Geeta. Aha! what a name! Song of the meaning of life, and so true she was to her name. She was of my age. She was the younger sister of my sister’s friend. We met sometimes when I went to fetch my sister home from their house. Their father was a Superintendent of Police (you can imagine my desperation and my dare) and she had an elder brother too but..lines of a poem that I must have read in those days are coming to my mind. If they can come to me now, you can imagine how constantly they must be firing my mind with thoughts and my whole body with courage.
Chilchilati dhoop ko jo chandani devein bana
Muskura kar jo karein toofanon ka bhi samna..
or some such lines in a poem about Karamveers or “Daredevils” not like mousy cricketers of Delhi and nor like that crooner ‘Daler’ but a real gutsy, courage incarnate one becomes when in love. The poem was in our sixth standard hindi book and it could aptly define my resolve.
चिलचिलाती धूप को जो चाँदनी देवें बना।
काम पड़ने पर करें जो शेर का भी सामना।
जो कि हँस हँस के चबा लेते हैं लोहे का चना।
‘है कठिन कुछ भी नहीं” जिनके है जी में यह ठना।
कोस कितने ही चलें पर वे कभी थकते नहीं।
कौन सी है गाँठ जिसको खोल वे सकते नहीं
When I had written this post, some ten years back, access to the internet wasn’t as easily available as it is now and now since it is, I have got the above line for you. Let me push the gushing thoughts about “knots” that are coming rushing to me after reading those forgotten lines, at bay or else I will end up writing another post on “Nada.”
Hmmm..just take note of the last line. To a kid in the sixth standard, a “gaanth” (knot) doesn’t mean unravelling complex problems of life or finding solutions to them as the poet intended to convey, but to a child, it would have simply meant about opening a knot, because for a child a knot is a knot and nothing more than this.
I had hardly gotten over the stage of getting the knots of my own Nada being done and undone by my mother, so even though I say that my thoughts reached for the stars and I would see stars in her eyes but, surely they didn’t reach ….chalo ab rehne hi do- anywhere near where the knots of the personal apparels are tied. The thing that must not have come in my mind at that time cannot become a part of the story of those childhood days of innocence for it to remain among my childhood love stories. It might set you thinking that how many love affairs did I have during my childhood. Let me tell you, that I wasn’t by any stretch of imagination less than that licentious bard Byron. If he had a deformed foot then I had a speech disorder. His defect did not give him any complex and neither did mine to me. He didn’t have any use of the leg in his adventure and I had no use for my tongue except for speech, in which it faltered. Even though I am sure, I must be knowing this poem by heart then, but while coming to these lines about opening the knot, I wouldn’t have paused to think. If the Karmaveers have to pass the test of opening the knots also, they wouldn’t hesitate, because I believed that the Karamveers could open them all. Sincerely speaking my thoughts didn’t venture that far then. To me even thinking about such things was sacrilegious, but what a poor old boy can do, when his own body is not in control of his mind?
Do you know what such lines can do to a teenybopper? It is like lighting the fuse of a rocket. And by rocket, I just don’t mean the firecracker, the one with a stick and a fuse, the kids play with on Diwali. I mean the one that is loaded with liquid hydrogen that propels the mean machine to the distant stars- and stars were where I had set my eyes, and stars were there in her eyes. The twinkling stars that filled the skies above and, beckoned me, to reach for them, pluck them and present to her. Humming the bars of some Hindi song that spoke of similar promises, being made by a bloke in the movie, I wasn’t taken to, because, children were not supposed to see movies. It was the diktat, we had to live with. But I could imagine it all. A heart in love can do that. I don’t need to tell those, who have been through this. What to speak of seeing or not seeing the movies, even your lady love can be in a burqa covered from head to toe, with just a slit for the eyes to be out of it or even they could be covered with a mesh. What does it matter? The love blooms in the heart, eyes have little role in it. Remember the movie Pakeeza and the dialogue it starts with? “Aap ke paon dekehe, bahut haseen hain. Inhein zameen par mat rakhiyega, maile ho jayeinge.”
A prospective lover doesn’t need to see with his eyes for falling in love. It’s not for nothing that they say that Love is Blind- it indeed is, at least the lover is.
I would make plans of telling her the feeling that tormented me day in and day out. The feelings that led me to sin and then be consumed by the guilt. I thought the only way out of this purgatory would be to beg my tormentor to lead me out of it. But telling was difficult. Though I had gotten over my lisp, I wasn’t confident that this boneless organ would be able to convey the feelings that agonized my little heart. I couldn’t depend on it. It was prone to getting stuck to the palate.
A slow steep path snaked by the side of our cottage. Since there were no other cottages around the one in which we lived, no one used this circuitous path for getting to other houses on way to Annandale. Thus, it served as a sort of a lovers’ lane. Obviously, it would have been the ideal one for the confession that I wanted to make. But this stretch was small. So small that you could traverse in a time smaller than what is taking you to read this paragraph, although I am stretching it for you to have an idea of how long was it. It wasn’t ‘Dweller’s empty path’ Haha. It was used by children of every description for playing hide and seek and reaching the flat patch adjacent to the Jail. And all the children, even if in a tearing hurry would take a second look at the wooing lovers, if there would be some there. This was the place where I had dreamed of confessing my love to Neelam because this was where I had seen some other idiots, strangers to our locality fumbling over well-rehearsed lines when confessing of love to their shy trembling girl-friends.
How I longed to do that, my aching heart only knew it. This path opened on to a footpath that snaked down the rest of the hill to meet the road leading to Annandale. The ‘Mehras’ lived in a government accommodation somewhere close to Annandale. The only reason for her to choose to come this way was to give company to her elder sister who being the thickest friend of my elder sister would agree to take a detour. The days when Geeta would accompany them were as such rare. After all, the flame that was consuming me hadn’t yet been lit in her heart by me. So to expect her to choose this excuse for giving her eyes a pleasure of seeing me wasn’t expected of her and then the prospect of finding her alone on this short path to allow me to pierce her heart this stuttering Cupid wanted to achieve by shooting a love soaked arrow was like waiting for a gift of bow and arrow from Kamdev himself. I believed in miracles then and sincerely prayed for one such gift from not a low-level deputy like Kamdev but from his father Lord Brahma himself… and it worked.
My wait paid rewards. She was alone and prancing down the path when I saw her, I immediately started walking upwards, pretending to be going up on some errand. I stopped and she stopped too diagonally across me and returned my hello with a cute smile. My heart started beating so violently against the rib cage that I could hear the beat in my ears, like mridangam being played at a South Indian temple. I had to say, whatever I wanted to say because serious shivering induced by feelings of excitement and anxiety that had crowded my thoughts, had gripped my heart and a seizure was imminent. I had forgotten all the lines that I had rehearsed over and over again for this moment and now before, she could start moving again, I had to say some vestigial guff that remained in my confused mind. I had to utter whatever claptrap I could get out of my trembling lips as my mouth was getting dry and the faltering tongue was in danger of sticking to the palate.
I said, “ Mujhe tumse kuch kehna hai”.
“To keh de an”, she said.
“Phir kabhi kahoonga”, I said, and I ran away, without looking back. After reaching near Thapa Villa, I stopped for taking a long breath and to think over if what had passed between us could be classified as a successful mission or a failure. While my heart was saying that I had scored a point and what I had to say had been said, my mind differed with it in its entirety. It was telling me that, she had understood nothing from my action. Within days of the incident, I realized that my mind was right because if she had understood my overtures, she should have been a different girl from then on. That was a litmus test, a sure sign of someone’s heart having been pierced by a Cupid’s arrow. Since this knowledge had come to me from my peers and those who had walked this path before me, I had little reason to doubt it, but there was no change in her. She was the same, tomboyish girl as she ever was, and not even once, she blushed or told me that she had a heart that tormented her anytime after that day.
Note:- Pictures are from the internet.