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Whatever the heart says and the head endorses

Torn Shoe – A messed up interview (Part 4/4)

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“Sorry for that. It was your boss.” He said plainly. “We were in the same batch in the business school. He joined Xenon and here I am.”

Did she hear right? No. She didn’t. Something was not right. Her boss? The man who is interviewing her is a friend of her boss. God! Do these things really happen in real life? No. She must have mistaken.

“We are meeting tonight. He is a good guy”

Confirmed. No mistakes at all. Messed up had got messier. There was definitely no point in being apprehensive of the conference and people spotting her. Her boss must have known by now. What will be tomorrow like? Her getting fired and the person in front of her right now not even giving her the opportunity of second round under influence of his friend. The world didn’t seem dark. It seemed exuberant. It seemed excited at the prospect of finding a laughing stock. She would be the water cooler story from tomorrow. To her credit, she would be a story across organizations. What options did she have now? Absolutely none.

The interviewer seemed to have read the expressions of her pale face. He tried to show his concern.

“Don’t worry. I am not going to tell him till you join us.”

‘Definitely, he was not to be believed.’

“Are we finished yet?” There was no nervousness but firmness in her voice.

“Just one last question?”

‘Really? You want to play further.’

“Yes?”

“Why do you want to join us?”

“Frankly speaking, I applied for the position just because I was not sure of my position in Xenon. It was more of leaving the organization than joining you.” The ambience was suffocating her.

“I have never ever received such a blunt honest reply. You have the spark and we can surely use some of that in catapulting us into the big league. All said and done, when can you join us?”

No way. This was supposed to be the worst interview of her lifetime taking messed up to an entirely new level. How could she get the offer? Were the two friends playing a prank on her?

“Are you sure? What about the second and third rounds?”

“No more rounds. We have our ambitious targets of expansion. It cannot be done without self-belief. I can see that your attitude is in perfect synchronization with our values. Honesty and confidence can be in harmony with ‘I don’t give a damn’ attitude.” He had summed it up to her.

She could not understand her feelings. Happiness, satisfaction, confidence. She could not find a word to describe herself. More than anything else, she had proved it to herself. She was worthy enough in the world. Her job was making her feel otherwise. Her true potentials were finally recognized. She won’t have to deal with that demon and the witch. There was a world where she would be given her due credit.

“Thank you very much, sir. I will give my confirmation in a couple of days.” She spoke as she picked up her handbag, smiled and extended her hand for the customary shake. The interviewer reciprocated back but asked her to wait. He moved towards the door of the café, slowly opened it to take a look around and turned back to say,

“The corridor is clear. Make it fast before someone comes.”

She was both amused and thankful that there were some good people still in the world. She took fast strides and didn’t forget to greet the receptionist on her way out. She hoped that the beautiful receptionist never had a bad day.

“Is that our final decision?”

Being with him lent stability to her persona and thoughts.  He was there for her whenever she needed him. This was a big decision of her life and it could not be taken without the consent of her love, her life. Both of them discussed the pros and cons of the situation at length. The opportunity was huge but Xenon in itself was no small player. In fact, Xenon was a well-established company with a stable growth index. There were perks in joining a new organization which was trying to find its grounds. If things click, her personal growth would be tremendous with a new growth seeking set up. More than anything else, she would get rid of the literally suffocating work environment where even her boss would not hesitate to make others step over her career. He argued that there would be similar people everywhere. The cut-throat competition doesn’t exchange pleasantries. Was this not running away? Working for Xenon for a year had landed her to such a good job. She had to accept that the experience being gained at Xenon was only enhancing her profile. Who knows, a few years with Xenon would ensure her getting the big ticket top management positions. When did she stop being a fighter? She cannot leave because of people. She had to learn the nuisances of the corporate world and keep doing what she loves to do – her job. Staying was more logical than leaving. Moreover, the most important thing was that she had recognized her worth and the industry was open to her always.

She always took his advice. But she took decisions independently. All his logics were good enough. But the decision needed her flavor as she would always do. It was decided. She would stay. But not for what he said. She had a reason to stay. There was a torn shoe to be avenged.

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Torn Shoe – A messed up interview (Part 3/4)

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“Hello! I am extremely sorry that I can’t make it to the interview.”

“May I know the reason?”

“Actually, my employers are in the same hotel where the interview is scheduled. The risk is worth not taking.”

“I have seen scores of people trying to reschedule interviews but I have never seen such a bizarre excuse.”

“It is not an excuse. Didn’t you see the Xenon meet?”

“That is not a problem. Let us meet at the café. Delegates don’t wander into those areas. I don’t think I can give you another time slot.”

“Can’t we have a telephonic interview?”

“It is nice to meet in person to get to know each other.”

‘Have your mother and sisters also come? They also get to know me. No? I thought this was a meeting to fix the great Indian arrange marriage. Meet in person.’ But these words never left the realm of her mind to reach her lips.

“But..”

“Believe me. Café will be ultra safe. Let me assure you.”

Nervously she tried to smile at the elegantly dressed radiant-faced gentleman sitting across the table. Before he could say a word, instincts took over her and she spoke the words one could never imagine doing in an interview.

“This is the most messed up interview I have ever faced.”

“Calm down and have your coffee” he tried not to look shocked.

“See, we really don’t need to do this.” Her eyes were wandering in all directions.

“People don’t come to the café leaving behind their conferences. So relax.”

“I cannot risk getting fired.” She was murmuring to herself.

“Can we start with the interview?” He kept the coffee mug on the table and took a relaxed posture. She felt that it was the winding back of the body before the predator jumps on its prey.

Reluctantly she said, “hmm.” Her tension was building up as she was trying to recall the well-rehearsed answers to the typical questions. ‘Self-motivated person who wants to explore the limits of her potentials. Thrives on challenges and her abilities in problem solving makes her a winner in constrained environments. A team player to the core…… My foot’

“What are the projects you are handling?”

‘Are you sure? No introduction? Nothing?’ She was bemused.

“Excuse me?”

‘Oh! Was I thinking aloud’ her thoughts and spoken words were crossing their individual universes.

“Presently I am working for an interface which combines the sales forecast trending and socio-economic factors of a geographical area under consideration.”

“So you can predict sales?”

‘Not even Nostradamus could.’ Her thoughts and she looked around one more time. “Not exactly but the interface on which I am working can. I am the one who logically interprets the database thus generated.”

“Interesting.” She could not make out whether he was being impressed or being sarcastic. “So where do you see yourself in five years from now?”

‘Seriously? You took so long to get into the typical interview groove. Let us see. Five years from now? In your chair. No, no. Not in your chair. In your boss’s chair and firing you over your poor sequencing of questions in interviews.’ No. She couldn’t say that.

“I see myself in the core team of an organization whose values and ambitions match my perspective and endeavor to set newer limits.”

“And what has been your greatest achievement?”

His image flashed before her eyes. All those years, the moments of pain, the desperations in struggles and the tranquility in love. There were together and this was her treasure for life. He has been her greatest achievement. The beauty in her smile was mesmerized by her own thoughts. Thoughts about him. A mild sound brought her back to the café. It was the interviewer’s phone ringing.

“Excuse me. Can I take the call here?” The interviewer had a polite inquiry.

“Yes, of course.” ‘Was this another gimmick trending in the world of interviews? She did not know and her eyes said she did not want to know. She carried on with her subtle survey of the people and place around. What was she still doing there?’

“Oh hi… not really…. In the middle of an interview… of course not… Not leaving the organization… We had an opening… Yes… I am the interviewer….Going good… Interesting candidate… no comments on that…. Let us meet tonight… at 9….ok… I’ll be at your place…bye…see you…”

Of course, she did not want to hear to the other side of the conversation. It could have never mattered less. She hoped that he would not return to the question left unanswered.

“Sorry for that. It was your boss.” He said plainly. “We were in the same batch in the business school. He joined Xenon and here I am.”

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Torn Shoe – A messed up interview (Part 2/4)

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‘Please. No. Not now!’ The frustration could not be contained seeing the phone ringing. It was him. The villain of her life.

“Yes boss?” She tried to sound composed.

“No, I did not close the discussions. I will follow it up tomorrow”

……. “Today?… I can’t………. I have some important personal work……..Yes, I know….. I am putting in effort…….I could not avoid…. I am not arguing….. But….” Every word of her was bordering frustration.

The line was disconnected. Silence. Relief. Hatred. Anger. Anxiety. She was a blend of emotions at that moment.

‘The day will come when I will get the better of you. And that day, you will beg for mercy.’

‘Get out of your dreams Madam. You simply can’t do anything.’

Her thoughts were running from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Something was giving a nagging sensation in her head. ‘Oh! It is the torn shoe’. If an exhausted appearance after the day’s turmoil called work was not enough, she had to deal with a torn shoe accompanying her to the interview. And why on earth did she wear a semi-casual outfit for work today? ‘Yes! You had planned to take half day off, come back home, freshen up and appear for the interview. Great planning. Are you insane? Don’t you know that office is the socially accepted legally recognized version of the proverbial crime world? You just can’t get out of it as per your liking.’

Now she has to rush for the interview. An interview which was a gateway to freedom. Freedom from the demon himself and his adorable witch. ‘Ah! That witch. Yes, now I get it. My torn shoe. Thanks to the witchcraft. A fortnight full of sleepless nights, deciphering huge pile of data and collecting insider information through contacts had resulted in the baby – the presentation. It was done for the biggest client of the company till date and it would have been presented in the presence of the CEO. What does the demon say, “Umm, It is kind of alright. My lovely little witch here, who is actually parallel to you in the hierarchy, but since she is having an illegitimate affair with me, will be giving the presentation to receive accolades and promotion,” OK! Exaggerated a little. The meaning was same but words of the boss were different. “They are very important client to us. I think someone more experienced should do the presentation.” Oh yes? Six months extra is more experienced?’ Her thoughts were raging inside. She remembered how she had stomped her foot after both the demon and witch had turned their back. She didn’t realize that the strap of her shoe was caught in a screw protruding from the leg of the chair.

“Madam! Are you sleeping or what?” The crude voice was back in business.

They had reached. The Phoenix hotel. She took a deep breath, tried to calm her nerves and got down from the cab. Thanks to modern technology, she did not need to turn back to face the driver. The payment would be done automatically. She looked down one more time and said her mental prayers.

As usual, the receptionist had to be elegantly dressed smiling nymph. Seeing the receptionist, she could feel her state of being overly self-conscious getting accentuated. ‘Why can’t receptionists have bad days? Even better, why can’t they be ugly?’

The receptionist gave her the directions to her destination. She wore a fake smile and turned around to find a notice board glaring in her face.

‘KNB and Xenon International welcome the delegates to vendor partner meet.’

Thunderbolt struck. How she wished she was Sita so that mother earth would take her within. On second thoughts, not coming here would have been enough. Out of thousands of hotels in the city, this had to be it?

KNB were the vendors with whom she had to carry on the discussions about which her boss had called. That is not the end of the story.

Xenon International was the company her boss worked for. And yes, she was working under her boss. Exactly. She worked for Xenon International.

She was in a soup. Her heartbeat was running its own race. Calm down. She murmured while literally running out of the exit. The receptionist watched her in amazement. She was doomed, to say the least. She might have gone out to a safe distance because she had started counting her options.

‘What do I do here? A. My company is here. B. My boss might be here. C. My colleagues might be here. So? What happens next? A. My boss sees me and gets to know that I am here for an interview and I get fired. B. My boss doesn’t get to know that I am here for an interview. He sees me having my time in a hotel leaving behind official discussions citing personal urgency. I again get fired. C. I face the interview, get the job and resign myself. Yes, so right for you. It is a piece of cake. There will be at least three rounds of interviews and by the way, you carry a legacy of being rejected in interviews. So, good luck with the plan of cracking the interview and resigning. Nevertheless, you lose your job in all scenarios. What if they don’t see you at all? There is a slight issue here. I guess I have not brought my invisibility cloak with me. Why didn’t anyone tell me about the meet? Oh! I am getting crazy.’ She had pressed the panic button.

In such uncertain times of life, he had been with her always. She frantically called him and narrated the situation she was in, in one breath. He was her biggest support in life. Love and life were synonyms with him. He was her greatest achievement. He advised her to inform the interviewer that she would not be able to make it. ‘Fake some injury or excuse and get out of there. Ask them to reschedule the interview’. But the girl she was, she had a knack of getting things done her way. She always took his advice but added her essence to it.

“Hello! I am extremely sorry that I can’t make it to the interview.”

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Torn Shoe – A messed up interview (Part 1/4)

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“Yes, I am standing right in front of the café” She half shouted to be heard in the noise of the traffic.

“I am also here madam”, said a crude voice from the other end of the phone.

Irritation was clearly visible in her already distressed eyes. Taking deep breaths, she tried to keep her annoyance at bay for she had an important task at hand. To her relief, she spotted it soon. 2810. The number plate. The cab was parked at the other side of the road. For her, the days of hand signals and yelling for taxis were long gone. With modern technology, neither were there any worries for long routes taken nor there were any hassles of overpaying for shortage of change money.

If she were to become the transport minister, horns would be completely banned. She hated it all the more while crossing the road. ‘Can’t they see that I am in no mood for standing in the middle of the road? Goddamn it. I am crossing you morons. Keep your hands off the horns.’ She was already frustrated to the rim and virtually running through the traffic at the busiest hour of the day was taking her to the edge of temper.

“What is this madam? I was waiting for you for so long.” The driver turned back as she closed the door of the cab.

“You please don’t say anything. Couldn’t you come over to the other side?” She kept her handbag in her lap.

“And who would have paid for the extra kilometer until the turnabout?”

“Please just look ahead and drive.”

The tone of the driver’s voice was only adding fuel to the fire. It will definitely be a one-star rating for him. ‘Why can’t they include negative ratings?’

The cab started to maneuver through the traffic. She closed her eyes and tried to remain thoughtless. This was going to be one hell of a day. She needed the time to be with herself for few moments. But it was such kind of a day you could do nothing about. Without any warning whatsoever the cab driver decided to put on the radio. Even the soothing voice of the radio jockey seemed to be piercing her ears. Naah! She won’t say anything. ‘Calm down.’ A smirk on her face affirmed that she had ignored the ambience around her.

A jerk caused by sudden brakes not only brought her back to the cab but also made her react impulsively to avoid her head colliding with the driver’s seat. No. She would not say cuss words for the driver. She would just pray for him to burn in hell. Her favorite handbag could not react as fast as her and was floored to bite some dust. Her eyes caught on something while she was picking up the bag. A torn strap of her left shoe. Good! Now she has to face the interview in a torn shoe. ‘Can things get any worse? Not a chance in hell.’ Her ignorance was about to discover that the worst was yet to come. Worse was just a precursor to the apocalypse which was about to shake her professional choices to the core.

‘Please. No. Not now!’ The frustration could not be contained seeing the phone ringing. It was him. The villain of her life.

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A letter to young me from old me

Dear myself

If you are reading this then they were right in the news. I am too old now to read written news though my eyes are good enough. Yes, good enough is the term. Good enough to see the armrest of the chair. They said on news that time machine is theoretically possible and it has been conceptualized. I started sailing high on hope. I have so much to tell you. You won’t believe this but I found out that only person who will be with me from my first day till my last will be you. No one will understand me better than you. I want to talk to you about so many things. Even if I die before the time machine comes to existence, the future time traveller will find me before my death and he will take me to you.
But they dropped the bombshell within minutes. They shattered my hopes. I don’t clearly remember it but they said that, because of some paradox, I will not be able to meet myself​ or alter the past. But I had so much to tell you. Thanks to this voice to text software, I could do the next best thing. I wrote this letter to you in hope of the time traveller delivering it to you. The envelope contains both the place and time of delivery. I know you don’t have the technology to read today’s memory devices. That’s the reason for this printed letter on paper. Oh! I had to spend a fortune to get this piece of paper. Trees and paper are extremely rare these days. Do you remember that guava tree you used to climb during summer vacations? You will realise when you become me that even memories of a tree can make you smile. I went to a tree park two years ago; I haven’t seen a tree since.

Do you know what my biggest regret is? How would you know? You are yet to feel the regret. I am sorry. I let you become me. I don’t know when exactly this happened. It was a slow and subtle process. You transformed into me. You were left behind somewhere. Step by step, the ‘me of then’ became ‘me of now’. You thought that you were chasing your dreams. But I realised it the hard way. Those were not your dreams. Those were implanted. You didn’t realise it then but those dreams were mere reflections of the world and people​ around you. You thought them to be yours. In chasing those borrowed dreams, you became me. In gaining those heights, you left behind few bags. The ‘real you’ was packed in one of those bags. I wish I could have stopped you from becoming me.

Your success will know no boundaries. This is not a motivational quote because I know the truth. I have seen it all with my eyes. But you will never dance with joy the way you did when your father gave you your first cricket bat which was more of a wooden plank than a bat.  You will never treasure anything more than those seven marbles which you hid from your mother. Few days ago, I found my old photograph in one of those tattered files I still preserve. I mean your photograph with the bat. I really can’t explain why I cried like a kid seeing it. Can you recall how you did lose that bat? Or those seven marbles which you always kept in a box? I bet you can’t. Neither can I. You lost them because you were busy in becoming me. I realise the insignificance of those daring dreams now being overwhelmed by the memories of the moments which slipped like dry sand. Your eternal chase for happiness overlooked the basic rule that happiness was immersing yourself in the moments surrounding you. I wish the time machine could bring me back those trivial moments of existence.

You don’t know this. But you were never wrong. You were always right before an unknown fear of failure, society, customs and even your own image made you change your mind. You were always right in your heart before the calculative mind took over. You were right when you thought of bringing that puppy home. You were right when you thought of giving your cycle to that poor boy. You were right when you thought of not pursuing higher studies. You were right when you thought of wearing that outrageous outfit. You were right when you thought of asking out that girl. You were right when you thought of going back to the land of your birth. You were right when you thought of quitting your job. You were right when you thought of running around in muddy water. But you always changed your mind. And someone else didn’t. Trust me, he doesn’t have to search his younger self to undo the wrongs of the past.  You had to become me.

I know nothing will change even after your reading this letter. Remember that paradox thing I told? You have only present to play with. Once present has become past, you can’t change it. Laws of nature, my dear myself. You transformation into me has been set into motion. The proverbial river of time is moving forward in its course. I can only create ripples in the river but can’t reverse it’s flow. Time always corrects its course. I have many more things to say but I am too weak physically to be awake and speaking till late hours. My eyes are involuntarily closing. I can’t help it. I wish you live while you still can. Please do me a favour. Ask the time traveller, who delivered you my letter, to go further back in time and bring me those seven marbles. I never got to play with them. 

Horn OK TATA Please

प्रेरणा कही से भी मिल सकती है । इसकी एक बानगी देखिए । कल एक दोस्त की गाड़ी से कही जा रहे थे । रास्ते में एक जगह चाय पीने के लिए उसने गाड़ी खड़ी की । अब चाय तो साथ देने की चीज़ है बस पीने की नहीं । ख़ैर सीधे मुद्दे पर आते हैं । वहाँ एक सफ़ेद रंग की मारुती 800 पूरे शान के साथ खड़ी थी । उसके पीछे एक प्रतीक चिन्ह या सरल भाषा में कहे तो लोगो लगा था जिसने हमारा ध्यान आकर्षित किया । ये लोगो था फेरारी का । अब समझ आया शान के साथ क्यों ? सौ बात की एक बात । सोच बड़ी होनी चाहिए । हम किसी से कम हैं क्या ? होंगे कम पर हम नहीं मानते । अपनी मारुती 800 वाली ज़िन्दगी में भी खुद को फेरारी ही समझते हैं । इस सोच के साथ हम आगे बढे अपने गंतव्य की ओर । 
दोस्त की गाड़ी के आगे और पीछे “एल” लिखा हुआ था ।    हमारा  मित्र तो तीन साल से गाड़ी चला रहा है पर अभी भी “एल” ही हैं ! उसका उत्तर हमें लाजवाब कर गया । “एल देखकर सामने वाला खुद-ब-खुद साइड दे देता है नौसिखया समझकर” । काश ज़िन्दगी में भी कोई ऐसा बोर्ड होता जिसे लगा देखकर मुसीबतें साइड दे देतीं । पर नहीं ! ज़िन्दगी के इस सड़क पर जितनी जल्दी महारत हासिल कर लो उतना अच्छा। । एल का बोर्ड देखकर कुचल दिए जाओगे । 

अपने उच्च विचार लेकर हमने अपना ध्यान सड़क पर केंद्रित किया । हमारे आगे एक शुद्ध भारतीय ट्रक जा रहा था । हमारी नज़रें ट्रक के पीछे लगे नजरौटे की भयानक नज़रो से टकरायी । ऐसा लगा रहा था कि जैसे वो बुरी बलाओं को दूर रखने वाला प्राणी हमें और हमारे विचारों को जीभ दिखा रहा हो । हम भला क्यों इस तुच्छ निर्जीव वस्तु से हार मानते ? हमारे अहम् ने हमारी नज़रें उठा दी । तो नजरौटे के ऊपर लिखा पाया , “30 के फूल 75 की माला, बुरी नज़र वाले तेरा मुँह काला” । यकीन मानिए पूरे सफ़र के दौरान आइना देखने की हिम्मत ना हुई हमारी । अब बताइये भला ये नस्लभेद नहीं तो क्या हैं ? बुरी नज़र वाले का मुँह काला ही क्यों होगा ? हरा, पीला या बैगनी क्यों नहीं ? ये सिद्धांत किसने बनाया की सफ़ेद बेहतर और काला कमतर ? जब बना तब बना, अब तो बदलो इस सोच को । पर सोच बदल गयीं तो फेयरनेस क्रीम वालो का क्या होगा ? कुछ नहीं होगा, वो डार्कनेस क्रीम बना लेंगे । कमाओ कमाना है तो । पर काला गोरा सब एक समान । 

मामला यहीं ख़त्म नहीं हुआ । थोड़ा और ऊपर देखा तो सुन्दर देवनागरी लिपि में लिखा था , “लटकलें ता गइले बेटा” । समझते देर ना लगी की ट्रक जरूर बिहार का होगा । नंबर प्लेट ने इस बात पर मोहर लगा दी । वैसे तो ये वाक्य नादान बच्चों को चेतावनी है कि अगर ट्रक के पीछे लटके तो चले जाओगे । कहाँ जायेंगे ये बताना आवश्यक नहीं । पर इन चार शब्दों में गीता-सार छुपा था । “हे पार्थ ! किसी वस्तु अथवा किसी प्राणी से अत्याधिक लगाव ना रखो । उसे पकड़ कर लटक ना जाओ । अन्यथा जीवन में बहुत कष्ट होगा । रसातल में चले जाओगे” । ट्रक वाले के अनासक्ति के असीम ज्ञान पर हमारा सर श्रद्धा से झुक गया । 

“सो रहे हो क्या”? झुका सर देखकर मित्र ने आवाज़ लगायी । अब उसे कौन समझाए की अभी-अभी हमें ज्ञान की प्राप्ति हुई है । उसने हमपर ध्यान नहीं दिया और ट्रक को ओवरटेक करने की जुगत में लग गया । “ये जो ट्रक वाले लिखतें हैं ना कि जगह मिलने पर पास देंगे, अगर इनके जगह मिलने का इंतज़ार करते रहें तो पहुँच गए समय पर” । हम चौंके । ज्ञान का कुछ वाई-फाई आदान प्रदान कर दिया क्या हमने अपने मित्र को ? कितना सही कहा उसने । ज़िन्दगी की सड़क पर पास लेने के लिए अपनी जगह तो हमें खुद ही बनानी पड़ती हैं । 

ट्रक के बगल से गुजरते हुए आखिरी बार हमने हमारे दार्शनिक ट्रक को सम्मान की दृष्टि से देखा । पर ये सम्मान ज्यादा देर टिका नहीं । हम ज्यादा ही भाव दे बैठे थे इस ट्रक वाले को । इन जनाब ने अपनी डीजल टंकी पर लिखवा रखा था, “गाड़ी चलती है डीजल से, पानी से नहीं । दोस्ती हमसे करो, गाड़ी से नहीं” । ये तो इन्होंने निरे मूर्खो वाली बात कर दी । अव्वल तो कौन इनके टंकी पर पढ़कर इनसे दोस्ती करने जाएगा ? और अगर चला भी गया तो किसे पता नहीं होता की गाड़ी डीजल से चलती है ? पर शायद नहीं होता है । या शायद पता होकर भी हम हमारी आँखें मूंद लेते हैं ।

किसी इंसान से परिचित होने के लिए हम उसकी सफलता-असफलता, उसके आचरण का भी ब्यौरा लेते हैं । पर क्या कभी हम उसकी ज़िन्दगी रूपी गाड़ी के ईंधन के बारे में सोचते हैं ? लोगो के बारे में हम अपनी ही राय बना लेते हैं । अच्छे-बुरे, सही-गलत के तराजू पर उन्हें हम फेरारी से लेकर साइकिल-रिक्शा तक में वर्गीकृत करते हैं । पर ये नहीं सोचते की शायद उस साइकिल-रिक्शा में भी कभी इंजन लगा था । पर परिस्थितियों ने उसे कभी डीजल भरने ही नहीं दिया । वो तो पानी पीकर ही संतुष्ट हो गया । काश हम बाह्य-आवरण से ज्यादा महत्व इंसान को दे पाते । हमें भी सिखना है । मुश्किल है । नामुमकिन नहीं ।                

“कहाँ खोए हुए हो ? पहुँच गए हम” । मित्र के आवाज़ ने हमारी विचार श्रृंखला तोड़ी । अच्छा तो अभी चलते हैं । कोई बात हो तो आवाज़ देना । हॉर्न प्लीज ! अभी के लिए, ओके टाटा ! 

मेरी रेल यात्रा

यात्रा का अलौकिक अनुभव तो रेल में ही मिलता है  । हवाई यात्रा तो इंसान समय की मजबूरी में करता है । चलिए इस बात को आम नहीं करते हैं । इसको यूँ कहें की हमें ( हम = मैं, बिहारी हैं न ) रेल यात्रा ज्यादा पसंद हैं । एक तो एकाग्र भाव से उन किताबों को पढ़ पातें हैं जिन्हें पढ़ने का सोच रखा था पर पढ़ ना पाये थे । इसे अब समयाभाव का बहाना बनाये या पढ़ने के प्रति हमारी प्रतिबद्धता की कमी । लेकिन यकीन मानिए, अगर एक बार पढ़ने की लत लग गयीं तो दुनिया ही अलग नजर आएगी । और इस सकारात्मक मतिभ्रम के लिए आपको किसी नशे की आवश्यकता भी नहीं होगी । रेल यात्रा का दूसरा फायदा यह की एक से एक चरित्र मिलेंगे आपको । अब ये परस्पर विरोधी बात नहीं है कि शायद सामने वाले के लिए हम भी किसी “कैरेक्टर” से कम ना हो । ख़ैर अभी तो हम दुनिया अपनी नजरों से देख रहे हैं । अंततः हवाई और रेल यात्रा को अर्थशास्त्र के तराजू पर तौलने पर उपरोक्त सारे कारण गौण ही नज़र आते हैं ।

हाँ तो हमारी गाड़ी छुक-छुक करती हुई बढ़ी जा रही है । हम कभी अपने किताब को और कभी साथ बैठे लोगो को पढ़ रहें हैं । किताब तो ज़िन्दगी और उसके मायने बता रही है और सहयात्री ज़िन्दगी दिखा रहें हैं । एक तुर्रम खाँ बैठें हैं साथ । तीस-पैतीस के मध्य ही होंगे जनाब । बकौल तुर्रम खाँ,  महीने का दो-ढाई लाख कमा लेते हैं । भाई ये बताओ सामने वाले ने तो बस ये पूछा की करते क्या हो । अब बेचारा बैठे बैठे ऊब गया होगा । बात कुछ तो बोल कर शुरू करनी है । अब आप हैं कि करना क्या छोड़कर अपनी दो राज्य और तीन जिलों में दो भाई और एक पिता की जमीन-जायदाद का ब्यौरा देने लगे । काश हिंदी फ़िल्मो की तरह पूछने वाला आयकर विभाग में होता ।

एक बूढ़े चचा आये अपनी टोकरी लेकर । शरीर से कंकाल पर आँखों में उम्मीद लेकर वो पानी की बोतलें और बिस्कुट के पैकेट बेच रहें हैं । उनकी दशा देखकर खुद की ज़िन्दगी अचानक से बहुत अच्छी दिखने लगी । ये अलग बात है की दस मिनट बाद हम फिर अपनी ज़िन्दगी का रोना शुरू कर देंगे । हाँ तो हमारे तुर्रम खाँ ने एक पैकेट उठाया और जेब से पच्चीस रुपये दिए चचा को । चचा ने कहा , “बाबूजी तीस हुए” । तुर्रम खाँ कहाँ चुप बैठने वाले थे । “पब्लिक को लूटते हो ? पच्चीस का माल तीस में ? अभी शिकायत करे तुम्हारी रेल मंत्री से ?” बेचारे चचा किसी तरह सम्भलते हुए बोले, “बाबूजी सेठ ले लेता है सारे पैसे । यही पाँच रुपये हमारी कमाई है” । तुर्रम खाँ का पारा तो जैसे सातवे आसमान पर चढ़ गया । बिस्कुट चचा की टोकरी में रखते हुए बोले, “भागो यहाँ से, दुबारा आना मत इस डिब्बे में” । 

भाई, अब पाँच रुपये के लिये रेल मंत्री को क्यों परेशान करना ? व्यस्त आदमी हैं वो । एक तो आपसे दुगुनी उम्र का आदमी आपको बाबूजी कहकर संबोधित करते हुए ईमानदारी से पाँच रुपये का हिसाब दे रहा है और आप हैं कि । समझ सकते हैं हम कि ढाई लाख महीने का बड़ी मेहनत से कमाते होंगे और पाँच रुपये उस मेहनत का बहुत अहम् हिस्सा होगा । पर वही से ढाई सौ ग्राम दिल और पाँच सौ ग्राम जिगर भी कमा लेते । खर्च करने में सुविधा होती । ऐसे तुर्रम खानों को मेरा साष्टांग दंडवत प्रणाम । 

रात के समय अगर ट्रेन में आपके आसपास कोई बच्चा हो तो यकीन मानिये आपका क्रमिक विकास से विश्वास उठ जाएगा । मनुष्य सीधे किशोरावस्था में प्रवेश करना चाहिये । पता नहीं इन बच्चों को दुनिया की व्यवस्था का ऐसा कौन सा पहलू रात के दो बजे नागवार गुजरता है कि उसी समय वो अपनी आवाज़ बुलंद कर देते हैं । बच्चे, बस चार घन्टे रूक जाओ फिर हम साथ मिलकर आन्दोलन करेंगे । पर नहीं । शुभस्य शीघ्रम् । तो ऐसे ही एक बच्चे के विलाप कृपा से हमने रात की नींद का त्याग किया और दिन में सोने की चेष्टा करने लगे । 

आँख लगी ही थी कि किसीने उठाया ,  “भाई साहब,  जरा सामान एडजस्ट कर लीजिये” । अनमने भाव से हम उतरे और देखा कि किसी स्टेशन पर गाड़ी खड़ी है । हमने अपना एक सूटकेस थोडा सा हिलाया, और खड़े हुए । देखते क्या हैं कि जनाब बारह विभिन्न प्रकार के बैग और सूटकेस के साथ पधारे थे । पूरा घर ही उठाये लाये थे क्या ये जनाब ? अपनी नहीं तो अपने सहयात्रियों के सुविधा का तो ध्यान रखना चाहिए । आदमी थोडा मदद कर दे लोगो की पर ये तो सर पर बैठने की जगह माँग रहे हैं । ऐसा थोड़े ही होता है । हमारा तो दिमाग नींद की कमी से वैसे ही भन्नाया हुआ था और अब ये । 

कुछ सूटकेस को ठिकाने  लगाकर उन्होंने थोड़ी जगह बनायी । तब तक टी.टी. महोदय भी आ पहुँचे । इस नए आगंतुक ने टी.टी से कुछ कहा । जवाब सुनकर हमें भी कंप्यूटर पर बहुत गुस्सा आया । “सब सिस्टम ऑनलाइन हो गए हैं । हमारी तो कमाई ही ख़त्म हो गयी” । सत्य वचन । तकनीक तो आनी ही नहीं चाहिए थी देश में । पहले टी.टी साहब कही ज्यादा कमीशन कमा लेते थे । सरकार को सोचना चाहिए । पर जिस प्रकार टी.टी साहब ‘बेटा’ कहकर बात कर रहे थे , दिल छू लिया उन्होंने । हर इंसान श्याम-श्वेत का सम्मिश्रण होता है । बुराई और अच्छाई तो समय और परिस्थिति का यथोचित मुखौटा है । 

तो इन जनाब के पीछे एक महिला और एक नवविवाहित जोड़ा आया तब जाकर हमें कुछ-कुछ समझ आया । हम वापस अपने ऊपर वाले बर्थ पर चले गए । ये दो भाई थे । छोटे भाई की अभी अभी शादी हुई थी और ये अपने गृह जिले से जा रहे थे जहाँ बड़ा भाई नौकरी करता है । छोटे को भी वही नौकरी खोजनी और करनी है । तो इतना सामान तो लगेगा नए जगह गृहस्थी बसाने में । फिर दो लड़के और आये । आत्मविश्वास से लबरेज । पूछने पर पता चला कि कही साक्षात्कार देने जा रहे थे । चढ़ जाओ बेटा सूली पर । स्वागत है असली दुनिया में ।

हम फिर से अपनी किताब में ज़िंदगी के सच्चे मायने ढूंढने लगे । मुख्य किरदार सिखा जाती है कि ज़िन्दगी  बड़े सपनों में, बड़ी सफलता में नहीं हैं बल्कि छोटी छोटी खुशियों और हर पल में ही ज़िन्दगी हैं । सपने देखों उन्हें पूरा करो पर उसकी कीमत आपके परिवार और चाहनेवालों से बढ़कर ना हो । नींद ने हमें अपने आगोश में लेना शुरू किया पर हम खुद को खुद पर और हमारे जैसे लाखो-करोड़ों विस्थापितों पर तरस खाने से ना रोक पाये । हम तो अपने ही देश में विस्थापित हैं जो अपनी जड़ों से दूर अपनी ज़मीन तलाश कर रहे हैं । आधुनिक युग में इस नए तरह के विस्थापितों का दर्द कौन समझे ? विडंबना तो ये है कि इसे विस्थापन नहीं,  सफलता की संज्ञा दी गयी है । अब सोते हैं । फिर मिलेंगे किसी और यात्रा में । 

The Purpose

Purpose of life. Always heard about it. There is a purpose to every living and non living entity in the Universe. The very existence of the Universe grants it a purpose. What if there is no purpose of life? What if everything we look around is plain manifestation of randomness? Does it change anything?

Is it not simpler to believe that the vast expanse of Universe has no cryptic reason to exist? It just exists. As simple and as random as that. When the physical infiniteness is beyond the reach of prowess of our imagination, how do we expect to comprehend the intangible abstract notion of the purpose?

On a miniscule scale, what is the purpose of our lives? Since times immemorial, philosophers and scientists alike have been  struggling to find the answer.  What if they have been asking the wrong question? Will the human interaction with society and Universe differ if they come to realise that there is no purpose? Life is because it is. Universe exists because it exists. It may not exist as well without any questions being asked.

Then at other times, it seems that the purpose of the Universe is to give purpose to randomness. Some devote themselves to the origin of purpose – one who created or the laws defining evolution. May be the truth will never reveal itself or maybe by tomorrow’s morning, all will be enlightened. Either way, we are mere spectators. And trust me we have the best seats possible.

If there is no purpose at all, we will keep riding the wonderful wave of randomness till eternity considering that eternity in itself will be random. And if the entire cosmos really has got a purpose, the purpose will be solved because that’s why it exists.

उड़ान

उड़ने की चाहत लिए आकाश को तू देख रहा ,

पंख फैलाने में फिर क्यों , तू इतना सहम रहा ?

किस बात से डरा तू , क्यों इतना घबराया है ?

जमीं से जकड़ा है तूझे, वो तो तेरा ही साया है !

सोच ना कि गिर पड़ा तो कैसे उठ पाएगा ,

सोच कि गर उड़ पड़ा तो आस्मां बुलाएगा 

अलग तू मुर्दा बुतों से जो अपने पैरों पर खड़े ,

भरोसे की तू उड़ान भर, तेरे सपनें तो हैं बड़े !

An open letter to the God

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Dear God

Hope you are doing well. First thing first. Let me make it clear that I am not an atheist. Else I would not have been writing to you. I am like any other God fearing common man – believer. So have mercy on me. Let us get down to business now and hopefully you have noticed the capitalization in God.

What really are all of you up to? I know you are not alone. There are four or five of you.  All of you have your respective following. Good enough. But why have you left it to mere mortals like us to decide who is the greatest among you all? Come on. Each one of you individually has created this enormous, gigantic, unimaginable expanse of time and space called universe. You also had the brains to minutely lay down the laws governing everything right from our souls, thoughts to the physical world. Couldn’t you do just one small thing more? Decide amongst yourselves. The greatest of kings fought themselves. OK. You missed that part somehow. Can’t you do it now? We have been fighting for thousands of years now and couldn’t come up with a solution. Don’t you think that time has come for you to clear the air? Sit together. Or fight together. Do whatever it takes to declare that see mankind, he is the best God. We follow you blindly. Without any questions asked. If my God declares that look my child that God there is the best. We will accept it. Or let other Gods say that mine is the best. Why do you keep forgetting that you are God? God has to have more wisdom than humans. Let your wisdom guide you and come out in open.

See this is not for me or humankind as a whole. If you don’t clear the doubts, you will be the ultimate loser. How? You can read my mind. Actually, whatever is in my mind is created by you. Do I still need to explain? Sorry, my mistake. Open letter. Others are reading as well. It is very simple. Humans have a life span of 70-80 years only. Even if we fight over your greatness, what happens to us? The most likely scenario is that sooner or later, we all die. The earth is doomed. As simple as that. We are mortals. We are here to die. It doesn’t make a difference to us that we die petty death instead of pursuing knowledge and happiness. What can we gain in such a short time? How can we seek other things in so less time when the greatest question about your greatness is left unanswered? Being happy ourselves and making others smile for this short time called life can be sacrificed over you.

But think about you. You have to live millions of billions of years. No. You are immortal. You live till eternity. If we all bombard each other, who will be left to praise you? Who will be left to call you God with the capital G? You people will be ‘alone’. Then what will you do? There won’t be anyone whose destiny would be decided by you. How will you pass your endless time? Someone told me our prayers, our offerings give you strength. If not for us, you will be also doomed. So come out soon. Decide yourself for the final time. It will be good for you and it will even spare us some time to do some good things rather than wasting time deciding greatness of someone who is so great that we can’t even imagine. There are many more things to say, but some time later. My time is running short. By the way trivia fact for you, we have such short life span, thanks to you only.

A prompt response will be highly appreciated. One last thing, tell me frankly. You are the one who created us, right? Or is it the other way round?

An open letter to the heart-broken soul

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You wanted it to go on till eternity. But it didn’t. Somewhere deep down in the chest, there is a pain. A pain so excruciating that you can’t even realize where it is. It has become a part of you. Your love has left you for one reason or another. You have lost your soul-mate. There is a feeling of emptiness. Complete vacuum. A feeling of losing a part of yourself has engulfed you. You feel weak internally.

Sometimes you cry for hours. Sometimes tears don’t well up in the eyes. Just your soul cries. People are around you. Friends, family, people who matter. But you are alone. You smile. You laugh. But the smiles, the laughs are hollow. You do it just for the people to think that you are taking things in your stride. To let them know that you are moving on. You are fine. But you know that you are not fine. You are broken deep within.

So how does the life move on? What options are you left with? You can’t imagine life without that one person. The person who was everything to you. Your happiness, your sorrows, your smiles, your strength. For the first time in your life, you had found yourself. Love had made you discover the true joy of being you. You want it back. But you know you can’t.

Your love is happy somewhere else. Maybe it is time for you to be happy. No one can take away your memories. Not even the one who was the other half of the memories. You always wanted the best for your love. Maybe the best has happened. Yes, you feel bad for yourself. There is nothing but pain. Eventually, this pain would wither away. You will be only left with memories. They don’t hurt you. Your thoughts of the future make you cry. Let go of the future. It was just imaginary which you dreamt about. The past was real. It is gone now. Be happy about it. You have a new future to carve.

Be brave. Go to that favourite restaurant. Eat that special sandwich.  It still tastes the same. The walk down the river is still beautiful. Life has not broken up with you. There is so much to discover about the world. There is so much you don’t know about yourself. This is the time. The time to fall in love once again. Fall in love with yourself. This is the most wonderful thing that can ever happen to you. No one should ever be allowed to take you away from you. The most important person to you in the entire universe is you.

When you fall down, you don’t need to rise back immediately. Sit back and relax. Because once you get up, you won’t have time to relax. Being single has its advantages. You can now pursue everything which you ever wanted to do in life. It would not only keep you distracted, but it will also make you enjoy life again. Having failed in love once doesn’t mean you can’t be in a relationship. You just have to be honest with yourself. You can’t forget the past, but you can always give your hundred percent to your present. Your break up should not break you. After all, there is a life to be lived. A life to be cherished. No one else will do it for you. You have to live it by yourself. So, smile and rise again.

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