Wednesday, 27 January 2010

It's your turn - a short story (2004)

“Do I have to stay here all my life?” She questioned me with such innocence that I couldn’t restrain my tears. Every young girl who has come under me has asked me the same question. And every opportunity, I have told them, “You don’t have to, dear, you don’t have to.”

It has been 18 years since I am into the profession, and I’ve seen all sorts of lucky and unlucky girls. The lucky ones had their saviours sweeping them off to safer places, while others have stayed on to rot in the squalor. Like me.

“What do I call you?” the girl was asking.

Everyone around me has called me ‘amma’ these eight years. Eight years. That is too long a time. Eight years ago, our old ‘amma’ was on her death-bed and she had told me, “You’ll be the next amma.” Amma. The name commands respect and embodies motherly love. But how many can actually feel and exhibit these, under the circumstances? I did not like out old amma, I just feared her. It is as likely that these girls now feel the same way about me. Not that it is some job I like. But I am helpless. I can do nothing at all, for I am chained. Chained to the wills of those around me. Amma is the matron, not the Chief. She will never be one.

I clearly remember the day I was brought here. I was drugged by a man in the train. The tragedy struck when I was on my way to Vellore from my village in Trichy, to study medicine. I had secured 96% in my PUC and was the first girl in the village to go for an MBBS degree. My father has prepared to send me to Vellore, to my paternal aunt’s house, but not without vehement protests from the elders of the village.

The entire village had got together to organize a ‘sabha’ and threatened to expel our entire family if I were to study further in such a distant place. Was it not enough that a girl had been allowed to study so much further while she should be learning to cook and clean, that now she should be permitted to go so far away from her parents and pursue a life on her own? they argued.

But my father was a staunch believer in women’s rights and he stood up against the whole village. One by one the villagers were convinced about his resolute purpose and irrefutable arguments. All for the sake of his dear daughter in whom he believed. Whom he dreamt of as dressed in white, serving the patients in the nearby Government hospital. And what an ill luck that he should be sick on the day of departure and that she should travel alone. Shattering this dreams and now serving….

When I opened my eyes, I was in a well-decked cot, complete with garlands of roses and mogras. I was bewildered. “Where am I?” “What is going on?” “Am I dreaming?” As I wondered on, the doors to the room opened and a big burly figure strode up to me. I cowered and withdrew myself a few steps.

But those firm hands caught hold of me, and what happened later was only a subconscious memory. O! The agony of the moment! Even after 18 years, I shudder at the thought of it – the struggle, the screams, the shame.

And for hours thereafter, I was totally unaware if what was going on. For two days. I lay in a semi-doped state, begging pardon of my father and shouting for help. And I remember a tight slap across my cheeks. Then I slipped into the unconscious again, waking up only the next morning.

Amma came and talked to me, telling me I had no option but to stay on. And I was an absolute stranger to the city of Mumbai. The city where street oys turn into Bollywood stars. Where crores are spent everyday on entertainment. Where a boy washing a car today would be driving one years later.

But the red light area is always a prison; cordoned off from the city life and yet so close of the people in it, entertaining men irrespective of caste and religions, people from all walks of life. And yet…

God! I just cannot dwell on our position in this wretched society. Unwanted, and yet in demand. Scorned by the members of the same gender that should understand us. Looked down upon by the same gender that uses us. Hmph!

Anyway, life has to go on. There is someone at the door already. Oh! It is 8 o’clock! Business will perk up. “O Saraswati! Isn’t it your turn first?”

Sunday, 24 January 2010


If just once, somebody made me their priority,
If just once, somebody held my hand and walked with me,
If just once, somebody kept a hand above my head
and patted my back,
My life has become an eternal journey seeking that one hand.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

What should I do dear?

I sang a song for you,
But you never had time to listen to it;
I wrote a poem for you,
But you never had the patience to read it;
I played a tune on the piano,
You had an earache and went to sleep -
And now you want to tell me something:
Should I wait or tell you of my headache?

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A poem

All the pain in my heart
Came out as a few words of love and desperation.
Those words,
Not chosen well nor edited to sound nice,
Failed to touch your heart,
Just like this poem here that makes no difference to you.
What should I blame? -
The pain, the heart, the words, me, or you?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

हिंदी शायरियां

१ न थम जाए वक़्त की राहे, तुम आँहे भरा न करो,
न रूठ जाए रूह जिस्म से, यूँ तुम हँसा न करो।

२ सितारों में ढूंढती हूँ तुझे किनारों पे बैठे हुए,
चेहरों का मायाजाल है, पर्छायियों के कमाल है,
सपनो में भी ढूंढती रहूँ, पर मिलना तो तकदीर का खेल है।

३ जाम है, मेहरबान है, महफ़िल की सजी शाम है,
बस हम ही तनहा है, सोये हुए इस रात की चादर ओढ़े।

४ इन आँखों में जो नींद भर आये, सपने तुम्हारे ही हो,
आंसुओं की बहार जो आये शिकवे तुम्हारे ही हो,
अंधेरो का खेल है जीवन, उसमे उजाला न आये,
किनारे तुम्हारे ही हो, सहारे तुम्हारे ही हो।

५ इंतज़ार था किसी साथी का, जो प्यार से कर दे जीवन रंगीन,
मिल गया ऐसा दोस्त हमें, जो राह से मिटा दे सारे पल ग़मगीन।

६ हजारों कलम से निकले होंगे प्यार के नगमे,
पर हमारी भी पढलो, एक और ही समझ के।

७ रात ले आई फिर वोह हसीं यादों की बारात,
पलकों के साए चला आया ख्वाबों का नरम साथ,
दुनिया तो नींद की चादर ओढ़े पड़ी है,
और हम चुपके से चाहे साजन का संगाथ।

८ मीठी बातों से ये गहरे ज़ख्म भर गए,
प्यारी मुस्कान से इस दिल को चैन दे गए;
शीशे का बना होता ये जिस्म तो टूट दिए होते,
जाते जाते आँखों से ऐसा तीखा वार जो कर गए।

Monday, 4 January 2010

To the night

The glowing night steals upon me,
It envelopes my body in a shiver.
The trail of darkness leaves a sliver
Of pain upon the reverie.

No moon, no stars, no sound of crickets,
All there lies is the shroud of the night;
Against it I have no will, no might,
My body knots into thickets.

The darkness scares me not, nor soothes,
It touches deep but I budge not-
It leaves me cold, it leaves me hot-
And something deep inside me it uproots.

A seed of love,a ray of hope-
they are meant not for the lovers of the dark;
For what the night brings, it takes back,
When away from the sun it flies.

Saturday, 2 January 2010


They tell me I am so different.
And thus they alienate me.
I walk around each acquaintance,
Searching for the rewarding look,
For being different.
But all I get is awe and sympathy,
For being different.