Sunday, 7 October 2018

Diary Of A Soldier - 11, English Translation of Gautam Rajrishi's 'Fauji kI Diary' (फ़ौजी की डायरी)

Dolate Calender Ki Ei Udaas Taareekhon
(O Sorrowful Dates In The Swaying Calendar)

New dates make me sad now. They didn't, earlier. Back then, in the gone-now-like-a-dream-childhood,... I had wanted to fast forward the clock needles, turn the calendar leaves quickly over to see what all the future years had in store for me in their books of account and now... for some reason arrival of the new year fills me with an undefined despair. The year two thousand and eighteen...seeming more formidable and daunting than these sky-kissing mountain ranges... where I have been seated  watching over the border for who knows how many centuries... is filling my whole being with an nameless foreboding. Will this new year... strutting happily for now on its arrival...  squealing joyously at its being... still be strutting and squealing thus, by its end ?

New year celebrations are on with full gusto in the civilization below. I find the congratulatory calls and whatsapp messages appearing on my phone to be distressful. The congratulations and photographs of friends being posted on facebook are causing more pain than joy. However, there was a good surprise from across the border.  An officer from their side had come to the post in front to convey their best wishes and congratulations. Their officers, unlike ours, are not generally present on these forward posts... so it was a 'surprise' of sorts for me when I got the message. The tall, lean and fair major was shouting out his best wishes. He didn't tell his name when asked. He said, "Sir our commanding officer sends his regards and best wishes to you and your entire battalion." When I asked why he hadn't come himself the major said, a little hesitantly, " He is a bit busy, sir." I liked his hesitation. This hesitation on the part of the major from across the border was a sign that the shoulder to shoulder presence of our army officers alongside our soldiers at each front as against the absence of their officers who stayed far behind the frontline, gave our army an 'added advantage'. Meanwhile Lance Naik Mahipal Singh, sitting beside me in camouflage with a sniper asks whispering, "Saab, should I shoot him down ?" My response of 'shut up' to the query put so innocently by Mahipal Singh dampens somewhat the enthusiasm of the jawans at the post on January, the first, which I have to make up for later by accompanying them on dholak and harmonium. The fixed barra khaanaa - feast - at the langar - community kitchen -, included delicacies like Kashmiri pulao, puris, alongwith 'rista' cooked by Irshaad Ahmad Vani, the favourite porter of the jawans, also wazwan and gushtava.  Aha... had all the hands of these kashmiris, instead of picking up AK47, exhibited these 'wazwans' and 'gushtavas' this said paradise of earth would have been seen heading the best food-tourism in the world !

Anyway, what happened after that delicious feast was that in the urgency of reciting a poem written by me on the jawans' request, I failed to remember anything written by me and immediately a poem by a very dear friend on facebook appeared on the screen of my mobile phone to the rescue of my failed memory. You lend a ear too, diary dear, to this truly genuine poem by Neeraj Dwivedi...

Jis vaqt samvidhaan ko kheese mein daal aur
loktantra ke chabootare par baith
netagan sab de rahe honge lambe lambe bhashan
Marx aur Lenin ke larraake
kar rahe honge kaagazon par kraantiyaan
moonchhon par taav dete facebookiye kavi
likh rahe honge tutahee rachanaayein

Main, ek sipaahee...
aath bai aath ke tamboo mein baith kar
dhoondh rahaa houngaa
tumhaare prem mein doobee
apnee ek bataa chaar kavitaaon kaa nayaa arth
jorr rahaa houngaa apne jeevan kaa haasil

(At the time when, putting the constitution in their pockets
and seated on the platform of democracy
all political leaders would be spewing out lengthy speeches
the warriors of Marx and Lenin
stirring up revolutions on paper
twirling their moustaches, the facebook poets
wrting their broken down poems

I, a soldier
sitting in an eight by eight tent
would be looking for a new meaning
in my soaked-in-your-love, one by four poems
adding up the gains of my life
And while, listening to the poem, everyone this side gets lost in the memory of his beloved... the Jhelum on the other side, under the company post... right under it across the road, meandering and rustling, squeezed in between its closed, crushed shores, gazing at the sky with a strange sourness, asks it... 'chille kalan* has since started, why aren't you starting your shower of snowflakes ?' The expanse of the sky is adding a little more enigma to its mysterious silence while the whole valley has been squirming with exasperation at this arrogant air of the sky. The sky is showing attitude thinking if the darned clouds do not have the time why should this be any of my concern. Engrossed in their play with the sun, the clouds are oblivious of this exasperated squirming of the valley as also the sourness of the squeezed-in Jhelum. The issue is one of ego-confrontation between the sky and the clouds and it is the global warming that is getting blamed for the delay in the snowfall that is increasing each year. Snow had fallen twice already by this time last year. This delay in snowfall will affect the crop produce and the blush on the apples in the valley below on one hand and impact also the frequency of infiltration by jehadists on the other.
Do make the snow fall now, O weather gods... so the water in the Dal and the Wular lakes becomes fragrant with the scent of saffron at the right time... so the banks of Jhelum and Kishanganga can carry on their wazu - their morning and evening ablutions - with the juice drippng down from the apples... so these alert-each-moment border-sentinels can have access to nights to get a little peaceful sleep... so the faith in your godhood remains intact, yes, the same faith which just now, in the year just gone by, came very close to losing its existence !
Notwithstanding all this, the occasion of new year has brought to my bunker an unusual, unknown warmth - all due to Deepika padukone's one thousand watt smile. Such is the impact of my well renowned obsession with regard to Deepika that the 'youngster', back from leave, has brought me a beautiful new year calendar in which Deepika appears with all her charm in different poses on the leaf of each month. Such a huge contrast, isn't it... distressful dates along with Deepika's radiant smile ! A few couplets of a gazal have come to form just this instant...

Chhoo liya jo usne to sansanee uthee jaise
dhun kee guitar kee nas-nas mein abhee-abhee jaise

jaise-taise gujra din, raat kee naa poochho kuchh
shaam se hee aa dhamkee, subah tak rahee jaise

tum chale gaye ho to wusate simat aayeen
ye badan samander thaa, ab huaa nadee jaise

dolate calnder kee ei udaas taareenkhon !
raunakein mere kamarein kee hain tumse hee jaise

(The instant of her touch set me all astir
like a melody strummed on each guitar-string - as it were

somehow the day wore out, don't you ask about the night
landing up in the evening, she stayed till the morn - as it were

your going away has made the expanses close down
this body, that was an ocean, is now a river - as it were

O, sorrowful dates on the swaying calender !
my room owes its radiance only to you - as it were)                                                                                                                                           

* chille kalan -- The fiercest part of the Kashmir winter that lasts forty days, starting generally from the 21st or the 22nd of December to the 30th or the 31st of January.


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