Posted in Article

Language: Decoding Beyond Words And Expressions

Artwork by Akash Patwal

Did a few words ever brought you close to someone? Did they make you feel understood enough to communicate your feelings one more time and then another till it finally became a common abode for the both of you? Do you remember mumbling those few words (most of which were mere sounds)  only your mother could make sense out of until you gradually learnt to form nonsensical sentences which were a cluster of random words? This was all happening in your mother tongue and slightly in English if you hail from an “educated” Indian family. As you grew up you still were struggling to pronounce your words right and absorbing more of those in your evolving memory so that you could communicate with clarity. With time, experience and adequate nutrition develops mind, physique and personality. This also leads to emotional and perceptive growth in turn enabling you to express your individual self as well as identification within a social group. Does language play an eminent role throughout? Remember entering teenage and creating your own jargon with a bunch of friends while the teacher emphasized on “minding your language”? Also, the schools made an attempt that you developed an extensive vocabulary and got the “English” grammar just right. We were told to speak in English, watch English movies and develop a habit of reading English books while the mother tongue was a havoc and led to “fine” or even deduction of a few marks/ credits here and there. Subconsciously, we were taught that English was a superior language. But what was determining this hierarchy? Who were the people influencing our mindset even with the presence of abundant diversity in the Indian heritage? Being a British colony did hit us hard but after that we had enough time to embrace our own culture! Yet we are awed by the Western lifestyle. The need for globalisation has made it necessary to share information via a mutual medium but that never meant for us to start demeaning our own regional ethnicity.

               The early men started communicating using gestures which were accompanied with the sounds they made. It was slowly and gradually that the words were formulated. Scripts and grammar were created much later. Languages continue to evolve even today especially its vernacular attributes. This was happening simultaneously all across the world amidst the primitive civilizations. Now the modern man can easily learn languages that belong to a different country while sitting at home itself. He can improve his skills by talking to the native speakers who volunteer online or wish to exchange knowledge about each other’s language. The media now is easier to access. It is appreciated to be multilingual. It opens up our mind and broadens are learning abilities further. It allows us to empathise with different cultures with regional literature as a powerful tool. But again, hierarchy and popularity of languages is extensively analyzed and understood before taking up a new one. Every time we visit a new place, especially the ethnographic researchers, the natives share more of their lives with us if we speak their tongue. This hints at the sudden sense of belonging that a mutual language generates. Also, have you ever grooved to the tunes of a song that wasn’t in a familiar language but still felt relatable? It shows that language is aided with expressions and emotions that need to be conveyed. A language may not be that easy to decipher and would require linguistic professionals, however it is an extremely powerful tool to share all those beautiful thoughts in our head using the innumerable precious words.

Posted in Poem

Things NOT To Do Out Of Boredom

Been stuck in a room; now for a while?
The windows are at a stand still,
The curtains flutter towards the familiar edges,
The walls- they wouldn’t move
The fan hums in an absurd harmony while the roof reeks of monotony-
Truth be told, the time has come
Try and take heed beyond that stubborn door.

Been trapped in a city full of lights; now feels like a lifetime?
The road is drenched with noise
The flicker of the red light glitters;
Yet it doesn’t  appease the one in your eyes
The sky is dawned with dusk
The pace now depraves the lust for the details-
Truth be heard, the time has come
Try and find peace in a lover’s arms.

Been loved like never before, now for an eternity?
The walk- the talk- the fears- the tears-
Lived through them all
The fun and games have been left behind
Curiosity now pays the debt of adapting;
The stories aren’t wicked anymore, Just crooked with yet another encore
Truth be felt, the time has come
Try and stop being a slave to your inner boredom.

-Ruchi Bhardwaj

Posted in Poem

The Last Few Calls

You came across these words
Glad, probably intrigued
Hence, here I assume you have a shelter to retreat
I know you can read;
I wish you understand.

The world has come to a standstill; even though for a brief timid while-
It had been all over the headlines
But there’s a mother in a village who knows not why-
The world is shutting down
While her’s isn’t even around.
What went wrong? Why was the voice trembling in those last few calls?
A wife cooks that humble delicacy now reduced to two or even one meal
She might not understand the written-
But deciphers the silent cries in those last few calls.
The little children roaming around had been asked to stay home
While their mother struggles to get their lessons right
They wish their father’s stories were a little more convincing over those last few calls.

-Ruchi Bhardwaj

Posted in Artwork, Poem

Memories I Wish Weren’t Mine

Have you ever been in memories?
No, not in love- that in itself is a bitter ball game
But in memories of someone not for a day or two-
Somehow, managing to take heed for an eternity
Not the same forever
A picture- new and vivid being painted each time
One morning, a flicker of the first kiss
Another night, all the reasons why you walked away
An evening filled with contemplation of who’s, what’s and why’s
A noon in remembrance of all promises made with fingers crossed and heart set free
A dusk of those absurd fairy lights with giggles and laughter
A dawn of tears when we couldn’t stand each other.
Do you ever stop by in someone’s dream?
In nightmares hurting them;
A little more dramatic than reality,
In day dreams- as stories that were never lived.
Do you know? Do you realise?
Somehow I wish they weren’t just mine.

Artwork- Akash Patwal; Poem- Ruchi Bhardwaj.

Posted in Article, Experience, Graphic art

A Letter To The “Almost” Discarded Clothes In My Wardrobe

Dear ALMOST discarded clothes,
They say vanity is shallow yet turn to it for rescue when in vain. We are made to believe that work, career and money are supposed to be the primary priorities and attire is completely secondary or even a little beneath that. But aren’t these secondary objectives the reason to prioritize the more meaningful ones? We experience that intellect stands with us throughout while beauty fades. But isn’t it because we let go a little too easy? Why can’t the two be in a symbiotic relationship? This is the reason for you adding colours in my wardrobe and my life.
The humble garments with a varying touch of fabrics had brought an utopia of its own kind to me. You have allowed me to be flattered of who I am and made me believe that I can be whomever I wish to be. You have made me feel pretty when a guy would comfort me for being ugly and showed me the mirror when I was too overwhelmed with my bold sartorial experiments. Those floral bras have supported me when nothing else was in place! My mother’s saree draping me with her nurturing tenderness had inspired me to care a bit more. Those socks, scarves, mufflers borrowed from friends never really meant to be returned open the doors enabling me to relive the several thousand memories and remind me of how I have a part of them in my own persona. The brother’s T-shirts meant to be worn out in the gym have made me feel loved and empowered simultaneously. Dad’s shoes have always been too big to fit in. The sweater from ex-boyfriend would never go well with any of the dresses yet it lies somewhere in a corner, at times tearing me apart. You may never get the credit for standing through thick and thin with me but somewhere unknowingly and without any need for acknowledgement you were giving me reasons to take care of myself.

My mother had been asking me to get rid of you since ages but looks like I can’t let you go. You have been a part of my evolving personality since a child who didn’t care of what to wear to a snobbish teenager, a girl in her twenties trying every bit to be a lady, a woman in her thirties who would realize she now is a rebel, another one in her forties who would question was everything worth it, one in her fifties drenched in nostalgia of youth and in her sixties a little content with herself because- she would have seen it all. How would bidding goodbye not be a matter of heartbreak? The time changes and so does the trend. Even if I choose to be a fashion laggard in the name of “experimental fashion”, you don’t fit me anymore. Hence, there is no way I can style you any further. Don’t worry, I won’t let you suffer with my younger cousins even when I am bombarded with the idea of responsible sustainable fashion as a trick reminder by my mother. I apologize for the times when I demeaned you and chased after the ones in stores and online even when you were in the best of condition. Sorry for differentiating amongst you based on brands. Sorry for thinking that you were not enough at times. My dad has blamed you for wastage of money but secretly you were giving me lessons on how to save for a reason. No matter how old we grow, howsoever we ignore each other I’ll always love you and know that you’ll always be there for me even if it has to be a different silhouette or a new form altogether.
Love,
The girl you own.

Posted in Doodles, Poem

What Does She Seek?

A pretty lady with thoughts gruesome
A heart lady-like but deeds one and all unkind
She looked fear in face-
No act of medallion or an attempt of being brave;
The mere trouble that she craved.
A wish to leave it all behind
Yet a victim of trauma and memory that she cherished and longed to embrace
Each day a new person aids her introspect the vacillating soul
Better or worse- she doesn’t realise upon dusk or dawn.
She’s curious, not lost
She’s not damaged, just hurt
She seeks muse, not love
She’s tired, not afraid
She is heartbroken, not disappointed;
Or is this all she speaks to put herself to sleep each passing night?

Posted in Artwork, Poem

Can I?

Can I tell you a secret,
Even if my lips promised the head to keep mum?
Can I narrate you a story,
Even though I don’t want you to recognise the fiction reeking with reality?
Can I sing you a song,
Even if the music can’t hide the shenanigan beneath the happy lyrics?
Can I look into your eyes,
Even when mine would let you glance through the tears I have been holding back?
Can I say all the promises I make are mere words,
Even if I stay wide awake making the ends meet?
Can I walk you across that one dreaded street,
Even if it ends amidst the unkempt memory lane?
Can I show you all my fears,
Even if I won’t be able to mend you for eternity; followed by those beautiful years?
Can I paint you a picture,
Even if I wish to mask the vision blurry?
Can I write you a letter,
Even when the words fain to lead towards the true expression?
Can I leave a mark,
Even if you wish to flaunt you’ll embrace it hidden?
Can I say the rose on my cheek is newly bought,
Even when your presence does that to me?
Can- I – Can – I – Can; but-
Alas! I better keep that secret.

Posted in Article, Experience, People, Photography

“Toffee Tureshi” Taufiq Qureshi Mohammad

Taufiq Qureshi. Have you heard about him? Well, I was fortunate enough to meet him in person very recently. No, I don’t talk of the Indian classical musician Taufiq Qureshi. Instead, I am talking about Taufiq Qureshi Mohammad- a ten year old guide. This little boy in pink shirt and green sweater has a lisp and I almost mistook his name for “toffee” but that is worth the sweetness in his story. Taufiq means the ability or opportunity to achieve success and this comes handy with education, knowledge and passion. Knowledge and education are yet to embrace him, but passion is what he beholds.

As I stand with my family in front of the Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri he approaches us and asks us if we need a guide. We stood there half astonished, half doubtedly. Astonished about a child his age being confident about showing us around while my nine year old cousin is still being taught the basic manners and he still got nothing! Well, being a resident at Delhi and facing and hearing about crimes such as pick pocketing each day- the doubt part is obvious. Anyhow, the child urges us to take him along and says he would charge whatever we feel like giving him- rupees 10, 50- whatever! Does he really need the money or is it something else? I ask him if he goes to school. He does. He studied in 5th standard during the day and comes at the Buland Darwaza around 3pm everyday after school. He spend weekends there itself. “But why?” I ask him. To which he replies ‘Bas ese he madam ji, mujhe acha lagta hai yaha, muje acha guide banna hai ek din ( no reason mam, I like it here, I want to be a good guide one day)’. His dreams are different from the ones the kids in metro cities babble about. Astronaut, pilot, engineer, doctor, artist, scientist, model, designer or guide- I don’t know which are realistic or unrealistic, which are better which are worse. All I know is that these are innocent and tender dreams influenced by a difference of situations off course.

As we move forward he brings the horse shoes adorned on the massive gate to our notice which were otherwise being ignored by the designer’s mind. ‘These are for good luck, madam ji’ he educates me. The monument itself is magnificent and has a story of its own, but somehow it is Taufiq whose story tickles not just my brain but also my heart. As we move forward we come across a wall pointing at which Taufiq remarks that Anarkali was punished there. It is a plain grey wall in front of the graves that belong to Akbar’s descendants. Taufiq elucidates that Akbar’s family members rest in peace beneath those graves. Listening to this my 9 year old cousin asks, ‘Are they all dead? All of them?’. He goes through this bewilderment at the thought of loss of an entire family. He is too young to know about adversities that life has knocking on its door but he isn’t naive enough to be unaware of emotions and belonging. Anyhow, the guide replies with a sense of wisdom and a bit of indifference in his tone, ‘ Nahi. Abhi kuch zinda hai (No. A few are still alive)’.

Taufiq further leads us to the mosque. He ushers all of us inside but remains outside himself. Doesn’t this little fellow has prayers to offer? Doesn’t he wish for fancy toys? Inside the mosque a man continuously asks people to leave offerings (materialistic) for baba. Religious places- they all are the same! We return our white caps as we step out of the mosque and find my 19 year old brother cherishing the Sufi music being played right in front of the mosque. He chose to stay outside and listen to serenity over the shenanigans of worshipping and all the unwanted squalor religions invite. Meanwhile, Taufiq was joined by his little friend Faisal who was 9 years old. I asked the same question to Faisal that did he go to school and with great pride and confidence he replied, ‘Everyday, madam ji’. The two boys are friends but competitors too. Competition does start early in life! Taufiq tells us that there are 84 doors and 200 minars. As my 19 year old brother asks him what comes next Taufiq fails to count and I am obliged to ponder if the lessons at his school are being taught well? Does Taufiq prefer learning in the open neglecting what books and institutions have to offer him?

Taufiq draws our attention towards a chandelier which looked familiar. He then adds that this is the larger version of the one at the Taj Mahal. At one of the gates with honeycomb my father questions Taufiq about the bees frivolously. He fails to answer. My father remarks how will you become a good guide Taufiq if you won’t be able to answer what people ask you! This rings a bell in his head. He digs deeper, applies logic and unknowingly knows it all.

As we reach the central face Taufiq points at the religious harmony appreciated by Akbar and my father elaborates about Hinduism, Islam and Din-i Ilahi. A professional guide dealing with a group of foreigners stood beside us. Glancing at him Taufiq got on his feet in an envious manner and he took cues from his senior. He taught us to take a selfie that could include all the family members along with the dome at the central face. Now Taufiq sounded a bit different- professional to be specific. The tour to Buland Darwaza ended and Taufiq took us down the flight of steps after we collected our shoes from the shoe counter run by his colleagues. Our next destination was the Jodha Bai’s Palace which was adjacent to the Victory Gate. Impressed by the little guide we asked him to accompany us to the next destination but he refused due to the fear of police. The policemen often harass these children at such monuments. Anyhow, he dropped us till the entrance of the palace. My father tipped him and my brother handed him a pen from the set of embellished pens he had just bought from another child outside. I hope that someday education helps Taufiq and he could focus on his childhood lessons and not just the survival necessasities. Several thousands of children redeem with their mirth everyday in unusual ways in order to let the ends meet. The sight is always heart touching and beautiful, but do they provoke any thoughts in your mind?

Posted in Artwork, Doodles, Poem

WORDS

Words, if they had a name
I’ll call them agony
For every minute of pain they welcomed.
Words, if they had a name
I’ll call them misery
For every tear a poet could shed.
Words if they could scar
I’ll silently let them mark every inch of my skin-
Beneath and beyond- untill the sadist dies a learned death.
Words- I’ll let them pour
Untill and unless the fear is drenched-
And now has a cure.
Words, I’ll let them bruise
Because violet purple red and blue-
They come with avid hues.
Words, if and only if they had a name-
I’ll call them illusion
Because in the end did we really understand?