Does Anyone Love Me?


ANUSHKA CHOKHANI

23.12.04

It was around 5:00 p.m., when little Jia’s cousin brother, Abhi, who was returning to India for his holidays, called up her aunt (his mother) and said, “Mumma, I have reached”. His mother knew that it was just a few more minutes before she would see her son again, and with this thought she lighted up and checked for the last time if all arrangements were properly done or not. Even Jia got excited and she ran to the balcony and was watching out for the car to arrive.

At 6:30 p.m., the car arrived and she ran to her aunt to inform her. When the doorbell rang Jia’s aunt opened the door while Jia hid herself behind her. Her brother took the blessings of his mother first and when she took him into a hug, he hugged her back tightly, while he ruffled Jia’s hair affectionately. After that, they all went into the room.

There everybody sat comfortably and everyone was having snacks and small talks with him. Jia sat at one corner, feeling shy. Abhi noticed her and told her, “You have grown so much in a year. You look like that actress. A tiny bit.” She shook her head in denial and looked down instantly, blushing. Later when he opened the bag and started distributing gifts to all, some got chocolates and some other mugs; he called her while taking out a woollen jacket. Handing it to her he said, “It was only you whom I remembered while shopping.” She was really very happy, because at that instant she could not remember when she had received such a special gift from anyone. She was happy because he made her feel special. He made her wear that jacket at that instant, and when he did so; she pledged to herself that she will not let anyone take that jacket away from her, that she will never give it to anyone else.

One has said, “Happy times need to go so that they can come back.” But it is not always true. Sometimes when happiness is lost, it never returns. Even after months of Abhi’s departure, the house did smile, until one day when they received a call…

18.05.05

It was the call of one of Abhi’s colleagues. He just said, “Abhi is dead, he is no more.” Those words were like a sudden, violent storm, and when it passed, it took away with it the smiles of the house. Although there was bright summer sunshine outside the house, the inside turned completely dark, everything motionless and everyone speechless. A freak car accident had not taken only Abhi’s life, but it also took a bit of everyone, here, thousands of kms away.

Everyone was shattered. When Jia’s aunt got the news, she almost fainted. She fell on the ground and started crying badly, cursing her luck. It went on for days, till Abhi’s corpse was brought, laid in a coffin, and with sunset his body was cremated with all the Hindu rituals.

PRESENT DAY

Years have passed since that incident happened. Jia’s aunt, does not say anything directly, but even after so many years she cries internally and just wishes that she could get her son back by some means.

Little Jia is a grown up girl now. Whenever she gets lonely, or a good scolding from her parents and she feels that she has no one in this world whom she can share her grievances with, or that she has no one in this world who cared for her or loves her, she recollects what had happened on 23rd December,2004. Thinking of it, she sometimes feels that it was nothing but her dream, nothing of that sort had ever taken place. But the very next moment, just to make sure that whether that cousin of hers was really a part of her life or was just one of her imaginary characters, she starts looking for the jacket. Having seen it she gets reassured that he was certainly a part of her life, a part of her reality and that…

She had someone on this earth who cared for her.
She had someone on this earth who really loved her, and that
She had someone on this earth who remembered her most amongst all…

THE EDITING STARTUP

Then and Now


Gently Then, Cruelly Now

I touch the roughened, scarred trunk
Of a palm tree and swirl around it.
A bird sways with me, a little too drunk.
I carry the sun kissed smell of life and make a butterfly flit…

She bobs up and down, with shimmering wings.
A leaf she sits upon looks radiant, blessed.
I playfully force her to move, but she clings.
The angry leaf trembles, asking me why I messed.

I soothe the frayed nerves of his,
Promise him the best behaviour of mine.
I move along, trying to bestow the kiss,
Of life, on the beings waiting for me, in a line.

The freedom that I possess is intoxicating,
Loosing all my sense of right and wrong.
I rush ahead, all cylinders firing,
And alas! Tear a bud from where it belonged.

Admonished by beings from all walks of life,
I halt, speechless with horror, aghast.
Inside my heart rages on a strife.
My innards twist, I hear my heart beat its last.

I cannot bring myself to tell them all
Something that I surely know, will never be true.
No fake promises, with a dead heart and cold face, I fall
From their graces, which singed me now, I jump headlong into the unknown blue.

Now, I laugh and scorn, dying inside, at their losses.
My laugh, more like a howl of despair, in mine ears, rings.
Inspire of all my efforts, nothing happens to the tenacious mosses.
And yet, as I fake this facade, I crumble within, as if pulled by unseen strings.

Years later, it does not affect me anymore,
I easily turn my back and move on.
I am now a pitiless, brutal villain of lore.
I often wonder where, all those cruddy emotions have gone.

I chose not to be the errant, yet in line,
But to be the outlaw, whom everyone curses.
A cowardly choice,but I know I will be fine.
Stupid of me, perhaps to give such value to promises.

I take solace in the fact that,
I am the villain standing in the sunlight, brazenly.
Rather than the hidden, blood sucking bat.
I was gently yours once, I was the breeze, now I am the storm, still yours, cruelly.

When we set out for life, the real one; after years of being sheltered by our loved ones, we behave like the wind at the beginning of this poem. The world seems ours to command, everything is exhilarating and we can do no wrong. Incidentally, that’s a lot like falling in love.

But time and circumstance makes cynics out of the best of us. It’s sometimes thought of as growing up, leaving our ebullient days behind. I beg to differ. I think it’s more of breaking your soul into pieces, making horcruxes due to other people’s behaviour. It’s sad.

A cynic is someone who is at their very core, unhappy and miserable and it’s not their fault. They were made so because of other cynical people, who in turn are embittered because of their interactions with other cynics.

You see what a vicious cycle this is? Don’t feed it. Whatever happens, don’t be like the wind. Retain a bit of the original in you. Excessive exhilaration might prove detrimental, but it’s better than no exhilaration at all. Live a little, hurt a lot, learn the most.

THE EDITING STARTUP

Who I want to be? Who?


MANMOHAN SINGH

+ Manmohan Singh | @mannymanmohan


I Want to be an Author

‘So you want to be an author? Trying to copy Chetan Bhagat eh?’
This was the first thing the first person who I confided in told me. His smirk of condescension and his tone clearly showed what he thought of me. As if I am already a nincompoop for daring to dream who will surely fail in life?

Though what is life but a constant journey of discovering oneself? It is not like random thought on a random occasion took root in mind and has grown up to be the big kahuna this way. I started reading novels at the age of 12. The world of fiction fascinated me that how at the whims of the author the plot is manipulated, how a single word can be used to render a controlled explosion of feelings in the readers mind.

There is no pre-set requisite for elite and eye-catchy words.

I have to desire to write poems too when the words flow in the air. There is no need for a poem to rhyme or be lengthy. Why to make it so ?

This poem by Swami Vivekanand justifies the above mindset of mine,
I look behind and after
And find that all is right,
In my deepest sorrows
There is a soul of light.

Write something be it good or not. Show it to people whether they be critical or not. This is my creed and motto. To move towards achieving it, one must try however infinitesimally small your efforts seem to be.

THE EDITING STARTUP


खुशी से जीने का affidavit

The Editing Startup

सुबह ठीक 6.00 बजे अलार्म की घंटी बजती है। यश झटके के साथ उठता है। उसका हाथ सीधा अपने फ़ोन पर जाता है। आधी खुली आँखों से वो किसी तरह अलार्म को बंद करता है। एक बार फिर कमरे में शांति छा जाती है। यश वापस से अपना मुंह तकिये में घुसा देता है। और 5 मिनट बाद फिर से अलार्म बजती है।

“What the heck!”
यश ने कहा। उसी ने रात को दो अलार्म लगायी थी क्योंकि उसे पता है अलार्म बंद करने के बाद वो फिरसे सोजायेगा। यश हमेशा ऐसा ही करता है। उसे पसंद नहीं है क़ि अलार्म की घंटी उसके सपनों के बीच बजती है जिससे वो अपना सपना पूरा नहीं करपाता। पूरे दिन दफ़्तर में उसे नींद की याद आती गयी। इस चक्कर मे उसने अपने सभी सहयोगियों को एक एक बार डपटा दिया। वापस घर लौटते हुए उसे लगा कि घर जाके दबाके सोयेगा। रास्ते में याद आया की सामने की दुकान से दूध की थैली लेनी है।

“एक Full Cream देना।” यश ने कहा।
“24 रुपये।” दुकान पर बैठे बच्चे ने कहा।
“और एक वो ऑरेन्ज वाले बिस्किट भी”।
“36 हो गए।” बच्चे ने बिना भाव बदले जवाब दिया।
यश ने उसे 50 रुपये का नोट पकड़ाया।
“1 रुपया और मिल जाएगा?” बच्चे ने फिर पूछा।
यश ने एक और रुपया उसे दे दिया।
बच्चे ने 15 रुपये वापस किये, दूध और बिस्किट एक थैली में डाला और दे दिया।

यश वापस आया। उसने दूध गरम किया और उस में बिस्किट डुबोकर खाने लगा। न जाने क्यों उसे उस बच्चे का चेहरा बार बार याद आ रहा था।
“कितना तेज़ दिमाग था उसका!” यश ने सोचा। पर एक बार फिर उसने अपना ध्यान नींद पर लगाने की कोशिश की। फिर एक बार…

वही सुबह, वही अलार्म… वही लोगों पर ग़ुस्सा। वापस आते हुए फिर वो दूध लेने गया। फिर वही बच्चा बैठा हुआ था।
पर इस बार बच्चे के हाथ में एक बहुत पुरानी सी, फटी हुई किताब थी। बच्चे ने जैसे ही यश को देखा, एक Full Cream की थैली लाके उसके सामने रख दी। फिर किताब में देखता हुआ बोला, “24 रुपये साहब।” यश ने 24 रुपये निकाल कर रख दिए। उस से रहा नहीं गया तो पूछा – “तुम… तुम्हारा नाम क्या है दोस्त?” बच्चे ने किताब से नज़रे नहीं हटाते हुए जवाब दिया- “अनिल, मेरा नाम अनिल है, साहब”।
“ये क्या पढ़ रहे हो?” यश ने पूछा।
“ये 6th क्लास की NCERT है। वो भेलपुरी वाला गगन है न, वो भेलपुरी परोसने के लिये इन्ही किताबों के पन्ने इस्तेमाल करता है।” अनिल ने यश की और पहली बार देखा।
यश को एक मासूम चेहरा और तेज़ दिमाग साफ़ दिखाई दे रहा था।
“तुम्हें पढ़ने का शौक है?” यश ने पूछा।
“हाँ। मुझे गणित बहुत अच्छा लगता है।” अनिल ने जवाब दिया।
यश अनिल की मदद करता है और उसे वो प्रश्न समझाता है जिस पर अनिल अटक गया था।
“Thank you भैया!” अनिल ने कहा।

यश वापस मुड़ता है और घर पहुँचकर दूध गर्म करने लग जाता है। उसका दिमाग अभी भी वहीँ है। अनिल के पास। उस लड़के में यश उस लड़के को देख पा रहा है जिसे वो कई साल पहले शीशे में देखता था। सब जानते हैं कि यश एक होनहार विद्यार्थी था पर अब सब कुछ खत्म हो चुका है। जबसे वो शहर आया है, उसने अपने आपको सिर्फ काम में व्यस्त रखा है। उसे अपना काम भी पसंद नहीं है। दिनभर लैपटॉप पर बैठकर PPTs बनाना उसका talent नहीं है। वो कुछ अच्छा करना चाहता है और दिक्कत ये है कि “अच्छा” का scope किसी ने define ही नहीं किया। पर अब शायद अनिल को उसकी ज़रूरत है। यश आज आराम से सोता है। सुबह की पहली अलार्म पर उठ जाता है और जल्दी से तैयार होकर दफ्तर पहुंचता है। जल्दी से अपने पूरे दिन का काम ख़त्म करता है और जल्दी निकल जाता है।

“Hi अनिल। कैसा है!” यश पूछता है।
“मैं ठीक हूँ भैया, आप कैसे हैं?” अनिल जवाब देता है और ढूध निकालने के लिए fridge खोलता है। पर यश उसे रोक देता है। वो अपने laptop bag के अंदर से एक नयी, ज़िल्द चढ़ी हुई NCERT की किताब निकलता है और उसे अनिल की तरफ बढ़ा देता है। अनिल का मुंह खुला का खुला रह जाता है। उस किताब के पहले पन्ने पर “अनिल” लिखा है। अनिल नज़रे नीचे कर के कहता है- “इस सबकी क्या ज़रूरत थी भैया। आपने कल प्रश्न हल करवा दिया था। आप बहुत अच्छे हैं।”
“क्या मैं तुमसे एक बात पूछ सकता हूँ?” यश ने हिचकिचाते हुए कहा।

अनिल ने सिर हाँ में हिला दिया।
“क्या तुम मुझ से पढ़ना चाहोंगे?” यश ने हिचकिचाते हुए पूछा।
अनिल बस मुस्कुरा दिया।

उस ने अपने मामा से इजाज़त ले ली। अब हर शाम अनिल यश भैया के साथ बैठकर गणित पढता है। जब वो दोनों बोर होने लगते तो यश के “PS III” पर टेनिस खेलते थे। यश हर बार जीत जाता था तो अनिल कहता “भैया, ये वीडियो गेम तो नकली है। कभी असली वाला खेलेंगे, तब देखेंगे।” खाली वक्त में यश ने अनिल को Laptop चलाना और email करना भी सीखा दिया।
आज यश बहुत खुश है। ऑफिस में भी सबके साथ अच्छे से बातचीत हो रही है। अपना काम ख़त्म कर के वो अनिल की दुकान पर पहुंचता है। पर वहां अनिल नहीं, उसके मामा बैठे हैं।

“आइये यश सर। Full Cream लेंगे न!” अनिल के मामा ने मुस्कुराते हुए कहा।
“अंकल जी, अनिल कहाँ है?” यश ने पूछा।
“वो तो चला गया जयपुर। उसकी माँ वहीँ रहती है तो उनका साथ देने के लिए भी तो कोई चाहिए था न।” मामा ने कहा।

यश धडधड़ाते हुए अपने घर में घुसता है। अपना फ़ोन स्विच ऑफ कर के टेबल पर रखता है। अपने बिस्तर पर छलांग लगा देता है और तकिये में मुंह छुपाकर दहाड़े मार कर रोता है। शायद इतना तो वो पिछले कई सालों में नहीं रोया था। सब खत्म हो गया। जब लगा कि इस शहर ने अपनाना शुरू कर दिया तो उसकी motivation काएकमात्र source भी चला गया।
रोते हुए पता ही नहीं चला क़ि यश कब सोगया। 3 बजे सुबह उसकी नींद खुली तो वो उठा। फ़ोन को ओन करने के लिए ज़ोर से button press किया। दूसरे हाथ में एक गिलास में पानी भरा और एक घूंट पानी मुंह में लिया ही था कि एकझटके से यश के मुंह से पानी का फव्वारा छुटता है।

फ़ोन पर notification आती है-
“1 new mail received from [email protected]
यश जहाँ खड़ा था वहीँ कूद रहा है और उस notification पर tap करता है।
“Hi Bhaiya, Ek question puchna hai…tennis ke andar score 10,15, 30 and 40 hi kyu hote hain? Ye to “AP” series bhi nahi bani. -Anil”

यश बस उस email को देख रहा है, जैसे किसी ने उसे खुशी से जीने का affidavit दे दिया हो।


Relapse


She sat on the rooftop breathing in the last of a very long and eventful evening, playing with the sharp knife painted crimson with blood. Her insides were screaming but no sound came out of her mouth. She was drowning in self-loathing. But, even in this turmoil, there was a sense of peace and contentment.

To her, she was nothing but a failure who had let her demons back into her life, yet again. After holding it together for two whole months, one week and four days. This time was supposed to be different because in her mind she had finally gotten it under control. She had done everything that was asked of her. She had found another outlet, a healthier one at that. She was finally on the path to recovery, all thanks to him.

People always viewed her as an outcast who wasn’t capable of forming bonds. They tried to keep away from her because of her dark aura. Nobody wanted to be close to her because she made everyone uncomfortable. And that served her purpose, they kept away from her which was safe. But, not him.

He was different from others, he walked her through her vulnerabilities and insecurities to embrace her with all her sweet imperfections. He had become her shield who protected her from the game of blades which had consumed her for most of her life. Their lives collided in a dark alley two months ago when he had caught her with a knife dripping red. She had looked beautiful even at her worst and he wasn’t afraid of her. That day forth, he helped her, helped her break free from her indiscretions, even though it was for a short while.

It had all changed today. She had fallen off her wagon yet again. And the victim to her transgression was the one that she loved. And herself.

He had come home to find her holding her old knife and lost it. She was his love, he couldn’t watch her go down that road again. But, she just couldn’t take his yelling and coming at her like that. She just couldn’t. She was overcome with inexplicable rage and clutching the knife in her hand, she let that fury consume her. His screams were music to her ears. She kept stabbing him again and again even after his eyes rolled back. And just like that, the fury left her body as she slumped to the ground next to his body. Her ninth body.

Most definitely not her last.

THE EDITING STARTUP