वक़्त ज़्यादा तो नहीं हुआ, पर इतना तो बीत ही चुका है कि अब ना तो स्कूल की छुट्टियाँ होती हैं, और ना ही अब नानी के घर जाना हो पाता है।
पर आज आई हूँ मैं फिर एक बार, बहुत वक़्त बाद। वक़्त बहुत बीत चुका है, पर इतना भी नहीं कि सब बदल गया हो। वो मोड़ जिसमें से नानी का घर साफ दिखाई पड़ता था, उस मोड़ से मुड़ते ही दिखे मुझे मेरे नाना जी, घर के बाहर मेरा इंतज़ार करते। मैंने कहा ना, वक़्त इतना भी नहीं बदला। मैं रिक्शा से उतरी और उन्हें गले मिली। कितने कमज़ोर हो गए हैं वो। दिल भर सा आता है।
कदम जैसे ही अंदर बढ़े, मानो मैं घिर गई यादों के एक बवंडर में। मुझे दिखने लगा वो वक़्त जब हम आया करते थे गर्मियों की छुट्टियों में। दिखने लगा वो वक़्त जिसमें शोर था, हंसी थी, अनगिनत बातें थीं। जब हम घर की चौखट पर बैठ कर बतियाते थे और नानी माँ हाथ में पंखा लेकर हमें हवा करती थीं। बड़ा सा गोल चश्मा उनका, याद है मुझे। वो जो आलू के परांठे पर इतना प्यार डाल कर परोसती थी हमें, भूली नहीं हूँ मैं आज भी। वो शाही टुकड़े, जिनपर नानी कटे बादाम और खोया डाल दिया करती थी। मैं आज भी माँ से कहती हूँ, आप वैसे शाही टुकड़े नहीं बना सकती।
इससे पहले कि मैं यादों के बवंडर में डूब जाती, मैं संभल गयी और अंदर बढ़ी, सारे घर का मुआयना करने। आज भी ड्राइंग रूम में वही पेंटिंग लगी है जो माँ को उनकी सहेली ने उनकी सगाई पर गिफ्ट की थी। वो स्टोर रूम जिसमें सिरहाने और चादर रखी होती है, उसकी ख़ुशबू आज भी बिलकुल वैसी है। वो रसोई जहाँ बैठ कर मैं छोटी मासी के साथ खूब बातें किया करती थी। वो छोटी सी घुरनि जहाँ हम छुपन छुपाई खेलते वक़्त छुपा करते थे। घर का हर एक कोना वैसा ही है। हर एक कोने में अनेकों यादें छुपी हैं। वो एक छोटा सा आईना जिसमें मैं बचपन में खुद को निहारा करती थी। अब मेरा कद उस आईने से बढ़ गया है , क्या इस बात से अंदाज़ा नहीं लगाया जा सकता कि वक़्त कितना आगे बढ़ गया है?
एक दम से हर कोना शांत हो गया। वो शांत ही है अब। क्या मैं कुछ आंसू नहीं गिरा सकती?
यहाँ आने से पहले किसी ने पूछा था, कहाँ जा रही हो? ज़ुबाँ से फिसलते शब्दों को रोक कर मैंने कहा “नाना जी के घर”। दिल चीख कर यही कह रहा था “नानी के घर”। मैंने कहा ना, वक़्त बदला है, पर इतना भी नहीं।
Passing by the street, his eyes were again locked at that watch in second-hand goods shop. Sam glanced at the watch and he felt as if he has lost the track of time, but a mere look at the price tag brought him back to reality.
$5 may not seem too high for a watch carved so beautifully studded with star shaped pieces across its circumference, but is was way too much for Sam, an orphan, a street rat who worked day and night just to fill his stomach.
Days, weeks, months came and went, Sam passed daily in front of the shop wishing to buy that watch, one look at the watch was enough to mesmerize him to send him to the good world of his thoughts, but reality was not that good as he was not able to collect $5 , all he had was $3 and 70 cents which he collected all his life but spending as little as possible, sometimes he slept empty stomach or else stole food from the streets in order to fill his stomach as it was not possible to eat daily in order to save money.
“But what will this street rat do with this watch?” asked the worker at the store to his employer; “only heaven knows” came the reply.
But one thing both the owner of the shop and his employee knew was that Sam glanced at the watch daily for hours and gathered courage once in a month to come inside the store to enquire about any reductions in the price of the watch.Months passed and Sam was getting closer day by day to attain that watch.
Months passed and Sam was getting closer day by day to attain that watch to fulfil his dreams, $4and 95 cents as he checked his life savings again and that sense of happiness was visible on his face as he was going to get what he wanted all his life. With that smile on his face he started to go to work, Sam was a chimney sweeper who risked his life daily to clean soot from the chimneys of the rich, although the day was tiring and he had to clean so much still that smile prevailed on his face and when he got his 5cents. He couldn’t wait for another second and ran towards the shop, he was like the happiest human on the planet and didn’t even thought of eating fruits which were on the tree, he reached the shop with a sparkle in his eyes but in a moment his world was shattered, the watch was not there.
Sam fell on the floor in front of the shop his money dropped from his hands and tears flowing from his eyes, the owner came to him and enquired what happened, on Sam’s reply he asked “why did you want the watch in the first place, what will someone like you do with that watch?”
These words from the shopkeeper took Sam back in time, in the world of his memories, his childhood when his mother was alive and he used to lay in her lap happily with no worries about the world, she was a poor women rich by heart, raising her son alone after her husband’s death and no relatives to support her but she was happy, her son meant the world to her and he remembered her wearing that silver watch on her wrist all the time, this watch was his mothers only memory he had, which was lost the night she died in an accident on the street leaving him all alone in this world.The shop owner couldn’t stop himself from helping the boy, he searched his registers and gave the address of the man who bought that watch this afternoon, Sam got up and rushed to the address and told his story to that man, and asked him if he would be kind enough to sell that watch to him for which he had worked hard all his life and which meant to him more than his life. The man told him I bought this watch for my 12 year old daughter and she has gone to play in the park and only she can decide what she wants to do with her present now, so Sam waited at their gate for almost an hour until the girl returned. He got up and went to her father and the girl’s father said “Maria, I want to talk to you about the watch I bought u this afternoon”.
The shop owner couldn’t stop himself from helping the boy, he searched his registers and gave the address of the man who bought that watch this afternoon, Sam got up and rushed to the address and told his story to that man, and asked him if he would be kind enough to sell that watch to him for which he had worked hard all his life and which meant to him more than his life. The man told him I bought this watch for my 12 year old daughter and she has gone to play in the park and only she can decide what she wants to do with her present now, so Sam waited at their gate for almost an hour until the girl returned. He got up and went to her father and the girl’s father said “Maria, I want to talk to you about the watch I bought u this afternoon” and she replied, “oh the stupid silver-colored watch, what about it, anyways I lost it somewhere.”
In a moment she lost a watch and, Sam lost his world!
Anant Bhardwaj is currently pursuing law from Faculty of Law Delhi University. He is a dreamer who is mostly lost in the world of imagination, movies and poetry. A big time TV series enthusiast and a huge huge fan of NBA, Anant is fond of writing short verses and heart touching stories.