Saturday, June 21, 2014

मेरी हिंदी के बारे में कुछ मत बोलना बवाल हो जाएगा

मेरी हिंदी के बारे में कुछ मत बोलना बवाल हो जाएगा 

मेरी हिंदी के बारे में कुछ मत बोलना 
बवाल हो जाएगा 
अभी से ही कह देता हूँ 
भ्रूण हत्याएं, कन्या दर्मन 
और पुत्र-प्राप्ति के सारे यज्ञों  के बाद 
बची-खुची कन्याओं का कंजक पूजन 
ही तो मेरी हिंदी है 
मैं उसे नमन करता हूँ 
एक देवी के रूप में 
अथवा गमलों में लगे तुलसी के पेड़ के रूप में 
तुम होगे ग़ुलाम अंग्रेजी के 
अब तो मेरी हिंदी 
यूनिकोड में अंग्रेजी से भी तेज लिखी जाती है 
ज़रा अपने औपनिवेशिक मानसिकता से उबरो 
देखो अब एयरटेल-वोडाफ़ोन वाले भी 
रोमन लिपि में हिंदी ही लिखते हैं 
देखो वो रईसों के रंगरलियों के किस्से
मॉडल्स की नुमाइशें 
इंटरनेट पर पसरी अनगिनत अश्लील तस्वीरें 
शेयरों के सूचकांक 
अपने ज़मीन से निकाले गए किसानो 
के बारे में सरकारी परिपत्रक 
आखिर मेरी हिंदी में अब क्या नहीं संभव है? 
यह हिंदी-पट्टी  ही तो है  
जहाँ नाबालिगों को  उल्टा टांग देते हैं हम 
पेड़ों  पर, बिजली  के खम्बों पर, पँखों पर,  
हिम्मत है अगर तो कोई अंग्रेज़ियत का ग़ुलाम 
ऐसा कर दिखा दे, 
उसकी टांग अगर न तोड़ दूँ 
तो मैं अपनी भाषा वाला नहीं. 
कहाँ हैं वो अंग्रेजी में टिपिर-टिपिर करने वाले 
कहाँ हैं वो छुरी-काँटा से खाने वाले 
कहाँ हैं वो साहित्य-संस्कृति के ठेकेदार 
कहाँ हैं वो अपने आप को 
हिन्द के पहरेदार मानने वाले 
कहाँ हैं कहाँ हैं कहाँ हैं 
देखो गर्व से देखो मुझे 

मैं तुम्हारा हीं तो हूँ 
वर्षों से बन रहा 
(और अशुद्धि लिस्ट 
के साथ अब प्रकाशित) 
निज भाषा हिंदी संस्करण. 

--कुमार विक्रम

सब्सिडी: एक क्षणिका

Photo Courtesy:

सब्सिडी: एक क्षणिका

सब्सिडी हटाने के बहस को 
देखते हुए
उसे अपने घर में बैठे
बूढ़े पिता
बीमार माँ
और बेरोज़गार छोटा भाई
नज़र आये
उसने टीवी बंद किया
बालकनी में सिगरेट पी
और छोटे भाई को
फिल्म देखने के लिए
पैसे दे दिए
जो वह पिछले कुछ घंटों से मांग रहा था
साथ ही
बीमार माँ की दवा की पर्ची भी.
उसे लगा कि
टीवी की बहस में
अपना दखल
वह ऐसे ही
दर्ज़ कर सकता था.

कुमार विक्रम

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Environmental Decay as Metaphor for Civilizational Decay: Reading Gieve Patel’s Poem '' On Killing a Tree'' on World Environment Day

Today, June 5, is World Environment Day and on this occasion I share this brilliant, almost legendary, poem of one of our most gifted painters, playwrights and Indian English poets, Gieve Patel (b. 1940). I know Gieve Patel, a practicing doctor, only due to this poem, which I had an opportunity to teach to a few class 12th students at a coaching centre in Delhi sometime in 1997-98. I think it was prescribed in English Elective course of CBSE, and the moment I came across the poem, it instantly cast a spell on me. (Perhaps it is also prescribed in class 9th).

The killing of a tree is of course the most obvious part of it, but as you read it along, you find that it actually is talking of lot of other things--friendships, human relationships, family bonds, wisdom, in fact, about all other kinds of social and cultural bonds, so to say. It is not with a bang--'not a simple jab of the knife''--that one can cut the tree off, rather it requires a much deeper instinct to destroy things around, the instinct to wipe out completely, to cut to pieces long and deep associations to kill a tree.

Actually, tree serves as a perfect metaphor for the inter-relatedness, inter-dependence of human society within itself and vi-a-vis the surrounding nature and environment. It thus ultimately acquires a very aggressive stance to underline the purposelessness, nay the impossibility, of doing so because one would be doing that at the cost of finishing the universe itself, so to say. Its 'root is to be pulled out', and that would require the ‘choking out' of the sun and the air themselves: And then it is done. This last line falls so angrily and desperately on our head that one starts to get too restive to manage.

Naturally, a poem can be read at various levels and one is free to have one's own interpretations of the same, but I, for one, can not resist to look at the symbolism of environmental decay used to define civilizational decay, where killing is not only a manual act, but rather more about denying and annihilating the otherness of the other beings, other cultures, other societies. A strange mix of pain, anguish and anger sustains the poem making it a near perfect one. And I sometimes  try to make out the kind of conflict that must have been rankling Gieve, who as a  practicing doctor, knows too well how killing of life and values go against his professional calling which is essentially meant to save the same.

On a personal note, I would like to mention the joy that I had of interacting briefly with Gieve Patel while bringing out noted poet Eunice De Souza's edited anthology Both Sides of Sky: Post Independence Indian Poetry in English, where we used one of his paintings on the cover of the book. The anthology also contains his poems, including this one. Those interested in knowing more about Gieve can look at these and similar links:

Kumar Vikram

Brass - Figure axing a Tree - on a slate base
Image Courtesy:
On Killing a Tree

It takes much time to kill a tree,

Not a simple jab of the knife

Will do it. It has grown
Slowly consuming the earth,
Rising out of it, feeding
Upon its crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air, water,
And out of its leperous hide
Sprouting leaves.

So hack and chop
But this alone wont do it.
Not so much pain will do it.
The bleeding bark will heal
And from close to the ground
Will rise curled green twigs,
Miniature boughs
Which if unchecked will expand again
To former size.

The root is to be pulled out -
Out of the anchoring earth;
It is to be roped, tied,
And pulled out - snapped out
Or pulled out entirely,
Out from the earth-cave,
And the strength of the tree exposed,
The source, white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden
For years inside the earth.

Then the matter
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,
And then it is done.

Gieve Patel

(From POEMS, published by Nissim Ezekiel, Bombay 1966)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

To Baichung Bhutia: A Poem

Well, this poem has been lying buried as a draft in my computer written perhaps in 2007 or so. I always felt that our talents like Baichung Bhutia, captain of Indian Football Team, never got the international recognition which they deserved since they played a marginal sport in a backward country. Bhutia is of course just a leitmotif for all deserved more.

The farewell match of Bhutia against F C Bayern Munich at New Delhi, January 11, 2012
Photo courtesy:

To Baichung Bhutia: A Poem

‘Bhutia, Bhutia!’, pass the ball to me
‘Bhutia, Bhutia!’, pass the ball to him
keep passing it to him and to me
you can’t help it
no body is gonna come to you
to tell you
stop dribbling and stop passing
no body is gonna come and announce
‘Bhutiaji, Bhutiaji’, come hither, come to us
let us play on the main field
in full focus of arch lights
before the soap makers, before the shoe makers
before gods, demi-gods and goddesses
all crying, ‘Bhutia, Bhutia, we want to touch you
we want to buy you!’
‘Bhutia, Bhutia, dance with us, sing with us, bless us’.
‘Bhutia, Bhutia!’, but keep passing and keep moving
you would not know
the man on the street gets a kick
while you tackle the hordes round you
running after you
a feeling the cyclists get
trying to race with cars on a dusty dark streets.

--Kumar Vikram