आकाशी झेप घे रे पाखरा.. सोडी सोन्याचा पिंजरा..!

आजही आठवतो तो दिवस..

अमेरिकेला MS करायला जायची पूर्ण तयारी झाली होती. जड मनानं आज्जी-आजोबांचा निरोप घेऊन मी, आई-बाबा आणि माझे काका-काकू गाडीतून पुण्याहून मुंबईला निघालो. गाडीच्या मधल्या सीट्स वर मी आई आणि बाबांच्या मध्ये बसलो होतो. बोलण्यासाठी शब्द नव्हते. मी पूर्ण प्रवासात आईचा हात हातात घेऊन बसलो होतो. मधून मधून तिच्या मांडीवर डोकं ठेऊन शांत झोपायचो. पुणे-मुंबई मधलं ३ तासांचं अंतर जणू कित्येक वर्षांचं वाटत होतं.

शेवटी एकदाचं ते विमानतळ आलं. डोळे पाणावले होते. एकीकडे नवीन जगात जायचा उत्साह, उत्सुकता, तर दुसरीकडे आपली माणसं. माझ्यासारखी कित्येक मुलं आपल्याबरोबर भरमसाठ समान घेऊन आपापल्या लोकांचा निरोप घेत होती. आईच्या डोळ्यातलं पाणी अनावर झालं होतं. काकूचे डोळेहि बरंच काही बोलत होते. बाबा, काका खंबीर चेहऱ्याने उभे होते. अखेरीस निघायची वेळ झाली. काका ने मला कडकडून मिठी मारली. ‘काळजी घे, नीट राहा, तब्येतिला जप’ हे आणि असे भरमसाठ शब्द बोलले आणि ऐकले गेले. विमानतळाच्या दरवाज्यातून आत शिरल्यावर लांबूनच सगळ्यांना टाटा केला. मला वाईट वाटू नये म्हणून कि काय, सगळ्यांनी तात्पुरते चेहरे हसरे केले, पण ते हसू जास्त वेळ टिकलं नाही. डोळ्यातल्या पाण्याचा बांध आता फुटला होता. या वेळी मात्र बाबांच्या डोळ्यात पाणी दिसलं. दरवज्याच्या काचेतून दिसलेले ते चेहरे आजही तसेच्या तसे डोळ्यासमोर उभे राहतात. इतके दिवस रोज समोर दिसणारे ते चेहरे आता किती दिवस फक्त skype वरच बघायला मिळणार होते ह्याची त्या वेळी कल्पनाच नाही आली.

कित्येक वर्ष होऊन गेली त्या दिवसाला, पण आजही आई-बाबांशी बोलल्याशिवाय एकही दिवस सरत नाही. या काळात इथे एक नवीनच दुनिया बघायला मिळाली. लोक, निसर्ग, सगळं काही नविन. कोणताही नविन अनुभव आला, नविन ठिकाणी गेलो, कि दरवेळी असं वाटलं कि आत्ता आई-बाबा बरोबर असते तर त्याच्या डोळ्यात किती आनंद, अभिमान आणि समाधान बघायला मिळालं असतं.. जे माझे डोळे इथे बघतायत ते जर त्यांना तिथे दिसलं तर किती मस्त होईल!

मी इथे कित्येक Indian Restaurants मध्ये जाऊन आलो, पण आईच्या हातच्या खाण्याची सर कशालाच आली नाही. इथे कितीही सुख-सोयी असुदे, पण आईच्या मांडीवर लागलेली ती शांत, निवांत झोप लागतच नाही. बिन्धास्त पणे बाबांना ‘मला हे घेऊन द्या’,’इकडे फिरायला जाऊया’, असं म्हणायची सोय राहिलेली नाही. कित्येक जिगरी मित्र बनवले, पण आजही भारतातले जुने मित्र दुरावल्याचं वाईट सतत वाटतं. स्वच्छ सुंदर रस्ते, जागा तर नेहमी दिसतात, पण आई-बाबा, मित्रांबरोबर कुठल्याही जागी, मनाला येईल तेव्हा जायची मजा आता हरवून गेलिए. या skype, whatsapp, आणि mobile च्या दुनियेत लोकं कशी भरकन लांब गेली कळलेच नाही.

अजूनही ते रविवार आठवतात, जेव्हा आई-बाबांबरोबर दुपारी छायागीत बघत जेवण होत असे. दिवसभर घरीच बसून काहीही न केलेले कित्येक दिवस फक्त बाबांना सुट्टी असल्यामुळे स्पेशल बनले. माझ्या नोकरीच्या पहिल्या पगारातून आई-बाबांना हॉटेल मध्ये जेवायला घेऊन गेल्यावरचा त्यांच्या चेहऱ्यावरचा अभिमान आजही लक्षात आहे.आई-बाबांची किती आठवण येते हे कित्येक वेळा त्यांना बोलून दाखवावं असं वाटतं पण शब्दच अपुरे पडतात. ‘तू इथे परत कधी येतोयस?’ हा जगातला सगळ्यात अवघड प्रश्न बनलेला आहे. माझ्यासारखी असंख्य मुलं परदेशात स्वप्नं घेऊन येतात, आणि मग या VISA, नोकरी च्या कचाट्यात कायमची अडकून बसतात. कित्येकदा विचार येतो आत्ता तिकीट काढून भारतात जाऊन यावं, पण bank-balance कडे बघितल्यावर तो विचार मनातल्या मनातच विरघळतो.

आता कळून चुकलाय कि पैसा, नोकरी हे सगळं जगाच्या पाठीवर कुठेही असेलच, पण आपल्या लोकांशिवाय त्याला कवडीचीही किंमत नाही. आईला हक्काने आवडती dish बनवायला सांगणं आणि तिनेहि ती तितक्याच प्रेमानं खायला घालण्यासारखं सुख दुसरं कुठलंच नाही. मनात येईल तेव्हा मामा-मावश्या, भावा-बहिणींकडे जाऊन मनसोक्त गप्पा मारण्या मधली, रात्र रात्र मित्रांबरोबर शाळा-कॉलेजातले बालिश किस्से ऐकण्या मधली मजा कुठेच नाही. आपल्या शहरात बिनधास्त फिरताना वाटणारं ते आपलेपण कुठेच नाही.

‘सगळं काही इथंच आहे! काहीही झालं तरी इथंच परत यायचं लक्षात ठेव!!’ असं अनेकदा बजावून सांगणारी आज्जी आठवते. ‘मुलं एकदा अमेरिकेत गेली कि कसली येतायत परत?’ असं आईला हसत हसत सांगणारी लोकं आठवतात. असे कित्येक जण बघितलेहि, जे Green Card च्या मागे धावत वर्षानुवर्षं काढतात. इथे येउन सेटल होऊन जातात. पण पैसा, सोयी-सुविधा यांच्यासाठी इतका मोठा त्याग खरच सार्थ आहे? ज्या आई-बाबांनी आपल्याला लहानाचं मोठं केलं, आज आपण जे काहीही आहे ते ज्यांच्या मुळं आहे, त्यांना आपली गरज असताना आपण त्यांच्यापासून वेगळं कसं आणि का राहायचं? अजूनही या प्रश्नांची उत्तरं मिळालेली नाहीएत.

इतका सगळा विचार केल्यानंतर आता मात्र एक निश्चय केला आहे. आपल्या लोकांसाठी, आपल्या मित्रांसाठी, आपल्या देशासाठी परत जायचं. जितक्या लवकर जमेल तितक्या लवकर. अमेरिका खरच छान असेल, पण मराठमोळ्या मला आपली लोकं, आपला देशच बरा!

| जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी |

The ‘Tempo Traveller’

He was an 11 year old kid. He belonged to a middle class Indian family. Being the only child, he was being well brought up by his parents. His mother had opted to be a housewife just to ensure his good upbringing. His father worked at a very respectable position in a bank. So he spent more time of the day with his mother. Every day, she would drop him and pick him up from the school. After returning from school he would tell her how his day went. They would talk for hours on various topics. She knew all his friends and their families very closely. She would sit beside him and help him study. She would serve him his favorite dishes. They were best friends.

One summer they had to go to a nearby town for his cousin brother’s wedding. As it was on a week day, his father could not make it to the wedding as he wouldn’t get any leaves from his work. So it was him and his mother. There were buses arranged for all the people departing from the same place. They were 12-seater buses called ‘Tempo Travelers’ those days. On the way to the wedding place, he sat near his mother. He really used to like sleeping peacefully with his head on his mother’s lap. The weddings in their part of India were 2 day ceremonies where the actual wedding event would be sometime in the morning on the second day. After the wedding was over, there would be a wedding lunch for the attendees. On the wedding day, his mother was busy meeting other relatives and helping in the event. He had a heavy lunch with one of his cousins and went to sleep on a couch in the corner of the wedding hall. The time went by. When he woke up, many of the people had left for home. The bride, groom and their parents and dear ones were busy finishing all the events. He searched for his mother. She wasn’t around. He asked others around but they were so busy that they didn’t know where she was. After around half an hour of relentless search, he met one of his aunts who told him that his mother had already left in another bus. As she saw him sleeping in the hall, she had asked his aunt to bring him along with her as he would wake up.

He came back along with his aunt. He was angry. Being a kid, he was angry on his mother. Moreover, he was furious that the Tempo Traveller bus took his mother away from him. He didn’t sleep during the complete journey. Those 3 hours went like 3 days. When they reached their place, his mother was waiting anxiously to see him. As soon as he saw her standing near the gate of their house waiting for him, he got down the bus and ran towards her. He hugged her tightly. She could see the tears starting to roll down from his eyes. His anger had vanished in a moment after meeting her. He asked her to promise him that she would never do this again to him. Smiling, she took him inside. He did not turn around to look back as he was still furious at the bus.

After that day, he never travelled in a Tempo Traveller.

Someone…

sunset-couple-beach

There should be someone… in your life…

Someone who can understand you…
Someone to love you the way you are… Know all your qualities and still accept you with them…
Someone who will be there with you in all your good and bad times…
Someone to share your joys and sorrows with, any time you feel…
Someone who can look into your eyes and know your mood without talking to you…
Someone to talk to when you feel low… to sit beside you and tell you, ‘I am with you’…
Someone to have a walk with after a long, tiring day…
Someone to go for a long drive with when it rains outside…
Someone to spend quality time with… to make you not care about the rest of the world…
Someone worth spending the life with… Someone worth dying for… Someone to love more than yourself… Someone to be truly called your ‘soul mate’…
There should be someone… in your life…!

Oh dear lord…

what-are-you-thankful-for

Thank you, dear Lord…

for this wonderful life that you have given me…

for the beautiful nature you have created, the land, the sky, the trees, the flowers, the water, the air, and everything…

for the divine people whom you have made a part of my life…

for blessing me with a replica of yourself, my parents… who made me what I am… Taught me to judge the good and the bad, the right and the wrong… Taught me how to know the people… Supported me in all the endeavors of my life…

for such caring grandparents, who care for myself more than themselves… who fulfilled all my wishes, however childish they were…

for the relatives who love me and care for me so much…

for my awesome friends… without them my life would never have been so fun…

for each and every person who was a part of my life… everyone taught me something…

for the unforgettable memories in my life with my parents, my relatives, my friends, which gave me the strength to smile in the deepest of troubles and in the worst of times…

for the amazing experiences in this life… which only strengthened me to face all the problems and made me believe that nothing is impossible…

for every single thing that I depend on in my day-to-day life… making my life easy…

Thank you my dear Lord!

And I pray to you my dear Lord…

to bless all the people in the world… Show them the right way in their lives… Make them love others and be loved in return… Give them the strength to be happy and make others happy…

to keep the nature as beautiful and refreshing as it has ever been…

to keep making your presence felt through the good things…

to make this world a better place to live…

Thank you, oh great Lord… Thank you!!!