Dil Padosi Hai (1987- Non-film) – Asha – Gulzar – RD Burman
In the mid-70s a couple in their early 40s took their young family on a Bharat Darshan kind of trip. Reason? The father was being sent abroad to Africa for an unknown number of years and could take his family along. But since education was not up to standard there, his oldest daughters would need to go to boarding school in India, while the couple took their younger two daughters with them. And the father’s reasoning was “We need to know what our country is like before stepping foot in another country.”
Three of the oldest girls never ever forgot that trip. One of them, a new teenager, remembers vividly a complete world opening up in front of her eyes! The Puri beach in Orissa, the ‘Baked Alaska’ being brought to the dinner table and being “lit up” as she watched wide-eyed the dessert go up, quite literally in flames.
The majesty of the Konark Temple, as she thought about it then – poetry in stone.
The taxi rides, the local bus rides, the train journeys as she made their way to the Southernmost tip of India, Kanyakumari, take a boat out to the Swami Vivekananda Memorial and try to withstand the fierce wind there as if shaking you into the understanding of your true Self!
The beach in Kovalam and the three-room rustic equivalent of the bed-and-breakfast place they stayed in. The secret jaunt she took on her own, without telling her parents that resulted in her getting lost…in the brilliant, one-of-a-kind, sunset… and quite literally on that beach! Finally finding her way back to see her parents frantically calling her name everywhere on that quite deserted beach!
The smell of the fish in Cochin, the fish-selling ladies and wondering when they would leave! The trip back home, feeling completely awed by this land that was “my” country.
There would be much travel in her life. But, during that trip, a bond was forged. To a beautiful, giving Motherland. To her beauty – hidden and otherwise. To the varied cultures that she became exposed to, the languages, the foods, the grandness of the sea!
If Gulzar had written these words 10-12 years before he did, she would have definitely hummed them as she watched, completely dumbstruck, at 5:30 am on that beach in Kanyakumari, as the faint light of the sun revealed the 3 colors of the 3 seas that met there – the light blue, the sea green and the azure of the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea… and her heart freezes in complete awe 40+ years later as she recalls how royally the sun came that morning! As if a Monarch makes the rounds of his kingdom, its light first outlined the clouds in the shape of a chariot being pulled by no less than 7 horses! That ‘chariot’ then proceeded to spread its light to the rest of the world…
Yes, that teenager was me. The awe still exists. For my country. The country I carry in my heart, no matter where I live. The bond as unbreakable as if she were my living, breathing mother. A mother that showed me ‘freedom’ – freedom to exist, to think, to be, in all its hues and shapes among her children, co-existing. You may outgrow your mother, but it is hard to cut that emotional umbilical cord.
Thank you, Gulzar saahab, for the perfect words to remember one of the most stunning and mind-blowing mornings of my life.
A combined salute to a Mother that shaped my thoughts and my life and to a poet whose thoughts and words enhanced my world. _()_
Published on Gulzar’s 84th birthday, 18 August 2018
Monica Kar received her BA in English Honours from the University of Delhi. She now lives in St. Charles, Missouri, where she wears several hats, including doing voluntary work as an educator and homemaker.