Friday, May 29, 2020

तुम दोस्त हो...






Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash


तो उसने हां कह दी है। हां, तो कहे भी क्यों ना? 28 साल का हो गया है। शादी की उम्र तो हो ही गई है। इतनी अच्छी नौकरी है। इतना हैंडसम भी है। अनामिका बिल्कुल सही है उसके लिए। उसकी तस्वीर लेकर आया था मेरे पास। उसकी तस्वीर देखकर कौन नापसंद कर सकता था। इतनी खूबसूरत, सक्सेसफुल, मॉडर्न ... मेरी तरह झल्ली थोड़े ही है वो। 

पर मुझे इतनी कोफ़्त क्यों हो रही है? जैसे दिल भिंच रहा हो। क्या इस बात का इंतजार था कि वो मुझे आकर प्रपोज करेगा? हुंह। हंस कर बात कर लेने, थोड़ी हंसी ठिठोली कर लेने और थोड़ा ख्याल रख लेने का क्या मतलब कि वो मुझसे प्यार करने लगा है? और अब मेरी आंखें क्यों गीली होने लगीं हैं? बेवजह।

इतना काफी नहीं था कि उसकी दादी मां ने एक काम थमा दिया है। 'बेटा रश्मि, तुम्हारी पसंद बहुत अच्छी है। आकाश का सूट और अनामिका की ड्रेस तुम ही पसंद कर लेना,' दादी माँ ने कहा था। 'मेरी तो सुनता ही नहीं। ऐसा अनमना सा है कि लगता ही नहीं कि उसकी शादी तय हो गयी है। तुम दोस्त हो उसकी...'

चार दिन पहले कहा था कि आ जाना, कुछ फोटोज़ सेलेक्ट कर के रखूंगी। देखकर पसंद कर ले।

'तुम कुछ ज़्यादा ही एक्साइटेड नहीं हो मेरी शादी को लेकर?' उसने कहा था। छत की मुंडेर पर टिक कर खड़ा, मरुन शर्ट में कितना अच्छा लग रहा था।

मुझे क्या पड़ी है। लगता रहे अच्छा।  हुंह।

फिर अचानक ही उसका लहज़ा बदल गया। शाम गहराने लगी थी, आसमान सिन्दूरी हो चला था, और मानो आसमान की परछाई उसकी गहरी आंखों में उतर आई हो। अपनी आंखें मुझपे टिका कर बोला, 'तुम खुश हो, रश्मि?'

एक सिहरन सी दौड़ गई थी मेरे अंदर। कुछ अलग था उस दिन उसकी आंखों में। और आवाज...इतने मुलायम स्वर में तो शायद ही कभी बात की हो उसने। अपने आप को संयत कर के मैंने कहा, 'उससे क्या फ़र्क पड़ता है, आकाश?' 
मेरी आवाज़ ज़रूरत से ज़्यादा संजीदा थी। और मुझे ये कहने की क्या जरूरत थी?

'फ़र्क तो पड़ता है।' उसने कहा और आसमान की तरफ देखने लगा। पंछियों का झुंड अपने घरों को जा रहा था। 'आखिर तुम मेरी दोस्त हो।' 

अपने चेहरे पर खेलती बालों को समेटते हुए मैंने उसकी तरफ देखा तो मुस्कुरा रहा था। वही चिर परिचित शरारती मुस्कान। 

एक तो मुझे ये 'तुम दोस्त हो' वाले चोंचले बिल्कुल नहीं पसंद। दोस्त हूँ तो क्या उसकी शादी भी करा दूँ?

पर ये हैं कहाँ आजकल? कुछ ज्यादा ही व्यस्त है। लगे होंगे बातों में अनामिका के साथ। या फिर शायद मिलने भी लगे हों। मैं अपने कमरे की बड़ी सी खिड़की से बाहर जाने क्या तलाश रही थी? हवा कुछ सर्द हो चली थी। हाँ, नवम्बर दस्तक दे चुका था। बस बारह दिन रह गए थे उसकी सगाई में। 

'उदास लग रही हो आज।' उसकी आवाज़ आई तो मैं चौंक गई। जाने कहां से आ धमका। कोई आहट भी नहीं हुई या फिर मैं ही कहीं खोई थी। 'मैं क्यों उदास होने लगी?'

'हां, हां, पता है, बहुत खुश हो,' उसने बेपरवाही से कहा और एक चॉकलेट मुझे पकड़ा दी। 'जल्दी दिखाओ, क्या पसंद किया है। अब सगाई का सूट भी तुम्हारी पसंद का ही पहनना पड़ेगा।'

'तो मत पहनो,' मैंने तुनक कर कहा। 'वो तो दादी माँ ने .. '

'अरे, गुस्से में भी लग रही हो।' वो हंस पड़ा। 'अच्छा न, अब जल्दी करो। मुझे भी तुम्हें कुछ दिखाना है।'

वैसे तो कहता है, 'लड़कियों के कपडे मुझे समझ नहीं आते।' पर अनामिका का गाउन तो एक झटके में पसंद कर लिया। और अपने लिए एक नेवी ब्लू सूट। 'शेरवानी बहुत टिपिकल लगता है, यार!' उसने अपनी जेब से एक छोटा, एलिगेंट सा डिब्बा निकालते हुए कहा।

'ये देखो, कैसा है?' उसने डिब्बे को खोलकर, मेरी टेबल पर रखकर पूछा।
कैसा है? इतनी खूबसूरत हीरे की अंगूठी तो कभी इमैजिन भी नहीं की। नहीं इमैजिन तो की है। 'बहुत खूबसूरत है! अनामिका के लिए है?' मैंने पूछा। ओह, मैं भी न, अटपटे सवाल करती हूँ, कभी-कभी। 'अनामिका को बहुत पसंद आएगी और उसकी अंगुलियों पे बहुत अच्छी लगेगी।' 

'तुम्हें कैसे पता?'

'बस पता है।'

'हां, बहुत पता है तुम्हें।' उसने अपनी भवें तरेरकर कहा। 
'चलो मैं निकलता हूँ, बहुत काम है। चाय-वाय तो तुम्हें पूछना नहीं है।' वो जाने लगा तो जी चाहा कि उसे गले लगा लूं, बस एक बार। 
मेरी नज़र टेबल पर गई। 'तुम अंगूठी यहीं भूलकर जा रहे हो।' मैंने आवाज़ दी तो वो धीरे से पलटा और कुछ पलों तक मुझे देखता रहा। उसकी ये नज़रें, उफ़! 

'नहीं,' उसने सर हिला कर कहा। 'भूलकर नहीं जा रहा। इसे इसकी सही जगह पर रखकर जा रहा हूं।'

क्या कहा इसने!?

वहीं दीवार पर टिक कर खड़ा हो गया। इतना गंभीर तो इसे शायद ही कभी देखा है। 'तुम इजाज़त दो, तो इस अंगूठी को इससे भी ज़्यादा सही जगह पे रख दूं?' उसने मेरे बायीं हथेली की ओर इशारा करके कहा।

Monday, May 11, 2020

The Whatsapp Status


Photo by Allie, Unsplash

The house is filled with pleasant silence and the aroma of aloo paratha and coffee. Twittering birds are breaking the silence occasionally and Anuradha loves it. She could see the frolicking sparrows in the backyard.

She could have celebrated her 40th marriage anniversary today, but it's been a year Ashok left this world, leaving her alone. Not really alone. She has 3 children.

She can't say she had a wonderful married life. It was difficult but she has no complaints. She was just 19 when she came to this house, as a wife and already a mother. Ashok had 2 children, Madhu (5) and Manav (8), from his previous marriage. She couldn't help noticing his deceased wife's framed photo on a wall. It stayed there.

No matter how nice you are, how hard you try, but you cannot remove the 'step' from stepmother. It was hard work to tackle their tantrums, and the kids took a long time to trust her. She gave birth to Akshat after 3 years. Thankfully, the kids bonded well. Her world revolved around Ashok and the children. However, sometimes Anuradha missed warmth in Madhu and Manav's behavior. Or maybe it was just an illusion or an unidentified fear of going wrong. Years passed and everything felt fine.

She puts her coffee on a table, switches on the fan and picks up her phone, as she settles on a wooden chair. Her new smart phone. Akshat gifted her. 'How do you use it?' she looked at the shiny phone, perplexed.

'You will learn,' Akshat said, smiling. 'You live alone and it would be nice to see you on video calls.'

Anuradha refused to leave this house and his son understood.

'Happy Mother's Day' ___ Akshat's whatsapp message greets her. She feels good, even though she finds the idea of Mother's Day funny.

She taps at the whatsapp status. The first one is from Madhu. She clicks it, as she sips her coffee. In the first picture, Madhu's is sitting with her children, embracing them affectionately. She looks at the photo fondly before it slides and another photo appears with a caption 'Maa'. It's her mother, who died when Madhu was just 3. The photo slides a new photo appears with the same caption 'Maa'. It's Mrs. Sahay, her mother in law. Anuradha smiles. Madhu found it hard to settle at her in laws' place initially but she was glad she settled eventually and settled well. The photo slides and another photo appears but it's Mrs. Shukla's, her neighbour, status. Anuradha gulps her coffee and clicks at Mahdhu's status again. Maybe, she missed a photo. The slide show starts but nothing changes. That's it. Anuradha hasn't missed any photo.

Why the coffee, suddenly, tastes bitter? Has she put excess coffee in it? Or forgotten to add sugar?


Saturday, May 9, 2020

Paintings: Nature in Black & White

Black and white combination has its own charm, no? Like black and white photographs. And these days I'm really fascinated by Black & White paintings. They look very striking. So, I tried. One in Acrylic medium and another in Watercolour.



Image

Waterfall in Black and White

For this painting, I followed a Youtube tutorial by Joni Young (Again. Like my last Secret Staircase painting. She explains everything so well and so calmly). It turned out well, I think. The artist said it's a morning scene in Black & White. To me, it seemed like a moonlit night scene. :) What do you think?


A Forest Scene in Black & White

Watercolour medium is dear to me, as I started with this medium. I never thought that I would enjoy painting in acrylic medium, but I am really enjoying. It's a forgiving medium. It's been a long time since I painted in watercolours, so I decided to get back to watercolours. I didn't use any reference photo for this painting. And I am clueless when it comes to painting without reference photo. I have mixed feelings for this painting. Plus, I am not good at sketching figures, still I wanted to go for it (at the risk of ruining my painting). What do you think about this painting?




Friday, May 1, 2020

Acrylic Painting: A Secret Staircase



A secret staircase,
a fascinating journey, 
untiring,
I know, it would lead me to
a fantasy land
A world, 
exclusively mine!
And there,
I will find 'you'.



Just painted this secret garden. I am an acrylic beginner, and considering that, I am pretty pleased with the results. What do you think?

This painting is inspired by Joni Young's art tutorial on YouTube. If you paint in acrylics, you should check her channel. She explains everything so well, and so calmly. :)


Sharing with: Paint Party Friday

Friday, April 17, 2020

One Day...





Photo by Milan Popovic, Unsplash


One day, I met you
A graceful goodbye, a
Jar full of memories


'Okay then...I'm so thankful that they upgraded my ticket and I met you because I'm not someone who travels in business class. I'll never forget this journey,' she said.

'And I'll never forget you,' he said. 'I don't remember the last time I talked so mindlessly to someone I met for the first time.'


P.S. You can check the 'Top 100 Writing Blogs & Websites for Authors in 2020' Happy and honoured to be featured.


Sharing with: Haiku My Heart



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Book Review: After She Wrote Him by Sulari Gentill




"I can see him so clearly. It’s like he exists, like I’m being allowed to watch.”
“Watch what?”
“His life … his mind …”
Leith laughed , shaking her head. “You think I’m mad?”
“Yes and no. You’re a writer.”

___ Sulari Gentill, After She Wrote Him (Earlier published as Crossing The Lines)

If you're a writer or a reader, you can understand the bond we develop with imaginary characters. In this book, this bond is way too deep.

When I read the blurb of this book on Netgalley, I was skeptical, as it seemed a little complicated. I am a very impatient reader, so I was not sure if I'd be able to handle it. But I decided to read this book, as a writer. And I'm glad.

Reason? Its fascinating plot.

Madeleine is a Lawyer and a crime writer. She is working on her new manuscript that tells the story of Edward. Edward is a literary fiction writer and he's writing about Madeleine, a happily married (or she believes so) woman who is a lawyer and a dedicated crime writer.

So yes, they both are writing each other and they're a little too obsessed about their protagonists. So obsessed that they start to materialize, they converse, begin to fall in love with each other, eventually.

So, who is the actual writer? Who is the protagonist? And who is the killer in Madeleine's crime fiction? Would Edward be able to solve the mystery? And what about Madeleine's married life?

The writing style is very interesting and unique. It's barely noticeable, but sometimes I could even differentiate the writing styles of these two writers (of two different genres).

It's a crime fiction, which is interesting, however predictable (at least I predicted it but it didn't disappoint me as it still kept me interested). But it's a fascinating love story, as well. I found this strange relationship between these two writers/protagonists very endearing. It's like their cozy, exclusive, little space. Their conversations, their understanding, their much needed availability, the emotional connect...I found it 'somehow' relatable.

'He was fascinated by the notion of a story truly told by both the writer and the protagonist. Perhaps this was the partnership that all writers sought, that he had never before completely achieved.'

The story has been told from two points of view, obviously. The points of view shift quite swiftly and frequently and the author has done a brilliant job because the shift is so smooth that it doesn't confuse you.

Was it a complicated read? Initially, yes. I found it a little difficult to adjust to this narrative but you get use to it. It gripped me, in a very intriguing and endearing manner. The characters and their world they have created for each other is so interesting and convincing.

It's different, eccentric, one of a kind. Loved it!


Thank you, Netgalley for the ARC.





Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Book Review: Dearest George by Alicia Souza




Name of the book
Dearest George
Name of the author/Illustrator
Alicia Souza
Publisher
Penguin India
Number of pages
132
Price


'Sometimes all you need is a long tight hug!'


I was really pleased to receive this book. A cute, little book. Adorable hardcover! Full of cute, funny illustrations.

What happens when a little too expressive woman is deeply, crazily in love with her husband, who is not that expressive? Dearest George is all about that.




You can call it a mushy, corny love story. Like 'Hugging his shirt when he's not around' or 'leaving love notes on the shower glass' or 'missing him even when he's lying beside her' etc. However, it's not really a story. This book is an illustrated expression of their daily, happy married life. Everything a woman feels about love, her pets, her life.

It's funny and full of warmth, yes, but it's just a random, disconnected collection of cute illustrations {some 128 pages, so yes, it's repetitive}. 




To be very honest, it would have been more interesting if there was a proper story line. This book is way too random. I understand that it's a collection of author's Instagram illustrations but I missed the storytelling.

Overall, a quick, fun read. And you get so many cute stickers! {Am I using the word 'cute' too many times?}


I received this book from the publisher for an honest review


Friday, February 7, 2020

Trying Acrylic Paintings: Night Scenes



Hello,

Artists say that if you want to begin, start with acrylic paintings, because they are easier than watercolour/oil paintings and it's forgiving. However, I didn't listen to them and started with watercolour medium. I love watercolour paintings!

Recently, I decided to try acrylic paintings. Sharing my acrylic paintings today. Yes, it's forgiving but it's not easy. I ruined two paintings. But then, I'm just 6 paintings old. I'm trying to learn.




These paintings are inspired by YouTube video tutorials by 'Stay Creative Paintings with Ryan O'Rourke'


I'm an absolute beginner but I've learnt a few important things about acrylic painting

1. You can use water {I thought we shouldn't use water and struggled a lot initially}

2. Never take a large amount of paint on your palette. When acrylic paints are moist, they are water soluble but once they dry, they get very hard and, unlike watercolours, cannot be re-moistened. 

3. Acrylic paints dry quickly, yes, but still we need to let it dry, in certain conditions, before applying other colours.

And watercolour is still my favourite medium.

That's all for now. Do you paint in acrylics?


Sharing with Paint Party Friday



Thursday, January 16, 2020

Best Books I Read in 2019






So, Goodreads says that I've read 43 books in 2019. To be honest, this data is wrong. Because there are several books I didn't finish (I wrote about very popular books that I couldn't finish in 2018} but even unread books fall under read category on Goodreads even though you create a sub-category for 'did not finish', and it's unfair. Also I've read some short stories, quick 20-30 minute reads, but they are books on Goodreads.

Never mind. So, I think I've read some 35-36 books in 2019, which is okay. Here, I'm sharing the most entertaining and gripping books I read in 2019.



Image result for salvation of a saint

'Sometimes it’s as important to prove there is no answer to a question as it is to answer it.’

It's a crime fiction and it's brilliant! And clever. And unputdownable. And this is what you call intelligent storytelling. I really like Higashino's writing style. It's simple and very engaging and the way his stories progress, it keeps you hooked. This is my third book by this author. I've read The Devotion of Suspect X and Malice, but this one my most favourite so far.

Salvation of a Saint has just two suspects. It keeps you guessing for some time, however you would easily guess who's the killer very soon, but it still keeps you terribly curious because you want to know 'HOW?'. I really liked Utsumi, the female detective. 



Image result for second chance at love

'Every life has a story, some sadder than others. Every story has a hero, some braver than others.'

Romance is my favourite genre and Ruchita Misra is one of those writers whose writing/stories always {Well, almost} works for me.

It's a love story, obviously, and I enjoyed reading this book so much, liked the characters, especially Samar, so much that I finished it in less than 24 hours, in a single sitting. After a long, I mean really long time, any book was able to grip my attention like this.


Image result for the kite runner

'For you, a thousand times over!'

There is something about this quotation. It touches my heart and stirs my emotions every time I read it or even think of it.

Strangely, I wasn't really very keen to read this book. Even though it has got fabulous reviews. Not sure why. Maybe because I have read {and loved} a book called 'The Almond Tree', which is said to be inspired by this book. But then, one fine day, I watched the movie, The Kite Runner. It was so good. Poignant {You can even spot Mr. Hosseini in a scene}. And totally different from The Almond Tree. So, I decided to read the book. I believe we should definitely read the book if we love a movie {except thrillers} because books are always deeper and more beautiful.

Khaled Hosseini is brilliant when it comes to evoking the emotions of the readers, and The Kite Runner is no different {I have read A Thousand Splendid Suns and loved it}. A very emotional and such a fine read! 



Image result for chaurasi

'अफ़वाह की सबसे विनाशकारी बात यह होती है कि यह नसों में लहू की जगह नफ़रत दौड़ाती है और वह नफरत महज़ दिल तक जाती है। अफ़वाह दिमाग़ तक किसी भी संकेत के जाने के सारे रास्ते बंद कर देती है।'

It's my second book by the author. I've read Dilli Darbar and quite enjoyed it. 

Chaurasi is a love story, set against the backdrop of 84 riots. It was poignant, shocking & gripping. I liked the main protagonists {Rishi and Manu} and their chemistry and the innocence in their relationship. 

Satya Vyas is from Bihar and I relate to the 'Bihari touch' in his books.


Have you read any of these books? Share your favourite 2019 books?