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Unforgettable 2016

I do not quite know how to describe 2016. Let's just say it swept me off my feet. I have a nice outlook in life and pretty smiles for adversity. I seduce it, it loves me back. I wear rose-tinted glasses - just so that life doesn't wear me out. It's a great survival strategy.
I will never forget 2016. This was not the year I fell in love, or made great friends, or made babies. This was not the year when I got healthier and happier. I remember travels and parties, like tiny, bitter fruits on the grand expanse of a dark, threatening forest. I remember the feeling of being on a journey without no destination - good in many ways.
I didn't have to arrive; I didn't have to depart. I just had to stay - like a pilot stuck in a burning cockpit, not able to fly or hope. Staying, and being friends with status quo isn't something I had done in a long time. I remember teaching myself to do this.
I also learnt to do completely different things, and revel in it even as I anticipated complete darkness. I say 'darkness' again and again. This darkness has brought me closer to light.
Is there any delight quite as exquisite as the realization that you can be the heart of action, and the stargazer in charged universes, all at once? Or, of watching men fall out of grace to deal in lies and deceit only to discover a wise corner in your heart that prods: you are the one they all want and do not want, and yet, you be the one who learns dignity from disgrace, honesty from deceit and hope from despair —moonlighting in chaos, stirring a storm with inner peace, laughing with great abandon at joy that despair brings and courage that fear births.
Just the right combination of grace and grit.
2017, I expect greater things from you. Build on 2016 if you must, but live up to the grand promise of change. 

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आमंत्रण

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…

Shame

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…