A sensitive attempt to hear the unheard ‘third voice’

“I learned about sexuality when I was in high school. I wanted to know if I was such a person or if there were other people like me. I thought I would tell my parents when I mentioned my marriage. I thought I would die if I married a man. After passing high school, I was angry when my mother told me about marriage. I met ‘A’ in the first semester of my BA. After talking, I realized that she was probably like me.’

In exploring the Assamese language, one inevitably confronts an obvious gap: the absence of a recognized term to encompass individuals beyond the traditional dichotomy of male and female. Within this framework, the term ‘third gender’, often equated with ‘queer’, remains an elementary construct, lacking the nuanced depth required for full comprehension. Its acknowledgement in ancient Indian literature and portrayal in artistic depictions of sexual activities serve as examples of historical acceptance, countering prevailing narratives of deviance and abnormality.

Yet, despite this deep-rooted socio-cultural tradition, the contemporary discourse surrounding the third gender has, regrettably, been relegated to the periphery. Social taboos and deeply ingrained prejudices have conspired to throttle open dialogue, relegating the experiences of this marginalized community to the shadows of society’s consciousness. However, amidst this prevailing silence, there exists a glimmer of hope – an increasing recognition and acknowledgement of the inherent rights and dignities of third-gender individuals.

Recent shifts in societal attitudes, coupled with governmental initiatives aimed at addressing the needs and concerns of this oft-overlooked demographic, signify a slow departure from the status quo. Concurrently, scholars and researchers are embarking on a journey of discovery, exploring the psychological intricacies and socio-cultural dimensions of third-gender identity. Through their nuanced analyses and empathetic inquiries, they seek to illuminate the lived experiences of this community, thereby amplifying their voices and advocating for their rightful place within the fabric of society.

Edited with meticulous care and scholarly acumen by Dr. Kaustubh Padmapani and Dr. Prateeti Barman, the book ‘Queer Voices from the Periphery- a collection of perspectives from Northeast India’ serves as a beacon of enlightenment amidst the prevailing darkness of ignorance and indifference. Centered on the portrayal of ‘queer’ identities in the vibrant landscape of North East India, its pages offer a comprehensive exploration of the complexities and challenges faced by this marginalized demographic. While awareness of queer issues may be blossoming in the region, the dearth of literature serves as a poignant reminder of the pressing need for greater social engagement and discourse.

Comprising an anthology of contributions from researchers and scholars, each chapter endeavours to navigate the undiscovered alleys of queer identity with sensitivity and shades. From probing examinations of cultural nuances and identity dynamics to insightful critiques of general homophobia within Assamese society, the book offers a rich compilation of insights and perspectives. Through rigorous research and empathetic inquiry, the authors seek to peel back the layers of societal prejudice and misconceptions, offering readers a deeper understanding of the lived realities of queer individuals.

Namami Sharma’s compelling discourse on homophobia in small-town Assam serves as a stark reminder of the entrenched biases and systemic inequalities that continue to infuse our social fabric. By shining a light on these injustices and advocating for greater awareness and inclusivity, Sharma underscores society’s collective responsibility towards nurturing a more equitable and accepting environment for all its members. It is through such concerted efforts and unwavering commitment that we may begin to dismantle the barriers of prejudice and discrimination that have long hindered the full realization of human dignity and equality.

In intertwining together these diverse narratives and perspectives, the book offers readers a panoramic view of the lives, struggles, and triumphs of queer individuals in the unique context of North East India. From the emergence of queer identities within the cultural landscape to the challenges of navigating societal expectations and prejudices, each chapter serves as a testament to the resilience and courage of those who dare to defy convention and embrace their true selves. Dr. Bibhuti Patel’s commendation of the book as a critical catalyst for encouraging dialogue and understanding among diverse identities speaks to its profound impact and enduring relevance. Grounded in evidence-based research and filled with a deep sense of empathy and compassion, the book stands as a testament to the power of scholarship and advocacy in advancing the cause of equality and justice for all.

First published in


Capturing Assamese Icons and Nature: A Mumbai Transplant’s Perspective through Utpal Datta’s Lens

Some of the Photographs from the Exhibition

I am new to Guwahati, and I am even newer to its arts scene. I came from Mumbai with a background at NCPA and Jehangir Art Gallery. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I visited a solo photography exhibition by the renowned film critic and author Mr. Utpal Datta of Guwahati. It featured faces and nature combined and intertwined to explore the relationship between humans—some prominent, some iconic, and some unknown—in their natural surroundings.

Utpal Datta, currently a Professor of Practice and Dean of Performing Arts at Assam down town University, Guwahati, has worked for All India Radio for a long time and is a man of many talents. His books ‘24 Frames’ and ‘Film Appreciation’ are well-known in film studies. He has also received a special jury mention for his writings in the National Film award. Utpal Datta is creative, and his creations do not end with writing books and making films; they also involve photography. He has a keen and observant eye for things, which is well reflected in his photography show.

Seeing Bhupen Hazarika, Deepali Borthakur, Homen Borgohain, and Birendra Nath Datta was a pleasure. Particularly, I liked Birendra Nath Datta’s photo in chiaroscuro in his simple yet elegant study. The light falling on the bookshelf reflected his love for studying in depth. Deepali Borthakur, the iconic singer of Assam, looking fondly over a calendar with her own photo, made by Utpal Datta, is another memorable piece. A rare photograph of Bhupen Hazarika with a full open smile accompanied well by his wife in another frame. Utpal Datta, over his illustrious and long career, was privileged to capture the moments of the icons of Assam. So, a Homen Borgohain looking askance and a Jadab Payeng, the forest man of India, looking tenderly over his greenery creation is something to experience at the exhibition.

It was not only with great people he hobnobbed but also, his photos of female vendors in a busy local market and an old photographer suavely dressed and standing to focus his camera exuded a certain amount of energy. Then there were serene beach photographs of the Andamans and the river banks of the mighty Brahmaputra. In the end, the exhibition concluded with the painted scriptures of “Sarva bhabentu Sukhina” from the Upanishads beautifully capturing the theme of nature and humans.

Overall, it was a delightful experience peering into the nature and icons of Assamese culture, coming from Mumbai. I was thrilled to experience some of the unique faces and landscapes inextricably intertwined. (Exhibition venue: Guwahati Artists Guild, dates 8th to 12th march 24).

Tailpiece: Well-known film director Biswajeet Das made a short film ‘Fragments in Time’ based on the exhibition. The film is available on YouTube.

World’s largest literature festival concludes

Einstein World Records gives certificate of achievement

The last day was dedicated to the differently abled writers

More than 850 children of Delhi NCR More took part in the programme ‘Aao Kahani Bune’

New Delhi, 16 March 2024: The Festival of Letters 2024, which is being organized by Sahitya Akademi as the world’s largest literature festival, concluded today. The last day of this six-day festival was dedicated to differently abled writers. To provide national platform to differently abled writers All India Differently Abled Writers’ Meet was organized. To awaken interest in literature among children many competitions were organized for more than 850 children at the programme ‘Aao Kahani Bune’. Today’s other important programmes included “Symposium on the Life and Works of Gopi Chand Narang”, “Translation in a Multilingual, Multicultural Society”, “Preservation of Indian Languages”, “Translation as Rewriting/re-creation in the Indian Context”, “Indian English Writing and Translation”. Apart from this, the ongoing national seminars on “Indian Oral Epics” and “Post-Independence Indian Literature” also concluded.
Considering this six-day festival as the world’s biggest literary festival, today the team of Einstein World Records, Dubai, presented the certificate of a world record in ceremoniously to Sri Madhav Kaushik, Prof. Kumud Sharma and Dr. K. Sreenivasarao, respectively President, Vice President and Secretary, Sahitya Akademi. The certificate mentions the participation of more than 1100 writers in 190 sessions in this world’s largest literature festival that lasted six days and over 175 languages were represented. Delivering the inaugural address at the inaugural session of the All India Differently Abled Writers’ Meet, renowned English scholar Prof. G.J.V. Prasad said that we have to work with awareness and affection in connection with the differently abled. Disability is not congenital but many times we acquire it due to our own ignorance and carelessness. He requested all the differently abled writers to identify their special abilities and work on them, they must achieve their destination. In her presidential address, Vice President of Sahitya Akademi, Prof. Kumud Sharma, while discussing the achievements of the differently abled people in various fields, said that the differently abled people will have to move forward with the energy and courage, only then they will be able to achieve their desired destination.
At the beginning of the inaugural session, Sahitya Akademi Secretary Dr. K. Sreenivasarao while giving the welcome address said that Sahitya Akademi is feeling proud to have differently abled writers from 24 Indian languages present here today. Remembering the great writer and critic Gopichand Narang, a symposium was organized on his literary contribution. The chief guests of which were Sri Gulzar and Narang ji’s wife Manorama Narang. Sri Gulzar in his inaugural address said that the personality and work of Gopi Chand Narang is a beautiful combination of his talent and greatness. The key-note was given by the eminent Urdu scholar Nizam Siddiqui. Sadiqur Rahman Kidwai delivered his speech as the special guest. Sahitya Akademi President Madhav Kaushik presided over. Introductory remarks were made by Sri Chandra Bhan Khayal, Convener of the Urdu Advisory Board. Important writers and scholars who participated in these programmes were – Harish Narang, Damodar Khadse, Anvita Abbi, Rita Kothari, K. Enoch, Debashish Chatterjee, Udaya Narayana Singh, Mamang Dai, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Shafe Kidwai, Shamim Tariq.

(K. Sreenivasarao)

Daklakatha Devikavya – Provoking and Contemplative

A review by Manohar Khushalani for IIC DIARY

Daklakatha Devikavya is an open ended play performed in an engagingly
informal folk style, evolved from the epic poetry and stories of K.B. Siddaiah’s .
It was Directed by Lakshman K.P. It presents the inner workings and external
experiences of the Daklas — a Dalit community.
Presented by Jangama Collective, Bengaluru with Bindu Raxidi (Dakla Devi,
Kadiramma); Santhosh Dindgur (Dakla, Cheluvaiah)l; Bharath Dingri (K.B.
Siddiah & narrator); Narasimharaju B.K. (Narasappa); and Ramika Chaithra
(Gangavva, Munivenkatamma)
Accompanists who also added tone and tenor to the performance were: Poorvi
Kalyani & Skanda Ghate (vocal); Bharath Dingri (tamate); and Narasimharaju
B.K. (arevadya)

The Flower Sellers

The setting of the play had flower sellers squatting in the background and
rising in turns as actors with robust voices. The traditional Folk device, a half
curtain, known as, Yavanika, was used to introduce the important characters.
The actor would peep over the curtain which was lowered after he started
speaking or singing.

The Yavanika
The Traditional Yavanika

The most important aspect of the performance was that it
retained the spiritual richness of the Dakla community, through its music. Two
of the characters appear on the stage playing tamate (hand drum) and
arevadya (urmi), instruments not seen in contemporary theatre. Daklas are
people who are protected by the untouchables and hence are still lower in the
social hierarchy. But whatever notions people have about Adivasis or Daklas
being a backward community, better revise them forthwith. First of, the
female roles were done by women and not female impersonators. These
women unhesitantly lighted beedis, and were not coy about using cuss words,
which is true to their life. It is also true of contemporary OTT films, which claim
to be more modern and truer to our life.

The author had a strong faith in mysticism as exemplified by his poetry which
was the soul of the performance:

O mother as you rock the world
And rock the child
Bear me again in your womb

Walk this infant from the cave of your vagina
Into the cave of contemplation.

Here in the above context the poet brings out that once the mother bears him
in her womb the stigma of untouchability will not be so strong. One recurring
metaphor that has remained constant is hunger. The poet throws a direct
question to the creator:

O God! Take birth like me
Try to touch and be polluted!
Try to take like me, like me take birth!

Untouchability does not generate self-pity in the play, in fact it is an instrument
of self-awareness and enlightenment. Sheer magic was created in the dark
night by luminous display of improvised spinning fire wheels urns with radiant
charcoal cinders. All elements in the play contributed to an experience of a
magical night to remember.

Watch the entire play on You Tube:

The article as published in IIC Diary (Oct-Nov 2023)

Is anarchy acceptable in the name of artistic freedom? The magic of OTT.

Anant OTT

Book Review by
Utpal Datta

OTT platforms, a new addition to the media, have become competitors to cinema and television programs, raising a few uncomfortable questions. Does OTT concern discern viewers? Is the tasteless and obscene content on OTT platforms a result of the absence of a censor board? Is this the beginning of a dangerous practice for society and culture? Journalist and author Anant Vijay seeks answers to these questions through his Hindi book ‘OTT Ka Mayajal.’ This is his latest book and probably the first Indian book on OTT. Anant Vijay, a national award-winning film critic, journalist, literary critic, and political analyst, reveals all these identities through this book. The writing style reflects more of his journalistic mentality than a writer’s, making the book easy to read, even for non-Hindi-speaking readers familiar with Hindi.

OTT is a platform primarily for movies and similar content. This book mainly discusses programs aired in Hindi. During the pandemic, cinemas were closed, people were under house arrest, and television became the sole means of entertainment for cinema lovers. At the same time, OTT platforms became well-established in the minds of the audience, and OTT directors started planning to provide the audience with a new taste. OTT had old popular movies replaced by new ones, especially those that failed in theatres. At one point, cinemas opened, but due to the limited audience and the popularity of OTT, new Hindi films were released on this platform. Filmmaking for OTT started, and web series in the style of a TV series also began.

Most web series used elements like obscene abuse, violent scenes, and explicit sexual content to attract a larger audience. While censor boards for movies monitor such scenes, many producers took unimaginable liberties due to the lack of controls for OTT, resulting in chaos in the world of creation.

Some directors are notably aggressive, using verbal abuse to grab the audience’s attention. The unhindered and uncontrolled environment of OTT platforms is reflected in his encouragement in the series ‘Sacred Games.’ Anant Vijay rightly comments, ‘When there is no bondage and no need to apologize, freedom turns into anarchy.’ He also wrote, ‘In fact, such people use abuse, violence, and sexual scenes to cover up their incompetence.’

Not only have movies or series been created for the OTT platform with sexually violent elements, but also series with wholesome entertainment and reality. The author balances the subject with detailed discussions of several such series and maintains his responsibilities as an author.

Author Anant Vijay carefully observes and explains the clever construction of a ‘fake narrative’ through OTT programs. The same narrative of anti-Hindu and Muslim praise created in Hindi films is seen differently in OTT. The brains of political power control agendas and promotion tactics under the guise of entertainment. It involves either the creator’s political beliefs or profit motives or the goal of obtaining the blessings of an influential force. When analysing the present from a political perspective, two things are needed – political knowledge of the past and the ability to predict the future in light of it. The author rightly considers the political background while discussing the web series ‘Leila’ by the once-famous filmmaker Deepa Mehta. “Art was turned into a rehearsal ground for politics”. He further elaborates by explaining that this was done after the last two Lok Sabha elections. There are many reasons why a distorted image was created of the political dispensation and promoted by portraying some organizations as radical. It can be assumed that a part of that agenda was Deepa Mehta’s ‘Leila.’ Although ‘Leila’ is told as a fictional story, it combines the, so-called grim future it depicts with the image of the agenda. Anant Vijay has informatively analysed many other such agendas. The web series ‘Jubilee’ also beautifully describes how the Russian Communist Party used Indian films as part of their agenda. The author also refers to Dev Ananda’s autobiography ‘Romancing with Life’ in support of this.

Overall, this book analyses both the artistic work and the process of agenda-building through the latest entertainment medium in depth and can provide the reader with thought. In India, the relationship between art and politics has been judged in a one-sided manner. This book has broken down that wall of limitations. This is the real power of the book.

The book is published by Prabhat Prakashan, and the price is Rs 300. The book must be translated into regional languages.

It is worth mentioning that the author dedicated the book to the Maa Kamakhya Temple and released it for sale.

Jadunama – The Power of Time in Literature

First Published in IIC DIARY

India International Centre New Delhi, recently
organised an evening evening with Javed Akhtar, where the celebrated poet recited his outstanding poetry and conversed candidly with Anil Shrivatav and audience.

Shri Shyam Sharan, President India International Centre introduced the legendary poet and writer Javed Akhtar as apart from being an author and a poet, was also an outstanding lyricist, script writer who has been awarded with several awards and honors from home and beyond.

Anil Srivastav, engaged with Javed Akhtar in a candid conversation as he talked against casteism and fundamentalism. He used the metaphor of toy very appropriately and said most of us are happy with toys as a child and not when grown up.

He said lineage, heritage didn’t give any pride as the genes are not as important as the environment of poetry that made him. He recited wonderfully with great sensitivity two of his brilliant poems, waqt(Time) and Anshu(Tears) to the appreciative audience overflowing in the auditorium.

He took it as a compliment when asked by Allok Srivastav that though he calls himself an atheist still he wrote of Lord Shiva’s tandava, He went on to say that an author has to write differently in different situations that the script demands. He made an extremely significant statement that , “We have to surrender to time and norms.” And also mentioned that we are living in a bubble and everyone wants to be victorious. Instead we have to look for yesterday’s innocence, respect, honesty and surrender. He talked of the golden era of Hindi film songs with great appreciation as common people don’t attend philosophy classes but learn from good film songs.

One very significant statement the erudite poet mentioned is that Hindi and Urdu are of the same origin . Urdu is written in Persian script while Hindi is written in Devanagari and eventually the script is just Hindustani .According to him Hindi and Urdu merged together bringing the best poetry and literature though only time will tell what is good literature. With ghazals, nazm, shayari and splendid conversation a splendid evening passed in an overflowing auditorium with Jadunama or journey of Javed Ji in hands of the captive audience.

Mandira Ghosh

Jadunama is about a writer, poet, lyricist, and political activist. It is also about this one man’s struggle since childhood to become what he is today and to create a hallmark of success in everything he does. Named Jadu at birth, it was Javed sahab’s father, Jan Nisar Akhtar’s poem, ‘Lamha, lamha kisi jadoo ka fasana hoga (Every moment will be the story of a certain magic)’ that was the inspiration behind the name. When the little boy was in kindergarten, everyone realised that Jadu was not a serious name and to have a word as close to Jadu as possible, he was renamed Javed (meaning ‘eternal’), Akhtar (meaning ‘star’)—Eternal star! Not only has he remained in the limelight ever since, he continues to shine brightly like the eternal star!

Javed Akhtar (born 17 January 1945) is an Indian screenwriter, lyricist and poet. Known for his work in Hindi cinema, he has won five National Film Awards,[1] and received the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2007,[2] two of India’s highest civilian honours.

किसका मोती, किसकी झोली?

किसका मोती किसकी झोली

बचपन में देखा था उसे पहली बार।
उसकी माँ हमारे यहाँ काम करती थी। एक दिन संग बेटी को ले आई। बोली,”आज कुछ हरारत सी लगे है बीबी जी। इसे ले आई हूँ, कुछ हाथ बंटा देगी।”
मेरी माँ बोलीं”अच्छा किया, दोनों मिल कर काम कर लो।”

इतवार था सो मैं भी घर पर थी। लड़की ने झटपट काम करना शुरू कर दिया।
मैं छटी कक्षा में थी। नाश्ते के बाद पढ़ने बैठ गई थी। काम करती लड़की को कनखियों से देख रही थी।

गोरा चिट्टा धूप जैसा रंग, सुतवां नाक, पलकें ऐसीं कि झुके तो चेहरा छू लें उठे तो भौंहें। लंबे काले बाल, ये मोटी मोटी दो चोटियां लाल रिबन में बंधी हुई, दंतपंक्ति कुछ टेडी मेढ़ी पर चेहरे को और भी सलोना बना रहीं थी। गूदड़ी में लाल कहावत याद आ गयी।
मैंने इशारे से बुलाया”क्या नाम है तुम्हारा?”
माथे से मोती जैसे पसीने को कुर्ती की बाँह से पोंछ, इंच भर लंबी पलकें उठा कर बोली” मीत।”
“कितने साल की हो?” पूछा मैंने

“पता नहीं, माँ कहती है शायद 12 की, बाबा को तो कुछ पता नहीं, पड़ोस के एक अंकल जी कहते हैं, सोलह की लगती हूँ।” एक साँस में फर्राटे से बोल गई लड़की।
तभी उसकी माँ आ गई,”री छोरी, बस फिर बतियाने लगी। हे राम, कैसी औलाद दी है तूने। बाँस की तरह बढ़ रही है पर ये नहीं के कुछ काम ही कर ले। कुछ तो मुझ बुढ़िया को आराम मिले।”

माँ क्या थी, हिडिम्बा का अवतार, किसी पहलवान सी कद काठी, काला भुजंग रंग, बीड़ी पी पी कर काले पड़े दाँत,चौड़ी गुफ़ा से नथुने,चेहरा चेचक के बचे प्रसाद से भरा।
“हाय राम! इस राक्षसी सी माँ की ऐसी रूपवती सन्तान। जाने कौन से पीर से मांग कर लायी होगी !”

मेरी उम्र तब 11 की थी। मुझे वो हमउम्र ही लगी। पहले ही दिन दोस्ती हो गयी। अब वो अक्सर आ जाती अपनी माँ के संग।
एक दिन चाय बनाते हुए बोली,”जिज्जी तुम गुड़ की चाय चखी हो कभी?”
“न, नहीं तो, चाय में गुड़ कौन डालता है मीत?”

उन दिनों चाय में गुड़ डालने का कारण बस ये था कि चीनी मेंहगी थी, गुड़ सस्ता,, तो निचले तबके के हिस्से में गुड़ आता। आज की बात और है,अब सफेद चीनी को बुरा कहते हैं।

आज सोचती हूँ क्या पैसा दे कर हम ज़हर खरीदते थे अब तक और अमृत गरीबों की थाली में सजता था?
ख़ैर गुड़ की उस चाय का नैसर्गिक स्वाद
जिह्वा आज तक नहीं भूली।
फिर तो बड़ों से छुप छुप कर इमली गटारे, कच्चे आम, चूर्ण, आम पापड़ जाने कितने चटखारों को प्रसाद सा चढ़ाया अपनी जिह्वा की चटोरी देवी को हम दोनों ने।

पास ही एक गाँव जंडली में रहती थी मीत। उसके पिता का छोटा सा खेत था। कभी कभी माँ से पूछ मैं मीत के संग गाँव चली जाती।

मीत उछल उछल कर खेतों में आगे आगे चलती, मैं पीछे। आज सोचती हूँ कि ध्यान से देखती तो उसके पाँव के नीचे शायद पंख दिख ही जाते !

खेतों में कभी लाल सुर्ख़ गाजर उखाड़, पानी से धो,दो टुकड़े कर देती,एक उसका एक मेरा और कभी अमरूद के पेड़ पर गिलहरी सी चढ़ अमरूद तोड़ लाती।

बड़ी अजीब बात है कि बचपन में ढूंढते थे तोते का खाया अमरूद। हमारी खोज और अनुभव के अनुसार ऐसे अमरूद शर्तिया मीठे होते थे। और अब फल चाहिए एकदम बेदाग, भले ही मसाले से पके हों। फ़िर न तो बगीचे वाले घर हैं न पेड़ों पर चढ़ने वाले बच्चे।

दो तीन साल ऐसा ही चला। हम बड़े होते गये। मुझ पर पढ़ाई का बोझ बढ़ने लगा,, मीत पर जिंदगी का, दो तीन और भी घरों में काम करती पर जब तब हम दोनों मिलने का समय निकाल ही लेते।
धीरे धीरे मीत का आना कम होता चला गया। उसकी मां ने बताया उसकी शादी की बात चल रही है।

अरे वाह ! मन मे सोचा जिद करके मैं भी चली जाऊंगी मीत की शादी में। दुल्हन बनी मीत को देखूँगी। यूँ ही जो रूप की खान थी, दुल्हन बन कर तो स्वर्ग की अप्सरा ही लगेगी।

कभी कभी कहती थी वो, जिज्जी,क्या करूँ इस निगोड़े रूप को,,, लोग ऐसे देखते हैं जैसे बदन टटोल रहे हों। पराये भी और कुछ अपने भी। जिज्जी गरीब की बेटी को सुंदर नहीं होना चाहिए न,, कहते कहते कंचन से चेहरे पर जैसे कोई बदरी छा जाती।
पर मीत की शादी में न जा पाई,अनुमति नहीं मिली।

फिर एक दिन वो आई। लाल साड़ी, सिर पर पल्लू लिए, ढेर लाली सिंदूर माँग में,कलाईयों में कांच की खनखन करती हरी लाल चूड़ियां कानों में सोने के बुन्दे सोने जैसे चेहरे के रंग से होड़ लगाते हुए।
“जिज्जी” कह कर लिपट गई। मैंने भी गले लगा लिया। लिपटी ही रहती पर अचानक माँ कह कर किसी ने पुकारा। देखा तो 7,8 साल का एक बच्चा पल्लू खींच रहा था।
“कौन है ये, किसका बच्चा है,, माँ किसको बुला रहा है?” मैंने गोली से प्रश्न दाग दिए।
मुझसे अलग हुई कुछ कहने को थी कि टक टक की आहट हुई जैसे बैसाखी हो।
सचमुच ही बैसाखी टेकता एक अधेड़ पुरुष आ खड़ा हुआ। गहरा कोयले सा रंग,सिर पर छितरे से लाल बाल, पान से एक गाल फूला हुआ।

कौन हो भई तुम,, पूछने ही वाली थी कि बड़े अधिकार और अभिमान से उसने अपनी पुष्ट चौड़ी हथेली मीत के कंधे पर रख दी। खींसें निपोरता हुआ बोला,”आप से मिलने की बहुत इच्छा थी हमारी पत्नी जी की, इसीलिए ले आये। देवी का हुकुम कोई टालता है भला? और हमारा बिटवा तो नई माँ को छोड़ता नहीं पल भर को।”

मैं स्तब्ध, अवाक मुंह बाए देखती रह गई।अब क्या ही पूछना बाकी रह गया था? एक अधेड़ विधुर की दूसरी पत्नी, 8 साल के बच्चे की नवविवाहित माँ 18 -19 बरस की मीत ही थी।

कलेजे पर पत्थर रख उस अनोखे परिवार को चाय नाश्ता करवाया। अकेले में मीत से बात करने का मौका ही नहीं मिला,उसके मालिक ने अपनी सम्पति ने नज़र एक पल न हटाई। मां ने चलते हुए मीत को शगुन दे कर विदा किया।

हरदम चिड़िया सी चहचहाने वाली मीत पूरे समय कुछ भी न बोली, मुंह मे शब्द नहीं थे और आँखों मे जैसे प्राण न थे। बस एक सजी धजी काठ की गुड़िया लग रही थी, बेजान गुड़िया कभी बोलती है क्या?
शाम को उसकी माँ काम करने आई तो मैंने आड़े हाथों लिया,” क्या मौसी, कैसी माँ हो तुम, कहाँ ब्याह दी लड़की,,,उस बुढ्ढे दुहाजू के साथ, जरा दया नहीं आयी निरीह गाय सी लड़की को जिबह करते हुए,, तुम्हारी तो अपनी जाई थी वो” क्रोध और आवेग में मैं बरस पड़ी।

मौसी का खुरदुरा काला चेहरा जैसे पिघलने लगा। मोटे मोटे ऑंसू झुर्रियों की पगडंडियों पर बहने लगे
“सुन री बिटिया,, मेरी जाई न थी वो। आज बताती हूँ सब कुछ।कई साल पहले मेर घर वाला लाया था, बोला टेसन पर अकेली खड़ी रो रही थी। भीड़ में माँ बाप से बिछड़ गई थी।मैं ले आया।लड़की की जात, किसी गलत हाथ पड़ जाती। अब अपनी ही बेटी समझ। अब तू निपूती न रही।”

हिचकियों के बीच वो बोली”पर बिटिया मैंने तब से ही अपनी जाई सा प्यार किया था अभागी को। पाल पोस कर बड़ा किया। हमारे दामाद गांव के साहूकार और हमारे मकान मालिक हैं। बड़ा कर्ज़ा था उनका हमारे सर। एक दिन बोले या तो उधारी चुकता करो या मकान खाली कर दो। नहीं तो अपनी बेटी ब्याह दो मुझे।सारा कर्ज माफ़ कर दूँगा और 5000 रुपये भी दूँगा।
क्या कहूँ बिटिया मैं बहुत रोई पर इसके बापू ने हां भर दी। कमबख्त ने बेच डाली बेटी। असली बाप होता तो शायद न कर देता।”
आँसू मेरी भी आंखों में थे। सचमुच अभागी ही थी, जाने कौन घर में जन्मी, कहाँ पली और कैसे घर ब्याही। तभी तो,नैन नक्श रंग रूप कुछ भी नहीं मिलता था अपने माँ बाप से।

जिंदगी की इस नाइंसाफी का इंसाफ शायद उसे कभी न मिलेगा।

आपदा-काल में भास का सहारा

‘आपदा को अवसर में बदलना’ – आजकल यह उक्ति प्रायः सुनने को मिल जाती है. आज के समय की जीवित स्मृति में सबसे बड़ी आपदा रही करोना. सब लोग अपने-अपने घरों के अन्दर बन्द हो जाने को मजबूर हो गये थे. ऐसे में, विज्ञान से ले कर नाटक तक हर विषय पर सैंकड़ों-हजारों लोगों ने ‘ऑनलाइन’ या इन्टरनैट पर चर्चा के माध्यम से आपसी सम्बन्ध और संवाद को चलाये रखा, और करोड़ों मनुष्यों के मानसिक सन्तुलन को बनाये रखने में एक प्रशंसनीय भूमिका निभाई!
ऐसी ही एक चर्चा का सहभागी बनने का सौभाग्य मुझे भी मिला. करोना के कालखण्ड में ही ग्वालियर की गीतांजलि गीत ने अपने रंगसमूह ‘मेरा मंच’ के माध्यम से भास के तेरह नाटकों पर भारतरत्न भार्गव के व्याख्यानों की एक श्रृंखला आयोजित की थी. संगीत नाटक अकादमी अमृत सम्मान से सम्मानित, आकाशवाणी, बी.बी.सी. तथा संगीत नाटक अकादमी से जुड़े रहे भारतरत्न भार्गव डॉ. कमलेश दत्त त्रिपाठी तथा कवलम नारायण पणिक्कर जैसे दिग्गजों के साथ काम कर चुके हैं, और सम्प्रति टैगोर फैलोशिप ले कर शोध कर रहे हैं.
इन व्याख्यानों की सबसे रोचक बात रही इनका समय! यह व्याख्यानमाला सायं चार बजे से होती थी. उन दिनों में, काम कोई न होने के कारण हम दोपहर में खाना खा कर सो जाते थे. फिर, चार बजे से कुछ ही पहले नींद खुलती थी, भागते-दौड़ते जैसे-तैसे मैं कंप्यूटर खोलता था, कपड़े पहनता था, पत्नी भी जाग जाती थीं, तब तक भारतरत्न जी का व्याख्यान प्रारम्भ हो चुका होता था! व्याख्यान सुनते-सुनते ही पानी पीता था, चाय आ जाती थी, वह भी पीता रहता था, लगता था कि बिस्कुट खा रहा हूँ, और वह नमकीन होता था; कभी नमकीन के चक्कर में बिस्कुट खा जाता था! करोना काल में बचे हुए हम लोगों की बहुत सी दुखद, लेकिन कुछ मधुर, रोमांचकारी स्मृतियाँ भी हैं! उन्हीं में से एक गीतांजलि गीत द्वारा आयोजित व्याख्यानों की यह श्रृंखला भी थी.
भास के नाट्य-साहित्य पर आधारित इस श्रृंखला का एक अत्यन्त महत्वपूर्ण पक्ष था प्रतिदिन के व्याख्यान के बाद का प्रश्नोत्तर-काल. इसके लिये भार्गव जी ने यथेष्ट समय माँगा, जिसे गीतांजलि ने मुक्तमन से स्वीकार किया. और सच में, यह श्रृंखला गीतांजलि की श्रृंखला न रह कर भार्गव जी और श्रोताओं की श्रृंखला बन गई! बाद में, सभी ने इसे पुस्तक के रूप में प्रकाशित करवाने का सुझाव दिया. अब सेतु प्रकाशन के संस्थापक-संचालक अमिताभ राय ने, जो इस श्रृंखला से प्रारम्भ से ही इससे जुड़े रहे, इन व्याख्यानों तथा प्रश्न और उत्तरों को ‘महाकवि भास का नाट्य वैशिष्ट्य’ नाम से पुस्तक रूप में प्रकाशित किया है. बातचीत की स्वाभाविकता को बनाये रखने, और इसे आत्मीय संस्पर्श देने के उद्देश्य से इसकी भाषा को यथावत रखा गया है, जो पुस्तक को बहुत पठनीय बना देता है.
“ग्यारहवीं–बारहवीं शताब्दी से जो आक्रान्ता आये, उन्होंने तक्षशिला, नालन्दा जैसे विश्वप्रसिद्ध केन्द्रों को ध्वस्त कर दिया, नष्ट कर दिया” – इस प्रकार का क्षोभ प्रकट करने के बाद इन नाटकों को फिर खोज लिये जाने की कहानी भार्गव जी विषय-प्रवेश में सुनाते हैं, और, कि कैसे ये नाटक केरल के देवालयों अर्थात कुताम्बलम में खेले जाते रहे, लेकिन खोज लिये जाने के लगभग सत्तर वर्षों के बाद भी ये नाटक हमारे लिये अपरिचित ही रहे, और कैसे सन 1974 में शान्ता गाँधी के द्वारा भास के ‘स्वप्नवासवदत्ता’ नाटक को अमेरिका के हवाई विश्वविद्यालय में सफलतापूर्वक खेलने पर भारत के लोगों की नींद टूटी, और उनका ध्यान इन नाटकों की ओर गया. भार्गव जी को पणिक्कर जी ने बताया कि केरल में कुड़ियाट्टम, कथक्कली और नाट्यशास्त्र के विद्वान अप्पुकुट्टन नायर ने तभी केरल संगीत नाटक अकादमी के सचिव बने पणिक्कर जी को कुड़ियाट्टम और नाट्यशास्त्र से परिचित करवाया, जिससे पणिक्कर जी संस्कृत नाटकों के प्रति आकृष्ट हुए. बाकी सब तो जाना-पहचाना इतिहास है.
बाद में पणिक्कर जी ने कालिदास संस्कृत अकादमी में ‘मध्यमव्यायोग’ नाटक का मंचन करके उत्तर भारत के लोगों को भास के नाटकों से परिचित करवाया. भार्गव जी बताते हैं कि इन नाटकों की सबसे बड़ी विशेषता है इनके कथानक. कालिदास से पहले के काल में रहे भास के तेरह में से छः नाटक महाभारत पर आधारित हैं. दो नाटक, ‘अभिषेक’ और ‘प्रतिभा’ रामायण पर आधारित हैं. एक नाटक ‘बालचरित’ कृष्ण की कथाओं पर आधारित है. ‘स्वप्नवासवदत्ता’, ‘प्रतिज्ञा यौगन्धरायण’, ‘अविमारक’ और ‘चारुदत्त’, ये चार नाटक उनकी मूल कृतियाँ मानी जाती हैं.
‘मेरा मंच’ के माध्यम से भास के तेरह नाटकों पर व्याख्यानों की श्रृंखला, वहाँ उठे प्रश्न और जिज्ञासाओं, और श्रोताओं की रुचि ने भार्गव जी को इन नाटकों के हिन्दी भाषा में पाठान्तर की भूमिका तैयार कर दी. पाठान्तर वाले भास के इन सभी तेरह नाटकों को सेतु प्रकाशन ने ही ‘भास नाट्य समग्र’ के नाम से छापा है. भास के नाटकों के अन्य अनुवादों या पाठान्तरों और भार्गव जी के पाठान्तर में मूल अन्तर यह है, कि उन्होंने इन नाटकों का पद्यात्मक पाठान्तर किया है. यह पाठान्तर करते समय उन्होंने ‘नाट्यशास्त्र में निर्देशित संहिता के अनुसार’ तनिक छूट भी ली है, जिससे ‘इन नाटकों की समकालीन उपयोगिता में यत्किंचित वृद्धि हो सके’. इसीलिये वे इसे अनुवाद न कह कर पाठान्तर कहते हैं, जिससे कि आंगिक और वाचिक अभिनय में भाव, राग तथा ताल के तात्विक गुणों का समन्वय हो सके. सबसे अच्छी बात है, कि इन दोनों पुस्तकों को पाठकों को उचित मूल्य पर उपलब्ध करवाने के लिये प्रकाशक ने इन्हें पेपरबैक में छापा है, जिससे ये पुस्तकें साधारण जन के लिये बहुत आसानी से सुलभ हो सकेंगी.
भास की विलक्षण प्रतिभा को समझने के लिये ‘महाकवि भास का नाट्य वैशिष्ट्य’ का पढ़ना आवश्यक है! और भास के नाटकों को पढ़ने के लिये दूसरी पुस्तक ‘भास नाट्य समग्र’ का पढ़ना तो आवश्यक है ही! और यदि पाठक ‘भास नाट्य समग्र’ को भास के नाटकों के संस्कृत संस्करणों के साथ रख कर पढ़ेंगे, तो उन्हें इन प्राचीन नाटकों के आज के समय में प्रासंगिक होने का भान हो सकेगा!


Mithi knew she was lying. She had no option but to lie. She lied and lied and became a mythomaniac. One day she did not want to lie. But the mania would not leave her. Her mouth emitted a lie that her heart did not consent. She became frustrated as she was continually telling lies all the time when she could avoid doing so. One day, she went to a Babaji and told him to give her a remedy. Babaji smiled and said, “when you are tempted to lie, just imagine that the truth that you are speaking is a lie. You will do alright.” Next day, Mithi experimented it. Her father asked her, “Mithi did you take 200 rupees from my pocket?” Mithi replied, “YES.” And while she spoke yes, she imagined it were a lie! And yes, she got rid of the habit!

STORY SAYS, “Your thoughts make it true or false.”


For comments if any please write in the box given below.


Two Robots were brought on the stage along with two actors. They were given the same dialogues as the actors. They spoke the dialogues with trained expressions duly. The actors were asked to speak the same dialogue. They looked at each other brought the emotions in and when it was time to begin, one of the actors forgot the second dialogue he was about to speak. So instead of that dialogue, he spoke another one and the other actor had to continue with the new idea as the previous dialogue had been changed.

Now, the entire presentation was changed on the part of the humans.

Next day, the programmed Robots were brought in. One of them encountered a technical error and could not utter the programmed dialogue. The other Robot kept quiet as it was commanded to speak only after listening to the dialogue of the first Robot. Now, the act came to an abrupt halt. Suddenly, both the Robots bowed down to the audiences and left the stage. They were programmed to do so ONLY after the presentation got over. But, they did it beforehand and went off stage. What made them act in spite of the mechanics?

None knows but conjectures are that there’s a sixth sense programmed in them which gets activated as soon as their technical glitch occurs.


For comments if any, please write in the box below: