Tuesday, November 24, 2020

मैं परेशां...



 Photo by Hidariniart on Unsplash




कुछ काम नहीं है फिर भी आज सुबह से ही बहुत व्यस्त हूँ। या यूं कहना चाहिए कि अपने आप को व्यस्त रखने की कोशिश कर रही हूँ। उससे नज़रें भी नहीं मिला पा रही। वो भी थोड़ा अलग-अलग सा है। अभी-अभी तो थोड़ा खुलने लगे थे हम, और फिर कल रात...

'क्या कर रही हो?' उसकी आवाज़ आई तो मेरे हाथ अचानक रुक गए। भूल गई कि आखिर मैं कर क्या रही थी। ठीक मेरे पीछे खड़ा है, पता नहीं कब से। 'आज जल्दी उठ गई।'

एक गहरी सांस ली और धीमे से कहा, 'हां।' 

चाहती हूँ कि पलटकर एक नजर देखूं उसे पर मेरी नज़रें किचन स्लैब पर टिकी हैं। नज़रें मिलाने से अनकहे जज़्बातों को जैसे ज़ुबां मिल जाती है। नज़रें ना मिलाना सेफ़ ऑप्शन है।

वो थोड़ा और करीब आ गया है शायद। हां, बगल में रखी टोकरी से उसने एक सेब उठा लिया। अच्छा, तो फ्रूट्स लेने आया है। 'तो अब मेरी तरफ देखोगी भी नहीं?' उसने धीरे से पूछा। ये तो बड़ा अजीब सवाल है। और इसकी आवाज़ तो और भी अजीब।

मैंने पलटकर, उससे मुख़ातिब होकर कहा, 'क्यों नहीं देखूंगी?' मैं उसे कभी नहीं बताऊंगी कि मेरे अंदर क्या चल रहा है।

उससे नज़रें मिलीं तो लगा जैसे छू लिया हो उसने। अब भी महसूस कर सकती हूँ उसे। कुछ दिनों से इस चेहरे को देखकर दिल में एक अजीब सी हलचल होती है।

वो अचानक खिड़की के बाहर देखने लगा। मानो अनकम्फर्टेबल हो। और एक मैं हूँ कि कुछ और नज़र ही नहीं आ रहा। मैं किचन के शेल्फ को सहेजने लगी। बेवजह। 

'अ...क्या कहा था तुमने, कल रात?' उसने कहा तो मेरे हाथ फिर से थम गए। और धड़कनें रेलगाड़ी की मानिंद दौड़ने लगीं। आखिर कहना क्या चाहता है? 'कि ऐसा तो नहीं मैं प्यार करने लगा हूँ?' उसने कहा।

हां, यही कहा था मैंने। कितना परेशान था, मानो कोई गलती कर रहा हो। या फिर उसे शायद हमारा करीब आना एक गलती ही लगी हो। वो तो शुरू से ही एकदम क्लियर था। समझ सकती हूँ। अतीत अगर तक़लीफ़देह हो तो अक्सर आगे बढ़ने में ख़लल पैदा करता है। और बड़ा मुश्किल होता है, किसी को चाहना, हर वक्त उसके पास होना, और ये ना जानना कि उसकी फीलींग्स क्या है। ये किस मुश्किल में डाल लिया था मैंने अपने आप को।

'हां, तुम इतने परेशान थे जैसे...' मैं कहते-कहते रुक गई और डब्बों को इधर-उधर करने लगी कि तभी उसने मेरे कंधों पर हाथ रखा। लगा पलटकर गले लग जाऊं, पर नहीं। पर वो मेरे एकदम सामने आ गया। कुछ पलों बाद उसकी तरफ देखा तो उसकी निगाहें मुझपर ही टिकी थीं। और जो उसकी आंखों में आज देखा वो पहले तो कभी नहीं देखा। इतनी गहरी है ये निगाहें जैसे मेरे मन को पढ़ लेंगी।

'मैं परेशान था...क्योंकि करने लगा हूँ मैं तुमसे प्यार। बहुत ज्यादा।' उसने कहा। 'सुना तुमने?'


                                      ***


अगर आपको ये कहानी अच्छी लगी हो, (या ना भी लगी हो), और अगर आप हिन्दी कहानियां पढ़ना पसंद करते हैं, तो आप मेरी तीन अन्य हिन्दी कहानियां यहां पढ़ सकते हैं।


तुम दोस्त हो...

अमलतास

वो शाम कुछ अजीब थी






Sunday, November 15, 2020

Falling Into a Novel


(Image: Google; writer: unknown)


'I fell into a book and I can't get up.'


It actually feels quite romantic and fascinating.  The idea of visiting a place where nobody knows you. To be a silent watcher, while interesting characters play their parts. You don't have to bother about anything. I often think about getting lost in the stories and never come back, especially when a book and the characters stay with me. Or when I am disturbed. When nothing except stories makes sense. When stories seem like a saviour. 


What kind of novel that would be? Of course a happy delightful one, no? But what if you actually cannot come back? What would you do there? Especially after the story is over? You just have a bunch of characters around you; who are practically doing nothing, now that everything is sorted, well kind of. Nobody really knows you. The character you have been crushing on is already taken. Would you be able to befriend your favourite character? 

Would you even exist for them? Or would you be like a ghost that moves here and there but nobody actually notices. How long can you enjoy that life?

Would it be a little different if the story is open ended? Or what if your crush character looks at you, suddenly, and you just click!? (Okay, cancel it!).

Or maybe you could segue into the next story whenever you want? Does this post make any sense to you? Do I sound insane?



Friday, November 6, 2020

If We Were Having Coffee

 

          Photo by Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash



 

It's a quiet and gloomy afternoon. The breeze has suddenly turned pleasantly cool, the curtain is swaying in a classical manner, and I think of you. There's something about silent afternoons. Most of the time, if I'm not very busy, they bring some memory, like a gush of a familiar fragrance. 

I often think of you. It's charming to be with your thoughts. Do you know that? Of course you don't and I'd never tell you that. I just wonder how would it feel to be with you. A fascinating thought flashes in my mind. How amazing it would be if we were having coffee. Right this moment? 

If we were having coffee I'd just look at you, savouring my own imagination. Your enchanting eyes, the pleasant smile and your unbelievable presence.

If we were having coffee, I'd tell you that I didn't even like drinking tea or coffee until two years ago. I wonder how would you react. You would be a little surprised, I'm sure, your left eyebrow slightly raised.

If we were having coffee, I'd tell you that whenever I think about my writing, I think of you. That I felt so sad and lost when I submitted my final manuscript. That I haven't developed this special feeling for my new protagonist. I think you would nod, slowly, like you understand.

If we were having coffee, I'd tell you to talk. To tell me something. Anything. I'd just love to listen to you talk. Your voice. The way you speak. The voice and the style of conversation have a certain effect, no?

If we were having coffee, I'd ask about Paridhi. I'd ask you to share your deepest feelings for her, and everything. I can imagine the instant spark in your eyes, a warmth on your face, mere at the mention of her name. Someone once asked me why Abhigyan would fall in love with Paridhi? Can you answer that, I'd ask. Can anyone answer this question? Why someone falls in love with a particular person?

If we were having coffee, I'd ask, 'Do you ever think about me?' I know it's a silly question. But I'd tell you that I recently read a book titled 'After She Wrote Him'. It's one of the most unique books I have ever read. It's about a very special relationship between a writer and her/his protagonists. It's complicated but fascinating. I kept thinking about you after reading that book. 

On second thought, I wouldn't tell you that. You'd probably think I'm a crazy woman.

I can go on and on but I know something would come up and I would have to end this heartwarming rendezvous. Solitude is precious but ephemeral. I have a feeling that you would look at me with a teasing smile and maybe a hint of disappointment in your deep eyes. I'd smile and ask you if we could meet again for a coffee date? You would say a yes, wouldn't you? 



This post is dedicated to Abhigyan, the male protagonist of my book, We Will Meet Again...


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Acrylic Painting: Seascape/Lighthouse

 


'You appeared like a lighthouse when I was wandering like a boat adrift on the sea.' My new original painting. 12" by 16", Acrylic on canvas.

Since I couldn't stop procrastinating, I thought to start an art challenge on Instagram. Here are the details, in case you want to join. No rules. Just paint, experiment and enjoy.




I painted this for streetscape prompt. Clearly, it's not my forte. But I'm trying as I find them very fascinating.

Sharing with Paint Party Friday



Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Courtyard


 


 Photo credit: Rod Long, Unsplash


It's an old mansion, with a big, open courtyard. So many people are milling around. I do recognize a few faces. Ah, Sumi bua is here! Sumi bua is my father's youngest cousin. She's just 7 years older than me, more like a friend. 

I actually recognize this place. I have visited this place a few years ago. With Sumi bua. It was someone's funeral. It's Sumi bua's maternal grandparent's house. Haveli.

It seems like a family function. I look around and ask, 'Why are we here?'

And right then, like an answer to my question, a face flashes in front of me. A woman's face. A familiar face. I have seen her somewhere. Here, in this very haveli. 

I woke up with a start only to realize that it was a dream. A vivid dream. Oh yes, I am a dreamer. And I was at my masi's place. I remembered the woman who was in my dream just a few moments ago. Why would I see her in my dream? I never ever thought about her?

After two days, I was sauntering at the rooftop terrace of my home, engrossed in my own web of thoughts. The silent night was shimmering under the moonlight. The patio next to my house looked unusually deserted. I felt odd, as it was Sumi bua's house. The good thing was that our houses were interconnected so that we could visit each other whenever we wanted.

 I was still wondering when I heart someone's footsteps. Sumi bua was here.

'Hey, I was just thinking about you?' I said.

'Yes, I saw you. Felt like talking.'

'Yes, I just arrived. I thought I'd see you in the morning,' I said. 'Has Dadima gone somewhere? The house looks too silent.' I gestured towards her house.

'Yes, she has gone to Haveli. You remember Ma's aunt? The very quiet one who used to sit in a corner and seldom talked to anyone?'

My mind started to flicker. Of course I remember her. I saw her in my dream just two days ago. I was about to tell her when she continued, 'She died two days ago.'

'What!? How?' I asked, baffled. My dream, still very clear flashing in my mind. The Courtyard. Dadima's aunt. Her eyes closed. Blood stained, bandaged forehead...

'She fell from the rooftop.'



(It's a true story. I'm not exaggerating. My dreams are weird, I remember them, well mostly. But this one was the weirdest)

Thursday, October 8, 2020

वो शाम कुछ अजीब थी...




अक्टूबर में कुछ खास होता है। धूप में नर्मी, ठंड का ज़रा सा स्वाद, अचानक से चाय के बजाय कॉफ़ी पीने की इच्छा, दुर्गा पूजा और हरश्रृंगार की खुशबू... और फिर तुम्हारा जन्मदिन भी तो इसी महीने आता है। 

यहीं बैठी हो, मुझसे बस थोड़ी सी दूरी पर। पलट कर देख लो मुझे तो भवें जुटा कर, तुनक कर पूछोगी, 'तुम पीछा कर रहे हो मेरा?' पर हैरानी में घुली मिली खुशी कैसे छुपा पाओगी? 

तुम सच कहती थी, समंदर में तैरती शाम वाकई बेहद खूबसूरत है।

इन छह महीनों में ज्यादा नहीं बदली। वही प्लेन कुर्ता और जीन्स। टाइट पोनीटेल जिसमें तुम्हारे घुंघराले बाल बड़े प्यारे लगते हैं। ये अलग बात है कि ये मैंने तुमसे कभी कहा नहीं। सोचकर अजीब लगता है कि हमने छह महीने से एक दूसरे से बात नहीं की। अजीब तुम्हें भी लगता होगा, यकीनन। नहीं, तुम नाराज़ होगी कि मैंने एक बार फोन तक नहीं किया। अगर बात छेड़ूं तो फ़ौरन लड़ पड़ोगी।

या तो ये इत्तेफ़ाक़ है या फिर मैं तुम्हें कुछ ज़्यादा ही अच्छे से जानता हूं। मैं परसों ही बंबई आया हूं। नई-नई नौकरी लगी है। चाहता तो फोन कर सकता था पर जाने क्यों यहां चला आया। कल भी आया था। ऐसा नहीं कि मुझे यक़ीन था कि तुम यहां मिल ही जाओगी, पर आज दिख गयी तो बिल्कुल हैरानी नहीं हुई। समंदर किनारे ख़ुशनुमा शाम को निहारती हुई।

समंदर से तुम्हारा ख़ास आकर्षण रहा है। सनसेट से भी तुम्हारा अजीब रिश्ता है। वो क्या कहते हैं? लव-हेट रिलेशनशिप।

'इस ढलते सूरज को देख रहे हो?' तुमने कहा था। देख रहा था, दूर क्षितिज में समाते नारंगी सूरज को और सुनहरी रौशनी में दमकते तुम्हारे चेहरे को भी। 'मैं हमेशा उदास हो जाती हूँ इसे देखकर। ये जानते हुए कि ये कल लौटेगा, एक नई चमक के साथ। सोचो, कितना मुश्किल होता होगा उसे जाने देना जिसके लौटने की कोई उम्मीद न हो?' गहरी बात थी, मैं सोचता रहा। कभी-कभी बड़ी ज़हीन लगती हो।

'सोचो समंदर किनारे सनसेट कितना खूबसूरत लगता होगा।' तुमने कहा। 'मैं तो बम्बई में सेटल होना चाहूंगी, अक्सा बीच के आसपास।'

और फिर तुम आ गई यहाँ। 

फ़ोन की घंटी से मेरी तंद्रा टूटी। तुम्हारा ही फ़ोन बज रहा है। वही पुराना रिंगटोन। 


___________________________________________


'कहां हो तुम?' अभी मैंने हेलो कहा भी नहीं कि निधि, मेरी छोटी बहन, ने पूछा।

'बीच पर।'

'ओ, हां, और कहां?' कुछ घर की, कुछ मेरे काम की बातें हुई फिर उसने पूछा, 'और तुम्हारी बेस्ट फ़्रेंड कैसी है?'

'बेस्ट फ्रेंड?' मैंने कहा और वो हंस पड़ी। 'अब तो ये फ्लैट पक्का छोड़ना पड़ेगा।'

'क्यों, दी? तुम्हारी फ्लैट मेट का ब्यॉयफ्रेंड परमानेंटली शिफ़्ट हो रहा है क्या?'

'उसने उसको प्रपोज़ किया है।'

'अच्छा! कैसे प्रपोज़ किया उसने?'

'अरे, मुझे क्या पता कैसे प्रपोज़ किया? और इससे क्या फ़र्क पड़ता है कि कैसे प्रपोज़ किया जाए?'

'फ़र्क पड़ता है, दी। कुछ क्रिएटिविटी होनी चाहिए।'

एक तो इसकी बातें अजीब होती हैं। 'प्रपोज़ करने में क्रिएटिविटी?' 

'अच्छा, छोड़ो। मयंक भैया का फोन आया...'

तभी हंसने की आवाज़ आई। इस हंसी को तो मैं तब भी पहचान लूंगी अगर पंद्रह लोग एक साथ हंस रहें हो। मैंने पलट कर देखा और मेरा दिल ऐसे धड़कने लगा जैसे तीन-चार रेलगाड़ियां एक साथ चल पड़ीं हों। मयंक बैठा है, और उसकी मुस्कुराती नज़रें मुझपर टिकी हैं। हंसी रोकने की पूरी कोशिश कर रहा है पर हो नहीं पा रहा उससे।

'निधि, मैं तुमसे बाद में बात करती हूं।' 

एक नज़र काफी है। बिल्कुल नहीं बदला। छोटे-छोटे बाल, सांवला रंग, आंखों में चमक और शरारती मुस्कान। 'तुम पीछा कर रहे हो मेरा?' मैंने कहा तो उसकी मुस्कान थोड़ी और खिंच गई। 

छह महीने। एक फ़ोन तक नहीं किया इसने। हां, ठीक है, मैं भी कर सकती थी पर मैं क्यों करती? एक तो जब मैं आ रही थी तब भी कुछ नहीं कहा उसनें। जब रेलवे स्टेशन छोड़ने आया तब भी नहीं। 

'इतनी अच्छी नौकरी मिली है तुम्हें। यू डिज़र्व इट, विशाखा, और मैं बहुत खुश हूँ तुम्हारे लिए।' बस इतना कहा।

मैं जानती थी कि वो खुश था। मेरे लिए। पर अपने लिए निराश था, मैं ये भी जानती थी। इतना ब्रिलियंट था पर नौकरी के लिए उसे ज़्यादा इंतज़ार करना पड़ रहा था।

'आए गॉट अ जॉब, यहीं बंबई में।' उसने कहा और खुशी और उत्सुकता के मारे मैं सारी शिकायतें भूल गई। 'मेरी सैलरी पता है कितनी है?'

'मुझे नहीं जानना, तुम्हारी सैलरी जितनी भी हो।' 

'अरे, पर ऐसे कैसे?' हवा से बिखर गए अपने बालों पर उसने अपनी अंगुलियां फेरी। कितना अच्छा लग रहा था। 'तुमको तो बताना पड़ेगा ना?'

'क्यों, मुझे क्यों बताना पड़ेगा?' 

'मैं सोच रहा था कि हम दोनों की सैलरी मिलाकर, इस बड़े से शहर में हमारी ज़िंदगी आराम से कट जाएगी ना?'

ये क्या कह रहा था ये लड़का? मैं बस उसको देखे जा रही थी। तभी उसने मुस्कुरा कर कहा, 'यार, प्रपोज़ कर रहा हूं तुमको।'


___________________________________________

अगर आपको ये अच्छी लगी (या ना भी लगी) तो आप मेरी दो अन्य कहानियां ___ "तुम दोस्त हो" और "अमलतास" ___भी पढ़ सकते हैं। 


Monday, October 5, 2020

The Crying Baby




The baby was crying. Oh God, she's alone. Her mother ran from the slithery bathroom to the dimly lit room. She felt strangely lightheaded. No wonder. She had been deeply distressed. 

Tick-tock! 

The radium dial of wall clock showed 2:35 am. Her husband left for an official tour yesterday and just 3 hours ago, he had called: 'It's over. We can't live together. It's suffocating.' 

'Suffocating? What do you mean?'

He sighed heavily. 'I'm in love with someone else.'

End of the conversation.

Just like that? Feeling terribly helpless, she was still trying to digest the shocking fact of her life. 

Her 5 months old daughter was wailing throwing her chubby legs and arms feverishly.

As she hastily approached the cradle bed, the baby stopped crying. Suddenly she realized something. The drizzling sound confirmed that she had left the tap on. As she swiftly moved towards the bathroom, the baby again started crying. 

'I'll just quickly turn off the...' 

She froze just in front of the bathroom door. Bewildered, trying to wrap her head around. She turned to look at the crying baby, sudden tears gleaming in her eyes, and then she turned towards the bathroom to find her own body, lying on the bathroom floor. A pool of blood floating around her head.


This post is part of a blogging challege. I am taking my blog to next level with BlogChatter's #MyFriendAlexa



Friday, October 2, 2020

Acrylic Painting: Painting On Canvas

This is my new painting. No matter how pathetic my imagination is (When it comes to painting), I have decided to use my own imagination or improvise in case I use any reference photo, so that I could call my paintings 'Original'. The word Original sounds great, no?


So, the above painting is my newest and original painting. 

I am am acrylic beginner. I started with Watercolours and never thought I would enjoy painting in acrylics. I used to paint on acrylic paper but noticed that most of the artists paint on canvas so I decided to give it a try. So, I switched to painting on canvas - 'Acrylic On Canvas' sounds nice.

And I did a wonderful thing (can't believe I did that): I started painting on my new canvas (cut out from a roll). But the colours were not blending at all. I was squeezing n squeezing the colours and they were going nowhere. It felt like I was painting on a khadi bedsheet. 

'Such a bad canvas sheet.' I thought! 

Terribly frustrated, I finished the painting anyhow by applying a lot of water. And then I realized that I was painting on the wrong side of the canvas. 😢 😊 Wait, did I say I did something wonderful? Wonderfully stupid, I meant. 

This 👇 is the painting:



If you paint on canvas, maybe you are laughing. I don't mind because even I laughed when I realized that. Also, I ruined a painting last night. It's looking at me, as if mocking. Let's see if I could fix it.


Another original painting that I created 2 days ago. Hope the bridge looks like a bridge.

Painting on a Canvas is a bit different from painting on paper, a little smoother I'd say. These are Eascan canvas sheets. I have also bought Canvas sheets from Camel but I haven't tried yet.
So, what do you think about my paintings? Do you paint in acrylics? Do you paint on Canvas? Any suggestions, please?


This post is part of a blogging challege. I am taking my blog to next level with BlogChatter's #MyFriendAlexa

Also, sharing with Paint Party Friday


Friday, August 7, 2020

There's Something About Sophie Kinsella Stories





A large parcel arrived that afternoon. A parcel that carried books! I can't tell you how excited I was, not just because they were books, but because they were my first review copies. Two books, 'I've Got Your Number' and Twenties Girl’ by Sophie Kinsella immediately got my attention. My first introduction to Kinsella books. I picked ‘I’ve Got Your Number’ first. It was a big fat book and I wondered if it would be able to hold my interest.

But it did and how! In that 400+ page book, not a single page was boring.


She wrote her first seven novels as Madeleine Wickham. Having read a Madeleine Wickham book, I can say that they are very different from Sophie Kinsella books. Even Sophie Kinsella said it in an interview (to Woman and Home). ‘I changed my name to Sophie Kinsella because these novels were so different. I found a new voice and a way of writing, and I found it addictive,’ she said.
I'm very fond of her stories, as they never disappoint. Whenever there's a bad reading phase, when no book manages to grip me, I pick a Kinsella book, and it immediately uplifts my mood.


There's something about Sophie Kinsella books!


The writing style

Sophie Kinsella writes in a chirpy, conversational style, always in first person. Like the protagonist is sharing everything with a friend. It helps you connect with the character and her situations better. And a story can never disappoint you if you feel connected to the characters.


The heroines: so similar yet so different

Be it Poppy Wyatt of I've Got Your Number, or Emma Corrigan of Can You Keep a Secret?, or Fixie Farr of I Owe You One, or Katie Brenner of My Not So Perfect Life: they are so similar in so many ways. They are like any girl next door, they’re peppy and kind, they’re hopeful, helpful, and most importantly, they never give up!

 

AND YET, they’re so different from each other. Isn’t it amazing? That a writer manages to create such characters, who are so similar yet so different?

 


Happy, uplifting vibe

‘Don't beat yourself up for not knowing the answers. You don't always have to know who you are. You don't have to have the big picture, or know where you're heading. Sometimes, it's enough just to know what you're going to do next.’

― Sophie Kinsella, 
The Undomestic Goddess

One of the main reasons why I am not able to finish any book is, they are slow and tend to meander. Kinsella stories are fast-paced. Fast-paced, not rushed. They evoke happy, bright imageries. It makes you feel that there’s hope and you know that everything will be alright. It doesn’t mean her stories do not have conflicts. They do! In fact, her stories are full of conflicts, odd situations, troubles and utter confusion. But there’s is a happy, uplifting vibe in her stories that perks you up.


Humour

‘The trouble with me is, I can’t let things go. They bug me. I see problems and I want to fix them, right there, right now. My nickname isn’t Fixie for nothing.’

This is the opening line of ‘I Owe You One’ and it made me smile.

Humour is the characteristic feature of her writing, one of the strengths of her books. I giggle several times while reading her books (and get strange looks from my husband).

“We're playing Scrabble. It's a nightmare."

"Scrabble?" He sounds surprised. "Scrabble's great."

"Not when you're playing with a family of geniuses. They all put words like 'iridium'. And I put 'pig'.”



The chemistry

Frankly, her books are not ideally romantic. But the romance has a very special place in her stories, and it’s so endearing. There’s certain kind of sweetness and warmth in the relationships.

‘Lover? I don’t know. I don’t know if she loves me. I don’t know if I love her. All I can say is, she's the one I think about. All the time. She's the voice I want to hear. She's the face I hope to see.’

___I’ve Got Your Number

I am a very impatient reader. If a book doesn’t grip me by 50-60 pages, I leave it unfinished. But I haven't met any Kinsella book that I could not finish. And it’s a big thing for me, as a reader. Even if I can’t call it my favourite, a Kinsella book would be entertaining for sure.