my birthday

My Birthday Post – A Story Of A Poor, Happy Writer!

Back in 2015, when I wrote my first book, I was a college student. I didn’t have much money in my pockets. Neither they were empty, for I’ve kept my dreams in them. At times, when I came down with a thump, I could feel the heaviness of the pockets. Although it was difficult to walk with the extreme desires, I managed to give them independence and let them fly high.

The only success I got over the past years is to have a purpose behind waking up at five (sometimes six) in the morning and settling myself for reading and writing. What else a writer wants? Having a book in the hand and misty morning falling outside his room is the greatest pleasure for him.

Since I love reading the books of saints, contentment has also become a large part of my life. (more…)

Recovering From The Lazy Days

Recovering From The Lazy Days: The New Secrets Of Life

It has been around three weeks since I wrote anything. I wanted to write, but always failed to make up my mind to sit and type the words on paper. This is what leaders call procrastination or lack of motivation.

Most writers are the hypocrite. They do procrastination like other people does. Even the writers, who write on being productive, postpone their work. It’s just the hopes that one help to lie awake, the whole night. We spend times in hopes, always finding out the content to write. Time and again, we miss living the moments in capturing the moments. Sometimes, writing becomes very depressing and dull job for us. At least for me.

Often, I get amazing ideas in my head. Thoughts that could make anyone to ponder upon for a longer period of time. But as I sit writing down my philosophies, it flies off and I end up writing something else. (more…)

I-want-to-die

I Want To Die

I have no one to call as mine. Guruprabhas died long years ago from lung’s cancer. He cried for two whole years in his pain and then, one calm, chilly morning, he was relieved from his sufferings, from this world.

Urmila blamed me behind his death. She thought it was I from whom he inhabited drinking and smoking. After Guruprabhas’s death, she refused to talk to me. She was heartbroken. And then, one night, she took her last sleep. It was the first time in five years when I saw her face clearly, while preparing her corpse for crematory. Like a gentle and silent wind she passed out of my life.

I am still disappointed. The only complain I have is that without informing she left me alone in this small house.

I have only a few thousands rupees left for the rest of my living. Yesterday, I celebrated my 81st birthday with the cat that sleeps on our roof with her children. I put the platter of milk before the family and all the cats managed to get their heads in to sip. (more…)

story-small-room-me

Story of Me and My small room

In search of peace, I left the rented palatial apartment in the beginning of my third year of graduation and moved to this small room. I sold all my old belongings except my red printed curtains before coming here.

I’ve no idea what made me bring these curtains here but I feel good to see it absorbing water droplets leaking from the aged air-conditioner hung above it.

My air-conditioner is different from all other air-conditioners manufactured on this earth. It seldom works and often disappoints me with long electricity bills.

 

The kitchen is as small as an ATM machine room— one at a time— and always lit by a small light. If you would see my kitchen, you would find a few steel glasses and plates, a gas-chulha and a cylinder.

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The only rusted window of my room looked the walls of the neighboring buildings, so there is no showering of sun rays. I always keep the window shut to impede mosquitos entering the room.

I sleep on the floor over a matrix surrounded by books of old authors and saints. The old fan is quiet good in this cool weather, as it always remains off. My study table, chair, bag, and suitcases are acquired by my books. How amazing it is that you could even talk to dead people through their books.

me and my small roomMe and My Small Room

I sleep around 12 at night and wake up around 6 in the morning. But in holidays, I continue to sleep till eight or nine.

After breakfast, I read books and when my mind refuses to concentrate, I waste my time staring at the fan or table. Nowadays, I am wasting my time on my cell phone. The cell phone has always made my mood sulky. I hate cell phones.

My cook is on leave. It has been more than ten days since I ate my meals properly and on time. I’m having tea and samosa in lunch and breakfast, and at night I ask any of my friends to make a few chapatis for me.

Samosa and Kachoris have ruined my digestive system. To amuse myself I laugh and shout before farting, ‘Puud Maaro’ (Kill the fart).

I love collecting books, but I am too lazy to read it. I don’t have the patience to read novels. Moreover, I don’t like modern authors who always talks about love birds. I love reading short stories.

I enjoy reading stories about kids on bicycles, a little girl climbing up the mountain with her favorite colorful umbrella, a father with his son roaming around the green valleys, bhoots in the old house, and childhood days.

Apart from reading and writing, I play mouth organ in the evening. On the top of my lungs I sing a song of Bob Dylan which left a deep impression on me.

‘How many roads must a man walk down… before you call him a man…?
The answer is blowing in the wind.’

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on-way-school

On Way to Her School

It was a premature morning. The sun was rising behind the hills. The cock awoke and prepared itself to cry out its alarm. The birds chirped about the sky, the women waddled about the house and the milkman serviced the streets. Kalu, son of the baniya who ran a grocery store, came out from his house and hurried off in the direction of the maidaan to play cricket. All along his way, he practiced cricket while throwing imaginary balls in the air.

‘Are you going to the central library?’ said Julee, pulling the hem of my shirt.

‘Yes! Don’t you want me to go?’ I asked bending a little towards her.

Julee brushed her nose with the black tie she wore over a blue school uniform. She was a bespectacled, little, fat girl who lived in an old house behind the maidaan with her family. Her school was about two kilometers away from her house, near the central library. As she was stout, she hated covering the distance on foot. Whenever she saw any familiar face lingering by maidaan she asked him to drop her at school. She wished she too had a bicycle like her friends, Tina and Alisha. Once, she asked for a bicycle on her birthday, but her poor parents refused to gift her one. Julee cried for two whole days and then her daily-routine went on.

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‘You can go but after dropping me to school.’

‘All right!’ I said and put her bag on the back of the bicycle. She jumped on the crossbar of the bicycle and crossed her legs. I pedalled and took a straight path towards her school.

‘Where is your motorcycle?’ she asked while looking at Kalu who was running behind to ball across the maidaan. As Kalu came near a large peepal tree, he made a powerful dive on to the ground and caught the ball. Bowler and fielders cheered. The wah-wah of Kalu resounded across the field.

‘It is with my father,’ I said. ‘He’s gone to the office. Don’t you like my bicycle? I know how difficult it is to sit upon the crossbar, but the ride on the bicycle has its own fun.’

No response. She gazed the boys playing in the maidaan till we passed by a large building and the little lads disappeared behind it. She took her tie and swept her nose once again.

‘Kalu is your classmate, right?’

‘Yes! He is an awaraa chokra. He seldom comes to school.’ she coughed as we came by Ramesh’s stall where he was busy frying hot chilies.

‘How could you call him a loafer?’

‘My mother says so. Kalu doesn’t need to go school. His father owns a shop, so he could sit in it.’ Julee said. ‘My father is a milkman and girls don’t sell milk. So I don’t have any choice other than going to school.’

She stopped to retrieve her breath, ‘Moreover, I can’t ride father’s bicycle because I am a bachhi. And I think father would never buy a small bicycle for me.’

Julee sighed under her breath and felt sad. She took her tie and started rolling and unrolling it. Sinking into her “cycleless-world”, she looked straight ahead. She too wanted to go to school on a bicycle like her classmates, Tina and Alisha.

‘Bicycle is not such a good thing. In fact, it is worthless,’ I said. ‘In summer, it is difficult to ride under the blazing sun. And in winters, you can’t think how hard it is to pedal in the mist. Walking is better than cycling. While cycling, you can’t ride without your hands supporting the handles. But, while walking, you can shelter your head with your hands from the sun’s rays in summer, and in winters you can rub it together to keep your body warm. I am going to sell this bicycle. I don’t like it anymore.’

The little girl remained heartbroken.

Arey Janaab! Where are you going?’ shouted the old tailor, Master Ali, standing at the edge of his small shop. He was the oldest being in the village and knew almost everyone. He called everyone Janaab, even the women. A round cap on the head and an unruffled plain white beard made him resemble him the maulvi ahab of the masjid.  His son had left him behind in the village and moved to the city, and never returned to see him. Master Ali suffered from night blindness. He would open the shop early in morning and close it early in the evening it would be. No one knew what he did after dusk fell.

I halted my bicycle at his shop. The old Ali held Julee’s chin and asked ‘Janaab! What happened? Janaab, why are you so gloomy?’

Julee didn’t reply and gently bowed her head.

‘Janaab, don’t you want to go school? Janaab, if you don’t like going school, you could come to my shop. I would teach you tailoring for free,’ said Master Ali. ‘Good children become even better and then migrate to cities, leaving their parents behind, Janaab.

‘Master, it is not like you think. She loves going school. She is sad because she wants a new bicycle,’ I intervened.

‘Oh! Janaab in that case you must go to school and learn something to earn some money. Janaab, good children become well and could buy a bicycle too,’ Master Ali smiled. Julee played with her tie and kept quiet. ‘Janaab, Don’t worry. I’ve got something for you. Wait a moment, Janaab!’

Julee lifted her head for the first time. Skeptically, she waited. Master Ali called out for Shanu and asked him to bring Puchu. Shanu, the washerman’s son, was a ten-year old boy and worked for Master Ali.

The sweet little boy came out from a small room with a parrot perched on his head. Suddenly, a smile came across Julee’s face. The smile was not for the parrot but for Shanu instead, for she remembered Shanu offering his bicycle to her every Sunday. As Shanu came by us, Puchu cried out gazing at Julee, ‘Janaab… Janaab… Why are you so happy?’

Everyone laughed and the stout girl was happy again.

‘Do you like parrots?’ asked the little Shanu clothed in dirty rags.

‘Yes, I like…’

Before Julee continued, Master Ali said, ‘Janaab, you could play with Puchu whenever you come here. Puchu is very shararti. He is nalayak but would never leave me and fly away, Janaab.’

‘All right Master!’ said Julee with a smile fixed to her lips.

‘Master Ali! Now, we shall leave. Otherwise, she will get late for her school.’ I said.

‘Okay, Janaab!’ said Ali. ‘But don’t forget to visit Puchu again.’ Master Ali kissed Puchu like a grandfather would.

A soft smile passed between Shanu and Julee.  . I pedaled fast and didn’t stop until we reached her school. Julee was happy, and all along our way from Master Ali’s shop to school, she played with her fingers and tie, and sang the Christmas songs.

‘Now go to your classroom and study well,’ said I.

She jumped off the bicycle and shouldered her bag. ‘All right. But please don’t sell your bicycle,’ she beamed. ‘Till I grow as tall as you and buy it from you.’

Julee turned around and merrily ran towards the ground where students were assembled to sing their morning prayers.

I gazed at her till she disappeared in the swarm of students. I pedalled once again and moved in the direction of library.

Thank you for reading

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The Girl in Gol Bazaar, Ganganagar

Dawn crept quietly over the sleeping Ganganagar. I saw father waddling about the house, rubbing his hands under the nipping blanket of winter. Though he was covered up with an overcoat over a couple of warm shirts, he was quivering and looked somewhat frail.
            I climbed down my bed and walked to verandah. I saw mother asleep in her bed. Before she woke up, father would manage the dirty clothes in buckets, fold up the bed-sheet and blankets, keep motorcycles outside the house, bring milk from diary and newspaper from vendor, clean the rooms, and oil his hairs. As far as I could remember, from last twenty years, he had spent his morning in managing the house and readying himself for rest of his day.
            As he opened the main door, a cool breeze entered the house. The roads were enclosed up with the fog and the street lights were still shimmering. Old father shivered and closed the door.
He gasped and said, ‘Beta bahut thand hai bahar. Rajai mein vapas jaa’ (Son, It’s freezing outside. Get back into the quilt.)
I nodded. Trembling, he returned to his room and shut the door behind. Lights off.
I climbed up my bed again and picked up a book of Mahatma Gandhi. I saw an image of Gandhiji in white dhoti and bared chest. How Gandhiji had managed himself in winters? He might have spent his winter days living in southern-India. I shut the book, pulled the quilt and drifted off.
When I woke up, mother and father were handsomely dressed up. I saw them running about the house. It was obvious they were getting late to their jobs. Mother came to me and scolded, ‘Khada hoja! Late hogi mein’ (Stand up! I am late.)’
Confusingly, I said, ‘Now what I would do to drop you on time?’
‘Chaa pee-laey’ (Drink your tea).
‘Ley! Haun mere chaa pean naal ki hojuga?’ (Now, what would happen if I take the tea?)
I laughed.
‘Mar- zaa kiteh jaa key.’ (Go and die somewhere!).
I guffawed. No one can understand Punjabi-mothers. Everyday, they ask their children to die and yet, can’t live without them even for a minute.
 As I see off my parents, I was alone in the house. It had been two days since I read the book. Those two days, we (my old friend and I) explored my city, Sri- Ganganagar, buzzed around the houses of girls we were in love with. My friend shared me about his life in Delhi. He also told me that he was getting married in a year or two. I remembered him laughing while saying, ‘Teri shaadi mein to mein apne munnon k sath ayunga.’ (In your marriage, I would come along with my children.)
I took a book of Ruskin Bond and read a couple of short-stories. It was the fifth time I read the same stories. And again I felt sadness enveloping me. I took out my rejected manuscripts from publishers and observed my writings. Those were ridiculous. I felt ashamed of myself. I killed my 5 hours in watching television and in celebrating my weakness. Sometimes it feels good while doing nothing more than eating, sleeping and farting.
I got out of my bed in the afternoon and decided to bring a new book from the Gol-bazaar (main-market) to improve my grammar. I had half-a-dozen books of grammar already in my book-shelf unopened and still, I wanted one more. I knew I would not read this book too, but no one could resist my love for collecting books for my book-shelf. My book-shelf was a small box which was once used by mother to keep cooking oil. I was expecting mother would gift me a book-shelf on my birthday. If she would refuse, I would not ask from father.
In the beginning of every month, father used to pay the bills of house with his salary and then he remained with two or three thousand rupees as his pocket money. He compromised all his cravings of luxury life with our happiness by admitting us (Sister and I) in the affluent colleges. He bought good clothes for us every year and draped himself with old ones. He thought about us whole day long and had always failed to share his emotions with us. Whenever we offered him to come with us to buy something new, he had always refused our invitations
We are proud of him.
As I sat astride on my motorcycle, I began moving my way to Gol Bazaar. The afternoon sun failed to clean the streets engulfed in the fog. Roads were silent. Street dogs were rarely seen. A crew of sweepers was sitting at the corner of a street, warming his hands over the fire. As I passed durga-mandir, I observed the market which was always stuffed up with crowd was silent now.
When I reached Nehru-park, I saw a group of girls standing outside the Guru Nanak College. They were clad in white salwar suit with a pink duppatta around the neck. Some of them were in colorful caps and some were covered up with mufflers. All of them had notebooks in the hands and college-bags dangling on the shoulders. Their laughing face was a proof that roses could bloom in any season.
Among them, there was a lovely girl who was my batch-mate, four years ago. I remembered seeing boys fighting with each other for her. One of the boys even took a brick and smashed it on another.
Her face reminded me of the Hilaire Belloc’s lines that Khushwant Singh used for Indira Gandhi:
Her face was like the king’s command
When all the swords are drawn
I passed by her, remain unnoticed, and continued my way to Gol Bazaar. As I turned left from the Gandhi Chowk, I reached the street where in every shop books were sold. At the end of the road, there was a restaurant and on its left side, a police station stood.
I had never been to police station, but my friends who had visited there a few times, told me about the kotwali. When I asked, what police did with them? They laughed and said, ‘Salemadarchod hai sab k sab. Pattey maartey hai, pattey!’ (All are motherfuckers. They give lashes of the whip!)     
I parked my bike and jumped off my motorcycle. I walked to a book store which displayed the books of old Indian author R.K Narayan in its showcase. No sooner I began scanning the novels placed in the shelf, a girl came and stood beside me.
She looked at me and asked while pointing towards a book by Khaled Hosseini, ‘Bhaiya! Is this a good book to read?’
She was a plain-eye, charming girl who had no idea that I was not the Bhaiya of shop. It was wrong to blame her. No girl could find anything less than a Bhaiya in a boy who has an untidy beard on the face and draped in old jackets and dirty track-pyjamas.
I looked for the owner of shop who was on the ladder, searching for a book I ordered. Before I could call the shopkeeper, she enquired again, ‘Bhaiya, this one!’
Her eyes twinkled and face shone. She had a sweet, gentle voice that brought out all the love in a man.
I resisted my urge to tell her the truth and said, ‘The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini.’ I began to show-off my knowledge for books, ‘It is a New York times bestseller and International bestseller. This is the story of two brothers, Amir and Hassan, placed in Afghanistan. A good read. Khaled Hosseini is the author of two more best selling novels, A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Mountains Echoed. Like this book, the stories of these two novels are also placed in Afghanistan. By the way, what genre you want to read?’
‘Actually I am planning to go abroad, so my teacher suggested me to read books to improve my verbal skills.’ She said and tucked her hair behind the ears.
A cool breeze played on her ears and brought the strands of hair before her eyes. No sooner, she pushed it aside, again a chill, fresh wind whispered in her ears, and once again she struggled with her hairs.
‘Okay, then I must suggest you to read Indian authors first. You could read The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh or The Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. Arundhati Roy has also an eloquent style of writing. My advise, start with simpler, thinner books. It would be a good idea to start with children’s book. Yes! For a grown up, it may be a problem to get interested in children’s world. In that case, I would suggest RK Narayan’s and Khushwant Singh’s books. The language is simple. And the context is Indian, which involves you in the story. If you do not have patience to read novels, read short stories by Ruskin Bond.’
She smiled and her surprise-looking-eyes complimented my knowledge. Her eyes reminded me of Sakhi, my childhood friend. Sakhi, the girl next door, liked playing hide and seek. She always chose to hide behind her house’s wall, for she was afraid of bhoots and bori vale bhai’s. After getting caught, she made her eyes as though she hid in a place where no one ever could find her. Sakhi left with her family a long time ago and the low wall she loved was still there. Mr Chandlal painted it thrice after purchasing the house.
The sunrays penetrated the fog and glistened down upon her face. Her nose ring twinkled. The effect of beautiful-she doubled. But the sun failed to stand before the chilling winters. She kept her hands rubbing with each other. And carelessly, I brushed my thick, curly hair, hoping not to look like the Bhaiya.
Bhaiya! I read 2 or 3 novels before. I’ve no idea what to read. I would be thankful if you would suggest me something good and helpful.’ she said.
I stopped adjusting my hairs, for now I was hence-proved-bhaiya for her. I took a few books of Ruskin Bond and Jhumpa Lahiri from the shelf and thumped them on the counter. I explained her about the writings and the places where the story set in.
‘How is School days?’ she said picking up a book by Ruskin Bond.
I too was hearing the name of the book for the first time. Not missing any chance before her, I began telling her about my own school days. I told her how children irritate the tall, fat principal and make him shout over the top of his lungs; how the seniors bunk the classes and play volleyball, and again raise the blood pressure of principal. I also told her about the art on toilet’s wall, the rides on the small shaking-train, the crush of students on pretty young teachers, the annual-fests, the first crush of a boy named Parth on her classmate, Shiny, the bougainvillea and beery trees, the kabbadi match between boys and girls and the lewd boys peeping in the skirt of girls, the omnibus, the first kiss of Parth and Shiny on their first school trip, the astonished boys and the jealous news-spreading girls.
‘And a lot more,’ said I, finishing my stories. All this while, she looked at me as like as a little girl listens attentively and merrily to her granny narrating the fairy tales.
She was too surprised to say anything. I could see her eyes seeking more about The School Days. ‘But, I think The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri is better than this,’ I said in a fear of getting caught.
‘You mean, I should read that book which had the hands of a couple as its cover,’ she said pointing towards The Lowland, kept at an arm’s length.
‘Yes, it’s a nice read,’ I fetched the book and gave it to her.
While she was scanning its cover, reading the blurb and flipping the pages, a loud noise thundered on the street. The shopkeepers and customers hurried outside to know the cause. At a distance, the parked vehicles were laid down and two bulls, black and brown, were fighting near it. The brown bull swung his head and hit his horns in the black’s. The black, fat bull staggered back and fall over the cycles and motorcycles. Shouting and cursing, the shopkeepers tried to stop them. The angry black bull seems to be not interested in anyone’s talk. He stood all at once and proceeded towards brown with a shrill. The two bulls locked their heads in a fierce struggle. They sway together about the place, hitting each other on the walls. The fight stopped after full five minutes. They were exhausted and stood back. The shopkeepers hit the bulls until they disappeared from the location.
The area was devastated, cycles over cycles, motorcycles over motorcycles, everything over everything. People trotted to their vehicles; so did I. Together, we arranged the parking again. It took whole ten minutes to do so. My motorcycle was less damaged than others. A few scratches were only visible.
As I returned to the shop, the young girl was not there. On asking from the seller, he told that she left the shop five minutes ago. On further enquiry, I came to know she purchased School Days by Ruskin Bond.
I brought a book of English Grammar by Chetananand Singh for my book shelf and made my way back to home.


I hoped Ruskin Bond wrote School Days better than my-narrated-school-days.