[responsivevoice_button voice=”US English Male” buttontext=”Read out this Theel for me”]
The year is 1970.
A crumpled paper lies in my pocket, and this poem is yet to be written.
Wintry January afternoon, I am on a bus to Delhi.
Crumbling seats & sleepy passengers, I peek out of the rustic window
as the bus moves past
the old Tughlaqabad fort.
As I take its last glimpse, I hear a voice.
“Chaar Annas please,”
says the ticket collector
While handing me a small green ticket.
The bus stops at Jamia Milia. Through the window I see
my young grandfather, gleaming eyes & spirited face, tender youth flickering through his cigarette smoke.
I call out his name as loud as I can
but the bus moves forward, losing him behind
in the abyss of time.
Did he hear me?
I don’t know. I never will.
Bus now stands at Delhi’s Cannaught Place as I decide to get down.
Walking past white Ambassadors
& citrus blue Chetaks, I rush inside the
old majestic Regal.
The creased ticket in my hand reads ‘Mera Naam Joker, 5 PM .’ As the song starts playing, “Jaane Kahan Gaye Wo Din,”
my eyes land upon a familiar face with shimmering eyes & parted hair, demure smiles & shy giggles.
Raju’s final act has ended.
As people are getting up to leave, my eyes search for her
amidst the ocean of men.
Was she my young grandmother? I don’t know.
I never will.
It is already 9:30.
I light up a cold Charminar cigarette
& take a stroll to Shri Ram Centre. Canvasses are still on the ground
& the instruments are out still, winter doesn’t feel so cold here.
I take a seat under the old Peepal tree
& take out the crumpled paper to write this poem.
As I scrawl the first few words, I wake up.
The year is 2020.
My pockets seem to be empty. There’s no small, green bus ticket, neither I can find the
creased ticket to that 5 PM show.
But… But Oh!
There’s a piece of paper I find in my back pocket, and it says,
“The year is 1970.
A crumpled paper lies in my pocket and this
poem is yet to be written.”