Welcoming 2018

नए साल में सब मोहब्बत कर रहे हैं
और हम हैं कि शिकायत कर रहे हैं

वक़्त तो आ गया है कि वक़्त बदले
पर हम फिर वही शरारत कर रहें हैं

‘अठरा में सुना है कि सब है माफ़
हम भी इंतेज़ार-ए-इनायत कर रहे हैं

लोग बनाने लगे हैं सपने हकीक़त
हम हकीक़त ही क़यामत कर रहें हैं

इजाज़त थी पढ़ने को एक ही मिसरा
हम फ़िर तौहीन-ए-इजाज़त कर रहें हैं

नए साल में सब मोहब्बत कर रहे हैं
और हम हैं कि शिकायत कर रहे हैं

The wrong lesson from the Boy Who Cried Wolf

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Mrs. Malik was 71 when she learned how to recognise the signs and symptoms of a stroke. She learned this from a series of pictures on a local hospital’s information leaflet. On the top banner, in blazing red ink, was the hospital’s emergency number that could be called if one were convinced that they were having a stroke. “Don’t hesitate,” it said. “Just call. We’ll be there in 10 minutes.”

Mrs. Malik carefully folded the paper till it showed just the emergency number and taped this to the landline phone set she used. She further wrote the number down in her personal phone diary, and made a mental note to ask someone to save the number in her cell phone.

Two days later, the ambulance was at her doorstep.

Continue reading

Wrote my One Millionth Word today!

At 9.14 AM today, I wrote my one-millionth word. 

If you are wondering what one million words look like, consider this: the seven books in the Harry Potter series amount to 1,084,170 words. Now the second book in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, is about 85,000 words. So, if we take the Harry Potter Box Set and pull out the second book, whatever is left is a very good picture of how many words I have written.

And this journey of a million words started with counting the fourteen in the line below.

“No matter how I start my career, I will retire only as a writer.” Continue reading

The Silence of Our Actions

 

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I bought a copy of  The Silence of Our Friends yesterday at Comic Con, Bangalore. It took me two pages of browsing through at the counter to know that this is a graphic novel I will enjoy reading and will cherish for a long time. And that is exactly how things seem to be turning out. I read the book today, all in one sitting, and kept going back to several of the conversations between the important characters and the oh-so-subtle imageries in the backdrop of the artwork. And it was in these revisits that I had the Aha! moment about this book. Continue reading

Pride and Potpourri

“We should do this more often,” I told my friend.

I was with her at Urban Solace, Bangalore, in a room where a bunch of people had been cheering, clapping and high-fiving one another every two minutes. We had been playing Potpourri for almost an hour and a half and I had ended up laughing more than I had laughed in the whole week. I hadn’t realised I missed word games so much. Dumb charades, Pictionary, 20 Questions – I loved it. I had made new friends there too. And met an old one I hadn’t talked to in over six months. To top it all, I had gotten myself a free copy of Bhaavna Arora’s new book, a glass of green tea on the house and so many thoughts to munch over.

“Yes, we should,” she replied. “They have events like these every weekend before the parade.”

“Chalo chalo.” Continue reading

Hacking the Bridge…

“You remind me of the other men.”

Komal had not talked for a very long time. And for a very long time I had been trying to make her talk. It was painful to see an almost-eight-year-old girl always balled up in a corner, away from the other kids, beating herself up for faults that were not hers.

I had smiled, had joked, had played the clown, had even taken her to a very good ice cream place. But she had refused to talk. Until the day I almost gave up, cried, told her a bit about the sadness I carry in my heart, showed her a bit of the burden I carry on my shoulders and implored her to help me out. Continue reading

One Person at a Time

Last year, Anandi had called me one afternoon with good news. “Bhaiji, I passed first class in Open University exam.” She had finally gotten herself a 12th standard degree. And she was betting on it to be her exit ticket from a life of suffering, the horrors of which very few of us can imagine.

“So, what now?” I asked.

“You know I wanted to be a doctor. But that’s too much to study. No no. I can never do that. So, I was thinking I will become a nurse. Tai also agrees.” Continue reading

The Old Ways in a City of Whims

“Go, go. Get the cardboards. Can’t you see how the mosquitoes are all over the saab? Go go.”

We were on a street near a historical monument in a city that’s known all over the world for the most beautiful mausoleum any man has ever built for his beloved wife. The monument we were outside, however, wasn’t that mausoleum. It was a fort, some of whose inside walls had been red once and then yellow and finally white. Clearly, the father ruler hadn’t liked what the grandfather had built and in turn, the son ruler hadn’t liked what the father had changed. Yes, I was in a city of whims, where more stock was given to fancies of the emperors than was to the realities of its citizens. Continue reading