of greats,
yet they are the power of braves.
They have made people attempt
to raise loved ones from their graves.

Sometimes they nibble the insides
of my mind, they slowly gnaw,
until I am certain that they will
one day consume me, raw.

Then there are those times, when
they give me bliss that’s pure.
They make me overeat my elation,
and leave me wanting for more.

My oldest friends, they are,
they keep me on my toes.
But when there are too many of them,
they turn into my worst foes.

Why do I end up believing
that a blown eyelash will cure?
Why am I always dreaming,
when I know that I remain unsure?

Is there a way to comprehend
if these wishes will come true?
Or do I have to be only content
with fulfilled ones, so few?

I am with this knowledge, though,
my wishes are known for rebirth.
They make me the man that I am.
In me, you shall find no dearth.

Rainy Night

On a rainy night, by the window,
I sit with steaming coffee on a tray.
Though the world is dark, right now,
I seem to always like it this way.

The drumming of drops on the windowsill;
Far away, some frogs croak.
Mom asks me to close the window,
Dad is busy having a smoke.

Inside the house, it is even darker.
Nothing, but a solitary candle.
As I walk away from the sill, I get
hurt by the cupboard handle.

I sit down on the floor and scoff,
My beloved rain is away.
Then, a sudden bolt of lightning
makes a bright, momentary day.

My eyes shine as I see the flash,
then I hear the loud roll of thunder.
While everyone is clearly startled,
my lack of fear makes me wonder.

All the house-flies that seek refuge
from the rain, buzz inside the house.
My memories have flown inside, too,
Oh! The nostalgia they arouse!

Droplets to drops; drops to puddles;
Puddles to rivulets; rivulets to streams.
Senses to thoughts, thoughts to visions;
Visions to imagination; imagination to dreams.

I wake up with a start, I find
the rainy night is gone.
Though this day started hours ago,
of my contemplation, it’s only the dawn.

Dear Sea

Tell me, oh Dear Sea,
Why do I come to you?
Do you understand my pain,
that’s understood by so few?

You never ever talk to me,
but in you, I find respite.
How do you manage to ease, in me,
the little battles I fight?

When I see your waves, endless,
the water and the froth,
you seem to attract me
like a lamp attracts a moth.

When on a shore, I sit and weep,
how do I feel reassured?
Is it you that clears those thoughts
that once felt obscured?

I wonder at how you do all this,
I wonder if you do it at all.
I wonder at how vast you are,
and I, mere man, so small.

As if the waves of joy you carry
seep slightly inside my soul.
They fill my being with happiness,
Yes, sea, that’s your role!

When I leave, I look back at you,
I end up with a smile.
I came with little, I take back so much,
“I was blind all this while!”

I know I’ll come back when I’m low,
and you’ll open your arms for me.
I’ll cry again, but I’ll leave smiling.
Thank God for you, Dear Sea.

What Can A Simple Walk Teach You

I recently got a chance to go to South Mumbai. Under usual circumstances, I don’t go alone, which was not the case this time. The person I usually travel with to this area was holidaying out of the country. As a result, I went there, may be because I thought it would help me ignore my loneliness for a while. In the earlier part of my life after I left school, I was used to coming here alone, sometimes for entirely different reasons. I love this part of the city. It has a soul that you can feel by walking on its streets, especially in late afternoons. That was precisely the time I went there.

Now, sometimes I like taking an odd turn here or there. It yields fascinating results at times, other times not so. I could take this risk today, since it was just me. This area, which is around my school (Bharda New High School, CST) is not entirely unknown to me, but it is a shame to state that I did not roam around much in alleys immediately south to my school. I took that turn today in the direction of Murzban Road.

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It was not at all disappointing: old Victorian style buildings still dot the area. Though now owned by corporate houses (a building has been renamed Videocon Heritage… Eww!), these structures still look like they would in their heydays. The certain best part about the place were its empty roads, scattered with few dead tamarind leaves at the fringes. And with the kind of silence that exists here, it is a peaceful place right in the heart of a not-so-peaceful city.

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The location looked like a living allegory. The road seemed like life; the buildings, the memories. Some roads met and so did the buildings, just like two lives meet and share their memories. Some memories crumble with time, some remain. The fabric of life I was walking on contained memories that have stood the test of time. And these memories are still beautiful! This made me feel slightly less lonely, and a bit optimistic, too.

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I kept walking at my slowest pace, eventually reaching the lane which exits opposite Tata Communications. And then, all of a sudden, I was back to the real world. I turned around to see where I just came from. It was a wonderful little journey. It is amazing how just a simple walk through a peaceful street can be so soothing and ingratiating. I walked ahead, smiling.

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An Account Of My “Minor” Surgery

It is not too difficult to get jitters imagining being in a hospital. The smell of spirit, the never-ending white walls, the medicines, shrewd nurses and of course, doctors who always tell you what to do and what not to do. When I was admitted to the JJ hospital for my Laproscopic Appendectomy (swell name, eh? It is a method to remove an inflamed appendix, for those who don’t know), my fear was quite evident, too. Who wouldn’t be scared? It was the General Male Surgical Ward: The prospect of being surrounded by men with amputated limbs and diabetic feet was enough to demoralize me! Although I wouldn’t be going through all what the other patients were, it was the first time I was admitted to a hospital. So my fear was understandable. Dr. Abhishek, a newbie in the ward, was given my responsibility. He had to visit me around 5 times a day. And often, the poor fellow had to wait, as I would be busy gorging on the roadside food below the hospital building or simply roaming around. I wasn’t sorry for it at all – Hospital food is never something that I consider worth relishing. Also, I did not like to wear the patient uniform provided to me. I would wear the same clothes that I normally would at home and shockingly, no one objected.

Dr. Abhishek, I must say, was a very nice man, but often appeared too stressed. Dealing with so many patients was not an easy task, that too while working in rotating shifts. Plus he was about to get married, so I could understand his plight, and how he must have felt constantly switching lives. It is ironic how someone who is supposed to provide comfort, can be at discomfort.

Relatives would have to wait for me, too. In one such instance, I had gone to the barber for a shave (Yes, I did that!) and ended up meeting them while they were leaving the hospital building. Apparently, they were trying to locate me for half an hour. After a couple of days of my stay, even the hospital staff knew that my medicine had to be kept at the table if I wasnt there. Although I feel ashamed of it now, I enjoyed every bit of this ‘special’ treatment back then. I hated the medicines, though. I would crib like a little child at the sight of tablets and capsules! “We can’t always inject medicines, right? Your body will then get so used to injections that oral medicines will have no effect. When you grow old and have to have medicines because your veins will be too hard to find, what will you do?”, Dr. Abhishek would rejoinder. Doctors always have their way, somehow, and he seemed to prefer the softer form of intimidation.

As a few days passed, I began to get used to the place and the people. I would talk and try to motivate patients with really extreme injuries, most of which had resulted in amputations. It was painful to see their agony, as much as it was difficult to understand the exact extent of their courage. I clearly remember walking towards my cot from the loo, and finding a man (probably in his sixties) weeping, as the doctor clawed the deep, wide wound on the sole of one of his feet. When he realized that I was watching all this, he smiled at me with tears still in his eyes. I saluted the man with a silent smile, too.

Such incidents gave me much-needed courage for my surgery, although I must say, I was not very scared of it. I trusted the doctors, many of whom performed multiple surgeries every Wednesday and Friday. Needless to say, there was always a long queue of patients wearing the same bottle green clothes, complete with a bottle green skull-cap. I got a chance to try this attire on a Friday. It was also the day when I came to know that ‘Laproscopic Appendectomy’ meant they would put a camera inside me through an incision. I was told that it was a safer option than the conventional method of opening the side of the patient’s torso. This added more to my already-brimming stock of self-assurance.

The doctors were literally on a surgery spree that day. After all, patients had to wait for an entire week for one of these two days. By the time it was my turn, it was afternoon and I was already famished. They had prevented me to eat anything since the previous night (which is good, or they would have discovered that I ate outside food). I walked inside the operation theater alone. Here too, the walls were white and the entire room was well-lit and extremely clean. And then, I saw the operation table. It was not very wide and just about the length of my body. I wondered where I would be resting my arms. My imagination conjured images of corpses with their hands resting on their stomachs, and kept inside coffins about the same size as operation tables. It was the time of my life when I would do some act of cleanliness to ward of my nervousness. I can say I began to get really nervous, because I was washing my hands (arms, rather) all the way up to my elbows, without the slightest clue why. I could hear my bravado draining. Hell, I must have pissed tens of times in my mind! This feeling of mental incontinence was overwhelming.

“What are you doing there?”, said a voice from behind my back. I turned around to see a group of doctors standing before me. “Just washing my hands… I thought since this is a surgery, I should be clean… Am I right?”, I responded. “Mr. Shamsi,” said an old female doctor in a motherly voice “We are performing your surgery, not the other way around. Any way, you are too clean already.” They all laughed and I followed suit, but halfheartedly. I know what she was talking about.

Earlier that morning, I was given a shave from my chest, all the way down to my knees. The process, which I consider too shameful to speak in-detail, was appalling at best. I was happy with the end result, though. At least chances of infection would be slimmer, I thought. But the happiness was short-lived: They sprayed a solution on me (read: my shaved area) which, they said, would form an anti-bacterial coating. It also turned out to be the time I screamed my loudest in a medical facility. I feel it would be futile to make my readers understand how painful it was – I just cannot explain it!

My doctors asked me to lie down on the table. I did so, with my panic seeping out at places. I asked that motherly voiced lady about what would they do to me during the surgery.

“Nothing. We will just put you to sleep.”

“You mean you will inject something that will cause my Serotonin levels to go up? And how will I wake up? And will you be putting THAT camera inside my stomach?”

“Just relax and… why are your palms sweating?”, she said while injecting something.

“Oh, that is just the water I couldn’t wipe.”

operating room

When I opened my eyes some hours later, the light bedazzled me. I must have died and reached heaven, I thought. It did not take me much time to figure that the room was too well-lit for my liking. I was still half-asleep. A guy in bottle green-clothes walked up to me and showed me a little glass jar. It contained my inflamed appendix, and it looked absolutely horrific, as far as I can recollect. I realized it was Dr. Abhishek, and my eyes closed. When I regained consciousness again, I was no longer in the operation theater. But wherever I was, I was not alone. I could hear people moaning in pain, myself included. I tried to lift my head, and realized that I could not do it; not without having to experience more pain, at least. My hands were positioned exactly where I had imagined on the corpse, but they could move, which was relieving. I lifted the sheet that covered me to see the extent and number of incisions. The sight was shocking. I could not believe what I was seeing. I was aghast at how incapable my doctors had proven themselves.

“Where the hell are my clothes?!”

These were the first words to come out of my mouth after my surgery, and sadly, they were addressed to myself. I could not speak properly, may be because they had inserted tubes through my mouth. I was disgruntled. Which idiot wearing only a hospital shirt, after a painful surgery, won’t be? The night brought even more pain, as the effect of anesthesia faded. The only thing that helped me cope up with this pain was the presence of my mother, who sat beside me throughout the night and kept saying that everything would be alright. I was discharged two days later, as my surgery was “minor.” I thought otherwise but didn’t really care a bit about the term, perhaps because I was too busy bidding farewell to my fellow patients and wishing them speedy recovery. Most importantly, I was just happy to be heading home.

Image courtesy: dlflowtech.com

Death of the Dilemma

Should I go, or should I not?”

It must have been one of the rare times in the history of humanity that a person was confused between entering a building and climbing up to the third floor, or not. Most people need just the first step to convince themselves. I needed three floors. For precisely 7 minutes, I stood there and kept tackling my thought. I would not let go. My eyes remained fixed on the third floor window all the while. I turned around and left the compound. I could not take myself building so much suspense for me. “No big deal! I haven’t been there for over a year. Doesn’t matter if I did not go there today”, I explained to myself while on the way in an auto rickshaw. My other self kept quiet. My phone rang. It was Mom, who said that I had to collect some jewelry from an aunt and deliver it to another aunt in Amrut Nagar.

“Amrut Nagar?”, I confirmed and mother responded in the affirmative. I was returning from the same location. It was the same place where I stood under that building, lost in confusion. In no time, I was going back there, a box-ful of ornaments in my hand. “Sometimes, all you need is a sign”, my other self gave back a long-pending reply. Quickly, I delivered the box to my aunt and looked at the remnants of my deliberation about my visit to an old friend’s house.

When I say ‘friend’s house’, it would hardly appear to be a matter to be so perplexed about. But it DID matter to me. I had not been there for more than a year and five months (Yes, I kept a track of the time). All this time I had avoided that place as much as I could. There had been many such moments when I had stood and stared at the third-floor window, wondering if I should go upstairs and meet my second family (I would call them this). Every time I would return, just explaining to myself some way or the other. And all this was for a reason.

It is said that people with true friends are lucky. While I don’t really doubt this saying, I believe that there is hardly a person as fortunate as the one who is also loved by his/her friend’s family as one of their own. My friend’s family loved me dearly, and I realized my superior luck very soon. It was only a matter of time when they were my mother, my father, my brother and my sister. The only wrong thing that they did was they lived right next to my ex-girlfriend’s house. When I was planning to marry her, my second family tried to help me. In return, they were banished by their own neighbors. And then, they banished me. The only thing more painful was that they never said it to me by themselves. It was a long day, I recollect.

It only took a phone call to my present girlfriend to end this mental disarray. She encouraged me to go and meet them. When my mind was waist-deep in confusedness, she de-cluttered it in one moment. Some people understand what calms you down more than you can ever understand. I walked away again, but this time, I wanted to buy something to eat. When I get worried or nervous, food helps me (and maybe, this is one reason I am turning so fat now). But I did not want to eat alone, so I bought some shawarmas for them and a huge pack of chocolate for my friend’s little son. While returning, I watched daylight fade, and since I was walking in Mumbra, surroundings began to lose visibility as there was no power, not even on the streets. I reached the building and was on the stairwell without a second thought. As I stood in darkness on the third floor, the heat of freshly-prepared shawarmas warmed my fingers , as I continued to gasp out of exhaustion. I did not want to change my mind midway, so I ran as fast as it was possible for me. I knocked the door and waited for what I felt was an enormously long minute. The door creaked open, and lights began to glow. Power had resumed.

The Entrance

The Murmuring Old Man

“Write a composition on ‘An hour at the railway station.'”

“What the hell! Again?!”

My interjection was valid, even though it was just in my thoughts; our teachers had probably ran out of ideas about topics to write essays on. I may have been wrong, but any student writing essays on the same subject every year since 3 years would feel the same as I did. I mean, how come something at a damn railway station could possibly be worth writing about? I used to travel from my school in CST to Mumbra every day. I couldn’t control my urge to get on a train after barely 5 minutes, such was the monotony. Trains were only slightly better. Except huge crowds, high decibel quarrels and the never-ending blabber of office-goers (I couldn’t afford a walkman in those days and mobile phones and MP3 players were only objects of fantasy, so I learnt to endure), there was hardly a single thing worthy of being described in words. I would still try to imagine being a youth who had nothing better to do than observing a railway platform.

Fortunately, I do not have to any longer do that. I do travel over a long distance each day (Ambernath to Vikhroli). Railway stations are pretty boring still, apart from some few instances. I ended up writing my first blog post about one such instance. But there was another one which left a far deeper impact on me.

It was the month of Ramadan and like every year, I decided it was better to get off at Mumbra (a station right in the middle of my journey) for evening prayers. It helped me being on schedule and making sure prayers weren’t missed. It is the time of the year when I suddenly become very spiritual and religious. I rarely get so worried about these things otherwise. And I admit, it is a shame. I was standing on the platform one evening, waiting for my usual Badlapur train. Like every day, there was nothing interesting happening and I fiddled with my cellphone. There were 3 trains to halt there before mine arrived, and the first one just came in.

“Kya yeh Badlapur train hai?” (Is this the Badlapur train?)

I looked at the source of the voice. It was a man, a very old man. He must have been in his 80s. I noticed his clothes – he wore a torn-and-stitched-numerous-times kurta-pyjama, with a torn waistcoat on top of it. The only bit of cloth on his frail body that was not restitched was his prayer cap. He had a small beard which seemed to have lost a lot of hair. I noticed he was murmuring something, and paused to inquire once again.

“Badlapur ki train hai?”

“Nahin, baba, Dombivili ki hai” (No, old man, this is a train to Dombivili), I answered.

“Shukriya! Khuda aapko iski Jazaa de!” (Thank You! May God reward you for helping me), he said.

He had a rough voice, may be because he had cold. He coughed intermittently and cleared his throat every few minutes. He carried a little bag on his shoulder, but it did not seem to contain much. He had a cane that helped him balance himself. Between coughs and clearing his throat, he kept murmuring inaudibly. I couldn’t help notice that all this while, he kept looking straight ahead, with his staff helping him stand. I realized he was blind.

I kept the phone in my pocket and I felt it was better to help him find a place to sit. He did not want to, though. “Saara din toh baitha hi rehta hun bheek maangne ke liye…” (I keep sitting the entire day while I beg), he said in his rough voice. I left him alone and watched him from a distance. He kept murmuring, and other people watched him, too. Though he wasn’t begging now, some individuals came forward and offered him alms. I went to him and kept a ten rupee note in his hand. He said ‘Bismillah’ (I begin in the name of God) and took the money and put it in his waistcoat pocket.

The Badlapur train arrived, and I helped him get in through the crowd, all the way inside. I asked a commuter to get up and let the old man sit. He readily obliged. I stood near the old man and tried to absorb the pushes that the old man would get from the crowd. He sat and continued to murmur. After Kalyan (a major station) passed, most of the crowd got off and I got a seat right beside him. For the first time during this entire journey, I looked at him closely. I knew he was very old, but he looked even older now. His face was a maze of wrinkles, his eyes did not exist, and he had no teeth. And he kept murmuring. I tried to listen what it was, and as soon as I did, I was really amazed. The man was praying.

When we reached Ambernath, we spoke properly for the first time. I asked him where he lived, to which he mentioned a very distant part of the town (I cannot clearly remember the name). He told me he lived with his wife and sister in a small hut. He had no children and the children of his sister had thrown her out of the house. Since there was no one else to look after them, the blind old man had to resort to begging. But after every few sentences and some coughing, he would state that God has been kind and he was thankful that he could still pray and earn.

“Khuda ka shukr hai, kuchh na hone se toh behtar hi hai!” (I am thankful to God that this is better than nothing at all), he said, with his smiling face looking into the nothingness in front of him. I helped him board a rickshaw and paid the fare beforehand. That was the least I could do for him. As I bid farewell to the old man, he held my hand and said a small prayer, a prayer I could not hear but feel. My eyes were dampened a bit. I felt sad – Not about this old man having to work at this age in this condition. I was sad about myself. I felt sad about the world.

We keep cribbing about the absence of little things in our lives and behave as if God has been unjust towards us. We pray to God and thank Him only on special occasions. But there are people who never forget Him, who have much less than what we have and are still thankful for whatever little their fate allows them to hold on to. Every idle moment, that man prayed. Despite being old and unable to see, he thanked God for keeping him able enough to feed his old wife and sister. He never complained. I am sure these moments in my life would have made a great composition for my school. It made me believe that may be not an hour, but a few minutes on a railway station or a train are worth living, not just writing about. I never met the old man again and I do not know what he prayed for me. But whatever it was, it made me a better human being.

Thank you, God.

Beggar

Image is for representation  purpose only.
Image courtesy: muslimtune.com

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