Author: Saadut
•6:28 PM

 Tumhare khatt mai nayaa salaam kiss ka thaa” plays on my phone.

The evening queue is gathered serpentine around the nonchalantly silent tables while Ghulam Ali is making himself heard over the old Ahuja speakers, tapes winding at a leisurely pace in the silvery steel coloured tape player. Paint worn-out tools look like tired instruments of a lost childhood melody, around which reluctant children gather in a ceremonious evening ritual. The only grace for today, the Friday ‘yakhni’, which has attained the status of a hope that every boredom filled week winds out into. We always looked towards the Friday evening being served in our dinner thaalis over love pangs of Ghulam Ali, notes that may have bounced off our levels of poetic decryption then, but still remained etched in our hearts and minds for a lifetime. “Lamsa lamsa” goes the shout at the dispersing counter of the bland white edge splintered marble ; herding the queue at its own uneven pace, while the clanking of mess cutlery plays along the sound of landing plates. The waistlines of mess staff had generated a rumour that they would thoroughly get to test the best of food before being served to us. Those were the original ISO certification guys earning their own Michelin star in a dingy Sainik School mess. 

While the evening outside in the desolate vastness of the grounds seem eerily lonely, inside the dining hall the hum of life is at its crescendo, in the nudging of the boys in the queue or the giggles of the ones who already got to sit and measure their catch. And till I get to sit on the table with my thaali, Ghulam Ali has already reached his ‘Chupke Chupke raat din’ milestone, bringing gloom to many a faces in the hall. This ghazal is exactly that peak of the evening when our emotions have been hung on a seesaw, fluctuating between a feeling of some unknown lost love (or a longing for home) or a wish to ignore his heartache melody and enjoy the ‘all week lookup to’ Friday meal. You would always wonder “Yaar teachers ko laaziman yehi cassette kyun chalani hoti hai, harr Friday ko?” But then maybe they were extracting their own revenge of longing from the evening, far away from their beloved’s, herding us in this Lilliputian island.  


Friday evenings also had another meaning, being the precursor of the weekend, that one-step between the ‘Azadi feel of Saturday evening’ and the finally semi-autonomous Sundays. 

Go ahead put on your headphones, Ghulam Ali walking you down the memory lane, lets then meet in that old hall, our giggles still echoing from those old window stills. 

Wafaa kare’n ge, nibaayenge, baat maan’enge

Tumhe bhi yaad hai kuch yeh kalaam kiss ka thaa”


~ 64 ~

Author: Saadut
•9:43 PM

__ would stare at the window endlessly, circling fingers over the ridges of the coffee cup, lost in some oblivion and then in measured movements sip the cold coffee over long intervals. I would be company, some odd times, sitting in forced silences, looking out at the spaces of natural green far beyond the window, those ended somewhere by the horizons of the hills in the faraway distance. Most evenings these distances turned from hazy green to light golden, then burning ember red and subsequently fading into an escaping dark. Such mosaic filled evenings our conversations were limited and our silences extending with the expanse ahead of us.
One of such evenings, while we watched nature changing glasses to beam different colors over a receding day,  __ broke the rule of silence and quipped, “do you realize why the day is in such a hurry to change form?” I shrugged my shoulders, not knowing what to reply. We sunk into silences for many more minutes, __’s fingers circling slowly over the borders of the coffee mug, and then suddenly stopped.

“The day is actually a laborious human,
Burdened by the toil of fields.
And just when toil has turned to harvest,
It’s time for farewell and time to leave”

By that time the lights were already burning ember red, arch shaped flames glowing from behind the distant hills, where not a speck of green or any other hue was visible now. I often thought our placement decides our opinion and our light, like the diminishing of sun in one part of world would be the closure of a day while in the other part of the world the same would be day break.
Soon it was dark and in the arcs of evening, taillights were fleeing over lines of road, roads without addresses those ran like veins without blood. There was still some coffee left in __’s cup, turned cold by the fading evening light. Sipping one last potion of that evening cold coffee __ broke the silence “And the night?”
I waited for the answer from the seeker, again.

“Darkness is the cloak of night,
Giving refuge to those escaping light,
And when our toil has burned away,
The darkest hour will lead to twilight.”

For many of the following years I sat alone at that window, watching the day end in flames, but none to break the silence and tell me the meaning of these changing colors. _ never came back for that unending night, searching for a twilight in some other world.