July 09, 2008


Aaj dil dukha hai, Tum yaad aaye ho

Anjaane log hain, Apne kahan dhoond paaye…

We met at a friend’s party. Sitting at one corner, feeling bored, my eyes were searching for an opportune moment to exit. And then I saw her. Standing all alone, along the parapet, her glass carelessly put on the ledge, she looked like the perfect snob. And she was one, as I later realized. As it usually happens, a common friend introduced us and we realized soon enough we couldn’t stand each other. But we kept on meeting. Prithvi Café became our favourite hangout point. We would sit on the steps of NCPA watching the lights come up on the Queen’s necklace. We would tell each other every moment how irritating a character the other had, always arguing, always fighting. She was a true blue Bong. Argument was her middle name.

In hindsight, we were good friends. I would like to believe so. So when I had to leave the city, I wanted to meet her for one last time and just talk with her… one last time, without any fights.

We met at the Asiatic Society. She was in a really dark mood. And we fought… as usual. I was irritated. Couldn’t she be nice for a change? I didn’t tell her that I was leaving. “Sometimes, it’s better to just disappear from one’s life,” I thought. Maybe I had hoped that she’d ask me to stay back and I knew that wouldn’t be happening. Suddenly she asked me, “Have you heard this poem?”

“amar mrityur din brishti hobe.....bondho thakbe fuler dokan....gari theke chulli obdi niye jete jete...fulhin deho pabe...probol shraboni dharasnan...”

“The day I die, it’ll rain and all flower shops will be closed. To take me from the car to the electric pyres, my flowerless body will be bathed with torrential rains.”

“Mush!!!” I said. “You are a Dumbo.” She retorted.

Life in another city was the same. The same old pubs, the same old restaurants and the same old type of people you meet at any urban landscape in India today. But at every party, my eyes would inadvertently look at the parapet.

Years passed. Sometimes I would remember her, sometimes I wouldn’t. Till one day I received a letter from her. She was dying. And she wanted to watch a play with me one last time in Mumbai. As I rushed towards the airport, I read the last few lines of her letter.

Na Koi Raah, Na Manzil, Na Roshni Ka Suraakh

Bhatak Rahi Hai Andheron Mein Zindagi Meri

Inhi Andheron Mein Rah Jaoonga Kho Kar

Main Jaanta Hoon Meri Hum Nafaz,

Magar Yun Hi...

PS: Dumbo, don’t you dare fight with me on the fact that the gender is not appropriate. This is the only non-bong poetry I could remember.

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