Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Man with the Lantern

It was twenty past twelve.
And through the shades of midnight the Rajdhani Express suddenly halted.It was unexpected as Rajdhani stops only in some stations..clearly it was nothing but a matter of signal..I can hardly take bed so early thus I stood up and peeped through the glasses.

And I got stranded.
A beautiful night awaiting for me outside.

The station was totally empty..over the glasses I saw some yellow green leaves running scatterdly over the platform in winds..sky clear..stars shining at regular intervals.

It became tough for me to remain within the train.
I walked from the AC –Sleeper class,opened the door and stepped into the station.

As my feet touched the platform, a wind swept me which bear an unknown fresh smell
.Is it a smell of the soil?
Is it a smell of the cattlefields?
Is it the smell of the tree, its branches?
Or is it the smell of the night?
I don’t know but I felt the smell contains ingredients from all of it.

I looked front. There was no trace of any signal.

I started walking. The scattered leaves now roamed over my feet.
The wind blowing in different tunes..the sky looks amazing..no trace of clouds..a faint moonlight spreading herself over this unknown station at this particular night..the air is cold..

I stared at the mesmerizing view of the night which lay before me.

The station though almost empty has a view of solitary loneliness..only a light of the lamppost of the station glowing and pouring on a banyan tree..the tree is old with numerous branches..some green..some yellow..some without leaves..some with leaves shaking in winds..throughout the station beneath the the blue sky the banyan tree with all its shades of colour and spreading of green leaves among the yellowish image resembling as if the only symbol of life..behind the plots of cattlefields..behind some bushes..I saw ..quite far from here..a hazy layout of a steep plateau like structures..from which direction the winds are suppose to be blowing..there was hardly any sound in the place except..the clattering of a night bird..the flapping of its wings..a dog running through the fields parallel to the tracks..a cow standing in the night over the grazing fields..sometimes nodding its head unconsciously..all pictures of loneliness..all a piece of singleness trying to hold the epigraph of time..of life..all sketches of solitude..all pictures of a different world which made this night,this moment,this station so very precious to me..

I thanked God that the train stopped here..

It was really unique..far from all the resemblance of our known world..far from the sorrows and daily struggles of survival..this night showed the vast epitome of the world..lesson of feeling the world for some moment instead of only running and searching for meaningless worldly things..a desire of surrender to this world..to open myself completely and absorb all the wonderful gifts that the nature had to offer..a raga of timeless sensations..a feeling of individualness which can be so pure..so mouthful of essences of rendezvous..

I looked again in front..
Still no signal..
I prayed silently.
That may these moments continue as long as it can, let the signal be not sounded,let it be delayed..let it be delayed..
Suddenly there was a sound.
It gradually came near.

And then to my great surprise, I saw a person appeared from the darkness, behind the banyan tree..

He was an old man..with hairs a mixture of black and white..his face..a conglomeration of ripples..showing his age..his eyes..looking for someone..his hands..holding a lantern..the light now falling on my face..

And then a voice came..a voice which initially was of amazement but gradually reached that of shouting..
‘Harish..tu aaya..?’
The light of the lantern was now totally on my face..a heat coming from the lantern..
I was finding it utterly difficult to open my eyes comfortably..

I did after a while as the light got removed as the person now holding my hand.
‘Harish, mujhe pata tha..tu aayega..akdin na akdin tu jaroor aayega..kahan tha beta tu itne din..’

The old man before me almost looking at me as if he found his lost treasure..he went on speaking some meaningless words..which was enough to realize that there was some mistake going on.

I removed my hand and said in Hindi that I am not Harish and there must be some mistake.

The old man laughed..again tried to hold my hand..he said in a very soft voice.. Tera gussa abhi tak hai..’

I got disgusted and shouted ‘Choriya mujhe! Hat jaiiye Ihanse!’

Maybe my voice reached a higher pitch.

It broke the silence..a bird flew away from the nearby tree..within the scattered light of the platform another person came running and said, ‘Master sab, signal hogaya hai..ab chaliye..’

Hearing his words I looked at the old man, he is wearing a black suite and also in his left hand he has a lantern..indeed he is the stationmaster.

He looked at me strangely.
Winds swept between us.
A cluster of dust whirled.
Moonlight now in strips kissed the shaking leaves.

The stationmaster in disbelief once again hold my hand and said… ‘Tu Harish nahi hai?’
I nodded.
He kept looking at me for some moment.
The moonlight touched the old eyes, Is there any droplets of water?

He started walking back slowly.

Instead the other person who came later on and holding flag in his hand and appeared to be linesman said to me that to forgive the stationmaster. He said he was a poor man who lost his son twenty years back. His son Harish went from here but never came back. Thus the old man for these twenty years hoping each day as each train passes through this station that one day his son would come back.
But it never occurred.
Today also, it didn’t.

‘Usko maf kar dijiye babuji, who bhi Insaan hai’(Forgive him as he is also an human being) The linesman hold my hand and then ran back towards the station room.

Soon the signal was shown.
The green light flashed.
I boarded the steps of Rajdhani.
The train started slowly.
The yellowish platform passed.
The beautiful banyan tree passed.
Its dancing leaves passed.
The blue sky with numerous stars passed.
And then passed the ‘board’ on which the station name was written.
The light of the station as well as the moonlight fell on the name.

Another wind splashed.
I looked at the signal room.
There is the linesman.
And there is that old man.
Waving flag tiredly, slowly with the lantern in his left hand.

As the train was passing I saw that the old man was looking towards me as I stood in the door.
Did the flag and the lantern trembled?
Or is it just an illusion of mine?

I came back to my seat.
Through the looking glass I saw moonlight kissing all corners of the earth outside.
The outside world with all its people and their emotions was running again parallel to the train.
Another station came.
Another came.

I closed my eyes.
I can still see the old man with the lantern in his hand and saying with his eyes fully lighted and with a desire of all his life, , ‘Harish..tu aaya?’

His eyes waiting for the answer.
He is living his remaining life for that answer.
A little answer.

And I behaved with him roughly almost treated him like a beggar?
But what else I can do?
I opened my eyes.
I found my eyelids wet.
I am crying.

Looking outside through the moonlit landscape of the night I slowly uttered one word.
But the word ‘sorry’ never appeared such meaningless to me.



What I want?

Some words are never spoken..

Some faces are never known..

Some people never fades out..

Some roads are yet to to be stepped in..

Some places are yet to be explored..

Some nights are sometime special..

Some moments holds uncherished desires..

Sometime one is lonely..very lonely..

Sometimes only one question rings on..rings on..

What I want?

What I want?

What I want?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Face of God

‘Has the last train gone?’
The question came from behind. I was standing in a remote station of Maharastra, broadly Pune, the station quite empty, only some tea-stalls still opened, some coolies preparing to lie down in benches and two street dogs running aimlessly. A sharp, bit cold wind blowing at intervals to declare the arrival of November.

I looked front. A guy in specs standing before me.
‘No..not yet..may be late’ I said.
‘Nothing is going right!’ The guy said smiling.
‘Quite so, the world is in disorder.’
‘I am Ankit Deshpande.’
I introduced myself and then asked, ‘Where from you are coming so late?’
‘I had an interview in a call center..these call centers often stretch it to extreme..’
I looked at the guy with observant eyes.
‘Hey, you thinking that I am quite old for a call center..you are right buddy..I am 30+ ..’
I smiled. Just to avoid my embarrassment.
‘You are right, he said ‘I am a new bird in this industry, lost my earlier job in printing industry..you know why?’
‘Why?’ I have to ask. The guy loves to talk.
‘Because I am a part of the exodus. The drop of sensex..the depression in world market..the changed political pattern of U.S…any thing can be the reason..I just got the pink slip..and what about you?’

For a moment I thought I should lie.
But then looking at the innocent face of the guy changed my mind. Instead of all his troubles, the guy is holding a smile in his lips as it is the shadow of his life..as if these troubles are so funny to him..a thing to smile.

Thus I disclosed myself.
‘I am in IT but at present almost in a same scenario like you, for six months out of any project, and in bench without salary!’
‘What competency you are?’
The guy thought for a moment and then from his purse brought out a card and gave it to me.
‘You can contact this person! He is a kind of relative to me. He can be of help to you I hope!’
I was really amazed. Can’t help asking, ‘Why you are not trying it for yourself?’
The guy said after a pause, ‘I am a simple graduate buddy.Don’t have that technical core!’
The next moment breaking all the silence of the night station the last train arrived. And one of my friend Arjun, who is new to Pune stepped down from it.
I came to receive him here.

I looked at the guy and said ‘Thanks!’
And then shake hand.
The guy started running.
I forgot to ask one question.
I shouted, ‘What about today’s interview..got the job in call center?’
Ankit, the guy jumped into the running train and then shouted, ‘No Man, I don’t have the desired US Accent, you know..!’
And thus he went away with the train.
Leaving with me some moments of unexplainable amazement and paradoxes.

May be that can be the end of our relationship but one day as my condition became more desperate I went to try my luck and met the person Ankit reffered about and then only through two rounds of interview I got the job.

I searched Ankit all over. Couldn’t find him. I asked Mr. Gupta, the boss, he also was not able to give any news about him. Sometimes thus when I am alone I thought of that night..the station..the guy..who without knowing me even selflessly helped me. A person who himself needed job badly and engulfed in all sorts of problems, a person who is nothing but a simple graduate..suppressing all his pains and tensions with a smile hand me over a link to a big job!
How? I asked myself.
But I have no answer.
Just found that the guy whom I met that night in the silent station was not ordinary but special..very special. Sometimes I recollect his smile among his dark face.
It appeared to me as if….
the root to lost humanity..
in these days of terrorism and demoralized values.
A face which I would remember throughout my life
As nothing but
The Face of God.

(Based on a true story..an experience of my friend.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Forgotten Temple

I am standing on the ruins of a forgotten temple

The temple has no goddesses

Only layers of time errected

Like invisible inscriptions

The script, yet to be deciphered

The air around flowing as if trying yet again

To unfold the undeciphered letters of time

All around me

Are spreaded

Wonders of time

Stories of unknown people

Who on the brink of being Known again remained unknown

A turn of oblivian towards the annals of closed chapters

As if these forgotten ruins are waiting anxiously

For a Nemesis of time

And as I stood stranded on the

Rocky ground of this broken temple

I found

That within

The fragments

Of historical ruins

Different fragments of me

Getting mixed..as if lost

A beautiful surrender of melancholy moods

I kept standing

Only like the extinct root of the forgotten time and days

Lay the broken shrine ....

Where bloodspots

are still not


Monday, March 2, 2009

On the Shores

The moment I landed in Digha two things happened.First, it started raining heavily. Clouds flocked from nowhere, and sea winds blowed with a mood of madness and the daylight got faded into all shades of gray.
The rickshaws which crowded near the bus stop also ran swiftly.
I was also about to catch one when I came across the second thing which occurred.
A young woman caught the rickshaw which I am suppose to catch and occupied it,
I shouted ‘Excuse me’ half wet already and the woman turned her face towards me.
I got struck by surprise.
“Shreya’ I uttered . Are you Shreya?’
The woman nodded and said. ‘Sorry, you have mistaken’ and then went away. Only the wind blowed her blue dupatta.
I kept stranded among the sweeping winds and torrential rain and gradually decreasing no. of rickshaws alone still trying to solve the puzzle.
How can I mistaken Shreya?
I nooded in disbelief and then jumped into a running rickshaw and ordered ‘Hotel Sea-Coast’.


As usual Arijit is late and only God knows when he will reach. He said he have some assignment in Shankarpur today and then he will meet me here. He is a totally cracked person and he planned this program. He is a photographer by profession and thus has no fixed schedule of work. I am well acquainted with his whims thus his delay is usual to me.
But the thing that pinching me is the incident of Shreya.
Shreya is one of my close friend in the college, we completed BCA together and even started MBA together but in the midway she left it for doing MS in US. I still remember that we both felt so lonely at the day she went and I was the one who went to see her off in the airport.
But now the question that arise in my mind MS course is for two years and now only one year has passed.
So a doubt pooped.
Is it really Shreya?
Or really I have mistaken?
No. It is not possible. The attitude, her walk, turn of her face, the way she carries the dupatta round the neck , all symbolizes her and I can not get wrong in those.
Shreya must have come for a vacation.
But then why she haven’t inform me?
Only questiones.
One after another.
But no answer.
It is almost evening, the weather is cloudy still but not raining luckily. Thus there is no meaning to waste it inside the hotel.
I put the slippers on and soon I am in the way to the beach.

A lovely evening is awaiting outside.

Tourists in great numbers pouring in..some foreigners clicking snaps..kids running..some guys drinking openly Beer Can.. some other walking towards the rocky steps with tea in their hand..a girl finding it diificult to handle her flowing skirt.. some woman similarly trying to manage the pallu of the sarree..hawkers clattering ‘chai, babu chai?’..passing rickshaws ‘Market jabe babu..New Digha?’..the colour of the sky appearing brilliant with last shades of the red mixing with grey..seagulls flying high.. some lonely crows dancing on the tip of the sea..green sea quite sharp at that period of the day..tide is coming.. winds blowing in fluctuating speed.. sand grains itching the body.. a waste newspaper came flying in the air..with the smell of jhalmuri..the mood of a holiday slowly grasping me..

I walked gently through the sands and took tea from a nearby stall..
I just have a first sip and that moment I saw again the woman.
This time I waited and did not said anything.
Winds touching Shreya, she is wearing a Yellow kurta and jeans now, her hairs revolting in winds through strings..her small steps..her sudden stop through a walk..then again walking..her ribboning her strings of hair..all symbolizes Shreya..
I then played a trick.
Just walking a bit close to her..I uttered loudly in order to be audible ‘Diya’..
The woman infront of me turned back in a twinkle and her face reads all surprise.
She is about to work..I said ‘Why are you doing this Shreya..why?’
She turned again towards me and then with her beautiful eyes on me said..
‘I am not Shreya..my name is Aditi!’
Then she started walking fast through the sands.
I didn’t follow her.
Because I know she is Shreya..because in this world only I call her as Diya..in her twentieth birthday when she flew off the candle over her birthday cake..her eyes full of light..that moment I named her.. ‘Diya’..
I came and sat over one the rocky walls on the marine drive.
Evening slowly passing away.
The roadside shops of sea-shells getting lighted..the sounds of sea water crushing in the shores filling up the air..sky appearing dark blue with flocks of red clouds..birds flying..far across the sea small boats with their lanterns sweeping in the waves..blue sky mixing unnoticed at the greenish sea..there perhaps the hoprizon lies..

I took another cup of tea.
Sipped it.
One mystery solved.
The woman is Shreya.
Another mystery begins.
Why Shreya is refusing to recognize me..why..why?


Walking through the beach when the night is ripe with foamy touches of sea curdling at your feet is one of the most beautiful feelings of life.
For a distant I can see that I am the only person on the beach.
Winds blowing again in an unpredictable mood. It carries the threat of rain with it..thus it sometimes flowing gently..sometimes it pouring with a rush.
Moon in a crecent shape glowing on the sky..though it is dimmy somewhat..clouds claiming her light often..thus the graphics of the beach at this point of time is a slide show of black and white..sometimes the clouds cover on..sometimes off..a wave came and crushed in my feet..another came and washed..I slowly walked..Arijit came at the evening..then again he went out for drinks..I thus came for this walk..I took a long breath..fresh air..the scent of sea in the air..I walked..sometimes I lighted on the torch..then again putting it off..

It is really mesmerizing..a thin layer of moonlit night slowly brightening up the surroundings..winds quite sharp..boats over the sea appearing as swinging dreams..sea has an immense attraction..it makes you lonely and grippes out the inner feelings of one..
Thus I started thinking of Shreya..days spend with her..her mood..her frustrations..our friendships..thus the one question which I dislike to face again popped up..Do I love Shreya..and like always the answer came with a mixture of positive and negatives..really I don’t know..only thing I know that she is the most important friend I had in College..but again if I love her why I would let her go so easily for US..or is it because I have no ground to obstruct her..I was then nowhere..thus purely unconsciously I started reviewing my analysis of an apparent love affair between us..and obviously this time also there arrived no conclusion.. with the question still showing red signal.. ‘Do I love Shreya?’

I again came back to reality..and the thing that hurted me more was that why Shreya refusing me to recognize me?

I walked.
Moonlight now a bit thick.
Suddenly I heard a different sound.
Sounds of breathing fast.
And some other sounds.
I walked with big steps.
And once I came near the source of the sound I stopped.
Just infront of me is a bunch of bush and a wrecked structure of a sand earthed building.
From there the sound is coming.
I can guess much more than see.
As I went near I flashed my torch.
I got struck and saw that just beside the bush and the structure two people are involved in the primitive game and they are having sex..
The light of the torch flashed on them.
I can see the naked girl lying.
And then I saw the man over her.
He shouted in utter slang.. ‘Ke Be shala..!’
I swithed off the torch.
Then went out from the place.
As I again came near the sea I heard the sound of running.
Somebody running quickly.
Again I flashed my torch.
The first thing that I located are some fresh footprints.
It is made just now.
Somebody ran through the beach.
I followed the footprints.
And then at one point I can see the figure.
I flashed the torch.
In the dimmy light of the moon through the rainy winds a figure swiftly running crossed the beach and took the road to the marine drive.
But something it left.
I went forward and picked it up.
A blue dupatta.
And I know it belongs to whom.


I sat on a bench through the sea side on the beach some minutes after sunrise.
Several questiones needed to be answered today.
But first of all I need to find Shreya.
Its been enough now I should find her and ask her what she is suffering.
And what she is doing alone in the beach at the dead of the night?

I am planning my program on how to progress at that time a local boy came and said me ‘Babu Chithi!’

I saw he is holding a white envelope in hand.
‘Kaun diya?’
Then he ran away.

I opened the letter.


I do not know what to write to you and exactly how to write it. But the first thing I should say that I am sorry. I deeply apologies that I have told lie to you. I know you can never mistaken me and it is really a twist of my fate that I met you here where I really never wanted to meet you. I never wanted to share my experience with you as you to me always is the most bright and positive gift of life and I always want to keep you and my that place total pure. But still I forgot that how can I kept aside the person who is everything to me? I am really a silly fool..but please understand me Soumya that I always want you as that friend to whom I can get back after all extremes all experiences of dark shades. But I should accompany you with my journey.
I know you would never forgive me as I being too selfish went to US for MS study leaving you totally alone. But believe me that I remembered you each moment and your every letter became ingredients to spend the days there. I know it all appears so lyrical to you and I do accept my faults but it is indeed truth.
But I should tell you now that why I came to Digha and why I lied.
While being in US I met Arijit and somehow by his photographic skills his behaviour I got attracted towards him and fell in love with him.We had a relation between us but then suddenly Arijit left one day and never kept contact. So I have to come back to India and then found that Arijit is coming to Digha. So I came here also.
I always had doubts on Arijit during the last several months, he even try to get me physically.. the last night episode is the sheer proof of it.
How can I tell you all these ..tell me?
How can I be so cheap that when you need me I left you and when I have lost my love I would ask you to come back?
I started being defeated..my career also got scattered..I should have some place to get back.
And that is you.
Always you would be.
Its been a relief telling you the truth.
I am leaving Digha today.
Be well.
And please forgive me.
And Soumya, you just be yourself.
Because that is so very special to me.
As it a shelter where I can love to get back after all extremes.
Take care.


I saw the boy who gave me letter selling tea on the beach.
I ran towards him and ask , ‘Who Memsab kahan hai?’
‘Bus stop mein..subah ke bus pakar raha hai..’

I started running and soon came in the bus top.
I went to the counter.
W.B.S.T.C bus leaves at what time?’
‘7.00AM..Already left.’
A local said from beside before the counter person says anything.

I turned back.
Feeling destroyed.
I need to meet Shreya once.
Its been long that I have talked with her.

I started walking away from the bus stop.
But stopped.
There lies the W.B.S.T.C. Bus. Must be a case of tyre puncture.
And then my eyes struck upon a lady standing with her face towards. the sea.
I almost ran to her..then uttered softly.. ‘Diya?’
The lady turned at once and almost shouted. ‘Soumya?’
I can read several questions and much more than that shades of embarrassment on her face.
‘Let’s go back Shreya.’
‘But I have the bus ticket.’
‘You can have also tomorrow one. Sorry two. As I would be also going.’
‘But Soumya.. I can’t..’
“You can..only you can..’ Then I hold her hand..Come..lets go..’

Shreya slowly walked.
And then we both came on the beach and before speechless Shreya could manage to say anything I said..
‘I have a request..or it is an order.’
Shreya turned towards me with her beautiful eyes and large eyelids full of questions.
A bright sunny day is blooming.
Sky soft blue with traces of roaming clouds.
Winds blowing in a festive spirit.
I hold Shreya’s hand and then said looking at her..
‘I want my best friend back and this time in Calcutta..enough of US affair! Right Diya?’
Shreya with trembled eyelids and lips once looked at me and then lowered her eyes.
I smiled.
Well ..when a girl trembles and lower her eyes..and if you don’t know what it is..please fall in love Idiot!