“Karoge yaad to har baat yaad aayegi,
Guzarate waqt ki har mauj thehr jaayegi
Ye chaand beete zamaanon kaa aaeenaa hoga,
Bhatakte abr mein chehraa koi banaa hoga
Udaas raah koi daastaan sunaaegi
Gali ke mor par soona saa koi darwaazaa,
Tarasti Aankhon se rastaa kissi ka dekhegaa
Nigaah dur talak jaake laut aayegi” – Bashar Nawaz
[Should you (choose to) reminisce (then) you will (be able to) recall every instance
The tide of the passing time will be stilled
This moon will mirror the elapsed times/ages
In the meandering cloud a visage may shape up
The wistful pathway will (serve to) break a story
At the turn of the alley stands a lonesome door
With longing eyes, watching the road for someone (to return)
The sight will go far away and then return (disappointed)]
One beautiful spring afternoon a few weeks ago I was indulging in my favourite leisure “activity” – reading and dozing on a zero-gravity chair under the canopy of the sprawling tree in our backyard. Between reading and napping on this cool, pleasant afternoon my thoughts went back to another era.
I have always enjoyed winters in Delhi, especially those lazy afternoons sprawled on an easy chair in the garden, a cold beverage by the side and an unending supply of fresh, hot kababs or pakoras, followed by the tangy aroma and taste of fresh oranges being peeled and served up. I recall the gentle breeze with a hint of distant eucalyptus trees, rich with a bouquet of roses, sweet peas and other winter blooms. The deliciously cosy sunshine offset by the nip in the air that would make me reach for the discarded sweater lying by my side. In the 1980s, my uncle was the Engineer-In-Chief, Indian Army and was stationed in Delhi. His official residence on Kushak Road was a charming British Raj vintage white-plastered colonial bungalow, set in the middle of sprawling, well-tended lawns emblazoned with a riot of colourful flowers. It was in this idyllic setting that P uncle introduced me to Indian classical music. We brought out his collection of 78 rpm Long Playing vinyl records one afternoon and for the first time, I heard Kumar Gandharva singing Kabir sahib’s Nirguni bhajans.
As a child, I was fortunate to live in a place called Nangal in the Punjab. My father was posted there and our bungalow was situated atop a steep bank of the river Sutlej. It was a breathtaking locale and many Bollywood movies were filmed there. One summer, super star Dharmendra and I played badminton each morning at the local club when he stayed in Nangal for a film shoot. I remember my “secret hideout” shaped out of a cluster of wild “ber” (Indian plum) bushes next to the pier jutting out into the river. When a cousin would visit in the summer, he would take “langra” and “dassehri” mangoes out of the refrigerator, put them in a net bag and dunk them in the ice-cold waters of the Sutlej to “chill”, while we fished for the “mahaseer” (Tor – a type of carp)!
I recall that cold, dark winter morning when a train from Jullundhur steamed into Delhi junction and I first laid my eyes on the person who would go on to become the love of my life from that moment forward. The beige polo neck sweater she wore that morning clearly stands out in my memory.
Looking back at the births, graduations, weddings, deaths and so many other events that stand out as landmarks in my life journey, it is most fortunate that every single incident brings a wistful smile to my lips, allowing me to continue to move forward unburdened by any regrets.
Karoge yaad to … fortunately, no empty path to turn back and dwell on, for me!