Friday, March 30, 2018

Gharazparast Jahaan meiN ... Be Warned ... !

Sahir Ludhianvi's words of caution, wisdom, romance, philosophy and all else, come mostly from his own life's experiences. Quite a few of his film songs that one hears even today, had actually been written much before as a result of circumstances in his real life, but used in films because they suited the situation

He has woven his pain, his happiness, his helplessness, his hope, his ambition and all else in poetry,  and placed his life undressed before his readers / listeners
Much has been written about his choice of words and not without reason, because what sets Sahir Ludhianvi apart from other poets of his time, as also poets in general, is the choice of the subject / topic of his poetry and the words that he chooses to express his thoughts (on the subject) .
The song that I have in mind today is one that hits hard upon the listener's ears and mind, before traveling deep down to the soul, creating a suffocating vacuum.

"Naa Tu zamiiN ke liye hai naa aasmaaN ke liye
Tera wajood hai ab sirf daastaaN ke liye"

What an unfathomable downfall and what an unspeakable feeling of worthlessness comes with these lines, as if there can be no retrieval from this heart-breaking wreckage
In the next couplet
"Palat ke suu e chaman dekhne se kya hoga
Wo shaakh hi naa rahi jo thi aashiyaaN ke liye ... "
Sahir Ludhianvi sums up the life-shattering experience when one unexpectedly faces disloyalty and faithlessness from a loved one.
He is not able to come to terms with the truth that has hit him in the face so brutally and yet come to terms he must
He may take time, but he has to accept the reality with all its bitterness 

Sahir Ludhianvi's uniqueness also lies in the fact that while he lists down the problems, his mind is also busy suggesting solutions ...

Here is a man who has, as they say, been there and seen it all
And true to this personality trait, he comes up with a worldly-wise piece of advice

Sahir says seeking unconditional love and faithfulness in a world full of opportunism and egotism can leave you miserable and dejected
It is in one's own interest to realize that unvarnished trust, devotion and steadfastness are rarely found on this planet of self-obsessed and self-consumed people
(Hence be warned, don't trust people blindly and measure the distance before you take the next step)

"Gharazparast jahaaN meiN wafa talaash naa kar
Ye shaai bani hai kisi doosre jahaan ke liye "

Written for Dilip Kumar - Sharmila Tagore starrer, B R Chopra's "Daastaan", this song is a profoundly educative commentary on the human nature in general and makes sense even independent of the situation in the film
The listener is often left taking stock of his own life
The truth of relationships lies bare.
Could be shocking, could be gratifying ...

And if one is true to oneself, one may end up seeing the reflection of his own soul in the mirror of this stupendous piece of writing 😊

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Bai ! Tula Salaam

We call her Bai.
Her family too, (even her children) call her Bai.
She is now eighty seven years old
( I won't say eighty-seven-years-young, because old is (g)old, and replacing the word "old" with "young" is a rather poor and cockamamie play of words )

So this eighty-seven year old bubbly octogenarian has great eye-sight and fairly good health, but her hearing is gone.
Recently I met her after more than three and a half decades.
Obviously, she could not recognize me.

So I asked her :
"Aap ne mujhe nahi pehchanaa na ?"
She could not hear me
Then her daughter-in-law spoke, literally inside her ear :
"Bai ... hi Zohra ... hila olakhlas ( ओळखलास ) nahi na tumhi ... "
Instantly her face lit up with child-like delight as she excitedly remarked :
"Aiyyya ... Zohra ... !!!"
She held out her hand to show a height of about three and a half feet and said to her daughter-in-law :
"Aga mala tar itkishich athavtey hi ... " indicating how tall ( or small ) I was in her memories !!!

As we got talking, after every few lines, as if to convince herself that I was the same little school girl who she knew, she would exclaim :
"Kitni badi ho gayi re tu ... Kitttti mothi zhaalis ga !!! "
 ( An endearing and irrefutable proof of how children never grow up in the eyes of their elders 😉😀😀)

                                         ( Bai and Me )

She was the second wife of her husband.
Ahead of her times, she chose to marry the man of her choice despite the fact that he was already married and having children too

It never occurred to me to ever ask how love blossomed and bloomed between them but I do now know that her father and her husband worked for the same company and as luck would have it, they were immediate neighbours, a single wall separating both their houses.

                             ( The houses as they stand today )

The fact that more than sixty years back, living in a traditional middle class household, she had the freedom and the strength to take important decisions in life, stand by those decisions, and live life sunny-side-up, has fascinated me infinitely

At first glance she would come across as a conservative Indian woman living a simple life.
But five minutes into a conversation with her one is totally charmed by her extraordinary personality oozing with affection and peppiness
She has balanced modernity and tradition with an amazing sensibility, which makes her special in an adorable way.

Her conversations are full of delicious sense of humour and zest
Her love for life and faith in her personal convictions is evident in the radiance of her face, in the choice of sarees that she prefers to wear, and the bindi that adorns her forehead even if there is a garland on her husband's photo in the drawing room

"KaaNton se khiiNch ke ye aaNchal ... " is a song written by Kaviraj Shailendra, for Rosy, the character played by Waheeda Rehman in the film "Guide".
This song brought to life the emotional saga of a woman as she comes out of her shadows to embrace life in all its glory.
In the film, Rosy opts out of an abusive marriage to live life on her own terms, even if that meant being in a live-in relationship with the man she loved, so defying the generally acceptable norm in those times.

But here is a woman in real life, who has neither betrayed nor "insulted" those cultural values and yet liberated herself from the shackles of hollow societal dogmas and lived life more or less on her own terms.
She has proved that positive thinking is the key to better living and when the thought is progressive, customs and traditions will not chain the mind or stagnate intellectual growth.

The choices she has made in life set her beautifully apart from other women of her time 
She has truly lived the spirit of Kaviraj's song and continues to do so every day of her life

Bai! tula agdi manaa-paasoon salaam

                       ( Bai with her family and well wishers )

Monday, December 4, 2017

NafratoN ke Jahaan mein ...

PoNchh kar ashk apani aaNkhoN se,
Muskuraao to koi baat baney
Sar jhukaaney se kuchh nahi hoga
Sar uthaao to koi baat baney

Zindgi bhiikh mein nahi milti
Zindgi badh ke chhiini jaati hai
Apna haqq saNgdil zamaane se
Chhiin paao to koi baat baney

RaNg aur nasl, zaat aur mazhab
Jo bhi hoN aadmi se kamtar hain
Iss haqiiqat ko tum bhi meri tarah
Maan jaao to koi baat baney

NafratoN ke jahaan mein hum ko
pyaar ki bastiiyaN basaani hain
Duur rehna koi kamaal nahi
Paas aao to koi baat baney

This entire song is very simple in words, soothing in music, but is enormously pensive as it conveys the message of social justice and equality among human beings
Mohammed Rafi has rendered it with the right amount of depth, sensitivity and compassion to build up the required inspiration that it is supposed to deliver.

Sahir Ludhianvi, known for his poetry in favour of the oppressed, has come up with an amazingly powerful thought to inspire the underprivileged to stand up with dignity and ask for their rights, that have been denied to them in a society dominated by the moneyed class

The words have a global appeal because this oppression of the poor by the rich is a global phenomenon

It must however be noted that Sahir being an ardent advocate of non-violence and a supporter of World Peace ( His writings against war and violence are a testimony to that ) is NOT calling upon the underprivileged to resort to violence when he uses words like "Sar uthaao" ( Meaning Raise your heads) or "Chhiin" (meaning snatch)
He knows the kind of destruction and emptiness violence brings about
In his own life he has gone through immense mental agony and lived under financial and emotional stress
Yet he never allowed violence or aggression to raise their heads in his life

Instead he became the voice of the underprivileged and through his writings, he kept on trying to awaken the conscience of the masses to embrace the virtues of peace and social justice
He showed through the journey of his life that pen is mightier than the sword and that the light of knowledge wards off all darkness
In this song also he concludes with the lines:

"NafratoN ke jahaan mein hum ko
pyaar ki bastiiyaN basaani hain
Duur rehna koi kamaal nahi
Paas aao to koi baat baney"

Sahir has emphasized many times in his writings that there is no dignity, happiness or salvation in destructive and brutal activities.

Through his writings like "Khuda e bartar teri zamiiN par zameeN ki khaatir ye jung kyoN hai ... " or " Allah tero naam Ieshawar tero naam ... " he has effectively conveyed the futility and criminality of war
His epic work "ParchhaaiyaN" is a must-read
It begins with "Jawaan raat ke siiney pe doodhiya aaNchal ... " (sounding like a sensuously romantic piece of poetry) but ends shaking up the conscience of the reader with these deeply thoughtful lines (and in between goes about sketching in words how Peace is destroyed by selfish vested interests):

जुनूँ की ढाली हुई ऐटमी बलाओं से,
ज़मीं की खैर नहीं आसमाँ की खैर नहीं
गुजिश्ता जंग में घर ही जले मगर इस बार
अजब नहीं कि ये तनहाइयाँ भी जल जायें
गुजिश्ता जंग में पैकर जले मगर इस बार,
अजब नहीं कि ये परछाइयाँ भी जल जायें

Reading Sahir Ludhianvi is like waking up to an enlightened new morning in a place where Peace is possible

May his work inspire more and more people across the world to work for Peace in homes, in communities, and in societies so that PEACE evolves from being just a word to becoming a MIND SET .

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hajj Mubarak

There seems to be a tie for the first atheist that I encountered in my life
And this is because I don't remember whose identity as a "different-kind-of-believer" dawned upon me first !

There was this aristocratic-personality-waaley Uncle, a colleague of my father, who never went to a temple ... a la Bachchan of "Deewar" ( But of course much ahead of "Deewar" )

And there was a cousin of my mother, who Mummy used to tell us, would ridicule his wife's Eid uz Zuha ritual (Qurbaani) saying:
"Tumhaari Bhabi to Bakrey par baith kar Jannat mein jaaeiNgi"

After my marriage I came to know that my father-in-law, my husband and his Chacha Jaan never prayed five times in a day
And they hardly ever fasted during Ramzaan.

We used to have a Kabab-sevain feast on Eid uz Zuha.
By God's grace we still do
But most of us have not seen the Qurbaani ritual happening
We used to, and still give the money to a person we are sure needs it

My husband's Chacha Jaan was an educationist and used to work specially in the field of women's education
He used to say:
"Hum ne roza-Namaaz to karaa nahi hai zindgi mein ... Kuchh achchey kaam insaanoN ke liye kar leiN ... Ye kaam hi saath jaaeiNgey ... "

Now when I see the world getting so terribly tattered and people drifting away from one another apparently more because of religious differences than anything else, I am reminded of these wonderful human beings who may not have touched millions of lives, and who are not nationally or internationally famous, but still most certainly their selfless deeds have enriched many lives and the ripples of their goodness steadily, invisibly, namelessly continue to spread Hope.
"Hope" that Peace may be some distance away, but it is not just a Dream any more.

Eid uz Zuha is the commemoration of Hazrat Ibrahim's obedience and devotion to God and the completion of Hajj Pilgrimage
May it be Mubarak and spiritually enriching for all

And while Muslims as a community may come across as "primitive and orthodox" to the outside World,  it is heartening to see a gradual but more educated preference for better alternatives to charity instead of the ancient Qurbani

Sunday, August 27, 2017

I Love Bridges

Be it a small stream that runs alone for a while, then merges with a river it meets along the way,
Or a river running its course before meeting the sea,
Or the mighty boundless sea itself !!!
Just look at the way Bridges connect ...

The image is so fascinating
Once an unreachable "other side" come within easy reach !!!

As bridges connect one bank to the other, without the fear of drowning those who cross from one side to the other, so be the bonds between people ...

On this bank or that.
From this bank or that.
May there be bridges of hope and love between all human beings 👍💕👍💕👍💕

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Over a Cup of Tea that afternoon ...

She took her seat.
That cozily cushioned intricately woven cane chair in her small but comfortable lounge.
I settled in another one near her.
Without much ado, and as if we had known each other since ages, she said:
"I made a mistake, I shouldn't have quit working. Now I feel lazy going back to work ... and you know what ... " , her voice turning a whisper, she added, "I have actually lost much of my self-confidence ..."

I would like to believe that in her conversation, reflected the purity of her heart.
But frankly I can't be very sure.
After all, meeting someone first time, can one vouch for the purity of their heart ?

Here was a seventy five plus woman who was leading a relaxed life, fussing over her tea, making her staff run all around the house for nothing, missing her outings and social life due to her ageing body and she was asking me to meet her often and take her out on the BEST buses so that she learns to ride a bus in Bombay City ...
WOW !!!
Amazing spirit ... and salutes to that.

More than twenty five years my senior, she said she loved my hair "flying all over" under the fan-ki-hawa
And I loved her's ... not moving unless a touch of her dainty fingers permitted them to do so
Also mine now in their natural colour
Her's artificially coloured

"Why don't you write ? You have a treasure ( I mean TREASURE ) ... "
Yeah ... her treasure deserves the capitals  
I could have said Kohinoor too ... 😀
"I cannot write" she said simply
While she paused, I thought : "Sach mein lazy hain
Oblivious to my thoughts, she went on, without any pride, and again very simply she said:
"Wo treasure to poorey India ka hai"

Indeed ... Indeed ...
Who could dispute that😊

Tea was served with much grace
However she made the helper run back and forth a few times before she was satisfied with the degree of warmth and colour of the beverage

Then someone reminded her of a financial downturn she had suffered about half a century ago.
She did not take a moment to look at him in the eyes with such blank innocence as if a memory loss had happened suddenly !!!

Quite like a small adamant girl she shot back:
"I don't remember all that"
That person insisted she could not forget such an important matter, and testing her "yaad-daasht" asked again:
"Bibi Jaan to yaad hain na ... "
To which she replied with spontaneous enthusiasm:
" Haan ... Haan ... Kyon nahi yaad hoNgi ... ?"
"To phir wo baat kyoN nahi yaad hai ?"
"Bibi Jaan ek insaan hain, koi bank ka khata nahi ... "
She replied with a lot of self composure, depth and perhaps some sweet latent mischief

WOW again!!!

She is a delightfully breath taking bundle of paradoxes !!!
Steely Determination
Mellow Vulnerability

Here I was in the company of an impish scholar-Guru who has learned her lessons from the expansive library called Life
And thankfully learned all the right things

And this also explains why at the beginning she said she could not write

Friday, August 11, 2017

Love Him?

What better way there is to show your love for your Supreme Loved One than to love His creations, preserve them, beautify them, take care of them ... ?
So I conclude that atheists love God
And they express this love with much depth, thoughtfulness and maturity ...

They don't go on a killing spree destroying God's creations ...
They express their devotion to God through their devotion to all that is there on Earth and in Universe.
All that has been created by that Supreme Creator 

Their's is a much better way to be grateful to Almighty God than any of the so called believers who, in the name of the faith they are following, betray the teachings of that very faith ...