i saw the single flower and i knew exactly what it was.
Bauhinia looking so beckoning and alluring that instead of just calmly standing there and admiring nature in one of it's rare visions that i was fortunate enough to lead my eyes to that once again a hundred thoughts and a few memories made me restless. Although i stay ed put right where i was and in a way feeling much relieved for having it out of my chest or else this post wouldn't have happened. Yeah i was there with myself and Her although not really 'there'.
Actually with memories of Her whom i have known and seen if not personally but through her work/ performances. Memories were entangled with bits of my own just like the criss cross running everywhere branches of the Orchid Tree.
Yes i am loved and also blessed enough to be surrounded with those who care for me but one could be surrounded by family and friends yet be "Tanha''. It is something like that. Maybe because the words that escaped those complicated channels of the brain where memories are stored as soon as i saw that Pink Orchid flower were not my words. They were Hers...and she sang them beautifully over the radio one day when maybe i was seven or perhaps eight...can't remember how old i was exactly though but i do remember four, no five words of hers very distinctly and clearly as if she was right behind me as i stared into the pink vision among the dark browns with the sky behind, sighing her typical sigh and lyrically whispering , " Chaand Tanhaa Hai Aaasma Tanhaa..."
Then the song by another composer which incidentally also i had heard on the radio when i was slightly older in that programme on Vividh Bharti which aired non filmy songs. The song i remember the lines just too well and it went on inside as i kept thinking how we lost the Lady soon much too soon. By the time i was in college her physical being had left us and she had mingled with the sky. Probably she is one of those stars now high up there in the sky just like this Bauhinia safe and sound. And maybe she is lonely no more.
Strange my own idiosyncrasy.
That because i knew ANOTHER composition this one by Shri Dushyant Kumar the great poet and also the Lady beauty whom i admire immensely AND i started searching for the non filmy song and not one of hers. And i was directed to just the spot. Call this some intervention of some sort, the subscriber, Mr Manoj Tiwary (and blessings be to him) perhaps a fan of my lady , the composer, the non filmy programme of the radio and the singer who had rendered the composition melodiously, Minoo Purushottam had uploaded the poetry/song dedicating his collection to My Lady calling it his Ranj e raahat collection. Or Ranj e raahat could be the name of the poet's collection i wouldn't be sure but once again it was one of those lost but have found it HAPPY moments.
i kept thinking about her all the while the song played looking at those monochrome pictures as it slid on the screen one by one. In all those pictures she not only appeared a meloncholic beauty but also a kind soul to me and i don't know why but that made me feel a bit melancholy myself. i kept wondering about all the brilliant performances of hers. Meena Kumari especially as Chhoti Bahu in Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam. Not that she performed any of her roles any lesser whether it was as Sahibjaan in Pakeezah or a host of others to her credit but i wondered if it was just one superficial job acting on her part. The kind where you snap out of the moment it is 'pack up' or whatever they say in movie making jargon when the shot is over.
For deep inside she surely must have been a true, sincere, sensitive and yet a very strong woman. Having gone through so much in life and always emerging out each time with performances which made her the 'Tragedy Queen ' of Bollywood movies and thus India. How else could one draw out such heart rending emotions so real just by acting unless there is some honesty deep within.
i guess not if one was not a burnished and polished to a brilliant pure shine with suffering and torment soul. For some although pain and suffering brings out the worst animal in them and they turn renegades/ criminals.
But perhaps not so with Manju ( her nickname). All that made her the best archetypal Indian woman on screen clad in a white saree carrying on with her duties as a lover/ wife/ mother/ with the utmost sincerity and principles for which an Indian lady is well appreciated the world over. And as if emotive acting was not enough to define her she was a notable writer too...a poet. i have heard one of her compositions in her own voice over the radio once when she was alive. Did not understand much then but i loved her voice which had some sort of an endearing sigh interlaced in it. And even when i was unawares of the meaning of what she was singing i am sure she had earned her reputation well enough as an accomplished Urdu writer too. i remember it just too well to forget the first few words if not all as she sang her composition, '' Chaand Tanha Hai Aasmaan Tanhaa..."
Today i know the translation... Moon is lonely the sky looks lonely too...cannot say whether she at the pinnacle of her glory was referring to my loneliness too. Cannot say if everyones loneliness is the same. But know definitely what i can sense. Now i somewhat relate it to mine as some sort of a lost feeling when you feel utterly and hopelessly and depressingly alone and you don't feel like speaking to anyone primarily because you know that no one will understand. Then you start speaking first to animate things, like the trees,sky ,birds and grass... and later graduate to inanimate...probably the walls and even those rocks or pebbles that you find.
Begum Mahjabeen Bux that was her real birth name.
The name Mahjabeen is a baby girl name. The baby name Mahjabeen originated from Arabic. In Muslim the name Mahjabeen means- Strong. It also means pretty like the moon but not pretty like something dainty as a flower that will bend down or break down to pieces under rough circumstances but that which can also bear the burden of those circumstances. For some it could even translate to something like walking tall.
And when her parents decided to name her Mahjabeen when she was born i wonder if it was then destined for her to be the sole bread winner for her family years later. Reading about her life and listening to her story on the telly through none other than Mr Javed Akhtar on my fav show ' Classic Legends ' i learnt that Mahjabeen was compelled into acting to support her poor Parsee family when all she wanted to do was study in school and learn.
|The flower beautiful alluring so beckoning took me to her and brought me back to myself.|
Sometimes i feel like this flower or perhaps that flower too. For some...beautiful...alluring but for many also lost. But do they know or does anyone know that although they think i am dangling like they think i am, i am really very secure/safe here. Hitched high among those twigs/slim branches away from those thorns that jut out from the main stem i am well protected from the barbs and the stings.
They who might scorn pull up their nose and might make unjustified unpalatable assumptions might wonder if i remain untouched. And am i losing out on anything or if i really am well protected there. Not really. For even hitched that high and being protected in a way from the bruising thorns, the skies are not cool soothing blue for me either. Sometimes all that sun is too hot for me to handle and they burn me black and blue other times the clouds are not romantic at all. On the contrary they are just too morbid and pouring and soak me limp and i look like a cat dragged in.
Loneliness for whatever reason it happens brings with it some form of isolation which can both be comforting as well as disturbing. There could be moments when one finds intense solace in one's own companionship. The reliable silence provides tranquility and steadfastness but at the same time there are moments you could want someone right by your side raising some stupid or even nonsensical noise creating some commotion in which you could maybe see your own din getting silenced and perhaps find a clue to your own puzzle from all that commotion created because of others.
However there certainly is difference in solitude which one seeks for one's sake and solitude that you are pushed towards, maybe not wittingly but nevertheless...
Those who have time find the flower beautiful as they pass by. They choose to linger and admire its being appreciating all the highlights while others who hurry about their daily routines don't even know that it exists what to talk of noticing a tree devoid of it's foliage even though temporarily. And yet if by chance someone points out to them then they have some have sour left handed compliments to give, " Look at this Queen hitched on this high horse of hers" or " OMG! looks like the poor thing has just got stuck there...such a weird/spooky/creepy sight !...let's take a picture!..."
As for me, i too stood there admired the sight, indulged in the memories, hers along with mine and after a while when the sun started getting too hot to handle i adjusted my smartphone to camera mode...took a picture just like somebody would of the Bauhinia, the lone beauty swaying pretty and comfortable on her criss cross lacy swing in the slight breeze that perhaps was singing as i would like to imagine conveying my Chaand Tanha Hai Aasma Tanha song and the story to her.
Then checked if my camera had caught her thus, gave her one last look and left the place...
Sure before i leave would love to share the composition by Shri Dushyant Kumar sung by Minoo Purushottam and yes you might not find it anywhere else so either here or from where i took this from, You Tube where else. i had talked about it...how could i leave before listening/seeing and hoping all listen and see...
NB : Tanha means someone being lonely, alone or lost. However it has a wider connotation. Poets and philosophers have explained it in great details. My emphasis being on the fact that you could be all alone and yet not feel lonely and you could be surrounded by people but still be lonely.
Image Courtesy: All images of Ms Meena Kumari taken from the Internet. Barring the two paintings which are also from the net but from blogposts of the two artists.
1. Usha Shantaram http://priyankaramade.blogspot.in/p/digital-paintings-with-mouse.html? showComment=1400816745803 and