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May 29, 2012 / Gyanesh Pandey

Nunnu: Ma, Where Did I Come From?

Anuj came running with sweat dripping from his face, a heavy school bag on his back, muddy black shoes, his tie hanging loose, his shirt popping out of his tight white-black striped belt. “Ma, tell me, where did I come from?” he said trying to contain the tears.

Amused, mother looked at him and before answering his question, she held him close, loosened up his tie, unbuckled his belt and started unbuttoning his shirt when he jerked himself away from her, “Nooo, you first tell me, where did I come from?” His mother, laughing, said, “Come near me, I will tell you in your ear, don’t tell it to anyone!”

“You first tell me. You are not telling me what I am asking.”

“Nunnu, you came from the sky,” said his mother trying to gather him.

“You go and tell this to Neetu,” he said angrily.

“Why? What did Neetu tell you?”

“She told me that I am the son of that dirty old woman in the village and you got me from her because she could not take care of me.”

“Oh no honey! You are very much my son,” said his mother taking out his shirt. The shirt was wet with sweat and the sleeves had distinctly marked black lines, which he got while skidding on the balustrade of the stairs in his school. She looked at those lines and gave him a stern gaze. Anuj, like always, quietly looked down. He had perfected the trick by instinct.

She then took off his pants and there stood the young man aged six in his white vest and blue underpants exposing the soft supple masculine shoulders, biceps, thighs, legs.

Before his mother could dress him up in his regular t-shirt and half-pants, “Oye Nangu!” said Neetu – Anuj’s elder sister – as she entered slightly bent forward with a heavy broad school bag on her back.

Without minding the latest teaser, he said, “Mummeee! Now tell her that I am your son and not of that old woman.” Mother laughed again and said, “He is my son Neetu and you shut up!” Neetu went into her room smiling at mother’s banter.

Mother’s strict verdict did appease Anuj but not completely. Not after long he asked, “But mummee, where did I come from?”

“What do you mean honey?” said his mom, as she arranged the utensils for lunch.

“I am your son. That is fine. But where did I come from?” said Anuj, talking like an octogenarian.

“Go and ask your father, I don’t know,” she replied getting fed up. She sighed with relief as he made his way out of the lobby.

Anuj went to his father, who was in his office room buried under some half-open books with his spectacles hanging at the tip of his nose and was busy working up something on a calculator.

“Dad!”

“Hmmm…” replied his father without moving his head.

“Da’ad!”

His father gestured, asking him to wait a minute, then kept his calculator on the table and lifted Anuj in his lap, saying, “Yes my chicky-bone, what’s the problem?” as he pecked him on the cheek.

“Dad, where did I come from?”

“What did you say?” asked his father after a pause.

“Dad, I was asking Mom where did I come from and she sent me to you,” said Anuj with frustration mounting on his face.

Arrey Shaanti! What are you teaching your kid?” he shouted to his wife. His wife came out of the kitchen with the top end of her saree tucked on her waist, “Arrey Baba! What can I teach him, he is teaching me instead.”

“Someone rightly said, child is the father of man.” Father with a big smiling face answered, “Sweetie! you came from the heavens up above,” and laughed to himself.

The answer suddenly lit up Anuj’s face and he jumped out of his father’s lap. Sooner than anything else he ran to update Neetu. He muttered to himself, “Mom says I came from the sky and Dad says I came from the heaven up above.” He went into the open yard and looked towards the heaven up above to see if he could witness the marvel of babies falling from the sky or being driven in a carriage pulled by winged horses, as he had seen in TV serials likeRamayana. After burning his eyes in the bright sun and failing to watch the spectacle, he thought may be the kids come in the night when the bright sun cannot scorch them. Satisfied, he walked into his Amma (grandmother) and Baba’s (grandfather’s) room, to discuss the findings with his Baba. He had built a rapport with his Baba, who had been in Anuj’s house over the last few months, owing to his ill health. Baba with his huge collection of stories and poems was a constant source of entertainment for Anuj. Anuj was in turn an object of amusement for everyone in the family. Siddharth, his elder brother, was his story book. In the struggle between Neetu and Siddharth, when both of them competed to get Anuj to sleep with them, Siddharth used to take him away by luring him with a story.

*-*-*-*

“Ma, where did I come from?” asked Anuj, reconfirming her answer. She was stirring the curry she was making for dinner. She was sweating all over – working in the kitchen always made her do so – and was in no mood for fun.

Beta! you get out of the kitchen.”

“No! I am fine, You first tell me – I came from the heaven, right?”

“Go and ask Amma,” she said getting rid of him. So Anuj went to his Amma.

His Baba sat there huddled together wearing a white dhoti and a white shirt. Amma was also sitting by the side of the bed peeling oranges.

Amma was not very fond of Anuj as he asked a lot of questions. She preferred docile kids. But Anuj, without caring what his Amma thought, shook her and asked her loudly, “Amma, where did I come from? Daddy says I came from heaven, is it?”

“Ya, right!” said his Amma. His Baba gestured to him to sit by his side and offered him an orange slice.

“What’s your question?” asked his Baba.

Baba, Daddy says that I came from heaven. But Neetu says that I came from Ma’s stomach,” he said as if sharing his anguish with a friend.

Hearing this, Amma got scandalized and chaffed him but Anuj was in the safe custody of hisBaba. Had it not been for Baba he would have got one on his head.

Baba raised his eyebrows and gestured to Amma asking for an explanation to Anuj’s question. While Amma shied away, Baba thought to himself, “Where do we come from? And where do we go? No one really knows…”

“She was showing me a picture from Siddharth’s biolology book. It had a photo of Ma with stomach bulging out and a baby sitting inside, rolled up,” continued Anuj.

Neetu, who was doing her homework on the dining table in the lobby, overheard him. “It’s not biolology. It’s biOlegy stupid!” she shouted.

Now Amma could not take it anymore and almost chased him out of the room and poor oldBaba said, “Arrey! what are you doing? Keep your cool, he is a kid.”

“Ya! You only let these kids talk such scandalous things. You better not promote this,” warnedAmma.

Baba usually avoided conflict. Especially with women he would revisit Tulsidas’ “Dhor, Ganwaar, Shudra, Pashu, Naari; Sakal Taadana ke adhikaari” to vindicate himself.

Meanwhile Anuj had escaped to the safe zone of the lobby, where Neetu had now engaged Siddharth in helping her get through her homework. His mother was also taking some fresh air in the lobby as she wiped the sweat from her face, hand, neck, stomach.

“Come here!” she called Anuj in a strict tone.

“What did Amma say to you?”

Neetu and Siddharth sat there smiling at each other.

“She called me scandalous,” said Anuj, as if happy with the compliment. “I was telling Babathat Neetu told me that I came from your stomach and not from the heaven up above. Neetu showed me a picture in Siddharth’s biogy book.”

“BiOlegy stupid!” said Neetu and got a tap on her head from Siddharth, who was explaining something to her.

Before his mother could say anything Anuj reached for Siddharth to confirm the knowledge he had received.

“No dear, babies do not drop from the heaven. Bacchu! I will tell you where you came from.”

The idea that Siddharth was going to expand on the process, mortally terrified mother. She was wondering what to do, what to tell, where to run and hide her face. She was sweating again.

After a brief pause, Siddharth added, “I will tell you the full story tonight, will you sleep with me or Neetu?”

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May 12, 2012 / Gyanesh Pandey

NUNNU WANTS A TOY

Nunnu Wants A Toy 

Nunnu was returning from his evening session of sports, which was guaranteed to him by his father. If it was left to others like his mother, grandmother or siblings he would have to spend all his evening in front of books pretending to study. Nunnu was not particularly studious. He studied just enough to escape the wooden ruler, which was an active instrument of learning in his school. He had his own ways of attracting punishment though, but the thrill involved made it all worth it. He never thought so – he just did it.

One summer evening, when the sky was done with the shimmering saffron ball and wanted the cool white one, when birds were done with the fight that each day brought and flew in a “V” across the sky cackling and wanting to retire to a good night’s sleep, Nunnu, after a long day at school and then later in the park with his so-called friends, decided to give vent to his wish. It had long been on his mind, but today his tryst with Rahul took the water above his head.

Nunnu, along with a couple of friends, played in a park which was just a couple of blocks away. They played football by keeping two bricks as the goal posts. Since the football belonged to Rahul – the rules of the game were ruled by Rahul. If he said it was a goal, it was a goal. If he said the ball was too wide or too high – so be it. He did not like Rahul’s snobbery, which became utterly frustrating when Rahul would just pick up his ball and start walking back towards his house. Nunnu hated to stop him and play with such a loser. But he had no choice. So he decided to ask his father to save him from such embarrassment and frustration.

Nunnu had a football at home, which was abandoned by Siddharth after the stitches on the white-black jacket wore out and the orange colored bladder started peeping out. The ball could not even be inflated to a pressure that made it hard enough since the orange bladder would pop out. Consequently the ball became very soft and sluggish like Rahul, a chubby boy, round like a football. His cheeks and tummy jumped up and down, very much like the football Nunnu had. The ball when hit would take the whole toe inside, as if making love with it. Not just that – the white patches were peeling off to reveal the dirty underskin and since it lay in the dusty cobwebbed store room, it had assumed the same dusty appearance.

Nunnu’s father generally came back from office while he was playing out. Sometimes, while his father drove on his gray Bajaj Super, his friends would point out to him that his father was coming, with the expectation that Nunnu would be scolded and asked to come back home, like other parents did. Nunnu would take a break to wave a ‘Good evening, dad’ to his father and resume playing.

Today he finished his game earlier than usual and waited for his father. He waited for a middle aged man – impeccably dressed, with well combed hair, and a composed serious demeanor driving a gray-colored Bajaj Super – turning into the lane towards his house.

His face lit up as he saw his father on the scooter approaching the house. His father always maintained his scooter very well. Every day before he left for office, he would wipe it clean with a wet cloth except on Sundays when Siddharth would do it in return for a small drive around the block they lived. The first thing his father did after returning was to change his clothes, wash himself up and settle down for a tea. All the kids in the house were instructed not to disturb their father, till he had relaxed for a while at home. He needed some time to get on with the business of the house and hated being bombarded with the concerns of family life straightaway.

He opened the door with a cheerful “Good evening, dad.” Every evening when his father came from office, he got a bag full of vegetables and seasonal fruits. This was summer, a season of mangoes, of DushehriDushehri mangoes were the only thing that could replace his father’s tea.

Nunnu closed the door behind his dad, who walked with the scooter turned off. He offered to carry the bag inside, which was not quite light for a young man of his age, as his father put the scooter on stand and took out his small office bag.

“You did not go to play today?” asked his father.

“I had gone but came back early,” he replied. “I don’t like playing with Rahul,” he added.

“And why is that?”

“He is so be-imaan. He cheats at every step and if you tell him anything, he takes his football and walks away.”

“So, what do you guys do when he does that?”

“Nothing, what can we do. We have to agree with him.”

His father nodded his head as if trying to solve the issue. Nunnu was just about to put a proposal for a possible solution when he remembered the protocol and waited.

Nunnu’s mom brought a cup of tea as his father, dressed in a neat white kurta-pyjama, flipped through the pages of the Times of India, briefly stopping at the page which carried the advertisements for a car or a car loan. He was one of the very few amongst his peers who drove a scooter, everyone else drove a four-wheeler. He had been wanting to buy a car for a long time.

“Get me some mangoes first,” he said on seeing the tea.

“This will get cold,” Nunnu’s mother blurted out. “And then you will ask me to make a new one, because re-heated doesn’t taste good,” she added sarcastically.

Before anything else was said or done, Nunnu froze. He knew this tone and it took his senses no time to set the alarm bells ringing portending an altercation – some heated words, some red eyes, a pinch of anger and loads of pain. It did not even occur to him that his wish for a football had been suddenly wiped off his mind, right now he just wanted to escape being a witness to this.

“What’s wrong?” said his father in a not particularly cajoling tone. His mother did not reply and angrily took the cup of tea as she headed back to the kitchen.

Nunnu was surprised at this breach of protocol laid down by his mom herself – not to trouble his father till he had relaxed for a while – and was baffled by the disruption of the queue when he thought he was the first one with his wish for a football.

“Okay, get me the tea only, I will have mangoes later,” his father cajoled his mother. His mother came briskly and kept the cup of tea on the table looking straight into the eyes of his father, who was hovering on the brink of an outburst after a dog-day-work at office, yet he added, “Will you sit here for a while?” So his mom sat there staring into the blank wall. His father sipped the tea and then coolly, as if by a sudden spark, barely concealing his laughter, said, “What do you want?” He had lived with her long enough to know what was on her mind.

Everybody has her own way of asking things.

“Today Mrs. Arora sent an invitation card for her daughter’s marriage this Saturday,” whimpered Nunnu’s mother. There was a pause as his father sipped the tea and waited for further elaboration on the problem as an invitation card could not be the reason for someone’s anger.

“I don’t want to go to any party. I am not going to attend any marriage-varriage,” she said as her angry sadness filtered through her voice. “I have been crying to get a pair of bangles for ages. I am not going anywhere to make a fool of myself looking like a beggar.”

By now Nunnu had reached his limit of tolerance – he couldn’t bear this interplay anymore. He looked for Neetu, who was his regular escape plan from such a situation, but she was nowhere to be found, so he went back to his mom asking for her, “Ma, where is Neetu?”

“I have no clue where the hell she is,” said his mother.

“Why are you taking out your anger on him,” bantered his father, but before his father could call Nunnu, he had escaped to his Baba’s room, where his Baba and Amma were having tea together. That room had its quietude no matter what, primarily because Baba and Amma always talked in a hushed tone such that absolutely no one could overhear them. Even he had tried sometimes but would not understand anything – he often heard names of people he had never known. Yet he would listen intently trying to make some sense of the sentences.

Nunnu heard his Amma say something like, “Jewels for the wedding ceremony…trip to Vaishno Devi is eternally postponed,” and then a contortion on her face followed by a long pause. As usual it did not make any sense – but Vaishno Devi struck a spark in him. “Baba are we going to Vaishno Devi?” asked Nunnu enthusiastically.

“Why don’t you go and ask your mom?” replied his Amma, with her very own acerbic tone.

Baba frowned at her and gestured to Nunnu to come and sit in his lap. Nunnu nestled into his Baba’s lap, while his Baba very cautiously held the teacup in his right hand. Nunnu started playing with his Baba’s wrinkled and sagging cheeks which were similar to the deflated football he had. He rubbed his supple cheeks against the white stubble which tickled him. The memory of an irritating friend, the wish for a football, his mother’s anger or the remarks of his Amma, nothing was potent enough to disturb him as he nestled in his Baba’s lap.

May 5, 2012 / Gyanesh Pandey

Tuks

Tuks

Tuks

Nikhil was a little slow. He took time in responding. But he was never embarrassed about it. He had developed the cutest smile to avert any averse reaction. In all other matters he was just as smart as the other kids – like he would never do his homework, play in dirt, not get up early in the morning, not drink milk and similar matters. He played quite a lot and still managed to remain cutely chubby. I think he managed to escape all the ball chasing and similar stupid things by some method of his own. Though he could not escape a complexion given to him by excessive exposure to the sun.

I used to teach him during summers. I had appeared for high school exams and had three months before school started. I was teaching Nikhil and two more kids. It was the only way for me to make some money to buy a wristwatch for myself. Besides, teaching was fun. These kids I taught were some 5-6 years younger than me. At some point of time, I had also played with these kids.

I taught Nikhil all the subjects. Nikhil’s mom was particular about Mathematics. She thought he was weak in Mathematics. Truth was he was weak in everything. I would get bored of teaching Mathematics because it did not encourage any dialogue. I liked teaching English. It had stories and even if they were stories for kids, I enjoyed them. And through stories I could talk to him, which I liked.

One day I was teaching him a story which had an Elephant and there was reference to its tusks in it. I asked Nikhil to read it and he read the word tusk as tuks. I stopped and said “It is not tuks, it is TUS-K”. He said “TUKS” and gave his million-billion-trillion-dollar smile. I emphasized “No No, not TUK-S but TUS-K”. He immediately responded “tuks” and again gave his cute smile and added “Bhaiyya! I can’t say it”. I saw no reason why he could not place one consonant before the other. It was perfectly simple for me. I said “Of course you can say it”. Nikhil seemed a little worried now.

I said “Ok! Say TUS”

‘tus’

‘tuss-ka’

‘tuss-ka’

‘tuska’

‘tuska’

‘tusk’

‘tuks’

This appeared weird to him. But I was not to give in so easily. I thought – he could pronounce both the consonants, now he just needed to put one before the other. So I raised my voice and said “Say TUKSAA” and Nikhil grinned. Immediately realizing my mistake I said “NoNo sorry! Say TUSKAA”, in a more humble tone.

He smiled and said “Leave it bhaiyya! I won’t be able to say it.”

I said politely “I am sure you can say it”.

‘tuss’

‘tuss’

‘tusska’

‘tusska’

‘tussska’

‘tussska’

‘tusssk’

‘tussk’

‘tusk’

‘tusk’

“See! There you go…”

Nikhil smiled.

I never forgot that smile. In all the years since I taught him, in moments of severe doubt when I have no strength left to carry on, when I am sure that I will fail, I remember Nikhil’s tuks as they brightly shone through that day.

April 28, 2012 / Gyanesh Pandey

एक जार में अचार (Pickled)

एक जार में अचार (Pickled) 
मुझे हमेशा लगता था कि मेरे अन्दर कई लोग बसते हैं  लेकिन कभी इतने प्रत्यक्ष रूप में उनको देखा नहीं था|  आज सुबह उठा तो मैंने पाया कि  मैं एक सुपरमार्केट के एक शेल्फ पे एक जार में बंद हूँ| मैं वहाँ अकेला नहीं हूँ, मेरे साथ मेरे हमशक्ल और साथी भाई भी हैं |
दुविधा यह है कि आज मुझे एक एक्टिंग के काम के लिए किसी से मिलने जाना है| काम बहुत ज़रूरी है क्यूंकि कम से कम एक महीने का घर का किराया निकल आएगा, अगर काम मिल गया तो! कल मैंने काफी समय और पैसे भी खर्च किये – बाल कटवाए, दाढ़ी बनायीं, हाथों पैरों के नाखून काटे, शाम को नहा के थोड़ी देर ध्यान भी किया | ध्यान करने के बाद एक्टिंग करना ज्यादा सहज हो जाता है, मन में जब कोई पहले से ख्याल न हों तो अपने  डाईलॉग्स भी अच्छे से याद होते हैं और परफोर्म करने में भी एक हल्कापन महसूस होता है |खैर इतनी सब तय्यारी का क्या फायदा, अब तो मैं यहाँ एक जार में बंद बैठा हूँ अपने कुछ हम-जारों के साथ| मुझे कैसे भी करके इस जार में से बाहर निकलना है और ऑडिशन के लिए जाना है|
अन्दर एक अजीब सा गुलाबी रंग का पदार्थ है, जिसमें हम तैर रहे हैं| बड़ा प्रयास करके मैं जार के ऊपरी भाग की तरफ गया, सोचा की ढक्कन पे थोड़ा जोर लगाया जाये| जोर लगाना बिल्कुल सहज नहीं है, आप तैरते-तैरते किसी चीज़ पे कैसे जोर डाल सकते हैं| खैर मैंने अपने हाथ-पैर जार की किनारियों पे टिकाये और एक हाथ से ढक्कन पे जोर लगाया, ढक्कन तो टस से मस न हुआ, जो हाथ मैंने जार की दीवार से लगाया हुआ था, वो फिसल गया| इस ग्लास में यह पदार्थ कई दिनों से होगा, जिसके रहते इसकी दीवारें थोड़ी चिकनी, फिसलने वाली हो गयीं हैं| हाथ फिसला तो मैं यूं नीचे की ओर गिरा, सर के बल| भला हो इस पदार्थ का, तले तक पहुँचने से पहले ही गति इतनी धीमी हो गयी थी की कुछ चोट नहीं लगी| इस जार में बिलकुल वैसे ही गति है जैसी चाँद पे इंसान की होती होगी – आपने एक विडियो देखा होगा जिसमें नील आर्मस्ट्रोंग चाँद पर चलने की कोशिश कर रहे हैं, लेकिन स्लो मोशन में कूद रहे हैं|
दुबारा ढक्कन खोलने की हिम्मत नहीं है मुझमें| मैं निराश जार के तले पे आराम से लेट गया और सोचने लगा कि क्या करना चाहिए| कुछ भी सोचना न हुआ सिर्फ इस बात की चिंता रही कि अगले महीने का रेंट कहाँ से आएगा | बहुत सारा उधार ले चुका हूँ | वैसे ऐसा नहीं है कि अगर मैं एक्टिंग नहीं करूंगा तो मेरा पेट ख़राब हो जायेगा या बुखार आ जायेगा, लेकिन यह एक्टिंग की आदत, या यूं कहिये एक्टिंग करने की लालसा किसी बीमारी से कम नहीं है – और कम से कम मुझे तो इसका इलाज मालूम नहीं है | मेरे पिताजी का कहना है कि इसका इलाज है – शादी! मेरे पिताजी का सेन्स ऑफ़ ह्यूमर अच्छा है| उन्होंने आज तक कुछ भी करने के लिए मुझपे जोर नहीं दिया| लेकिन जब उन्हें पता चला की मैं इस काम को करने जा रहा हूँ, तो उन्होंने कभी एक शब्द भी हौसला अफजाई का नहीं कहा | अब कई साल हो गए हैं मुझे इस फील्ड में, और थोड़ा बहुत अच्छा बुरा काम कर ही लिया है | थोड़ी वाह-वाही भी हुई है काम की, लेकिन जो कहो की इससे दिनचर्या चलने का जुगाड़ हो जाए तो वो बहुत दूर की बात है | अब उम्र भी तीस के पार की हो गयी है – मेरे ज़्यादातर दोस्तों की शादियाँ भी हो चुकी हैं | वास्तव में कईयों के बच्चे भी हो गए हैं – बहुत ही कम कुछ एक दो सर-फिरे हैं हमारी तरह जो किसी न किसी प्रकार की वांडर-लस्ट को लेके भटक रहे हैं |
मैं इसी सब उधेड़-बुन में लगा हुआ था तभी मेरे हम-जारों में से मुझे अपना कॉमिक वर्ज़न दिखा, एक हलकी सी मन में मुस्कान आई| मैंने सोचा की इससे बात करके कुछ करते हैं, शायद किसी विंडो-शोप्पर को लुभाया जा सके और उससे ढक्कन खुलवाया जा सके| फिर मन में ख्याल आया की कॉमिक ही क्यूँ, बाकी सब की भी मदद ली जाए| इनमें से एक वर्ज़न था गवैये जैसा, एक था जो काफी अथलेटिक था – जिम-विम जाता होगा, एक हमेशा दुखी रहता था – किसी सोच में डूबा हुआ, एक बहुत खुश रहता था, और कुछ ऐसे  वर्ज़न भी थे जिन्हें मैं नहीं पहचानता था | एक अभिनेता होने के नाते मुझे इन सब से अच्छी तरह परिचित होना चाहिए, लेकिन अगर ऐसा होता मैं बहुत बड़ा स्टार न होता |
खैर, सब अपनी मस्ती में मस्त – तो मैंने सोचा पहले कॉमिक से शुरुआत की जाए| हालाँकि मैं खुद बहुत कॉमिक नहीं हूँ, पर मुझे कॉमिक लोग बहुत पसंद हैं – मन खुश रहता है इनके साथ | मैंने कॉमिक वाले को आवाज़ लगायी, आवाज़ तो निकली नहीं – कुछ बुलबुले उठे और जार के नीचे से ऊपर की ओर उठने लगे | उनको देख के मुझे बड़ा मज़ा आया – जैसे जार के बाहर वो बुलबुले वाली डिबिया होती है जिसमें प्लास्टिक का रिंग डुबोके हवा फूंको को बुलबुले बनते हैं, बिलकुल वैसे ही | बस यहाँ बुलबुले हवा में ठहरते नहीं बल्कि तेजी से ऊपर की ओर भागने लगते हैं| चलना  भी इतना आसान नहीं था| थोड़ा इशारा वगैरह किया, लेकिन उसका कुछ फायदा नहीं हुआ | बगल में खड़े सैड-फिलॉसफर को मैंने हाथ मार के इशारा किया की अगले को बुला दो, तो अगले को बुलाना तो दूर उसने खुद ही सुना-अनसुना कर दिया | मैंने कहा साला यह अजीब चक्कर है, फिर सोचा यह साले फिलॉसफर होते ही असामाजिक हैं | बगल में यह बहुत खुश रहने वाला प्राणी था – इसकी शकल से ही मुझे घृणा हो रही थी, पर क्या करें काम पड़ने पे गधे को भी बाप बनाना पड़ता है, मैंने अपने चेहरे पे हलकी मुस्कान साधी और उसको हाथ से थप-थपा के बात करने का प्रयास किया, लेकिन उसने मुड़ के देखा तक नहीं| मुझे लगा की यह साली अजीब परेशानी है – यह सब दिख तो मेरे ही जैसे रहे हैं, लेकिन कोई बात नहीं करना चाहता |इतने में किसी ने जार को उठाया, अचानक एक आशा जगी की चलो कुछ हुआ | जब भी हम लोग किसी घोर समस्या में पड़े होते हैं, तब कुछ भी होता है तो अच्छा लगता है, चाहे उससे समस्या का हल निकले या न निकले| ऐसा लगता है कुछ अच्छा ही होगा| जार गोल गोल घूमने लगा, जैसे हम लोगों को एक कानक्रीट मिक्सर में घुमाया जा रहा हो! मैंने सोचा हो न हो, अब तो कुछ हो ही जायेगा | और इस समय सबसे ज्यादा ज़रूरी है मेरा इस जार से बहार निकलना, तो सबसे पहले वही होगा | जब जार घूमना बंद हुआ तो देखा एक सुन्दर सुशील महीला जार को घूर घूर के निहार रही है – मुझे लगा मुझे देख रही है| कहीं कोई कास्टिंग डिरेक्टर तो नहीं, जिसको मैं पसंद आ गया हूँ| बड़ी-बड़ी सुन्दर आँखें! इतनी खूबसूरत आँखें मैंने पहले कभी नहीं देखीं, और वो भी इतने करीब से, इतने ध्यान से | वो एक पिंक रंग का टॉप पहने थी और उसपे छोटे-छोटे कई सारे फूल बने थे | पता नहीं उसके टॉप का रंग सही में पिंक था के नहीं, क्यूंकि मुझे तो सभी कुछ पिंक दिख रहा था | उसने अपनी भौओं को सिकोड़ा, तो मुझे लगा क्या मेरा चेहरा पसंद नहीं आया – फिर देखा की जार पे कुछ उलटे शब्द हैं, वो शायद उनको पढ़ने की कोशिश कर रही थी| ख्याल आते ही बड़ा दुःख हुआ – एक्टर होने के बहुत सारे नुक्सान हैं, उनमे से एक यह भी है – की आपकी दिशा में कोई देख रहा हो, तो आपको लगता है, हो न हो इसने मेरा टैलेंट पहचान लिया है | पूरी दुनिया एक बहुत बड़ा सा ऑडिशन लगता है – काफ्फी शॉप, मॉल, रोड, पार्टी, बुक-शॉप यहाँ तक की मंदिर भी | वो जार पे लिखे हुए न्यूट्रीशन फैक्ट्स पढ़ रही थी | फिर उसने जार जब चेहरे से थोड़ा दूर किया तो देखा की चटक-लाल लाली लगाये हुए है, और सर पे काला चश्मा टिकाया हुआ है – मैंने सोचा सत्यानाश हो इसका, मुझे तो यह भी एक्टर ही लग रही है | और भला भारत देश में न्यूट्रीशन फैक्ट्स कौन पढ़ता है?
उसने जब जार वापस शेल्फ पे रख दिया तो मुझे ऐसा लगा की अब मैं मर जाऊँगा, जैसे पानी में डूबता इंसान छटपटाता है, उसी तरह जोर जोर से चिल्लाने की कोशिश की, खूब हाथ पैर हिलाए| कुछ फायदा ना हुआ| वो जार को शेल्फ पे रख के लचकती, मटकती, ठुमकती हुई निकल गयी | मैंने कोशिश करके देखा तो उसने नीचे पीले रंग की हील्स पहनी हुयी थीं और मिनी मिनी-स्किर्ट पहना हुआ था| उसकी कमर में बेल्ट भी पीली थी | दोनों चीज़ों का रंग इतना चटक पीला था की मुझे पिंक शेड के बाद भी पीला ही दिख रहा था | पक्का हो गया की वो एक्ट्रेस ही थी – इतने बेहुदे रंग सिर्फ एक्टर्स पहन सकते हैं | खैर एक्टर हो ना हो मेरी बला से – मेरे तो किसी काम ना आई| फिर देखा तो मेरा कॉमिक वर्ज़न मुझे देख के मुस्करा रहा है – मुझे लगा शायद मेरी जींस की चेन खुली रह गयी होगी| मैं जब थोड़ा सहमा तो उसने इशारा किया की फिर से करूं, मैंने पूछा क्या? तो इशारे से बताने लगा हाथ पैर हिलाओ और बुलबुले निकालो| फिर समझ में आया की उसको मेरा वो छटपटाना पसंद आया – तो मैं जोर जोर से हाथ पैर हिला के चिल्लाने लगा, और वो ख़ुशी से पागल हो गया, उसने भी मुझे कॉपी किया और हम दोनों हंसने लगे | फिर मुझे अपने अगल बगल वालों का आभास हुआ, पर वो सब अभी भी अपने में मस्त थे – किसीको किसी से कोई सरोकार ना था | मुंह से पसंदीदा गालियाँ फूटने लगीं, लेकिन वो सब बुलबुले बन के उड़ गयीं| इसे देख के मेरा कॉमिक भाई और खुश हुआ|
जब बातचीत होने लगी तो एक दूसरे की बातें यों ही समझ में आने लगीं| यह बड़ा अजीब सा अनुभव था – अब जैसे बोलने की ज़रुरत ना थी – एक दूसरे से मन का रिश्ता सा हो गया| अच्छा लगा की चलो इस असामाजिक माहौल में एक साथी तो मिला | मैंने मन में उसका नाम जॉनी रख दिया – जॉनी वाकर मेरे बड़े प्रिय कलाकार हैं | कुछ भी और बात करने से पहले मैंने उससे कहा की यार इस जार में से कैसे निकला जाये? उसने कहाँ क्यूँ? मैंने कहाँ क्यूँ मतलब? तो बोला इस जार में से क्यूँ निकलना है? मैं इतना हैरान हुआ की मुझसे कुछ कहा ही नहीं गया – मैं बस उसका मुंह देखता रहा| फिर मुझे याद आया की आज शाम मुझे अंजना से मिलना भी है – इस पूरे हफ्ते मुलाकात नहीं हुई है| मैंने जॉनी को कहा की यार गर्लफ्रेंड से मिलने जाना है – तो उसने कहा अच्छा! कौन है? अंजना मेरी गर्लफ्रेंड है|
वो एक कंपनी में काम करती है | उससे रिश्ता बहुत ज़बरदस्त रिश्ता है – जीवन में चाहे कितनी भी परेशानियों हों, उससे मिलते ही सब गायब हो जाती हैं – हल नहीं, गायब हो जाती हैं| और जैसे ही वो आँखों से ओझल होती है, सारी तकलीफें फिर से आँखें फाड़ कर डराने लगती हैं | अंजू मेरी बहुत हौसला अफजाही करती है | शायद मेरे जीवन में सिर्फ वो ही है जो मेरी हौसला अफजाही करती है | कभी कभी मुझे लगता है की अंजू मुझसे प्रेम क्यूँ करती है? मैं न ही तो अमीर हूँ, न ही सफल अभिनेता हूँ, देखने में भी ऐसा कोई टॉम क्रूज़ नहीं हूँ – कुल मिला के बहुत ही सामान्य इंसान हूँ | उस दिन मैं और अंजू नैचुरल्स की आइस-क्रीम खा रहे थे और मैंने अचानक अंजू से कहा “यार तू किसी एक सफल बन्दे को पकड़ के शादी क्यूँ नहीं कर लेती?” | मैं सच में  एक मित्र जैसे उससे पूछ रहा था – उस समय मन में बिलकुल यह ख्याल न था, की अगर वो मेरे जीवन से चली गयी तो मेरा जीवन कितना सूना और निर्जन हो जाएगा| वो तुरंत बोली “एक बार करी तो थी”| मैं चुप हो गया | अंजू का डिवोर्स हुए कुछ डेढ़ साल हो चुका था – यह मेरे समझ से बाहर की बात थी की कोई अंजू को डिवोर्स दे सकता है – वो पढ़ी लिखी है, कमाती है, देखने में सुन्दर है (सेक्सी है), बात अच्छे से करती है | फिर यह सोच के लगा की साला मुझ में ऐसा क्या है? तो मैंने पूछ ही डाला “अंजू व्हाय डू यू लव मी?” | वो बोली “तुम मुझे बहुत हंसाते हो!” | उसने जैसे ही यह कहा तो मैं अपने दो पैरों पे खड़े होकर जीभ बहार निकालकर उसके ऊपर चढ़ने  को तैयार था और बस मन किया की उसको ऊपर से नीचे तक चाट डालूँ | आज तक किसी भी लड़की ने मुझसे यह नहीं कहा था की मैं उसे हंसाता हूँ| जैसा की मैंने पहले भी कहा कि मैं ऐसा कोई कॉमिक आदमी नहीं हूँ लेकिन अंजू को मैं हंसाता हूँ | शायद कुछ शख्सियत कुछ लोगों के साथ ही सामने आती है|
जॉनी यह सुनके बहुत खुश हुआ| उसने कहा “इससे तो मिलना पड़ेगा? अब तो तुम्हे इस जार से निकलना ही पड़ेगा”| मैंने पूछा “कुछ तरकीब बताओ?” उसने जार की दीवार को अपने नाखून से खरोचने की कोशिश की – शायद वो टेस्ट कर रहा था की कहीं जार प्लास्टिक का तो नहीं बना है, तो शायद किसी तरीके से उसको क्रैक किया जा सके| लेकिन वो परेशानी ही क्या जो यूं ही हल हो जाये | जार शीशे का बना हुआ था और हम चाहें कितना भी अपना माथा उसपे फोड़ लें, लेकिन उसको तोड़ नहीं पाएंगे |
हम दोनों साथ में बैठ के यह विचार करने लगे की क्या करें? हमने सोचा की कोई कॉमिक एक्ट तैयार करते हैं और किसी ग्राहक को लुभाने की कोशिश करते हैं, अगर किसी ने हमें देख लिया, हमारा एक्ट अगर उसे पसंद आ गया तो हो सकता है, कोई हमपे दया कर दे | जॉनी का साथ पाके बहुत अच्छा लग रहा था| परेशानी में कोई साथी मिल जाए, परेशानी हल चाहे न भी हो, परेशानी आधी हो जाती है | जीवन में साथी होना बहुत ज़रूरी है|
हम दोनों ने प्लानिंग शुरू की तो यह तय हुआ की हो न हो कोई फिजिकल एक्ट होना चाहिए, क्यूंकि बाहर से सिर्फ हमारी कलाबाजियां देखी जा सकती थीं और फिर अगर उसमें कुछ कहानी भी हो तो अच्छा है | हमें लगा की अगर हमारे साथ बाकी हम-जार भी हों तो ज्यादा प्रभावशाली प्रदर्शन किया जा सकता है | तो हमने औरों से बात करना शुरू की, मैं हैरान था की जॉनी के साथ होने से, लाइफ में थोड़ी कॉमेडी होने से, बाकी लोग भी बात करने को तैयार थे| और तो और उस सैड-फिलॉसफर के चेहरे पे भी एक हलकी मुस्कान आ गयी| अगर लाइफ में कॉमेडी न हो तो बड़ा मुश्किल से कटता है सफ़र – अब बताईये, अंजू भी मुझे इस लिए पसंद करती है क्यूंकि मैं उसे हंसाता हूँ, मुझे नहीं पता कैसे पर हंसाता हूँ |
हमने सैड-फिलॉसफर को जार की दीवार से लगा के बिठा दिया और प्लान किया की जैसे ही कोई हमारे शेल्फ की तरफ आता दिखेगा तो मैं और जॉनी उसको हंसाने की कोशिश करेंगे और बाकी लोग बैकग्राउंड में एक हल्का सा डांस करेंगे| अब मैं और जॉनी तैयार होने लगे की क्या-क्या कर सकते हैं – एक तो दोनों हाथ पकड़ के गोल गोल घूमके थोड़ा जार के पदार्थ में तैरेंगे, मुंह से बुलबुले निकालेंगे और फिर कुछ और कलाबाजियां करेंगे |  मैंने अपने जीवन में कभी नहीं सोचा था की मैं ऐसा कुछ कर सकता हूँ लेकिन जब अपनी जान पे बन आये तो कुछ भी करना पड़ेगा|
अब  हम इंतज़ार में बैठ गए की कोई आये और हम अपना कार्यक्रम शुरू करें | थोड़ी देर में उधर एक बच्चा आता दिखा और मुझे लगा बहुत बढ़िया! इस दुनिया के बड़े बूढों से निराश, मुझे लगा हो न हो, यह बच्चा ही हमें बचाएगा| वो जैसे ही करीब आया हमने पूरे जोश से अपना कार्यक्रम शुरू कर दिया, लेकिन उसने हमारी तरफ देखा ही नहीं, फिर हमने अपने फिलॉसफर दोस्त को उठा लिया, हवा में उड़ा-उड़ा के फेंका, फिर भी उसने नहीं देखा | चेहरे बनाये, कलाबाजियां की, बुलबुले निकाले पर कमबख्त वो बच्चा बगल में रखे जैम की बोतल उठा के चलता हुआ|
अब मेरी हालत बिलकुल उस सैड-फिलॉसफर के जैसी हो गयी, लगा की अब तो जीवन भर इसी जार में बंद रहना पड़ेगा |
कल देर रात अमित से बात हो रही थी| अमित मेरा पुराना दोस्त है | कुछ ऐसे दोस्त होते हैं जिनसे चाहें सालों साल बात न करो, लेकिन जब बात करो तो ऐसा लगता है जैसे बात वहीं से शुरू हुयी हैं जहाँ पे छोड़ी थी | अमित भी कुछ वैसा ही दोस्त है मेरा | वह अमेरिका में सोफ्टवेयेर इंजिनियर है | कई सालों से वहां पे है, शादी हो चुकी है, एक बच्ची भी है | हम लोगों ने बचपन में बहुत समय साथ बिताया है, स्कूल में पढ़ाई का संघर्ष भी साथ में किया था | कभी कभी अमित का जीवन देख के बड़ी जलन सी होती है, वो साला इतना सीधे दिमाग का आदमी है की मुझे अपने आप से कोफ़्त हो जाती है, की आखिर मेरा मन इतना विचलित क्यूँ रहता है, क्यूँ कभी संतुष्ट नहीं होता | और सच पूछो तो ऐसा भी नहीं है की मैं एक्टिंग करके बड़ा सुखी हूँ, कोई बहुत बड़ा स्टार बनने की लालसा भी नहीं है| क्यूंकि वो इंजिनियर है उसे हर चीज एक फ्लो चार्ट जैसी दिखती है – यानि किसी भी चीज़ को करने के कुछ स्टेप्स हैं| जैसे अगर चाय बनानी है तो पहले गैस जलाओ, फिर पानी चढ़ाओ, उबल जाने पे दूध, चीनी डालो – कुछ इस तरह | सोचने में लगता है की कितना बेवकूफी भरा तरीका है, लेकिन सच में बड़े से बड़ा लक्ष्य इस तरह की सीढ़ी चढ़ने से हासिल किये जा सकते हैं, और जाने-अनजाने  में हम करते भी हैं | तो अमित कहने लगा चलो तुम्हारे सफल अभिनेता बनने के लिए क्या करना पड़ेगा? मैंने कहा यार अगर यह मुझे पता चल जाए तो फिर मुश्किल ही क्या है – फिर तो मैं सब कुछ कर ही डालूँ | इस धंधे की सबसे बड़ी समस्या यही है की इसका कोई निश्चित रास्ता नहीं है – देयेर इस नो मेथड इन दिस मैडनेस | तो वो कहना लगा यार यह कुछ उसी तरह है जैसे अपनी नयी कंपनी खोलना या अपनी दुकान खोलना – मैंने कहा हाँ| उसपे उसने कहा “यार कुछ भी अपना काम स्थापित करना बड़ा मुश्किल होता है, चाहे वो किसी भी फील्ड में हो! वर्ना तो सारा जीवन ऐसे ही कटता है जैसे एक बोतल में बंद हैं!”
और यह क्या मज़ाक है मैं इस जार में आके बंद हो गया हूँ | उतने में हमारा बॉडी बिल्डर भाई, मुझसे आके कहना लगा “तुम लोग मस्त उछल कूद कर लेते हो!”, मैंने और जॉनी ने एक दूसरे की ओर देखा और आशापूर्वक उठ खड़े हुए | कुछ ही देर में हमने जार के सारे निवासियों को साथ ले लिया था| हमने फिर से एक नई योजना बनायीं| इस बार हमने पिछली बार से भी बड़ा प्रोग्राम करने का निश्चय किया | हमने सोचा की इस बार हम सब लोग जार के अन्दर एक साथ डांस करेंगे, इस दीवार से उस दीवार, उस दीवार से इस दीवार | यह कुछ वैसा ही दिखने वाला था जैसा ओलिम्पिक्स में सिंक-डाइविंग होती है | अब हम लोग मन में दृढ़ निश्चय करके एक नए ग्राहक का इंतज़ार करने लगे |
कुछ ही समय में एक गर्भवती आंटी आती दिखाई दीं, मुझे लगा की यह ज़रूर अचार के शेल्फ से कुछ उठाएंगी | मैंने सब को चौकन्ना किया, वो हमारे शेल्फ से करीब पांच कदम दूर थीं जब मैंने ऊँगली से इशारा किया – वन, टू, थ्री! और हम लोग लगे इधर से उधर तैरने, जोर-जोर से| जार के अन्दर जैसे तूफ़ान सा आ गया, कुछ समझ नहीं आ रहा था की हो क्या रहा है | सब कुछ हिलने लगा, ऐसा लगे जैसे भूकंप आ गया हो| किसी तरीके से बाहर देखा तो वो आंटी भी हमें अनदेखा किये आगे निकल गयीं थीं मैंने सबको रुकने का इशारा किया, सबने एक आखरी बार एक दीवार से धक्का लगाया और बीच में रुक गए| हम लोग तो रुक गए लेकिन अब जार हिल रहा था | जार धीरे धीरे हिल रहा था – एक तरफ से दूसरी तरफ | हम सब लोग चुप्पी साध के बस इंतज़ार कर रहे थे, के अब क्या होगा | जार धड़ाम से शेल्फ पे लुढ़क गया |
लुढ़का हुआ जार देख के मन में यह ख्याल आया की अरे अब तो इस जार को अगर जमीन पे गिरा दिया जाए तो इस जेल से मुक्ति हो जाये | लेकिन अब इस जार को गिराए कौन और कैसे | सामने के शेल्फ में कुछ अनाज की छोटी बोरियां रखी  हुयी थीं – दाल, चावल वगेरह | वहां पे कुछ कबूतर अनाज चुग  रहे थे | मैंने जॉनी से कहा यार किसी तरह अगर कोई कबूतर आकर पर मार दे तो यह जार ज़मीन पे गिर जाए और टूट जाए | पर हमको इस बात का विश्वास हो चुका था की हमारी कला अगर इंसानों को नहीं लुभा पायी तो कबूतरों का क्या लुभाएगी|
उन कबूतरों को देख के मन में बड़ी जलन हुई | उनके फड़फड़ाते पंखों को देख के मन में बिलकुल वैसी ही चेष्टा हुई जैसी किसी भिखारी को बी एम् डब्लू में बैठे सेठ को देख कर होती होगी | ऐसी चेष्टा मुझे भी अपने निजी जीवन में होती है – जब किसी फिल्म स्टार के निठल्ले बेटे को फिल्मों में मुख्य भूमिका निभाने को मिलती है | लेकिन अब जो है सो है | वैसा ऐसा तो है नहीं के सभी फिल्म स्टारों के बेटे सफल अभिनेता है – तमाम ख़ाक छानते फिरते हैं | मन में फिर निश्चय किया – अगर जार को गिरा लिया है तो ज़मीन पे भी गिरा ही लेंगे |
अब फायदा यह था की मेरे सभी हम-जार मेरे साथ थे| जैसे हमने पहले इकठ्ठा जोर लगाया था, अबकी उसी प्रकार जोर लगाने का प्लान  बनाया और जार को शेल्फ से नीचे लुढ़काने का इरादा पक्का किया | हम सब लोग जार के सतह पे पहुँच गए और धीरे धीरे जार को शेल्फ के किनारे की तरफ बढ़ाने लगे | इस बार सफलता तय है – अब कौन रोक सकता है इस जार को टूटने से | मगर शेल्फ की किनारी पे एक हलकी से उठी हुई किनारी थी जिसने हमारी सारी गति शक्ति को शून्य कर दिया | इतना हुआ की जार उलटी शेल्फ की तरफ वापिस लुढ़कने लगा | अब सब लोगों की हिम्मत टूट चुकी थी, सबने हाथ खड़े कर दिए और जॉनी बोला की भाई अब तू ऐसा कर अपनी गर्ल-फ्रेंड को यहीं बुला ले | मैंने लोगों से प्रार्थना की कि बस एक बार और – आखरी बार |  “इस बार इतना जोर लगाना है की हम सब एक समान हो जाएँ, एक दूसरे में कोई अंतर न रह जाये और इसके बाद तन मन में ज़रा भी उर्जा न बचे” | बजरंग बली का नाम लेके हमने शेल्फ के पिछले हिस्से से जार को लुढकाना शुरू किया, सबने नारा लगाया “जोर लगा के हय्षा”, जार की गति बढ़ने लगी, जार की गति और बढ़ी और किनारे पहुँचने से पहले जार इतना तेज़ लुढ़कने लगा की हम सब लोगों को सुध न रही की क्या हो रहा है | फिर एक जोर का झटका लगा |
उस झटके के बाद के कुछ पल अद्भुत  थे, हम लोग गुरुत्वाकर्षण मुक्त होकर हवा में उड़ रहे थे | हमारे दिलों ने धड़कना बंद कर दिया, आँखें खुली की खुली रह गयीं, जार के बाहर की सारी दुनिया जोर से भागती हुई दिखाई दी, एक इतनी गहरी सांस भरी जैसे दुबारा सांस लेने की ज़रुरत ही नहीं पड़ेगी| फिर कुछ क्षण ऐसा लगा जैसे मैं अपने सीमित शरीर में नहीं बल्कि एक बहुत बड़े विस्तार में पहुँच गया हूँ| मेरे सम्पूर्ण जीवन का भी आकर्षण इन कुछ क्षणों के बराबर न था |
फिर अचानक जोर से कांच टूटने की आवाज़ आई, जार चकना चूर हो चुका था और मेरे सारे हम-जार गायब हो गए, मैं अकेला उस गुलाबी पदार्थ में पड़ा था |
मैं चट से उठा और भागा वहां से ऑडिशन के लिए |
August 19, 2011 / Gyanesh Pandey

The Corrupt fumble as I March

Me Anna Hazare

There are many reasons one could go for a protest march or organize one. I shall speak for myself and let me also confess, the reasons are totally selfish.

The most important reason – health. You fast for a day and then shout and walk. If you do this for a week, I guarantee better results than any other Diet plan.

Most of us lead a very sedentary life. Even if we do something physical our vocal chords are never exercised. We are all polite and gentlemanly, mostly. Slogans overhaul the whole sound system of your body very well. And what better way than uttering “Bharat Mata ki Jai” & “Vande Matram“.

When in a crowd with mostly strangers around, one gets a strange sense of companionship. The person next to you is equally concerned about the issue. Feeling of being an Indian.

Passion: People often think that passion is sort of an emotion, it is. But it is almost a muscular apparatus which needs some exercise for proper functioning. Once you march and shout and hope and be positive about future, the passion that emerges from this whole exercise, I hope, will also contribute to other efforts. It’s almost a character transformation. Well, if you are in mid life crisis, are depressed, have low enthusiasm – this agitation will cure you.

It is funny when you come home in the evening and see the senior government officials fumbling on TV. You can almost hear the ghost conversations between Sonia and Manmohan – These guys along with others in the coterie would be getting nightmares. All this because I march. The result is as instantaneous as hitting a ball for six!

Even if corruption continues, I have had my kicks. And just in case Corruption goes down, the children of this nation will reserve a seat for me in heaven 🙂 Day by day the parliament rocks,  the home minister eats his words, the Spokesperson & others hide. The Corrupt fumble as I march, we march.

And though our education system taught us Civics, a protest is a hands-on experience of democracy, civil disobedience and people’s power.

The corrupt beware, the conscience of this nation is on a march.

August 11, 2011 / Gyanesh Pandey

Jan Lok Pal Protest in Mumbai

Bharat Mata Ki – Jai.

Vande – Matram.

Annaji aap aage badho – Desh aapke saath hai.

On 8th August 1942, amidst all the chaos and differing opinions about whether India should ask for complete independence from British rule, Gandhiji in a speech in Bombay urged the country to launch a massive Civil Disobedience Movement. (Nehru thought this was premature. Jinnah was against the call, thus Muslim League gained the support from the oppressors.)

9th Aug 2011, about 70 years later. Anna team which is asking for cleaning up of India and once again there are people, very widely and commonly known as the corrupt, who are attacking this team from various fronts. They just want India to continue as their harem. (Watch this video about Robert Vadehra). It is important to note that at no point of time in the history would there have been a consensus. I’m sure that even during the Freedom Struggle of 1857 when Rani Laxmi bai would have stepped out the way she did, there would have been a significant opposition from her own brethren. But amidst all this plurality one has to make a clear choice that governs the future of a community. Not making a choice is a much worse option. Inaction has much long-lasting and far-reaching negative consequences.

Last Night, it was a wonderfully overcast sky in South Mumbai at Azad Maidan. Thousands had gathered to listen to Arvind Kejriwal and see Annaji. Anna Hazare has become the face of this revolution. People vowed to not work for six days from 16th August and that there is going to be a massive protest on 16th August at all the places throughout the country. Anna’s plea to protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi has been rejected though. Anna team provided a full dose of Civil Disobedience – Intelligent speeches, enlightening words, enthusiasm and a good 5 kms walk.

Video

Why this revolution? It’s the next step in the evolution of the Re-Public of India. It is indeed a process of re-public-ation of our country. The process started with the RTI Act. Anna Hazare had to struggle for 11 long years to get the RTI bill passed. It is a consequence of this bill that a whole lot of scams are now in the public eye. Anna has some 12 police complaints against him, lodged by various politicians with whom he went loggerheads. Anna sat on an anshan for some 11 days in the same maidan a few years ago, until this bill was passed.

This bill brings out all the information about scams but it does not necessitate an action against the perpetrator. It is a consequence of the RTI that 2G scam information is coming out, CWG Scam was brought to light and many more.

Did you guys know that 13 RTI applicants were killed last year! Please note that all these applicants would have been reasonably well read, decently connected people with family and friends. A farmer does not lodge an RTI Application.

Janlokpal is the next step in the sense that if this bill comes into action the corrupt will be punished immediately and their private wealth confiscated by the government. The government disagrees! So amidst all this bosh job that the Congress is trying to do – they are simply not doing anything.

Now the government has also come up with a version – but if that version was to be tested – since the BOFORS to the current 2G or CWG, none of them would be uncovered or taken action against.

Well the truth is that nothing is going to change with the government’s version of the Janlokpal bill. Government’s version is actually designed to deter the whistleblowers. Because if the whistleblower cannot prove the charge then the minimum jail term for such a person is 2 years and if proven guilty the corrupt official has a minimum jail term of 6 months (that is after he/she gets a free advocate.). There is no better indicator of what’s in the heart and minds of our august parliamentarians.

Also under the government’s version following categories are exempted: PM, MP, MLA, CBI, Judiciary, Central Govt. Employees of Group B, C, D.

Yeah yeah… I was also like “So who is covered…”. Very rightly so this bill has been named as the JOKEPAL Bill.

The problem with the governance is that it controls everything including the prime criminal investigating body CBI. This has become a system of the most corrupt.

Essentially because MPs and MLAs were given the protection  by the constitution that they cannot be investigated so parliament has become the home and breeding ground of all the criminals and miscreants.

Another slogan shouted last night was “Kapil Sibbal – Chor hai!”

It is still monsoon in Mumbai and there were light showers in between but not a single soul moved. Umbrellas came up a bit and then went down.

It was so empowering to be standing in that gathering, where we were all strangers yet there was a commonality in all of us. A very tangible feeling. I guess it was an exclusive feeling of belonging to the country. At every other gathering there is a different purpose, this one was for the country for ourselves and for all of us.

A lesson in Civil Disobedience – we have all heard of the various Civil Disobedience Movements done during the long struggle against the British Imperialism. But last night it was a lesson in that. A live case study if you would.

Kejriwal said “Angrez to chale gaye lekin angreziyat chhod gaye. Pehle gore desh ko loot ke London paisa le jaate the ab kaale desh ko loot ke Switzerland paisa le jaate hain.

Kejriwal is an eloquent speaker and with the clarity of a truly engineering mind. Much of what he said was welcomed with huge applause and his speech ended with Bharat Mata Ki Jai, Vande-Matram.

Annaji quoted “Congress Spokesperson said these people from outside cannot dictate terms” and then added “Arre yeh outsiders nahi hai, yeh tumhare maalik hain. Inhone tumhe yahan bithaya hai”. He then stressed on the meaning of “Vidhan Sabha“, a gathering which is elected by us to make good laws for us. “Vidhayak” – we elect you so that you go and make good rules and laws for us. “Tum kya kar rahe ho wahan baith kar!?”

After all the speeches, we sang the national anthem. No recording, no music, thousands of us sang the National Anthem and it was one of those rare occasions where a national anthem feels like a national anthem unlike some other times (before watching a film!).

After the national anthem we were supposed to go for a march from the Azad Maidan to August Kranti Maidan. It was about 5 kms from there. I had never walked as much in South Mumbai. This was right through the heart of South Mumbai. There was a massive traffic jam, where ever we went. Felt sorry for the folks. Then we crossed the huge south mumbai style traffic lights and all the traffic was stopped. By this time, it was dark and the sea-wind fuelled us for louder slogans. A couple of kilometers into the journey a group also got some Mashals. As we passed through the residential areas there was a huge crowd of onlookers and some of showered flowers on us and by god, this was the first time in my life I was participating in something which was welcomed like this. It was not pre-arranged, it could not be! This was for real, there is no greater approval to this effort.

Shouting slogans & sweating in the end, we reached the August Kranti Maidan. Originally there was a plan to take an oath on the ground that we will sit in Anshan from 16th August with Annaji but it turned out that the maidan was not as big.

Well guys please ask your family and friends to contribute to this movement by joining in the anshan for whatever duration they can and also read up about it, understand it. www.indiaagainstcorruption.org

In my opinion constitution is not meant to be written, it is meant to be MADE! like prepared and we are in the process of making that biggest change. The most desperately needed change. It is the time to get some real freedom. Then only will be a true REPUBLIC. A true Gan-Tantra.

August 6, 2011 / Gyanesh Pandey

Feed me back

Feed me back, your likes dislikes.

Frame it as you would but judge me not

Coz’ tomorrow I will not be me.

Couple of months ago I went to watch a film because a dear friend of mine had written dialogues for the film. It so turned out that it was a terrible film. Despite my trying to sit through it, I couldn’t sit beyond the intermission. Also, it was one of those rare occasions, being alone made it only worse. Anyways, I got out of the Cinema Hall and in the evening called my friend and couldn’t keep it from him. Told him the truth “I couldn’t sit through the whole film”. I have always taken pride in being truthful never ass-licking, because I think ass-licking someone is insulting his intelligence because I can smell the ass-lickers the moment i see that dripping oh-so-sweet smile on the face.

In days to follow this friend of mine stopped calling me, ignored me and was just a little short of hostile. He had been not only a friend but a mentor or guide of sorts too and that he was quite senior to me. The reason I blurted out what I did was because he had often joked with me and that I was comfortable telling him as it is. Clearly it was not the healthiest thing to do.

If you are in the field of filmmaking, acting, writing or any arts for that matter, you would have faced this scenario when a friend shows you his work and you think to yourself “This is shit! What do I say now?”

Apart from the above incident, since I act, watching films and commenting on them is almost a part of my profession. Many a times I was in a situation where I had a difference of opinion even judging a piece of work by an unrelated artist. And saying something unreasonably critical of something that someone else like may also have its repercussions.

This got me thinking – How does one give feedback? Because each film involves work of literally hundreds of people with such huge amounts of money at stake while we by a simple stroke bring it down. Similarly for other arts too – how many hours and years does a writer spend in coming up with the novel or short stories or poems or whatever. And apart from money of-course, one of the things that an artist looks forwards to is the reaction of its audience. Also, no matter how big or small an artist is, there is a genuineness in the motivation to do the work. What comes out is altogether a different matter.

So, while giving feedback, there are primarily two broad approaches : One, you try not to say anything rude or unpleasant & Two, you just say exactly what you feel like saying.

In the first approach, one is being overcareful either about the relationship with the artist or other such factors. The basic problem with such a feedback is that it is not a feedback at all. It becomes an exercise in diplomacy. It does not help the artist, except may be his ego (make no mistake Ego Massage can do wonders!), which will also not be healthy in the long run, for him or for you or for the bond between the two.

Second approach, though one may think that saying it exactly as it occurs in your head is the pure objective truth which the artist has somehow failed to see. Well “truth” isn’t that simple a thing even if it is about the one’s reaction to a piece of art – play, film, poem, painting whatever. See I might love ‘Pyaasa‘ or say ‘Apocalypse Now‘ but many others may not. Similarly there might be a Box Office Blockbuster but I might not want to spend a paisa on it. What I want to establish here is that what we call truth is never “objective”, it is always “subjective” – more so in the context of reaction to a work of art.

So what do we do now? We can’t speak as we feel and it’s useless to be over polite. It makes sense to think – why are we giving feedback? What is the artist’s intention in asking for it? Or why this process of feedback. Well the answer is rather simple – so that the artist can improve his work.

“Improve his work” – The sole objective is to help the artist get better otherwise there is no point of this whole exercise.

An approach that works best for me and which takes care of the above dilemma is when we express our reaction in terms of “This is what I liked, these parts I really loved. This thing was ok and these things did not work for me or jarred.” And it takes effort to do this. It is far too simplistic, in fact lazy, to just say ‘Oh i didn’t like it’ or ‘it was shit’ or ‘it is awesome’. What contributes to the artist is when one says ‘Oh this line was awesome, really loved it’… ‘the way it was said was great’….”her being in this dress when he suddenly drops in is inappropriate, felt jarring… and so on…”

Once the artist hears what works and what does not work and for whom – he or she is in a much better position to make choices about how he wants to take it forward.

Having done our job of giving honest reactions, it is the job of the artist to take the feedback the way it is meant to be.

Having gone through a significant introspection I actually put this question to the same friend whose film I had to walk out of – “How does one give feedback?”. He spoke some good words of wisdom and in the process also forgave me. I continue to respect his work and our relationship. He helps me, guides me and also sometimes looks forward to my feedback.