The Man In White Kurta And Payjaama- Gulzar

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Literature, Media, Poetry, Slice Of Life)

My love, admiration and envy for the poet, writer, filmmaker and lyricist GULZAR can go unsaid. Similarly my long time longing to see him in flesh and blood, is also well known to all my dear ones.

“Dil toh bachcha hai ji,” which worships its idol!!!

Day before yesterday in The Hindu (Delhi edition) i read about SAARC Festival of Literature starting from yesterday. The report mentioned that the inaugural address will be by Mahashwetadevi and will be followed by an inaugural poetry recitation by Gulzar. I had decided to make it for the inaugural function, the moment i read the name of Mahashwetadevi. But the moment i read the name of Gulzar the decision just got further strengthened.

I still remember making series of calls i used to make to his office number as a teenager during my degree days. I made those calls hoping that someday i will get to say “Hi” to the man i admired so much! I had also sent a fax to him, taking his fax number from Gauri Lankesh! It was Gauri Lankesh who had given me the office phone number too. But not even once did i get to speak to the man nor did the fax that i sent fetch any result.

During one of those days i was at the place of Vaidehi to borrow a book. As we were speaking Vaidehi narrated the story of her tryst with Gulzar, how he helped her get into the escalator and so on. As she was still narrating the story i had gotten up and rushed to Vaidehi madam just to touch her because she had shook hands with Gulzar. Such was my madness, which Vaidehi remembers and recollects with the heartiest smiles.

Yesterday morning, for which i was looking forward since day before yesterday, i woke up (comparatively) early took bath and started off to India International Center where the SAARC Festival of Literature was taking place. My enthusiasm was broken when i was stopped at the reception saying only invitees and delegates are allowed. I tried winning their heart by saying i am a student and was keen on being a part of the festival. “The hall is full,” i am told. “I dont mind standing and listening,” i said. “Let me check if there is space even for that,” the volunteer said and went inside, but did not come out! I stood out waiting for him. After a while i told myself, “If he doesn’t come out, at some point Gulzar sahab will com outside. Let me catch a glimpse then.” Soon a volunteer came to me and said, “Please get in Sir.” I was overjoyed and opened the auditorium door to get in. But the door was held by another hand which stopped me. “Sir you cant get in,” said the volunteer who voluntarily held the door to stop me. The person who asked me to get in was unaware of the fact that i was “bin bulaaye mehmaan” but this chap did. Being disappointed i came back and stood out hoping Gulzar sahab will come out.

Some delegates walk in and out. As they open the door i can hear the audience applauding. Is Mahashwetadevi speaking? Is Gulzar reciting poetry? I wondered and cursed the people who did not let me enter. I could hear the applause again, which meant someone was entering or someone was coming out. I turn to see who it is and it was the man who said he would check if there is space for me inside. I went to him and asked if i would get a chance to be a part of the festival. “Sir, i will let you in because you seem to be interested. But technically only invitees and delegates are allowed,” he said as he held my shoulder and took me to the entry door. I walked in as the man said, “I am doing you a favour,” as he closed the door.

My eyes move on the stage. Among the colorful dresses the white kurta payjaama stands out. I wanted to pinch myself to make sure i was seeing Gulzar in flesh and blood. I moved to a corner and stood there. I was late and Gulzar had already recited the inaugural poem. Mahashwetadevi had not made it to the festival. It was disappointing but the joy of having seen Gulzar in flesh and blood eclipsed all the disappointments. Many honorable people were being awarded for their honorable work. Neither their name nor their work got registered in my mind as i was busy looking at Gulzar sahab. Suddenly i saw the audience rising. The dignitaries on the dais also got up. I was woken up from my thoughts on the various poems, films, trivenis and short stories of Gulzar. An announcement is made, “Please come back quickly. We have a session soon after this tea break, to be chaired by Asish Nandy.”

I stand far from the lawns where people are having tea. I know not if i can have tea because i am neither an invitee or a delegate. I scan the crowd to get a glimpse of Gulzar. The media must have taken him to a corner for a “byte,” i tell myself and wish i was still in the field of journalism which gave me access to almost everyone everywhere. Thanks to the Delhi heat my throat was parched. To get a glass of water i went to the lawns and had a glass of water. “Sir please have breakfast,” someone tells me. I know not who he is. May be he assumed that i was a delegate. I walk into the crowd looking for the man in white kurta payjaama. There he was in a corner talking to someone of his age, holding a glass of black tea. There are many near him busy clicking snaps of his. I too go near him. I take out my phone and adjust the camera to take his snap. “Dekhiye ab mobile mein camera aagaya hai, poochna bhi nahi padta. Bass le lete hai photograph,” said Gulzar pointing towards me, to the man of his age sitting next to him. I was thrilled just by the fact that he took a notice of me. Sipping his black tea he continues his talk with the man sitting next to him and i continue taking his photographs.

Many a times i had imagined meeting Gulzar sahab. And every time i imagined i had told myself, “The day i meet him i wouldn’t be able to say anything. Words would just get stuck in my throat out of excitement.” And exactly the same had happened. When several people were taking his autograph and (trying) to strike a conversation with him, i just stood before him like a devotee standing in the temple, before the almighty. Slowly i took out a book from my bag and handed it over to Gulzar sahab, who was busy signing autographs for many. There is no pen in his hand when he takes my book to sign. He asks me for the pen in my pocket. I take it out and hand it over to him and as i hand it over to him my hand kisses his hand. I felt the flesh and blood i was longing to see. He signed and then handing over my pen to me he took the next book that was being placed before him. I backed from the crowd. Signing couple of more autographs he went back to his black tea. I go to the water cooler to have a glass of water. My throat had gone dry. I had water and left the place.

As i took back my pen from his hand i had told him, “Ek zamaaney ki hasrat poori hogayi aaj,” and told myself “Haath chootey bhi toh rishtey nahi choda kartey hai.”

I come out of India International Center and call my mom!! I tell her, “Guess whom did i meet?? I wanted to meet this man from so many years!! And finally i met him today!!! I met GULZAR!!!!” The voice from the other side asks, “Who is Gulzar?”

27 March 2010

1 Comment

  1. chetana Teerthahalli said,

    This Write up took me to Gulzar Sahb. Thanx for sharing this Sahil. plz keep writing…
    – Che

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