A SAD SYMPHONY all my days are dark nights. It might be high noon, but all I see is darkness. The sky envelopes me like a sheet of iron.


“True night is one when darkness engulfs you from within, while you sleep.”

Presently, all my days are dark nights. It might be high noon, but all I see is darkness. The sky envelopes me like a sheet of iron. There is a strange ache inside me. There is an unknown sadness in the air outside. My pocket is empty and cold. My vision is dark. My chest is heavy. Sadness chains my feet. The thorns of idleness crown my head. Unemployment is killing me. I am almost on the streets. No job anywhere is searching for me. My days reverberate with a sad symphony. I am a product of these uncertain times.

I stand alone in the crowd now. I am a stranger to my own people. Time is spending me and I am getting spent thriftlessly. My entire existence is lost. All the depressing and dull shades of life have fallen in my share and a disgraceful scar is imprinted on my face. My present extends over my life like the dirty scum over the surface of a still pond. My mornings hold the repressed, painful moans of the night. I smell of desperation. There is a tumor growing in the intestines of time. I continue to fall into the black hole of life.

A few months back, I had a job. My life was verdant. My girlfriend, Chhavi, stood beside me.  Now, only memories exist. And a deep depression. And cold sweat. The lines of Ghulam Ali’s ghazal echo in my ears – ‘ The bright moon is shredded into a falling star’.

The shadows of evening are darkening. I am sitting on the grass surrounding India Gate. A cigarette is inhaling my life in puffs. My eyes hold the remnants of the last rays of the setting sun. Duggal is sitting next to me. His situation is similar to me. Both of us worked in the same automobile company. We two unemployed friends have now hit rock-bottom. He was fired at the same time as me. The reason given was — recession. Economic slowdown, which has swallowed the jobs of countless people like me.
“The company cannot afford surplus staff, now,” was the bland statement from the company.
“The World Book Fair is going on at Pragati Maidan,” Duggal says to me. He is also a book-worm like me. But we both know that we don’t have the money to buy books. I remain silent. Duggal listens to my dry silence. Then his discolored quietude joins my silence.

The dusk falls on us like the notes of a mourning hymn. The Delhi traffic flows in its usual mode, a little way from us. After the fruitless roaming of the day, we are now tired. A little later, we two will be on our way to our separate pigeon-holes. We don’t know how much longer the job search will continue. Another song of Ghulam Ali haunts me now-‘Oh my heart, my crazy heart, why did you die?’ This job-hunt prevents me from meeting Chhavi these days.

A year ago, I had met a slim and pretty  Punjabi girl, with sharp features, in Chhabbeji’s office. Enquiries revealed that her name was Chhavi Minhaas. Chhabeji runs an NGO for the tribal people. Chhavi works there. Chhabeji told us that she was interested in literature.

“Have you read the works of Punjabi poet Surjit Paatar?” Chhavi had asked me during our initial conversations.
Chhabeji had told her that I write poetry, so she had said, “Read me your verses sometime.”
Slowly but surely, we started to meet regularly. Chhavi liked my poems. Her favorite was the verse titled ‘Fact’:
“All the weapons / from kitchen knives/ to nuclear bombs / hardly matter./
Every day / we kill one-another / with indifference. “

With the passage of time, we two had started to fall for each other. Often, on her days off, Chhavi came to visit me at my rented rooms in Laxmi nagar.  Sometimes, she cooked delicious Chhole-Puri or Rajma-Chaawal for me and made me a fan of her cooking skills. At times, we met in Connaught place. Had lunch at Delhi Darbar or Volga. Then we had our favorite ice cream at Keventers. And roamed around at Janpath. We watched as people bought entire markets and loaded up the goods in their big cars. I also bought gifts for Chhavi from time to time. But those were the happy days when I still had a job. We talked about literature. Chhavi was very serious about the welfare of tribal people. She spent most of her time in her work at the NGO. We two spent the rest of the time searching for our images in each-other’s face and forgot about everything else.
“Mate, let’s go. It’s getting late,” Duggal says, patting my shoulders. I jump back to the present. Darkness has begun to nibble at the corners of night. There is a chill in the air. We brush our clothes as we get up from the grass. Fortunately, I get the bus for my neighborhood as soon as we reach the bus-stop.
“Let’s meet tomorrow,” I say, waving at him, as I am pressed on all sides by the crowd. In reply, Duggal also waves his empty hand at me. In the calendar of life, one more day has spent me. One day less in my time on this earth.
‘Why the burning in my heart, why the storm in my eyes, why is everybody in this town worried…’ somebody in the bus is loudly playing a ghazal on FM on his phone. The sad voice of Suresh Wadekar haunts the passengers.

I fall down on my bed, lifeless, the moment I reach my rented room. Like a bird with its wings cut off. Just then, I glance at my mobile. I had left it at home. There are ten or twelve missed calls from Chhavi. Waves of pleasant memories sweep my mind. But I lack the courage to speak to her. In these days of idleness, I am reminded of my own poem. I mail that poem to Chhavi on her e-mail id, ‘minhas_chhavi@gmail.com’.The poem is titled, ‘Fear’.
‘You are afraid of heavy rains
hole in the ozone layer,
I am scared of indifferent looks,
pain of separation.
You are fearful of chemical weapons,
nuclear bombs,
I fear ill - intentions,
the poisonous sting of deception.
You are frightened of Aids, cancer, death.
I am frightened of those moments
when something dies inside me
While I am still alive.’
I close my eyes after mailing her my verse. Two minutes later, I receive her reply. “Where are you these days? Let’s meet tomorrow. And yes, great lines. That’s why I am crazy about you, my poet-philosopher. Love you. Bye.”
I set my phone aside and make a half-hearted attempt to sleep, but there are many voices ringing inside my head.
“Don’t you think you are too old now for a government job?”
“You must not have proved yourself useful to your company, that’s why they fired you. Why should we employ you?”
“Mr. Prashant, you are over-qualified for this job. Sorry!”
Sleep remains a stranger these days. At such times, the moments I spent with Chhavi provide great solace. Those scenes now pass before my eyes like an old movie.
...That morning was like freshly washed clothes spread out to dry. That day, when Chhavi came to my place, there was a smoldering ache burning us up. Our untarnished chastity was aflame. Two pure souls were eager to explore each other like a blind man reading his favorite book in braille script with his fingers. Our first kiss was magical. Our first union was enchanting. It made thousands of sunflowers bloom in our hearts. Since then, every time, we wrote the story of our fusion in a new language, a new script. The more we drank of each other, the thirstier we became.
At times, she was sweet like honey, at times like syrup. Sometimes she tasted like jaggery, then like a sugarcane. She was the custard and she was the cream. Sometimes, she tinkled like anklets, sometimes she played like the keys of the piano. She was the music of the violin strings, of the mouth-organ, she was the percussive waves of the water-percussion ( jaltarang ). She was my dawn and my twilight; my high noon and my colorful night. She simmered like embers, she cooled like dew-drops. She was the notes of music, she was my sweet abode.
The more we plunged into each other, the better swimmers we became. A sweet ache built up inside us. Her eyes would turn into the deep blue of the skies and mine would hold the translucence of the ocean waves. The earth seemed lush and the horizon was within our reach. We wanted nothing more than to sing the entire day and at night, the dew drops on our bodies shone like pearls. We were redolent with the fragrances of spring and explored each other as we constantly lived in a state of wakeful dreams.
We had decided to get married in a few months, although our respective families were not too enthusiastic about this relationship. Now, how would they react to my unemployed status? And more importantly, how would Chhavi react? “Your visage should look good next to me…” I recalled another lyric from a Ghulam Ali ghazal. Will Chhavi love an idle, unemployed man?
Today, sleep is a stranger to me. As I lie on my bed, bizarre thoughts go through my mind.
Darling, were it possible, I would fuse one day with your mobile phone. Then, your tender hands would hold me all day. I would inhale your exotic body aromas. I would unravel  the stresses of your soft hair. I would escape from the mobile to kiss your luscious lips and then hide again in the phone. You would be startled. My familiar scent would surround you. But you would be unable to espy me. That would puzzle you. And at last, when you gave up, I would start to ring like your favorite ring-tone. Recognizing my voice, you would become perplexed. You would not be able to find me because at that moment, I would be inside your phone, meeting with your service-provider!

Darling, were it possible, I would enter the house of your memory secretly. There, my body would rest on your soft bed in the bed room, while my eyes would read your love-letters in the living room. My hands would be in the memory of kitchen, dishing up tea and snacks for you. My feet, enclosed in my shoes, would be chatting with your slippers.

At this time, you would reach my rented room, looking for me. You would discover my foot-prints outside the front door. Bemused, you would search for me in those foot-prints. Since you have the key to my house, you would enter. The pens on my desk would hold my body odors. You would look for me there, but be unable to find me. My diary on the shelf would hold my deepest thoughts. You would search for me in those lines, but I wouldn’t be there. Then I would shout out at you, “Darling! I am in your memories.” But my voice would not reach you. You would call me but all the routes to my number would be busy.

I pick up the newspaper from the table. The headlines scream out at me, ‘Farmers in the country committing suicide.’ The bigoted people behind the ‘Cow Brigade’ are inciting riots against the Dalits and Muslims, under the pretext of cow-protection. Inflation is on the rise. Due to the recession, many sectors like the automobile industry, are in deep trouble. The poor are becoming worse, as the rich grow richer. Unemployed youth are demonstrating outside Jantar Mantar. New laws like the CRA and NRC have set the entire country aflame. People are agitating against these rules. Every city is witnessing protests like Shaheen Bagh. And then, Corona Virus and the lockdown have proven to be the last straw. The poor man is completely broken. And then I think — What will Chhavi say when she discovers that I have lost my job, that I don’t even have money for food? Will she still love me?

I can’t sleep tonight. The blue lake of my relationships is now studded with black herons of doubt. Restlessness sits on my chest like a heavy stone. At last, I get up and put on a Beethoven Sonata. The night plays in my ears like a sad symphony. A grey melancholy is seeping into my veins and arteries. All the cells in my body clog up with depression. The night has soured like stale milk and coated my tongue with dejection. I take out my diary and the pen starts to move on the paper by itself:

“In the rugged night, when your head is ready to implode,
On your life is barrenness bestowed,
And happiness becomes an endless wait;
When your existence is a tortured wound,
When the full moon seems to thrash around;
Then know that you are done for.
Dawn for you, is no more.
And even if dawn comes, it will be dark.
Even if there is light, there will be no birds.
Even if birds arrive, there will be no chirping,
Because those birds have no wings.
How will birds with no wings and feathers sing?
For them, there will be no spring.”


Sushant Supriye
A-5001,Gaur Green City,
Vaibhav Khand,Indirapuram,
Ghaziabad-201014 UP
INDIA. M: 8512070086
email: sushant1968@gmail.com


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हिन्दीकुंज,Hindi Website/Literary Web Patrika: A SAD SYMPHONY
A SAD SYMPHONY all my days are dark nights. It might be high noon, but all I see is darkness. The sky envelopes me like a sheet of iron.
हिन्दीकुंज,Hindi Website/Literary Web Patrika
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