Thursday, August 26, 2010

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 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 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 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 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.



Monday, August 23, 2010

The Call

I have somewhere togo..
I have nowhere to go..

I feel like breaking the shackles and start a run.. for life..
I feel my Journey shifts its course with each shine of an ageless star..

I found the canvas of the known city with sketches of untouched unknown..
I found the world of vanity fair with shades of faces and masks..

I saw the birth of a melancholy disease lying
I saw lying just beside where love opened herself

I saw some wrong letters posted in unknown addresses..
I saw a different language with different expressions unfold..

I found horizon being too small..sometimes..vast ..unique..
I found the boats dwindling in turbulent waters with dimmy yellow lights..

I found still an invitation is there..
And  I am coming..just coming..

I have plenty to offer..yet I have nothing to offer..
I have with me the shadow of past and the dreams of a future..

I am walking along with ..the distance of the night..
I am walking through the known corridors and unknown streets of my beloved city..

Can anyone recognize me?
I have come..I have arrived..!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

On the Ruins of a 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 engraved

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 myself

Getting 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


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Some Midnight Thoughts

(From Pages of my Diary)

The Midnight came with a beautiful solitary tune of a flute!

A cresent shaped moon adore the sky with the very threat of those floating white clouds ..the leaves of the trees shaking as if with a soft touch of a woman..

Outside the window the world looks like a fairy tale..and this reigning framed moment of dream may be what it is called peace indeed..and these moments..each single grain of time are precious as they departs with twinkle and a new comes. but this momentary vision isn’t it all? As time goes on..night..then day..then again if in a brilliant rhythm set by a strings of a tanpura..

But still we are in a run..just running ..for what I suppose no one knows..Where? That is too uncertain.

Me too running and running like an hypnotized maniac..

And in the process we often speak some words which are half understood..

Write Thousand undeciphered letters and words..

And thus it seems like that We are like in a journey ..when with the whistle of a train ..our journey is on..the magic of known people..unknown faces..different stories..shades of black and white..a strange game of departing in dark and coming back to light continues..running stations like cascades..the sudden halt in a lonely station..

As if I am no if I am if I am nowhere..yet somewhere.. and in search of words and a different meaning ..of life..and love..

Like the sudden stop of no signal the train start moving if it has crossed its speculated hour of existence and presence in this particular mapless remote station..

The outer world of silence breaks and again starts running..

Along with us..

And in its way with a striking thunder streak of lightning..

In the Bluish light ..a cry..a cry of the midnight..

One finds..the earth is shaking

And then getting broken into

Piesces and piesces..

And suddenly..

A naked Primitive earth is shining in an ageless light of the moon and the stars..

One find..there there is a meaning..

There is an answer.. of thousand unanswered questions..

Somewhere being written..

Like the last words of Tagore..

“The First sun of the First day


The new born soul

Who are you?

No answer came.

Years passed and passed

And the Last Sun of the Last day

Uttered the Last Question

On the Western Ocean..

Who are you?

No Answer came!”

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Boatman on the Ganges

‘Babu bhalo achen?’

I am sitting along with a friend in a roadside stall on Outram Ghat. Afternoon slowly slipped away and changed colour to evening and now after sunset the sky reflecting vibrant colours of wonder. In front of us is the Ganges river, the orange sky with its purple shades reflecting in the moving waves of the water and presenting before us almost a naturalism masterpiece of Abanindranath Tagore. And at that time, the question came.

‘Babu Bhalo achen?’( How are you Babu?’)

Again the question and now I turned and saw that a boy is standing wearing a button less shirt and half pant standing before us.

His face holding a smile, his face appearing dark as he is standing back to light.

I nodded.

‘Babu, nouka chorben?’ (Will you like a boat ride?’)

‘No’, I said. At this moment I am busy talking with my long-lost friend Abhi and no mood in disturbing our trip down memory lane.

‘Babu, aj saradin kno rojgar hyni, babu..’

(He again asked me for the ride and said that today he hardly earned anything as there are no customers.)

Now Abhi speak out.

‘Ai bollo to lagbe na, bhag..’! ( Abhi, almost scolded and asked the boy to go!’)

The boy again looked at me, and then with a more dark face went away.

We chatted for almost an hour and then Abhi got up, he had an appointment.

I looked at the watch.

Twenty past six.

I thought for a walk along the Ganges.

I started walking.

Walking alongside a river is always a pleasure. I remember that in childhood, my father used to bring me often here..the scent of the river..the trees..the gentle drop of a scattered leaf from the trees..the flying birds..their clattering for homes around evening..the different types of people who gather around..the jump of some naked children in the water..the anchored boats rocking gently over the waves..the sounds of a Steamer bisecting the air..


Again a sound from a moving Steamer or locally called ‘Launch’ surprised me and make me back to reality.

And I noticed that in these twenty years many things changed, but the atmosphere around the Ganges still remained more or less same.

Far across I can see the light of the ice cream parlour ‘Scoop’ shinning bright.

I walked on.

As I came towards the Ferighat where the boats are anchored I noticed the boy.

Over an anchored boat that boy is sitting and dipping his feet inside the water.

I walked towards him.

And as I approached him, I found that at the side of the boat written with an unprofessional artist and bold letters ‘Harankheya’.

The name itself again made me nostalgic and at once I recognized that boat belong to Majhi named Haran, and not only that from childhood, I knew that person..


I went back twenty years and saw that a boy holding his father’s hand came in one early morning..the day was Mahalaya( An auspicious day marking the arrival of Devi Durga on the earth) father came to take a dip in the holy Ganges and utter sacred hymns in memory of our ancestors, a custom locally called ‘Tarpan’..father went to the Ganges and I unable to see the incident among the crowd and jumped over the deck of a small I stood there I suddenly found that the boat is sailing away..I turned back and saw that the boat was moving and a person wearing loincloth holding the baitha in hand sailing the boat smiling and saying, ‘Chalo Khokababu tomay aktu ghuriye ani..’and he really took me for a tour around the Ganges for ten minutes and when we are back my father smiling offered him money but that boatman with dark brown body and hands as if made of steel said, ‘Na Babu, amni Khokababuke ghuriye anlam!’(No need for money Babu, I just took your son for a fun tour!)..before we leave we came to know that his name is Haranmajhi..from then on each month my father brought me here twice a month..not only because my father himself liked him but also because I now come to know that he wanted to sow in his son..fragrance of some other world..where real teachings of life begins..I can remember those days clearly..sun setting around the Ganges, far across the tower of the Fort William can be seen as then there was no Vidyasagar Setu..Haranmajhi went on speaking on his own..about his ancestral land in Barisal..his land..Padma they were thrown out of their own land after independence..his fight with a crocodile once near the Sundarban delta..once how he almost got caught in the hand of the much he love to spend nights in open river..sometimes he of his common Bhatiali song was..

‘O Paran amr kon kul theke kon kule niye jas re more..’

sometimes while sailing how he mixes Khaini in his two hands and place it delicately within his Biri rotten lips..often he use to say me, ‘Khokababu jabe amar sange..anek dure tomay niye jabo..jabe..chalo beriye pori..;no doubt I was absolutely ready to move but as usual it is an invitation to a new world and it never occurred really..then I grew busy in study and I still can remember about dreams where I saw Haranmajhi saying..’Khokababu..jabe amar sange?’ Then days passed..time passed..Haranmajhi gradually got lost within my daily busy schedule..

Haranmajhi to me is not only a boatman or ‘Majhi’ but he was once my childhood hero..who sailed away miles after miles in new new places..meeting different interesting people of whom one can dream of..Haranmajhi may be was a very simple man and maybe he have never sailed away anywhere else except the limited corners of the Ganges around the Outram Ghat..but he was according to me..just like some Voyager like Vasco Da Gama or Columbus..

Haranmajhi was my childhood.

And I never wanted to lose it.

As the evening sky slowly gathered all colours of heaven I started walking.

My Childhood is not lost.

Only it is now within covers.

As I am carrying my childhood within me ..similarly my dreams of Haranmajhi would also go on sailing..sailing far..far..
into a land of eternal Romance!..

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Lonely Smile

The evening sun has just touched the shades of pink.

Piesces of floating clouds sailing as a flight of pigeon dipped in white colour. A soft wind blowing with traces of warmth and also with a hint of cold. A chilled November night is approaching.
I swapped my jacket and zipped it.
I stopped.

In front, there lies four different roads, all sloping down the rocky path of the Amber fort. But all the roads appeared different to me. And slowly I realized the truth.
I have lost the road.

This is not the way by which I came to the fort. Though I came by walking along with others but now I must be in the wrong way.
I stood and thought for a moment.
A sharp wind swept me.

Temperatures dropping seriously.
I started walking the road that I am so long following.

I glanced at the watch.
No, the bus would not wait for me as already thirty minutes have passed than the scheduled time.

The road is sloping as like many roads to the fort. I calculated, the bus stop must be 4Kms from the fort gate.
So a long way to go.

But gradually I came to realize that this sloping road can end up anywhere else but not at the busstop, because what it looks, that I am gradually coming near to a village.
Straw thatched houses can be seen in the surroundings.

Though hardly any people around.

Must be all have gone for business near the market area and to the fort and would return at night once the tourist returns.
I thought about again turning back and go to the path through which I came but the idea seemed to be in vain because then also there is no assurance that I will be finding the right path.

Another chilled wind passed me.

November cold is really grasping.

At that moment I saw a group of local Rajasthani girls passing .They are wearing colourful Rajasthani dresses and holding some in their clothing bucket , it appeared that they sale these dresses with other utensils and jewelleries to the tourists.

I approached them at once and asked “ Bus stop ka rasta idhar hai keya?”(Where I can found the road to the bus stop?)

The group of girls stopped.

But no answer came.

I gain asked the same question.

Now a girl replied.

“Sab, ap galat raste pe aa gaye hai..Busstop us par hai..”

(The bus stop is on the other side)

I was about to turn back when that girl came forward and said, ‘Chaliye, main apko dikhata hoon!”
She took a totally different path and soon we again entered the fort from the back side.

A light blue shade of the crescent shaped moon slowly spreading through the evening as it is becoming ripe. Wind,with sharp teeth blowing at regular intervals.

We turned another lane of the fort.

Yes,now I can follow the map of the fort which I explored so long and which led me to miss the bus and lost the road.
There..just right is the Dewan –e-Aam..further left..the Ganesha Poll and straight from that within the royal palace chamber is the astounding Sheesh mahal.

The marble floors of the fort in this soft moonlight looking like a flowing river.

The girl went on.

I asked her, “How long will it take?”

“Aur dus-panra mins sab.”

She is walking fast. She is a young girl , hardly 20-22, her neglected strips of hair floating in wind over her forehead,her green skirt also sailing in wind and her yellowish rajasthani choli glittering sometimes in moonlight.

We passed the Sheelamata Temple.We again walked straight and then again left.

I can see over the sky the large walls of the fort over that in dark the towering shade of Aravalli range.I can also see the Maota lake far down and the whole Jaipur city below which looks like now in night as a strings of emeralds with a mesmerizing pink.

‘Beautiful’ I acclaimed almost in silence.

The girl went on.And then asked “Hamara sahar acha laga sab?”

“Khubsurat” I replied.

She went on walking.

She look like an open spirit of nature..simple..pure and in full flow.

Now we are sloping down, the narrow rocky road beside which the roadside stalls with various commodities can be seen.

We passed them.

Again we came to a bushy rocky path where the girl once stopped and said “ Sab zara samalke aaiye..aage rasta toota hai..”(Just careful the road is broken in front).

I stared at the girl. She looked really sincere as a guide.

Within five minutes I came to the bus stop. Though now almost 8.20 PM , no buses are available, though some arrangement can surely be done.

‘Bahaut Shukriya’ I turned to the girl and then took out my purse.

‘Nehi Babuji..mujhe kuch nehi chaihe..”She raised her hand in protest.

I looked at the girl. She may be right. Money can’t buy everything, now it appears almost like an insult.

“Shukrira” I once again uttered and then took out my mobile and clicked it for a snap.

‘Keya sab?’ The girl got amazed.

I said her in hindi that I want to remember the girl who has showed me the right way and then showed her the snap in my mobile.

At that moment, must be the moon reached her climax..

All clouds disappeared from sky..

The winds became tender..

The five hundred years old city of Amber became all quite for a moment..

I don’t know what exactly happened.

But I saw the girl before me..her eyelids her lips..and her eyes holding an ocean of happiness and then for a moment she touched my palm and said, “Shukriya sab, shukriya!”

I got stunned for a moment.

Sometimes a moment can make you so special.

The girl was about to turn when I asked her once again her name.

The girl turned towards me and looked at my face.

And smiled again.

Just like the snap of the mobile.

And then said in a soft voice.. ‘Jhimli’!

And then turned back and went away.

I stood for a moment and then rented a jeep and came back to hotel.

The whole night I thought about the moment.

A snap,can appear such valuable to someone?

A snap can give such happiness to someone?

Next morning I came back to Amber fort again. I need to find the girl. Because I want to give her the print out of the snap.

A thing which she can only treasure.

This time I cautiously followed the road and came to the spot where I found the girl.
But the girl was not there.

The thatched houses were there.

I asked someone, even the security guards of the fort but no one can tell anything about her.

I waited till afternoon and then till evening.

But there was no trace.

Only when, I was about to comeback a shopkeeper asked me.. “Keya nam bataya apne?”


‘Ha, abhi pehchana lekin whoh to sab ek banjara thi, aaj hi nikal gayi aur koi jagah ke liye’(She is a nomads or a ‘Banjara’ and she today went out for some other place.)

A Banzara!

I thanked the shopkeeper and then came back to Jaipur.

I never found her again.

I met numerous girl after that,came across much beautiful faces but none of them ever appeared to me such innocent such beautiful like that one face captured in my mobile in a moonlit night beneath the foothills of the old Amber Fort.

Thus sometimes when I am alone and when I feel like loosing the road to life or in a verge of loosing mood I slowly open my mobile and that snap.

The snap of a most beautiful girl.

With a lonely smile.