Own Poetry Hindi

आओ कुछ सैटेलाइट्स गिराएँ।

आओ कुछ सैटेलाइट्स गिराएँ।

नोटबंदी – किसान हारा,
जॉब्स ढूँढ़ता यूथ बेचारा।
उनके दर्द दूर करें हम-
आज उनका दिल बहलाएँ।

आओ कुछ सैटेलाइट्स गिराएँ।

पॉलिसी, डिफ़ेंस, वर्ल्ड हंगर
सॉल्व करते हैं न्यूज़ एंकर।
उनकी ही फिर से सुनें हम-
कुछ सनसनीखेज कर जाएँ।

आओ कुछ सैटेलाइट्स गिराएँ।

नीति-अनीति, छल कपट से,
साम-दाम या दंड-भेद से,
जिनसे दिक़्कत हो उन सबका
वोटर लिस्ट से नाम हटाएँ।

आओ कुछ सैटेलाइट्स गिराएँ।

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

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Own Poetry Hindi

क्रम

गीत पहले निकले
सरगम के नियम बाद में आए,
रंग पहले उड़े
होलिका के किस्से फिर बनाए।

ताक़त पहले हड़पी
राजनीति बाद में ढूँढ़ी,
क़त्ल पहले हुए
युद्ध के सिद्धांत फिर घुसाए।

बुद्धिमान पहले चुने
परिभाषा बुद्धि की फिर आई,
शासक बने पहले, बाद में
सही-गलत के भेद बताए।

Photo by Arthur Osipyan on Unsplash

Own Poetry Hindi

ये बढ़िया चौकीदारी है।

ये बढ़िया चौकीदारी है।

चोर घूमें सड़कों पर
और चोर से तुम्हें बचाने को
तुम पर ही पहरेदारी है।
ये बढ़िया चौकीदारी है।

तनख्वाह इस चौकीदार की
आती जाने किस द्वार से?
ये हम पर बहुत ही भारी है।
ये बढ़िया चौकीदारी है।

कुछ सत्तर साल पुराने
एक दूजे चौकीदार का
भूत इनपर भारी है।
ये बढ़िया चौकीदारी है।

इंतजार वेकैन्सी का करना
तुम छोड़ो, ट्विटर पर
अब आबंटन की बारी है।
ये बढ़िया चौकीदारी है।

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Mohan Moolepetlu on Unsplash

Feminism

The Wrong Kind of Women’s Day WhatsApp Forwards!

You can’t avoid them. The WhatsApp forwards for every occasion. They also raise their heads on the Facebook timeline. My Mom said that WhatsApp has made them very cosmopolitan. Now they celebrate everything from Diwali, Holi, Eid, Muharram to Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and Thanksgiving! All without much effort. Just forward the images you receive.

Women’s day can’t be far behind. But this is a tricky one. It has become this feel-good, celebrate-women-or-even-womanhood – defined very stereotypically – kind of a day. Fueled not in small part by the commercial appropriation of every occasion that has a name. Everybody loves a good discount. What is in a name?

But the origin of Women’s Day is in Women’s Rights movements. It isn’t about a lot of things that we get forwards on.

A few samples from my WA inbox this time around.

WD1

What’s Wrong?

What’s wrong is that “Dear Women”, you shouldn’t have to shoulder the responsibility of raising the other half of the society. They also become adults, and then they should shoulder the responsibility of raising their children as well. This is typical of the kind of messages that take a problematic case of status-quo and paint a romantic aura around it. So, “Dear Women”, saddled with responsibilities that shouldn’t be yours alone? And other opportunities of having a fulfilling life are beyond your reach because of that? Worry not. You are “far superior”.

No, thanks! I will take equality.

Also, “Dear Women”, your life doesn’t have to be defined by giving birth to and raising children. You can choose not to.

And nope! There is nothing wrong is having and raising children either. Just don’t make it the essence of womanhood for everyone or try to present a discriminatory situation as desirable.

The next set includes two messages.

WD2

WD4

What’s Wrong?

What’s wrong is that the worth of women has always been defined in terms of their relationships with others, particularly men. They are worthy not for what they are, but what they are to men. “Cute daughters”, “sweet sisters”, “lovely lovers” and their “inspiration” and “source of strength”.

Like birthing and raising children, there is nothing wrong in being all that, if that suits. But there is everything wrong in this being celebrated as a Women’s Day message and as essence and pride of being a woman.

No – a woman doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, defined by her relationship to men in her life. You can be a terrible sister, an annoying daughter and inspire no one. You are still an individual who deserves equal rights, equal pay, the freedom of movement and life choices. And that’s what the Women’s Day is about.

Next up is this.

WD3

What’s Wrong?

Nooo! A woman is not by definition “wonderful”, “outstanding”, “marvelous”, “adorable”, and “nice”. For God’s sake, a woman may be none of these.

And yet, like I said above, she is an individual who deserves equal rights, equal pay, the freedom of movement and life choices. And that’s what the Women’s Day is about.

Finally, this gem

WD5

No thanks for internalizing the convenient male narrative that women don’t know their mind, or won’t speak them, or are impossible to understand – so what option do our clueless men have other than forcing whatever they want on them?

Stop with it, already! It isn’t cute. This is the kind of reasoning that makes people insensitive to ideas like consent and results in damaging things being done to women all the time.

That’s all for this edition of “The Wrong Kind of Forwards”!

Thoughts

Discovering a Fondness for Nehru

Indian_Prime_Minister_Jawaharlal_Nehru_with_Denmark_Prime_Minister_H._C._Hansen_in_a_Bumper_Toy_Car_-_Copenhagen,_Denmark,_1957Growing up, Pt. Nehru was one in a long list of people about whom you had to cram up information to be able to write essays in exams. He was a man who featured in the books about general knowledge and in those about great men of India. I think you were supposed to feel some sort of fondness for him, because this great man was after all “Chacha Nehru” and he supposedly loved children. But so did many other adults around you, and they were far more accessible than this long-dead man. He was a man whose photos patriotic characters in old Hindi movies kept in their houses. He was the first prime minister of India. His birthday resulted in a holiday. And yes – he was the man after whom my school was named (Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya). Great man, like I said.

Somewhere during my early adult life, this greatness of Nehru faded from my consciousness. I did read his books. Like I read so many others. But it took much more adulting to start appreciating the man.

It took a lot of reading and traveling to realize how badly many other countries decolonized in the 20th century had done. It took looking at Vietnam, at Cambodia, and at African countries in the grip of autocrats to realize how far-sighted a man we had in our first prime minister, who focused on strengthening democracy, and not on trying to turn his immense popularity into autocratic power. Something he could have done. It took a prolonged stay away from home, exposure to language chauvinism in my country, and the hopeless language policies of some other countries to appreciate the open-mindedness of a man who got Urdu added to the 8th schedule of constitutionally recognized languages after retorting to a Hindi chauvinist friend of his that Urdu “is my language, the language of my ancestors.” It took shedding of a lot of simplistic notions about life, politics, and society to admire the vision of a leader who wasn’t bogged down by the immediate challenges of a newly independent nation and invested in building the institutes of science and technology. It took confronting the cringe-worthy behavior of petty politicians, who rise to power far too often, to admire the statesmanship of the prime minister of a country who power, and even survival, was doubted by all, but who could garner international respect and attention despite that. It took dismay at the utter lack of vision our current leaders display to appreciate the vision of a man who thought of Non-alignment movement back in those days. It took being face to face with the apathy of many regimes towards persecuted refugees to understand the heart of a man who offered refuge to Tibetans, even if he wasn’t in a position to fight China over them (and many Tibetans hate him for that!).

It also took time to understand that the man sold in the books as an infallible great man was after all human. That even if he recognized thirteen languages, including Urdu, in our constitution, he did make a strong case against recognizing every “dialect” of Hindi as a separate language, an idea that reflected in the “Hindi belt” language policy and has done irreversible damage to many languages by subverting them to “standardized” Hindi. That he could have done things differently in Kashmir. That despite his generous and inclusive idea of India, a lot of people were left out of its ambit – you can start by thinking of everyone displaced and ill-compensated for the large projects he championed and of people who continue to suffer for the sake of such state-backed projects even today. That there are a lot of problems our country has that can be traced back to him.

However, with every realization of all the things that were wrong with him, I also realized that so many things that are right with our country can also be traced back to the same man.

It took extensive vilification of this great man by our current regime for me to appreciate him as a visionary leader. It took a certain dear leader and his puerile pettiness for me to discover my fondness for Nehru.

Own Poetry Hindi

कंकड़-पत्थर

राहों में चलते-चलते
कुछ मज़ेदार शक़ल के,
जो कंकड़-पत्थर मिले
हमने उठा लिए।

कभी कहीं किसी की
नज़रें मिली पारखी,
उन्हें अलट-पलट के
हीरे बता दिए।

हमसे तो ना बना
उनका मोल-भाव किए,
जो दाम दिया उन्होंने
ले हम आगे बढ़ गए।

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

Own Poetry Hindi

ख़ून की मांग

ख़ून के बदले ख़ून
मांग तो मैं भी लूं,
लेकिन वह ख़ून लेने
मैं तो जाऊंगी नहीं।
तो किस मुंह से मांगू
जो ख़ुद मैं लाऊंगी नहीं‌‌‍?