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Saturday, August 13, 2005


Na laaee shoukhi andesha, taab-e-ranj-naumeedi
Kaf-e-afsos malna, ehd-e tajdid-e-tamanna hai
- Ghalib

The impudence of my thought could not
Sustain the affliction of despair. And
Wringing the hands, ostensibly in remorse,
In fact renews the covenant of desire.
(Translation: Yusuf Husain)


I lost a part of me that Friday in March. My yaar Chiragh lost his last temporal battle. "He suffered a massive stroke. The doctors tried hard to ......."I could not hear the rest of what Nasim Bhabhi was telling me.

I found myself in the hospital ICU. Dull, colour co-ordinated, septic.
Oxygen,drips, monitors.

"........we decided to allow the doctors to remove the respirator. He was dead in a couple of hours."

I saw him re-live his life. His family, his love, his children. Zenith of successes, big and small. Nadir of despair and defeats. He considered the pros and cons one more time and then concluded that it was time to move his residence permanently.

Kitna pyara lag raha hai mera bhaiyya, (1) said Talat Baji as she struggled to contain the flood of tears ready to gush forth.

In the building across the road a new family moved in. It must have been the month of Ramadaan. In the coolish lull between sehri and school we used to play our version of one-hour cricket. "My name is Chiragh, I would like to play with you guys." He was soon part of our team. He had a very inquiring mind. Conversation with him was not easy. Why? How? What if....? Some of us did not appreciate his mores.

I heard of Aflatoon, Sukraat, and Aristo from him much before I heard of Plato, Socrates or Aristotle. In his way Chiragh did much to inculcate a
passion for reading, assimilating, thinking and arguing amongst us.

Bhaiyya, kuch tou bolo,"(2) Nighat Baji pleaded with him.
I heard him reply, Boulnaay ka waqt guzar gaya. (3) They did not hear him.

We moved. They moved. I lost touch with other friends from the neighbourhood. But Chiragh and I remained in touch.

When Tariq Bhayya left for Fairfax, Chiragh inherited his unique Jeepster convertible. I had a Vespa then. One cloudy day we all skipped classes and went to Paradise Point. On the way back he insisted on borrowing my Vespa. I followed him in his Jeepster. At a curve on the Mauripur Road he lost his balance and hit a tree. He was unconscious, bleeding profusely and making strange noises. That was the first time I had seen an unconscious person.

Somehow we dragged him in his car and took him to the nearest clinic near Mereweather Tower. The doctor wanted a police report before treating him. Another first. My first brush with bureaucracy.

Nasim Bhabhi looked intently at the inert body, then glanced at Talat and Nighat. She did not utter a word. Mist in her eyes enveloped the whole ICU.

When I moved to Fairfax, I learned from Bhaiyya that Chiragh wanted to marry his childhood sweetheart. There were hints of family discord.

He persevered and in the end married her. As I left Fairfax for Toronto, he arrived in the States, and settled down in the Mid West.

Kids followed. Something somewhere went drastically wrong. They were divorced last year.

One evening, in October '94 the phone rang. "Yaar come on down for a few days. Ruma is getting married. The reception is on November 25----would be a nice occasion to meet with the whole gang......Chiragh will be there too." That was the clincher.

At Ruma's reception, I met Bhaiyya, Bhabhi, Talat Baji, Colonel, Anjum, Cathy, Pervez, Andrea, Zubair, Sabiha,Ali, Nayyar, Kamal----- too many old friends. And yes, there was Chiragh.. What dichotomy. He was the same old Chiragh, yet he was different. Ravages of time had made him older, sadder.

As we were taking our leaves that evening, he walked over from the other end of the hall, and hugged me. There was a warmth in his hug that only old friends can either experience or feel. Maybe he had some premonition. That hug barely lasted a couple of seconds. But in those few seconds images went by on my mental screen that covered an eternity. Pervez, who had known him from our Karachi days said, "Yaar what is the matter with this guy, there are no lights on!"

That 25th of November I penned these lines:

a hug
just one warm hug
at encounter's end
anguished me

will I get another hug
with that warmth
ever again?

why do I not flow
with the music
why do I feel
the coming pain?

tum aao gay, tum ko aana hoga
tum milo gay, tum ko milna hoga
hazaroN ranjishaiN haiN, shikway HaiN
tumhaiN suna-naa hai
tum se sunn-naa hai
shayad phir
yaadoN kay manoN bojh talay
aahoN kay ghubaar hatakar
phir ekbaar
tumhaiN dil se laga laiN hum.

you will--- you have to return
we will---- we have to meet
views and issues aplenty
have to be resolved
only then, perhaps
break away we can
from the shackels past
and hug each other
once more.......

With your death, my friend, something of me died too.

The only consolation is that you are at peace, finally.


*1: my brother looks so handsome
*2: Brother, say something
*3: Times for utterances is past


Blogger Unknown said...

Death is the ultimate cruelty for the ones left behind.

August 13, 2005 7:38 AM  

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