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Free fall

Sinking deep into a valley without a shriek or cry for help - this was my recurrent nightmare when I was a child. I would wake up in sweat and call out to Ma. I don't know when all of this stopped. Perhaps, I grew up and gathered strength to tell myself that the fall, however scary, was just a bad dream and nothing else.
As this dream's corollary in life, I don't think I fell and bruised myself ever, except for a terrible motorcycle accident in Bombay. It wasn't my fault and neither was it the carelessness of the photographer I was riding pillion with. A wagon hit the motorcycle rear while we both cooled our heels at a traffic signal and the bike magically slided forth from beneath me. I fell on my hips and that was it. No fracture but my hipbone was bruised. The photographer, who escaped unhurt, took me to the nearest hospital and from there to my office. I dictated my story to a colleague and returned home. I spent the next ten days in that bare room I called my paying guest accommodation until a friend's mother took home and treated me to her kind hospitality.
In those days, I didn't have a fair understanding of the way of life in the metros - the way people were blind to human suffering and prioritized time and money over everything else. In the journalism school I went to, friends would share meals down to a rupee and that shocked me. I would often wonder why one couldn't forget about a rupee someone owed, or why people kept cribbing about money. I was not rich but I was used to deliberate forgetfulness. If someone offered me money for a coffee, I looked the other way. I still do and take it as an insult that someone I have chosen to spend time and company with, offers me money for a coffee or a snack. And, by arduous practice, it has remained just that way. A bill on my table is always paid by one person at a time - and it moves in turns by mutual respect and appreciation, never shared. With people who believe in sharing, I try to pay all of it by myself. But certainly, big cities have changed me since.
Anyway, so the motherly care at this friend's place in Bombay healed my injury and touched me deeply. I still remember and cherish them as the warmest of people I met in Bombay.
After that accident, I have fallen ill occasionally - but have never been on bed rest. Each morning I wake up to a bright room and tell myself that this too shall pass. I keep my chin up and try and get some ``beauty treatment'' though frequent slumber. In wakefulness, I read and talk. I also dream when I close my eyes and plug my iPod in my ears. In that musical solitude, I become my best dance show. I make splendid moves and I seem to know all dance forms. This morning, I danced to `Ringa Ringa', `Dhoom' and `Animal Song'. At one point in my dance, I reached the top of a cliff and dashed into a free fall. The tip of my feet moved inward in a lyrical bend and my arms flew. It was quick but I didn't end up at the bottom of a dead valley. As I flew, another song began....``Forever in blue jeans'', strummed Neil Diamond. I had reached another cliff, swaying softly into a calmer dance.


Anil P said…
It's taken me a long, long time to come to terms, maybe not entirely, with the Metro approach to going dutch, the fixation with conversations that're often 'transactional' in approach, mood, even brevity, barring exceptions of course.

Compartmentalised, yes.
Pall Sin said…
Yes. And, I would add: practical.
Pall Sin said…
Yes. And, I would add: practical.

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वो बुलाता है मुझे
आओ पल्लो, वो बुलाता है
उसकी आवाज़ समंदर चीर के
दिल के कल तक आती है
मैं नदिया सा उमड़ती हूँ, थोड़ा हिचकती हूँ
वो फिर बुलाता है - आओ पल्लो
आओ, संम्भल के आना, इस दौर की गलियों में मुड़ो
तो ज़रा देख के मुड़ना
कीचड़ जैसे अपमान हैं, फिसल न जाना
वो कह देंगे तुम्हें बेअकल,
तुम डर मत जाना.
तुम धीमा चलना, ज़माने की रफ़्तार तेज़ है
वो भागते हैं आंधी सा, पर बंध जाते हैं अतीत में
तुम आगे देखना, देखो सर ऊंचा रखना
इस अन्धकार में देखना ज़रूरी है
ज़रूरी है आशा भी, तुम दीपक लेकर आना
पाँव तले धरती है, तुम ओस की बूँद सा बरसना
थोड़ा थोड़ा देना जीवन, थोड़ा थोड़ा सपने देखना
बड़ी क्रांति किसे चाहिए, थोड़े थोड़े से घड़ा भरता है,
पल्लो, जब तुम्हारे सपने धरती से बड़े हो जाएँ
तो डरना, बहुत डरना पर अभी आओ,
 धरती पे आसमान जैसा धीरज रखकर
आ जाओ.
वो बहुत इलज़ाम लगते हैं पर तुमने किसका लहू पिया है
क्रांति के नाम पे लहू सामान धरती मिलेगी सफर में,
सदियों से उनके दाग उन्हें डरा नहीं सके
पर तुम डरना, बेशक डरना
ये भविष्य की अतीत पर जीत है -
तुम्हारा आना, डूबते हुए सूरज जैसा उनकी मतधारा को
नए भारत का ह्रदय दिखाना।
कई बार लगता…


If I were ink,
I would have fallen
on your white shirt -
in dots as big
as the tip of the nib.
would you still have thought
i were just a colour,
worth a scribble,
a useless reason for a bath?

Life at the LSE

LSE. (c) P.S.

In the long queue outside the Wrights bar at lunch hour every day, an overwhelming sense of equality grips me. It is here that I stand in unison with many to avail the benefits of scholarship: a jelly-filled dough nut for 60 pence and a steaming can of hot chocolate for another 60. Let truth be told: on any given day, this is the best I can afford for lunch on days I choose not to cook. In the inviting lunch joints on Kingsway next to the LSE, a modest lunch pack usually comes for 5 pounds. That counts to 500 in the currency of my country. I still haven’t stopped calculating every time I look at a menu. Almost always, I turn away and walk back to the Wrights Bar. The people at the Bar know me by face now – a hard-earned recognition in the middle of the madness of college life; an unintended happiness in a city where everyone’s time, including mine, comes at a premium.
Sometimes, I share a treat with a friend and classmate from A…