Woh Kagaz Ki Kashti

Read this for reference before continuing.

Sixteen years later, a full fledged, voluptuous, long dark haired girl lies on a bedsheet on the floor of her room, next to the two mattresses, both of which are depressed with mountainous solids, covered in bedsheets and flanked by multiple pillows on either side- her parents.

The room is bathed in a gentle red hue and the air conditioner’s low, constant hum creates a drowsy, comfortable atmosphere. A guitar is in one corner of the room, against the wall, behind which the red lights twinkle lazily. The opposite wall is covered entirely with scraps of paper, some printed, some written on- by crayons, pencils, pens, markers, so much that the blue paint of the wall is hardly visible; things that may make no sense to someone who doesn’t look close enough. Each bit of paper contains thoughts.

It was something that the two sisters started earlier in the year. They put their thoughts on scraps of paper and struck them to the wall. Song lyrics, some random poems, lists, words, quotes, essays in the newspapers they liked, some important deadlines, written in bold; it was their mind on the wall. It contained candid snaps of their lives. There are times when each one of us wishes to read other people’s minds. The sisters’ minds were on this wall, right here.

In the background, from a small speaker, in a low, smooth voice, sings Jagjit Singh her father’s and her favorite shayari- Woh Kagaz Ki Kashti.

“It is an experience,” she had urged her parents who were both in their beds in the adjoining rooms when she had asked them to accompany her to her bedroom. “I want to give you The Experience.”

The Experience referred to something that she had, well, experienced just that evening. She’ll lose the lights and light up the red ones, she’ll set the temperature to an optimum, she’ll envelope her body up to her shoulders in a bedsheet, arms beside the body and play this song from the speaker. She’ll close her  eyes and let the song wash her over. She’ll inhale each beat, she’ll exhale each note, she’ll feel the music unravelling her, she’ll feel the words crawl up her skin. She’ll conjure images in her head, as each combination of words will make sense, second after she has registered them. She’ll let each chatoyant of every word that left his voice, enter her being and imprint permanently in her mind. Sometimes she will open her eyes and look at the shadows that the red lights will make in the room, and the music and the light will complement each other perfectly. She will think of songs that may make her feel the same way that she is feeling now. Her mind will produce a blank slate. That is when she will feel weightless.

Her parents were in the same position, eyes closed. She can feel the music weigh her eyes, and she knows that she’d be asleep soon. She pops her eyes open and looks at her parents’ resting bodies. And suddenly, she feels guilty.

In twenty three days, she would be leaving for college. For four years. For the first time, she’ll be away from them- away that she will never see them daily, away that she will not hassle with her mother over the quality of the food, away that she will not hug her father and kiss him goodnight, away that will not curse her sister for not having set the beds, away that her parents will not barge in on her before dawn and catch her on the phone. She felt guilty for leaving them with nothing after eighteen years of love and effort they put in for raising her; she felt guilty for leaving them empty handed. She felt guilty for having discovered The Experience so late that she won’t be able to compose a playlist of songs suitable for it. She felt guilty for receiving all the time. She felt guilty for taking so much from them. She felt guilty for having thought that she’d enjoy hostels, when the truth is that her heart would always be there, in this house, in this moment, when she is guilty and they are weightless.

Her parents were perfect. How can she ever have thought of leaving them, how could she have fought with them for something as stupid as a mobile phone? How could she have ever thought of living alone, embracing adulthood, when she still needed her mother to tell the doctor what was wrong whenever they visited one, for her? How could have she ever thought of doing laundry when she didn’t know how to operate a washing machine?

How could, how would she leave them? 

She looks at them. She wishes, suddenly, to be two once again, when her father came from the office, straight towards her for a hearty kiss, and her mother bathed her in a small bucket in the kitchen. She wishes to be two again, because she knows she’d have sixteen more years before she’d have to leave them.

Getting up from the floor, she goes and lies down between her parents, who are, both, fast asleep by now. She cuddle with her father, his arms around her. She extends her hands towards her mother, who holds them both between her own, warm palms, as Jagjit Singh sings in the background, “Voh kagaz ki kashti, voh baarish ka paani…”

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Sorry for the long absence. Please check the Facebook page for details. You can follow TWPM on Instagram @theakankshavarma where I post lots, and regularly. Also follow at Twitter under @axavarma. Enjoy!

Five Word Challenge: July 2015

I came across the Five Word Challenge: July 2015 set by David/Megan here through a challenge response. I found it interesting so here goes my post. But before you get reading, I would like for you to take a look at my previous post Music Today here to know the background story and get properly into the feel of it.

The story starts here:

We look so weird because papa was testing the timer of the camera.
We look so weird because papa was testing the timer of the camera.

I am crawling on the floor and mumma is in the kitchen, probably preparing dinner for us. I am trying to walk these days. Sometimes, I stand for a few seconds and then collapse on the floor. When mumma first saw me stand for three seconds, she nearly cried with happiness. Now, when she is free, she sits some distance away from me and tries to make me walk, holding my hand or finger till I reach her. She claps when I do. She is so pretty when she laughs. I make my way across the room to the kitchen and hug mumma’s leg. She sees me and smiles, “Niki, come on!” 

She abandons her work, scoops me up in her arms and kisses me. She carries me towards the open balcony and there, some distance away, we both see the sun set gradually behind the mountain range that surrounds our small town of Phuntsholing. I see that she glances at the bridge across the valley that materializes from the dense tree cover  and I know what she is thinking. She is waiting for daddy. 

Suddenly the clouds rumble, a low, growling sound, that sounds very similar to what daddy makes in the bathroom when he is constipated. It comes as no surprise to mumma as it rains every other day here. I like it because she lets me play in the rain. She sets me down in my swing so that she can pick the clothes she had left out to dry. 

After she is done, she carries me inside and feeds me daal and rice. It starts raining soon after. Daddy has still not come. I can see that mumma is worried. It is already dark, and the rain makes it extremely hard to drive on the curvy roads. Suddenly the bell rings. I let out a shriek of happiness and crawl-run my way to the door, where mumma is already there, with a towel for daddy to dry. Daddy looks tired as he removes his tie, but as soon as he sees me, his eyes light up and a grin makes in way. He picks me up, kisses me, and says, “Muchano,” I don’t know why he calls me that, “kaisi ho?” How are you? 

I shout again and he throws me in the air. I laugh happily as he catches me. Mumma says, “Dinner is ready. I have set it in the balcony so that we can enjoy the rain too. You can also click some photographs.” She adds with a smile. She knows my father is an avid photographer; how much he loves to click my photographs and how much I love modelling for him. 

Daddy takes me to the balcony and on the way, we pass the music system. “You know what, Muchano,” he says lovingly, “there is a song that I luuurve, would you hear it?” he tickles me as he says. I laugh again, as he puts on a cassette. 

“Jagjit Singh,” he says grandly. “One of the finest shayars of all time.” 

As they settle down for dinner, and me for a round two, I look around me and smile. This is my family, these are the people that I love. My life is not illusion, it is a reality. I am happy. 

Pleasure-may-come-from-illusion

Music Today: 28/07/2015

Woh Kagaz Ki Kashti: Jagjit & Chitra Singh

Releasing year: 1987

I’m not usually a ghazal sort of a person but whatever! This ghazal is a childhood memory of sorts. In Bhutan, I was the only child, and therefore the most pampered one. My father, I remember vaguely, used to come up from the office early just to spend quality time with me and my mother. All I remember from that time we spent together, a memory that stands out vividly that the rest blurry recollections is this ghazal. How this came about? A few years ago, this suddenly came on the radio and I started singing it reflexively. I was surprised about that. And then I remembered suddenly. I asked my mother. She told me that when we were in Bhutan, this was one of my father’s favorite ghazals and that he used to play this many times when he returned from the office.

Now, a few years down the line, I love this ghazal not just because of the memories it brings, but also the lyrics.

Ye daulat bhi le lo shohrat bhi le lo bhale chhin
Mujhse meri jawani magar mujhko lota de
Bachpan ka sawan
Woh kagaz ki kashti wo barish ka pani
Woh kagaz ki kashti wo barish ka pani

I am sharing a rough translation of the song paragraph wise so you can understand and appreciate it simultaneously. 

Do take my gold, and my fame, if you must
 You can have my youth if you so do will
 But do give me back my childhood showers
 My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

Do take my gold, and my fame, if you must
You can have my youth if you so do will
But do give me back my childhood showers
My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

She, who, lived here as old as the road
She, whom we children, called granny
She, who wrapped fairies in sweet songs
She, whose wrinkles of years so many
And who, try as much, could forget them
Her fresh long tales filling nights so tiny

My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

To walk out in the scorching heat
To larks and those jays and chasing butterflies
We’d marry our dolls and fight over it
High in our swings jumping far from watchful eyes
And those little trinkets of copper and bark
Those deep scarlet marks of broken bangles and cries

My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

To drag our feet over smooth high dunes
A castle here, a hillock there
Our innocence filling every picture and tune
Our life of toys and dreams
In a world of joy, relations none did prune
Wasn’t it beautiful, that life of ours?

My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill