Might sound like a cliche’ but sometimes all you need is God. Received a forward from the Gaddi Nasheen, of the Dargah, informing me that the Urs is taking place, from tomorrow and all the provisions are in place, the guidelines related to the ongoing pandemic are being followed. I may be impulsive enough to go for the shoot but I’m not silly enough, to not check how safe it will be.
So, of course I went to check out the place today, to prepare for tomorrow. As I was leaving, my help Bhaskarji, looked at me very suspiciously. ‘ Didi, aap jahan jaa rahee ho wah par woh ladka hoga? ‘ ‘ Kaunsa ladka?’ I asked him impatiently, as I was getting late. ‘ Jisko itni bari hum raat ko TV pe dekhte hein!’ My face turned crimson. So the ladka in question, is this boy I’ve had a crush on, for a year, now. Someone you just see on a YouTube video and find fascinating na, like I have a gigantic crush on Ravish Kumar, something like that. I never realised Bhaskarji, will put two and two together just because he heard me asking my father the other day, ‘isn’t he so cute?’ and make it forty. He tells me so the person in question, is Muslim and you’re going to going to a Dargah, that’s why I thought. I should learn to keep my gab shut. As if travelling, to Kashmir and Pushkar was not bad enough, with people wondering who I’m meeting there. Anyhow, it’s when the love life, is non existent, there are plenty of stories that do the round.
So back to God- to get anyone to wear a mask is difficult. But to get kids to wear them, I realised today, impossible. Plus, since I have become this round ball, children because of my height and size, assume I’m their age. So they like to come near me, pull my cheeks, hug me. For the first time, I realised today, It’s so difficult to shoot a kid and not let them touch you. I don’t think shooting is going to be very easy or safe or smart on my part. But like my favourite lines go, ‘apne aage na peeche, na koi uppar neeche….’ or like dad says, ‘ Sheikh apni, apni dekh!’ I think, I’ll just distribute the masks I’ve bought to give away, there only.
Anyhow, if you are hurting, lost or like me scattered in the brain and the heart, listening to some live qawwali at this particular Dargah, of Khwaja Kaki, might give you some relief. It felt like an out of body experience, so overwhelming, a stream of tears just flowing into my mask, while I was clapping and singing with the qawwals. Since, there were hardly any people there, it felt like sitting at home, in Ibadat and unlike the Nizammudin Dargah, which sends a shiver down my spine, each time I visit, which is only and always for work, this one has a brilliant energy. I think I’ll get some sleep today. But for now, if you have people who care about your well being, I would advice you to stay away.
You popped up on fb wall, early in the morning. Your most loved picture from 2016, the platform reminded me. It would have been nice, if I would have posted all our pictures together, every week, I would get a reminder. That would have been sweet but each time, I posted a picture, you would fall ill. Then like an 80 year old woman, I would stand over you, read some Islamic prayer, ‘I seek refuge from bad vibes’. How much you would yell at me for being so superstitious? The argument would with, ‘Am I your baby or are you my baby?’ and you in the cutest way, anyone can reply would say, ‘ I’m your baby!’
Baby reminds me, your original Mother Hen, your sister is missing you, lots. She saw my DP, in the morning and sent a message that if you were alive, she would have asked you to grow up. So, much for wishful thinking. That’s why we liked them young, we never want to grow up! The classic Peter Pan syndrome.
Though, we hardly speak there’s a part of me, that feels terrible for her. This much loss, no one should have to suffer. One after the other, watching people die. Loosing Dustu and you, has shaken me to the core, imagine going through this, repeatedly. Uff, Khudda Reham kare sab ke dilo pe. It’s a pity, things ended the way they did between us. There should have been a natural transference of feelings, which usually happens, in such cases. But in our case, your loss has just driven a terrible wedge. Time heals everything, they say. Here’s hoping! I guess, with time my anger also, will transform into all that I keep avoiding feeling and I’ll stop being angry, with everyone including, myself. But maturity level to hamara, kamaal ka he, so you never know.
Anyway, I’ve been unable to sleep for days, now. Something, is really bothering me, I just can’t put my finger on it. You have any clue? Something you can see from your vantage point? I just want to hold you so tight and sleep right now. How I wish, I could hear the words, ‘ Hai, hai chipkoo!’again.
Bear with the frequency of posts. The lack of sleep, throws me off balance. Most people like to talk to others, I prefer writing and wandering. The next two days of shooting, should hopefully, make me tolerable. Until, then here goes-
Found this on Kamla Bhasin’s ( what a woman) wall. For a person, who has been freaking fantastic, at pretending to not know anything ( my standard reply to everything- I don’t know) suddenly one’s opinions are just bursting out from the seams. Is this the new me or just SB being her most aggressive best? Time will tell. This video, is really funny but it makes me wonder, why doesn’t your name reflect your secularism, buddy?
Though, since my mum’s passing, things have been strained between my mum’s family and I, there are some things that one admires them for. One absolutely loves the fact that, one has Christian, Hindu, Muslim Bhabhis, from Jammu, Punjab, Bengal, Goa and Tamil Nadu. This video is awesome and they should all, find it quite funny. Don’t you think?
But Kuddi da Musalman nal vyah, is not a joke, it is still very scandalous and constantly my relatives are fretting, that I’m surrounded by men, who follow a particular religion, henceforth, love jihad, is going to happen, anytime. Lol!! Despite, the fact that one has told everybody, ‘this cow can’t be belled’ and ‘in a world where people are looking for partners one looks for lovers’ the rumours keep doing the round.
One day, I did this whole research on the Sikh/Muslim relationship, which has been extremely strained to put it mildly, to figure out other than partition, what all really hassles the family, so much. I’ll put that up but then I realised it is not a religious issue, at all. It’s a man/ woman issue. It’s because we are considered to be the private properties of our fathers and then our husbands, that it becomes problematic, if a woman marries outside the religion.
Let me tell you how deep rooted the patriarchy is in marriage. So, irrespective of how secular men seem to be, note, none and I mean none, of my niece’s and nephew’s names, reflect the religion of the mother. So, irrespective of which religion my sisters-in law and my sisters follow, their children follow the father’s religion, have the father’s last name and what really gets my goat, also a first name that does not reflect the mother’s identity. So, the photographer Ram Rahman, is a beautiful aberration to that rule and a lovely example of how, two people following two different religions, name their offspring and how it shapes, the world view of the child.
Of course it goes beyond my family. I tend to point fingers at my own first. My Muslim sister in law, can’t return to her place of birth because she can be physically harmed if she does. I too have been very politely, on occasion by a few men, who have liked me, been asked if I would convert, which has offended me, not because I don’t admire, the religion but it’s insulting to my identity, as a woman, with free will. So, either ways, this whole ‘let’s tell the women what to do’ works both ways, in fact that seems to be a commonality between all men.
My Dad’s advice to me, on dealing with concerned relatives, is awesome. The other day he tells me, in his after a few drinks voice, ‘ yeh inko kyaa he jo tujhe bolte rehte he shaadi kar? There’s no point in getting married, you enjoy your life. Next time they tell you, get married, you tell them I have found 4 boys, all of them belong to a particular religion. They’ll never trouble you again! I have no problem, with whoever you want to be with but I will suggest don’t get married, only. It’s not your cup of tea!’ It’s quite funny and relieving. Especially coming from a man who is obsessed with the idea of a male heir, to be all right with a woman wanting to do whatever she wants in her personal life.
P.S- I know it’s belling the cat!
Aaj Subah, subah paigam aaya, Rajasthan se-‘Kyaa Na Didi aao, aapka ghar khula he!’ Jawaab mein humne, ek dil ka emoticon bhej diya. Ghar! Kahaan hota he, khanabadoshon ka ghar? Barf ki pahadiyon mein, ye Rajasthan ki raet mein?
Ghar to humme bataya jata he, Dilli mein he. Kehte he yeh shehar, dillwallon ka he. Magar Dilli aur uss ke logo ka fauladi seena, bhata nahin he, humme. Humari zabaan to sambhal leti he iss jagah ko, darra ke, dhamka ke, magar dil kamzor pad jaata he. Woh ghabrata hein. Ajeeb si khamoshi he yahaan, iss imarat mein jisse ghar kehte he, sanata, jahan fir kabhi na bhai ka pyaar milega, na Ma ka aanchal. Seediya hi seediya, khalli kamre jaahan, mare hue logo ka saman aise sambhal rakha he humne, jaise woh laut ke maangne wale he. Ajeeb si bay tawajhi he, iss shahar aur iss ke logo mein, jo hum jaiso ko kahaan samjhenge-jo ek hi pal mein nafrat bhi kar lete he, aur ek hi lamhe mein ishq.
To ghar kahaan he humara? Wahan jahan humari pedaish he, ya wahan ja marne ki khwaish he? Ya, uss jagah jahan taro ke neeche, ek chatt par, rat bhar humne kissi se baate kari! Raat guzri aur uss shaks ne humme bhi badal diya. Woh akhri mulakatoon mein se ek thi. Kuch logo se, jism nahin, ruh milti he, woh paath pada jate he, zindagi jeene ka. Ussi jagah, se paigam aata he, humme yaad dilane ke liye, taare aapka intezar kar rahe he. Magar ab hum badalne layaak nahin rahe.
Himmat judti nahin he, iss kashmakash mein wahan jaane ki. Uss kamre mein apne aap ko wapis band karneki, jahan hum sare dil ki narazgiya le jaate the. Umrr bhi kam thi, tajurba bhi, Kashmir ne humare dilo, dimaag pe kabu paaya nahin tha. Kuch umeede baaki thi, zindagi se, ishq se aur shayad kuch apne aap se. Ab iss banaumeedi ko dho kar, uss kamre ko kaise bepaak kare?
It’s one of those days, when the fear of living, just grips my gut and makes me absolutely useless. So, I lie under the covers, staring at the shiny disco ball that hangs from my ceiling. Hours pass by, it’s mid afternoon and even the morning Zumba session, hasn’t helped. ‘Ma’am energy kahaan he?’ screamed the instructor. ‘ Not well, let’s just do something slow, today,’ I replied.
The pre menstrual days are the worst. From hysteria to hopelessness, the moods fluctuate like a pendulum. ‘Pregnancy will turn you into your mum,’ they had warned. I think, her not being around will make me forget, just how scary this place is. ‘ Don’t think about your conversations. I know you, you talk to people and then think for hours- why? what? how? Just concentrate on your work, that keeps you fine,’ the Wall, tried to calm me down, last night. He tries so hard, to stop me from falling down this rabbit hole.
I know you! Isn’t it a strange sentence? I wonder which version of one, do people actually know. The one that smiles and says, yes, I’m fine? The one that lies in bed crying for hours, staring at nothing, paralysed by the fear of tomorrow? The one that falls repeatedly and picks herself each time or the one that wonders if it’s better to just remain on the ground?
Then there are the Phd holders, who claim to be an authority on the subject of moi. Their claim to fame, having known me the longest. Having no man around, means that no one can question, ask, manipulate, anyone else to get to know or pass on messages to me. If it’s about forewarning me, convincing me about calming down, not writing about my feelings, definitely not talking about them, (anything that shows anyone in a bad light) basically, these are the ones who are contacted. Then, randomly in an oh so subtle way, things are said.
Normally, you would say, time is of consequence. But how much can you know about someone who is like a chameleon? Between SB and SC, even I get confused. What you know, about anybody, at anytime, is just their past-their past actions, reactions etc. In fact, that’s all we know about ourselves and yes, there are things about a person, that remain the same, there’s no denying that. But which one do you claim to know and have become an authority on? I sometimes want to ask, the gossipmongers.
Do they refer to the one year old, who loved her dad so much, that she would clap when he would see him, coming on his scooter? The two year old, who apparently loved to eat so much, that she would end up eating breakfast, multiple times, with all her relatives? ‘Khaa’, she would say and stick her tiny hand out, asking for food, I’m told. The six year old who did kathak, even performed on stage, but was so painfully shy, that she had one friend in school and one friend in the colony? The seven year old who got burnt and till date is afraid anything hot? The nine year old who came home to her mother’s burnt clothes? The ten year old who stabbed a servant in his hand, when he tried to touch her or the twelve year old whose tutor, actually managed to get his hand into her shirt?
No, these are not the versions, anyone, will talk about. These make them very uncomfortable. So, let me tell you about the ones, they like to talk about. Lets remove the sword that people, think they hold over my neck. The salacious, Bollywood type scandal of my life, from the age of fourteen to thirty five is what, they all love. This is of course full of men and drama. I wish my love life, was anyone’s concern but considering I am unmarried, nothing in the world, including my father, can stop me from being with however many men I want to. Though my Dad, thinks all this is just society’s hypocrisy. I come from a slightly different family- he very honestly did put up on FB, even when my mum was alive, that he was in an open relationship. Though, somethings one will never talk about, none of those have anything to do with my own life.
As far as my men and then later boys are concerned, other than the one, I would probably never get over, who too is about to, everybody is married, happily or not, the jury is out on that. So, just for the sake of that, one refrains from discussing the exes, in detail which gives people the impression, that it’s something that they hold over me. I digress but let me tell you, a secret about men. A woman’s apparent ‘loose character’ never, ever, makes her less appealing to a man. It is only when he wants to get married, that he wants the angel and even then, a lot of them don’t remain faithful to these women. So, my reputation, that people keep talking about, actually helps me. Anyone who gets involved with me, already know, what he’s getting into.
You must be wondering, why this whining? There’s just so much drama, around me right now. Back and forth phone calls, discussions, that now have started affecting my work and psyche. I never, ever want to go through loosing a parent and having my love life, being discussed with her dead body in the room, again. It’s a really tough year and I can’t keep this sword on my neck and this baggage on my back. So, just bear with me.
Of course, there’s other stuff too- running away in the middle of the night, just walking in the dark for hours and returning after blowing off steam, the cut addiction, suicide attempts, shifting from one school to the other at sixteen because I was so depressed, I locked myself up, didn’t clear my exams and had to move to another school. No one will tell you, how many things I aced at after that, there’s no fun in telling those stories. Honestly, these days, I forget too. But thankfully, I have people who remind me, repeatedly. They tell me, this is also something, I will look back at and say, I dealt with but I keep feeling, SB won’t be able to handle it, with just her anger. The other one, will send the system spiralling out of control.
P.S- I should send this post out to prospective suitors and employers. 🤭 Thankfully, the art world is a good place for broken people. Like the Japanese, they put gold on the cracks and admire them.
Hum aurate he to hamesha galat hoti he. Humare kapdo se hi to admi akarshit hote he. Woh 6 maheene ki ladki aur 80 saal ki aurat ke libaaz ne hi aakarshit kiya hoga? Phir chahe woh Delhi ki bus mein bethi, 23 varsh ki Jyoti ho, Kanpur ke kheto mein payi hue Laxmi, ya phir Hathras ki woh ghas katti hue mahila, jiska shareer, zabaan, yahaan tak shav ko bhi nahin choda, darindo ne. Uski bezubani ab uski zabaan banegi. Chahe hum Dalit ho, ya, Brahmin, Musalmaan, Sikh ya ho Christian hum ek hi sharm ki maala mein bandhi jaati he ungli sirf hum par udti he aur sari galti to hamesha, humari hoti he.
Peda hote hi humme dafnaa dete he. Magar har Diwali apne gharo mein diya jala lete he, Lakshmi ko bulane ke liye. Saraswati, ko bhi puj te he, lekin humme shiksha dene se ghabraate he. Padh, likh kar , kahi aazad khyaal ki na ban jaye. Hum pavitr rahe, Gauri bane, prem ka vyahvaar rakhe, tabh bhi nashe se dhudh pati se mar khaye, magar galti to sirf humari hoti he.
Kuch aurate badtameez hoti he. Agar to 19 saal ki umar mein kissi aadmi se bandh jaye, to tabahi woh achi kehlati he. Hum apne ma, baap ko chord kissi ka ghar basaye, uske mata, pita Ki seva Kare, bache pale rasoi mein din bitaye aur muh ko hamesha bandh rakhe. Jab wahi shaks gulchare urai to woh ek mard hota he. Humme sikhaya jata he, woh mard ka huk hota he. To na maike ke ghar par, aur na pati, par hummara hak hota he! Humme se jo manti he ko jo mard ka haq, wohi hummara, woh dayaan kehlati he. Puri Zindagi- baap, pati, bête, kissi bhi mard ki jaydaat hum ban jati, magar varis nahin, lekin galati hamesha hum aurato ki hi hoti he.
Magar Galat to hum he! Jab humne apni betiyoon ko unke hako ke liye ladna nahin sikaya. Jab unhe mardo aur apne halato se samjhota karte he, yeh samjhaya. Kyuun ke humne unhe Kali Ka rup ban kar nahin dikhaya. Isliye, Galat to hum he.
– Saadiya Kochar 2020
A franchisee of the pan India, coffee shop- Brew Bakes, can now be found on the Boulevard in Srinagar. As it was just a stone throw away from my hotel, I spent a lot of time here, alone and even with friends. From pizzas to pastas, kathi rolls and burgers, their menu is an interesting mix of fusion food.
Though I sat indoors, as I was hot and sweaty having spent most days, just walking around, getting tanned ( family- hai waise hi kali si, sunscreen bhi nahin lagandi), the outdoor seating is perfect for catching up in the evenings. They open early, around nine, so it’s an idle spot for breakfast meetings. With a view of the Dal, can anything be better?
Sometimes I don’t realize that this blog, is not my private diary but a platform, that is followed by my friends. The minute I posted last night, I started getting messages and calls from concerned friends. This year has been especially good at sieving the good from the unimportant.
Went to grab a meal to clear my head. On the Boulevard, there’s Wok The Walk. A quaint little place with an open kitchen and decent chinese food. The food is alright, the view and the service good. It seemed like the kind of place, which is frequented by students. Check it out.
This is the first time I have stepped out after you’ve passed away and I didn’t realize how hard it would be. For starters I can’t call up and fight with you as usual. ‘Why don’t you ever call me? You don’t love me.’ I can’t ask anyone that. Neither can I ask Bhaskar how you are doing, nor are you going to be there when I go back.
A part of me, kept shutting the other away and the silence here just awakened her. I keep shooting and walking the entire day, listening to music so that SC’s fears don’t drive me nuts. ‘How are we going to survive? What will we do? I can’t take it anymore. Let’s just jump into the Dal and die.’ She keeps whispering into my ear. I on the other hand block her out with deafening music, playing in my ears. She cries all the time. Today, she wept so much, a young boy actually came to comfort her. I was so embarrassed, uff, I rushed to the nearest coffee shop, where people recognised me. Sat there for sometime, listening to the owner talk about everything under the sun. The sound of other people’s voices just pulled me out of a dangerous place,
It’s one of those days, when I’m feeling more hopeless than most. A few days ago, father dear, got absolutely hammered and started cursing the neighbours and your dear sister, infront of them. Mr Bhaskar called me up. Apparently he even flung a stone, till I reached home and yelled. The minute he hears, SB, like most men, he calms down. But the other one gets really scared, in any case, she’s terrified after you’ve gone. It’s a strange phenomenon, the part that is scared has become more afraid and the part that is aggressive, has lost it’s shit.
Today, after your dear family pulled another one she came out in the worst way possible. ‘ I’m giving you a last warning. If you don’t stop this slander, I will literally pull out all the skeletons from your closets and then I will prove in a court of law that you cheated a psychiatric patient.’ But nothing your husband or I say, will change their behaviour. Like a friend said to me today, ‘they can’t digest that a girl can lead the life that you do or inherit anything from their parents. So they will not stop. Just stop feeling bad.’ Two of your sisters passed away before you. No one asked their sons about their belongings or their work, no one tried to meddle in their house. So you think they have this audacity because you were unwell or because your husband is an alcoholic or because I’m unmarried? What do think it is? Or is it because that’s what it’s like to born a woman in this country?
Each time I read about a rape case, I think, our souls are raped in our homes long before a man lays a hand on us. Each time, our brothers are told they are the be all and end all of everything. Each time, the daughter is educated less, fed less and made to feel less. This lessening, mitigation of us allows every man to feel he can overpower us- physically, emotionally and financially. If he’s from a better class, has more money, has a good job then he grows up feeling more entitled. The brothers end up whacking their sisters, as do the fathers and then the men in their lives, if they don’t physically hurt them, go ahead and damage their very beings. I don’t even want to comment on my sister’s marriages but one thing is for sure, if their husband’s knew they had someone to fall back on, they wouldn’t dare. We get violated every single day by our people, who turn a blind eye to the flaws of men. What are we going around expecting from strangers?
P.S- These days I end up thanking GD, for not marrying me. I would have been a puppet in everyone’s hands. I wrote to them today saying, I will never get married. No man, no cry, Amma or actually, no man, no yanking around!
Koi apna nahin sevaye ye Dal ke kinare ke,
Jisme humare ashq behete he.
Kal usne mere aansoone ke saath, meri duae bhi shayad kabul kar li. Ankhon se dard bahaa aur hathon se tazbi ki aadhi motiya pani mein shareek ho gayee. Shayad sab salamat rahen ge.
A few days ago, I got a message from an acquaintance from Punjab, who I keep bumping into at the hotel in Kashmir, with pictures of Srinagar, asking me to visit. I’d been meaning to come here, ever since mum passed away because no other place in the world, makes the enormity of my feelings seem so insignificant and make me feel more inconsequential in the larger scheme of things. So Kashmir is always, the slap that I give myself, my reality check. I got the message while I was sitting with my Dad, who literally pushed me, into going, which is hilarious. I said to him, ‘you have to be the only father in the world who will push his daughter to go and meet some man, you’ve never met, who will be staying in the same hotel, by himself. ‘ To which his reply, was the same as always, ‘ you’re not a child, I know you can handle men and right now, you really need some company. Go just talk to someone, you need to.’ He’s right, I needed the company, of the Dal.
So, I arrived here, armed with my camera and books, which I haven’t opened and got right down to it. Worked, walked and then informed this friend, who like me, comes here on official business. Since the restraunt is shut, we sat in his room for a couple of hours talking about politics, religion, being Sikh ( his version being very different from mine, as I don’t follow anything and he’s a Jato da Munda from Punjab) , Kashmir etc as the sun came down. I excused myself and walked towards my lover. Now, I have two. One is my car and like I’m apparently the love of Shets life, the Dal Lake has to be the love of mine.
Have you ever kept a long distance lover? Someone you meet once in a year and when you do the sight of the person, gives you goosebumps, your heart pounds in your chest, your eyes well up and you’re so overwhelmed with emotion you’re ecstatic and devastated at the same time. Those days are part of my history but it’s the way I feel each time I approach the Dal after a long haul. Unlike most lovers, though, it’s great at handling my tears and it does comfort me in my weakest moments.
Like I said, I’ve replaced men with technology. I forgot to mention what else.