Voyage of Words

My journey started with books not because I wanted to learn or gain knowledge, but because I had ample time. Post Partition, I was staying in Purani Dilli, somewhere near a sabzi mandi. My father had a thailiyon ki dukaan (shop selling bags) at Chandni Chowk. After school I helped out at the shop and stayed overnight there. There was no electricity, only a small lantern. Sleep was elusive and in the lantern light, there was no better way to spend the night than to read books.

I met a man who ran something akin to a book-rental library in a shack close to our shop. He charged 25 paise, and in that amount, one could borrow any number of books. I started with detective novels. One day I would be reading Sultana Daku’s exploits, and on the other I would pick up stories of chudails (witches)! So there I was, borrowing a new book every day, till the man gave up. “I don’t have any more books! What do you do, just turn the pages?” he screamed. Then, he gave me a book and warned me not to come back without reading every page.

I read it within the night, but the book changed my reading preference and even my life. It was an Urdu translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s The Gardener. That was one of the most important turning points of my life, being introduced to poetry and Bengali literature. Then I went on to read the works of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay and Munshi Premchand in Urdu translations. The power of Tagore’s language is so strong; it has a certain laye (rhythm) to it. I taught myself Bengali to read the author’s original works.

Later, when I moved to Mumbai, I did various odd jobs, that of a car mechanic as well. I used to paint dented cars and people said I did my work rather well. During my free time, my poetry flowed on to pages. I read up on Subhash Mukhopadhyay, Jibanananda Das and Sunil Gangopadhyay too. It was much later that I got into films. Legendary lyricist Shailendra introduced me to Bimal Roy, who became a mentor, and I assisted him for a long time. Through films, I wore new mantles such as lyricist, scriptwriter and director, but poetry is something that comes naturally to me and has travelled with me throughout my life.

voyagee

eSaus fdrkcsa i<+us dk lQ+j blfy, ’kq: ugha fd;k Fkk fd eSa cgqr lh[kuk ;k Kku c<+kuk pkgrk Fkk vfirq esjs ikl i;kZIr le; FkkA vkt+knh ds ckn eSa lCt+h eaMh ds fudV iqjkuh fnYyh ds fdlh bykds esa jgrk FkkA pkanuh pkSd esa esjs firk dh FkSfy;ksa dh nqdku FkhA Ldwy ds ckn eSa nqdku ij cSBdj firk dh enn fd;k djrk Fkk vkSj jkr dks nqdku ij gh lks tk;k djrk FkkA ogka fctyh ugha Fkh] dsoy ,d NksVh lh ykyVsu FkhA ogka uhan eqf’dy ls vkrh Fkh vkSj ykyVsu dh jks’kuh esa fdrkcsa i<+us ls csgrj dksbZ dke ugha FkkA

eSa ,d ,sls O;fDr ls feyk ftldh gekjh nqdku ds djhc ,d [kksds esa fdrkcksa dh ykbczsjh Fkh vkSj og fdjk, ij fdrkcsa nsrk FkkA ml le; og 25 iSls ysrk Fkk vkSj dksbZ i<+us ds fy, fdruh Hkh fdrkcsa ys ldrk FkkA eSa tklwlh miU;kl i<+us yxkA ,d fnu eSa lqYrkuk Mkdw rks nwljs fnu pqM+Syksa dh dgkuh i<+rk Fkk! vr% tc rd ml O;fDr us eq>s fdrkc nsus ls budkj ugha dj fn;k rc rd eSa gj jkst+ ,d ubZ fdrkc ysdj vkrk FkkA og fpYyk;k] ^^esjs ikl vkSj fdrkcsa ugha gSaA rqe djrs D;k gks dsoy fdrkc ds iUus iyVrs gks\** rc mlus eq>s ,d fdrkc nh vkSj psrkouh nh fd iwjh fdrkc i<+s fcuk er ykSVkukAeSaus ,d jkr esa og fdrkc i<+ Mkyh fdarq mlls esjh i<+us dh vknr esa dkQ+h cnyko vk;kA og fdrkc jfoanzukFk VSxksj dh ^n xkMZuj* dk mnwZ esa vuqokn FkhA og esjh ft+anxh ds csgn egÙoiw.kZ eksM+ksa esa ls ,d eksM+ Fkk( tc eq>s ’kk;jh ,oa caxkyh lkfgR; ds ckjs esa irk pyk FkkA mlds ckn eSaus ’kjrpanz pV~Vksik/;k; ,oa eqa’kh izsepan dh fdrkcksa dk mnwZ vuqokn Hkh i<+kA VSxksj dh Hkk”kk cgqr izHkko’kkyh Fkh( mlesa ,d izdkj dh y; fo|eku FkhA bruk gh ugha mu ys[kdksa dh ewy jpuk,a i<+us ds fy, gh eSaus caxkyh Hkk”kk i<+uh lh[kh FkhA

mlds ckn eSa tc eqacbZ vk;k rc eSaus dbZ rjg ds dke/ka/ks fd,A eSaus dkj eSdsfud dk Hkh dke fd;kA eSa VwVh dkjksa dks iasV fd;k djrk Fkk vkSj yksx dgk djrs Fks fd eSa viuk dke c[+kwch fd;k djrk FkkA [kkyh le; esa eSa iUuksa ij ’kk;jh fd;k djrk FkkA eSaus lqHkk”k eq[kksik/;k;] thoukuan nkl] lquhy xaxksik/;k; dh jpuk,a Hkh i<+haA mlds dkQ+h le; ckn eq>s fQ+Yeksa esa dke feykA fo[;kr xhrdkj ’kSysanz us eq>s fcey jkW; ls feyok;k Fkk tks esjs izsj.kk L=ksr cus vkSj eSaus yacs le; rd muds lgk;d ds :i esa dke fd;kA fQ+Yeksa ds ek/;e ls eSaus xhrdkj] iVdFkk ys[kd] funsZ’kd tSls u, {ks=ksa esa gkFk vkt+ek;k fdarq ’kk;jh og lkSxkr Fkh tks eq>s LokHkkfod :i ls feyh vkSj mlus iwjh ft+anxh esjs lkFk ;k=k dhA

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