Pen Stand

Sensation began at my ears, and pulsed through my head like successive underwater explosions; blurred echoes rippled to the edges of my skull, and stirred me from consuming stupor. I’d heard somewhere that, once upon a time, underwater cannons were how they recovered a drowned body – the pulse shook it loose. My head was the aggregation of a million points of impact of the sound in chaotic ricochet. My head was all that existed.

By degrees the sound solidified and sharpened, to the point where it hurt. I tried to turn away, and must have made a noise; it stopped.
It didn’t seem to matter. My blood was still pounding to the rhythm of the claps, above my ears and behind my eyes. I whimpered again, and didn’t care that I was doing it.
Feeling returned to my face, my neck, but no further. It wasn’t pleasant, but it would be much worse in a few hours. I could feel the telltale effects of painkillers in my system – the disorientation, the slow, ambiguous return of sensation. I tried not to tense up, paid attention to each bit of returning feeling to make sure the associated muscles stayed relaxed. The process stayed slow and limited, which meant they must have used the good stuff. That was to be expected, for all that our stock was dwindling. Given the circumstances.

It was both too silent and not silent enough. The background noise was faint but constant, but near me was quiet. That was the first and only warning sign.

I opened my eyes to red.

– Sahiti Chedalavada


महफिलें सारी खामोश सी लगने लगी मुझे, सब आते थे वो ना आया कभी
यूँ उदासी में मिलना तो ठीक नही लेकिन; खुल के हम खुद से भी मिल ना पाए कभी
कोई मरसिम था कभी अपने बीच ना हमने पूछा ना उसने बताया कभी
क्या सोच के लिखता रहा मैं पढ़ेंगे वो जो हमें पढ़ ना पाए कभी

“चले गये सब यूँ रास्ता बदल कर देख
तन्हा तो चला लिए अब साथ चल कर देख
धूल जम गयी हो यादों पे जैसे
अब इस किताब का पन्ना बदल कर देख
इतना दघादार नहीं होता दामन किसी का
खुद को तो आएना बदल कर देख
क्या से क्या हो गया है तू “इमरोज़”
मेरे दोस्त मेरी बात सुन… ज़रा सम्भल कर देख”

“आज खुशियों की कोई बधाई देगा,
निकला है चाँद तो दिखाई देगा,
ए दोस्त दोस्ती की है हमने आपसे,
आपका एक आँसू भी गिरा तो सुनाई देगा”

-इमरोज़ हाफ़िज़

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Sahiti Chedalavada

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