Fursat ke raat din.
Having already met Gulzar saab a few times I was aware of the protocol and the decorum around meeting him. I knew that I would be treated to a hot cup of Chai, a warm hug and a conversation around the latest discoveries by the Hubble space telescope.
I noticed the intricate embroidery adorning his zari mojaris, as I entered the doors of Boskiyana; his abode on Pali Hill. Trying to contain the flurry of excitement while holding a special gift for him, a white kurta cloth specially purchased for him from Dina Pakistan, his home town. This gift was sent by my friend in Pakistan, Waseem Altaf saab via London- Pune and finally Mumbai. Subah subah ek khvab ki dastak par darwaza khula dekha- Sarhad ke us paar se kuchh mehman aaye hain. I handed over the parcel to him, described to him the implausible journey that it had travelled through the vast oceans, continents, mountains, valleys and exchanged hands of many admirers to finally reach its destination at Boskiyana.
Suddenly the room was flooded with the serenity of silence. Rooh dekhi hai kabhi, rooh ko mehsoos kiya hai.He caressed the cloth with his hands, sighed and then smiled. For a fleeting moment, a poet known for staying ahead of the times, paused, took a deep breath while holding this lamha from his past, surrounded by the comforts of nostalgia ki narm dhoop mein. I was tempted to break the sanctity of the Samaa with some arbitrary conversation, but I let the moment be; untouched, unadulterated and untainted Khamosh sa afsana , paani se likha hota. Na Tumne kaha hota na humne suna hota.
We sipped hot tea that arrived just at the right time to bring us back to the present moment Pal yeh bhi jaane wala hai. Gulzar saab was very keen to know about the Kashmiri Poetry book that I was carrying with me. He wanted the book, I readily told him that I will take the book back next year during my next trip to India. He wasn’t keen with this arrangement; he simply wanted to keep the book. Naino ki zubaan pe bharosa nahi aata, likhat padhat na raseed na khataa. So, he devised a barter arrangement, I would take one of his books so that and he could keep this one. Then suddenly, he asked me to autograph the book. I was laughing my guts out at the irony of the situation. When you are with Gulzar saab, you are in the company of an enigma. He is always listening; even when he is talking. A keen observer of the present moment. When you are with him, you are the world to him.
Waqt ka dariya , aa raha tha ya jaa raha tha.
Over the years he has written some very funny/witty comments on the books that I get autographed from him. Like this one time, I whined about having too many a’s in my name. He wrote exactly that on my book. “Sunayana with too many “a’s” in her name”. Aapki badmashiyon ke yeh naye andaaz hain. Sitting like a meditating Sufi in his quaint library, he is often engulfed in the company of many books. Magar vo jo un kitabo me mila karte the Sukhe phool aur meheke hue rukke. Kitabe mangne, girne, uthane ke bahane jo rishte bante the Aab unka kya hoga……?
Tere masoom sawalon se pareshaan hoon
The tête-à-tête somehow veered towards his lyrics and in an attempt to keep the conversation going, I asked him to rate his best work as a lyricist till date. As luck would have it, he indulged me with a reply, “I personally think that my songs for the movie -No Smoking, are my best as a lyricist”. Unfortunately, I had not heard those songs and instead of pretending to have heard them, I mentioned to that that I had not listened to the songs. He explained to me the reason for picking these songs over the rest.
Paake bhi tumhari aarzu hai, shayad aise zindagi haseen hai
People often ask me to pick a favorite Gulzar song. I don’t have only one song that devours my sensibilities over others. I have million phrases from different songs that pulsate like breath in the veins of my soul. To name a few- “ Tumhi se janmoon to shayad mujhe panah mile”, “Zindagi tere gham ne hame rishte naye samjhaye”, “ Yaar hai jo Khushboo ki tarah, hai jiski zubaan urdu ki tarah”, “ Main adhoora tu adhoori jee rahein hain” , “Kehne walon ka kuch nahi jaata sehne waale kamaal karte hain”, “ Aakhon ne kuch aisa chua , halka halka uns hua”, “ Humne bhi tere har ek gham ko gale se lagaya hai, hai na” , “ Ballimaran se daribe talak”, “ Aapki aakhon mein phir koi shararat to nahi?” “Ek baar waqt se lamha gira kahin”, “Hai naam hothon pe abb bhi lekin awaaz mein padd gayi dararein“, “Jab se tumhare naam ki misri hoth lagyaee hai”, “Vaadi ke mausam ek din to badlein gey”, “ Kya kare zindagi isko hum jo mile, iski jaan khaa gaye raat din ke gile”………………..
I am already out of breath, as picking his phrases is like trying to condense the essence of ocean in a dew drop. One can only immerse in its presence, not contain it. Gulzar is not just a person or a poet. Gulzar is an idea, a Julaha, , a phenomenon. Gulzar is an Aadat.
We are fortunate to be living in his times and be a witness to the work of this wordsmith.
Abb yaad aate ho to chidak deti hoon khudpar
Qatra-Qatra who lamhaa
Kisi nayaab itr ki tarah
Oh! And Happy Birthday Gulzar saab
Thank You : Salim Saab, Rohini G, Waseem Saab, Bramhadev