Thursday, December 27, 2012

A New Ghazal

Autumn scenery 002


ख्वाबों के  सलेट पे हसरतों के निशान कितने हैं 
एक है दिल, उस   दिल के अरमान कितने हैं 

हर गली हर कुचे में आदमी ही आदमी 
ये बताओ इस शहर में   इंसान कितने हैं 

चाँद तारों तक महदूद नही  मजिल अपनी 
क्योंकि सितारों के आगे भी  जहान कितने हैं 

मंदिरों और मस्जिदों में तुझ को  तलाशाते हैं 
या खुदा, इस बस्ती के लोग  नादान  कितने हैं 

जीना दुश्वार हो गया  इस  दौर-ए -जदीद में 
लेकिन  मरने के तरीक़े  आसान कितने हैं 
 --abdullah khan 'abd'

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


ये अंधेरों का सफ़र तो  गुज़र जायेगा 
 पर न जाने कब  उजालों का शहर आयेगा 

जब ख़त्म  होंगे तारीकियों के सिलसिले 
तब रात जायेगी  और फिर सहर आयेगा  

वहशत-ए -इश्क़ को न कमतर समझना 
इस जुनूं  में न जाने वो क्या कर जायेगा 

पीछे  आग का दरिया, सामने  दश्त-ए -तन्हाई  
ऐसे में  वो शख्स जायेगा तो किधर जायेगा 

छुपा रखे थे  कई ख़्वाब  हमने  आँखों में 
लगता है वो ख्वाब अब बिखर जायेगा 

आज सातवाँ दिन है इस कर्फ्यू का 'अब्द' 
वो ग़रीब तो अब भूखे ही मर जायेगा 
अब्दुल्लाह खान 'अब्द '

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


About the Noir fiction, the well-known American publisher and editor, Otto Penzler says, 'Look, noir is about losers. The characters in these existential, nihilistic tales are doomed. They may not die, but they probably should, as the life that awaits them is certain to be so ugly, so lost and lonely, that they'd be better off just curling up and getting it over with.' In other words, noir fiction can be defined as a subgenre of crime fiction which is characterized by its cynical characters, the unsentimental depiction of violence and sex and the bleak denouements. In the recent years, Brooklyn based Akashic Books has popularized this genre by bringing out the series of noir short stories. Each anthology in this series is based in a particular city and explores the dark underside of that city. Earlier we had Brooklyn Noir, London Noir, LA Noir, Chicago Noir, Paris Noir, etc. And the accent of India on the horizon of the global economy inspired the publishers to add the Indian cities to their list and Delhi Noir was published in 2009. And, now, it is the turn of Mumbai. 

Edited by author Altaf Tyrewala, the opening story of this anthology, 'Justice', is about a man called Ashagar Khan, who has been convicted by the court for his involvement in a bomb blast. He has committed that crime to seek some sort of revenge for losing almost everything in a communal riot. The author has weaved the narrative quite credibly telling us how a single act of violence can start the chain reactions of violence and counter violence. But, he is not able to carry the story till the end and the denouement appears to be hurriedly made up. It also breaks the basic principle of noir fiction by having a sentimental ending. Then, there is a story of twin brothers, both auto drivers, titled 'By Two'. The brothers suffer for being Muslims (at that poor Muslims) in this post 9/11 and post 26/7 world. The twins are tortured by the police each time a terrorist act happens in the city. The author, Devashish Makhija, has been able to invoke the sense of horror in readers: What if I were in their places? The descriptions of police brutality and helplessness of the main characters are heart -rending. True to the noir genre, the protagonists of this story have no chance. This is a though-provoking and probably the best story of the collection which raises questions about the way we are fighting terrorism. There are a handful of extremists who perpetuate this kind of atrocities on the masses and then there are innocent victims of these attacks. But there are even larger numbers of people who are neither involved in terrorism nor are direct victims of terrorist attacks but have been suffering more than the victims. They are the scapegoats. It has become customary on part of the police and intelligence agencies to pick up and torture Muslim youths (tribal youths in case of Maoist extremism) when terror strikes the country. The twins in this story, in short, are the victims of the shortcuts taken by the biased law enforcing agencies.

Later, two interesting stories take us to the darker alleys of the ‘Maximum City’ where we are told about the hijra culture, transvestite groups and their involvements in a different kind of flesh trades. The first one, Corpse in the Gali by Smita Harish Jain, is so stark in its description of the process of a man being initiated into Hijra community that it might induce nausea in the readers.  Here the writing is very powerful and Smita is a talent to watch out for. Another tale about the Mumbai Hijra Culture, Lucky 501, by Sonia Faleiro is equally impressive.

In The Watchman by Altaf Tyrewala , a guard has an intuition that somebody in the housing society he guards, is going to die. And that troubles him so much that he begins to behave irrationally. This simple but fascinating story has grave and serious underlying meanings. It symbolises the restlessness and uncertainty of the megapolis life. On the other hand, Chachu at Dusk by Abbas Tyrewala is a sentimental journey of a former Mafiosi in to the old world of smugglers and bhais. The protagonist in this story reminisces about his golden days when even underworld had some semblance of ethics and principles. Though beautifully written, it hardly fits into the category of the genre of noir stories.

Besides all these, there are many more stories, each of them confiding some dark secrets about Mumbai to their readers. Some stories, four to be exact, disappoint but the rest are decent offerings. The editor could have been a bit more discriminnating while selecting the stories for this anthology.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Review of Namita Gokhale's Book in December issue of The Book Review

The planet called earth has been a lonely place for the women. You move across the continents and across the societies and can see that the fair sex is treated more as some sort of asset than as normal human being. Some societies, we feel, places the women on a higher pedestal but that too is a ploy of the male-centric society to control the feminine power. In India, it must be remembered, the Ganika and Devdasi systems were also an acceptable part of the same society which refers to women as Devi. In some societies, especially in the Middle East, women are supposed to be the gifts of God, so they should always be kept gift wrapped. The various kinds of burqas and veils were invented to keep them covered.
The sound of women’s loneliness and the eagerness to break free from the manacles of the male-centric social norms reverberate in many of the stories of this collection of short stories by the seasoned author Namita Gokhale.

 ‘Life in Mars’, the opening story, tells us about the aloneness of Madhu Sinha, a widow and a mother of three ‘duplicitous sons’ who have virtually abandoned her. As she is fighting with her solitude and a debilitating illness, the arrival of Udit Narain, a young man who feels chasing a girl or a job is sheer waste of time, suddenly ignites a desire to live her life again. The author describes the dilemma as well as the eagerness of a middle aged woman while planning to enter in to a new relationship. The title story, The Habit of Love, also has a widow as the protagonist. But unlike Madhu, the main character of this story is not alone and has her daughters by her side but that doesn’t stop her from grieving perpetually for the loss of her long dead husband. When she goes on a vacation with her daughters to Nepal, one of her daughters, after seeing the mountain peaks, asks her: how does a mountain know it is a mountain?’ Discomfited by the question she travels back to her happy days and thinks of her husband who might have given a perfect answer to this question. And there she realises how she has internalised the pain she had received by losing her husband and how ‘the habit of grief’ has created walls between her and her daughters. The opening sentence of this story is very thought-provoking and it reads: The habit of grief can be as insidious as the habit of love.
There is another outstanding story that comments upon the position of a woman in our society. In ‘Love’s Mausoleum’, Malika is deserted by her husband for not bearing any child for him. She visits Taj Mahal and discovers that Shahjahan had built Taj Mahal for his favourite wife Mumtaz.  And , she is  outraged when the guide explains to her about the tombs built outside the Taj Mahal by emperor Shahjahan for his two other wives because (unlike Mumtaz) they were childless. Time has changed, but not the attitude of male chauvinistic society, she angrily thinks.
There are two stories which have two famous female characters from Mahabharata as their protagonists. In one story, Kunti tells us about her dilemma to reveal that Karna is her son. Kunti as mother craves to hug her first born but the fear of social stigma is so huge that she let her son go. What if Kunti were a man?  In the other story a maid servant of Qandhari, wife of king Dhrutrashtra, tells us about her queen’s struggle as a woman, as a wife and as a mother. In both the stories, Kunti and Qandhari are not portrayed as the larger than life mythological characters but as the regular women who have their own set of dreams and insecurities.
Each of the thirteen stories is written in Namita’s signature style.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


ایک غزل 

اشاروں سے تم نے کچھ تو کہا ہے
یا اٹھلانے کی یہ تیری  ادا ہے

نگاہیں تو  میری سب کہہ رہی تھی
 تم نے نہ سمجھا  تو کس کی خطا ہے

جو میں بے وفا ہوں یہ تم کہہ رہے ہو
  کہ تم بے وفا ہو یہ سب کو پتہ ہے

جو تیرے لب پہ ہے  وہ ٹھیک ہے
 یہ بھی بتا دو جو دل میں چھپا ہے

  قاتل ہے منشف اور مظلوم ملذم
یہ  کیسی عدالت یہ کیسی سزا ہے

نمرود فرون سب کےسب  مٹ گئے
سونچا ہے کیا  تو کی  کوئ  خدا ہے

عبدللہ خان ---
एक ग़ज़ल 

इशारों से तुमने कुछ तो कहा है 
या इठलाने  की ये  तेरी  अदा है

निगाहें  तो मेरी   सब कह रही थी 
तुमने न समझा  तो किसकी खता  है 

जो  मैं बेवफा हूँ ये तुम कह रहे हो
 कि  तुम बेवफा हो ये सबको  पता है

जो तेरे लब पे है  वो  ठीक है  
ये भी बता दो जो  दिल में छुपा है

 क़ातिल है  मुन्शिफ़  और मज़लूम  मुल्ज़िम  
ये  कैसी अदालत  ये कैसी सज़ा  है

निमरूद फ़िरौन  सब के सब  मिट गए 
सोंचा है क्या  की तू कोई  खुदा है  
---अब्दुल्लाह खान