कैसी आज़ादी 

यह कैसी आज़ादी माँग रहे
यह कैसी आज़ादी का नारा है

एक ‘सोच‘ की ग़ुलाम है जुबां तुम्हारी 

उसी पे आज़ादी का नारा है

न जाने कितनों ने हँस कर ख़ून अपना बहा दिया

तुम्हारी आज़ादी की ख़ातिर शीश भी गँवा दिया

उनके क़ातिल को तुम आज मसीहा बता रहे

हाय ! यह कैसी आज़ादी तुम माँग रहे

किसने तुम्हारी आँखों पे ‘इल्म‘ की पट्टी बाँध दी

यह कालेजों ने तुमहे कैसा ज़ाहिल बना दिया

तिरंगा लगता बोझ ,आतंकी को मासूम बता रहे

नादानों! यह कैसी आज़ादी तुम माँग रहे

शहीद की बेटी ने वीरों की शहादत को नकारा है

जिस ‘सोच‘ ने जंग कराये उसे ही गले लगाया है

शहीद का ख़ून रगों में पानी बन दौड़ रहा

कायरों ! यह कैसी आज़ादी तुम माँग रहे

तुम्हारी आज़ादी की क़ीमत हर पल कोई चुकाता है

उस जवान की क़ुरबानी को तुम झुठला रहे

घर के दुश्मनों की जब आरती तुम उतार रहे

ग़द्दारों ! यह कैसी आज़ादी तुम माँग रहे

तुम्हारी नादानी से बहुत ख़ुश हैं जो 

पीठ ठोक तुमहे शाबाशी दे रहें है जो

ग़ौर से देखो वतन से दुश्मनी वही निभा रहे

सिरफिरों ! यह कैसी आज़ादी तुम माँग रहे

आजाद हो तुम अपनो पे इलजाम धरने को

आजाद हो तुम अपना घर ही छलने को

कैद है रूह तुम्हारी ग़ैरों के पिंजरों में

ग़ुलामों ! यह कैसी आज़ादी तुम माँग रहे

यह कैसी आज़ादी माँग रहे

यह कैसी आज़ादी का नारा है

एक ‘सोच‘ की ग़ुलाम है जुबां तुम्हारी 

उसी पे आज़ादी का नारा है

What hurts you blesses you!!

‘The wound is the place where the light enters you’ -Rumi

Years back I heard this quote of Rumi but couldn’t grasp its meaning. Years later it makes perfect sense to me. Suffering is as essential part of life as happiness. Mark my words I don’t say suffering is inevitable part of life and we have to bear it. I say it’s an essential part of life. It is as much needed in life as happiness maybe even more. Without suffering you can have comfortable life but you miss on the true beauty of life.

‘Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls, the most massive characters are seared with scars ‘ -Khalil Gibran

You look at the strongest and deep people around you. Chances are that they have gone through a great deal of suffering. Somehow the life works that way! On the other hand people who haven’t really suffered tend to be shallow and superficial. Nothing comes from their heart-neither laughter nor tears.

‘Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart’- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Whenever we are faced with pain and suffering in our life we have two ways to deal with it-

1.We can suppress our feelings

 Now this is the easiest way to follow. Unfortunately it is the most advocated way to follow too. Right from our childhood we have been programmed to follow this way by our parents, teachers, elders, and media. We are encouraged to follow this self-denial and hence self-destructive path by our peers and well-meaning friends. We suppress the hurt, we ignore it. We pretend to be strong and deny it. We pretend to be optimistic and concentrate on half glass full formula. We find ways to numb ourselves. We distract ourselves with entertainment. We spend loads of money on unnecessary shopping in the name of retail therapy. We get addicted to food cigarettes, sex, alcohol, drugs, religion. We turn into workaholics. We cling to anything which gives us temporary relief. We turn to everything which helps us not to feel our feelings.
These suppressed feelings of ours lead us perpetually into problems. Suppressed feelings in childhood are the root causes of many neurotics and psychotic adults. These suppressed feelings keep raising their heads in our lives as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and personality disorders like narcissism, etc. This approach to deal with pain, this brushing everything in the carpet under the guise of maturity and optimism is actually the most immature and childish response. Children withdraw from pain, shut down their senses rather than confront it or deal with it because they are psychologically not equipped to deal with it. But sadly we are not taught to confront our real feelings as children by our care takers and we continue doing so as adults and teaching the same foolishness to our own children.

“The law is simple. Every experience is repeated or suffered till you experience it properly and fully the first time”– Ben Ohri. ‘Astonishing the Gods’

Suffering is not caused by pain but by resisting pain-Unknown

2. We can feel our pain and grow
This is hard and truly painful way. But when we allow ourselves to feel our pain in its most brutal and naked form, we do get better, we do heal. When we wallow in our deepest grief, when we have shed our tears truly, we transcend the suffering. We are then able to walk away from it as stronger, deeper, richer, empathetic and more complete person. We become more grounded spiritually. We can make the suffering we went though as learning tool to grow and make good choices in our lives. Instead of investing our time and energy in denying our pain or eliminating it we should therefore invest ourselves in understanding it and by doing so knowing ourselves better. As an ancient tribal proverb says it- ‘Before we can see properly we must first shed our tears to clear the way’

So how do we allow ourselves to feel our feelings of pain and suffering?

We should allow ourselves to be present in the present. To suffer our sufferings one breath at a time. To let ourselves be fully aware of them, to acknowledge them in their rawest form and by surrendering ourselves to pain in order to transcend it. It’s really okay to feel sad, to cry our tears. Stifling our tears and pasting fake smiles on our faces to show the world is not healthy or good for us in the long run. It’s counterproductive and makes us fake people in bits and pieces.

As Michael Proust says “We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full”
Last year, amidst lot of torment and suffering I finally understood what Rumi meant when he said,‘ What Hurts You Blesses You. Darkness Is Your Candle’

I penned this poem then, which I am sharing here.


Look at the pain

Naked and ugly

Without draping
It with rationality

Let it torment

depth of soul
Without numbing

It with philosophy

Let it pervade
Your entire being

Without blocking

It with consolation
Let it drown

Your hurting heart
Without bandaging

It with fake smile
Feel it, live it, endure it

Till the time it heals you
To deny pain

Is to prolong the suffering

To hide from it
Is to deny your conscience-

Opportunity to awake
Chance to evolve

Embracing it as truth
Without questioning it

Needs strength,courage
But makes you alive

Shunning it as problem
Or hastening for solution

Is shallow and easier
But makes you die

Slowly in bits and pieces

Till you are feigning life
And living your death

The saddest part is, only
your soul knows the difference

But you never stop to listen
– Shalini Singh 


HA! HA! HA!…. TenTypes of ‘Man-Driver’

Yes I am a woman and I am not a bad driver!

Yes I am a woman and I am not a bad driver!

(Repetition is required for male readers if any!)

 I have been driving my car independently in plains, valleys, mountains, highways and city roads for last eleven years. Before that I rode scooter for about fourteen years and I went to school riding my bicycle. So I have about thirty years of road experience as ‘woman driver’. In all these years I have never hurt myself or my vehicle or fellow humans or animals on the road. Neither have I lost my way and always managed to reach home in decent time. But of course all my clean record can’t get myself rid of the tag ‘woman driver’ which is euphemism for ‘bad driver’. Neither can all the surveys conducted by insurance firms proving women are safer drivers than men can wash off the unfair cliché from my gender!
There are only two types of drivers on the road – one are ‘women drivers’ and rest are drivers who maybe good or bad or crazy. No one ever says that “Look that rude man- driver overtook from the wrong side” “ See this crazy man- driver jumped the lanes again”, “ This color-blind man driver ignored the red traffic light”, “this confused man-driver has mistaken the congested road with three schools on it as race track” or “a careless man driver has bumped my car from behind”. No we never hear that. They can kill their fellow men due to road rage but they will never mention ‘man-driver’. But the moment you see a car badly stuck in traffic or parked few inches not straight, the instant conclusion drawn is “Ah! Must be a ‘woman driver’! What else can you expect?” Who knows? Maybe the driver is a male with beard in front and long hair tied in pony at the back!
So call me a sexist or call me by bigger abuse a ‘feminist’, I am coining a new word ‘man-driver’. Now ‘men-driver’ come in all shapes and sizes with all kinds of attitudes, egos and personalities. Here I am categorizing ‘men-driver’ vis-à-vis their reactions on seeing the fairer sex behind the steering wheel.

1. Teasing Racer ‘Man-Driver’ 

Now this ‘man-driver’ is cruising on highway at 60 km/hr. You have been driving at 80 km /hr so happen to overtake him unintentionally. He happens to notice that you are a ‘woman-driver’ behind the wheels. He suddenly put the weight of his manliness on the accelerator and zooms past you with the speed of his ego. His sneer challenges your presence on the road. You never nurtured the ambition to be Michael Schumacher in this life or next so you calmly drive at your speed of 80 km/hr. You give him the benefit of doubt that maybe this ‘racer-driver’ behaves like this irrespective of gender bias but then comes the twist. About two kilometers ahead you spot the same vehicle cruising at 40 km/hr waiting for you! Now you have two choices-either you drive behind him at snail slow speed and give him the pleasure of putting you in your ‘rightful place’ while ogling at you in his rear view mirror! Or you overtake him again. But if you do so he will again zoom past you with the speed of his ego…….. And wait for you to catch up two kilometers down the highway….

2.Misogynist ‘Man-Driver

Now this type doesn’t like females on this planet so obviously he disapproves them behind the steering wheel. The moment he sees you he wears sourest expression on his face, his brow knit in angry creases. You see his mouth grumbling at your perceived mistakes. You hear him honking incessantly contributing furious decibels to the environment. He literally wants to clear you away from his sight by the cacophony. You obviously can’t because there is a long traffic jam ahead. You have no choice but to tune him out from your ears and thoughts.

3. Dominating Husband ‘Man-Driver

This kind is the product of deep rooted patriarchy. He believes that woman driving the car is the biggest threat to the power structure of family and society. Or he is just worried that if females start driving how will he claim extra comfort and care at home which he feels entitled to after enduring ‘stress of driving’. He knows that in all probability this female driver will go home and immediately play with her kids or help them with their homework or prepare food for her family. More often than not this man-driver will have a woman sitting on the co-driver seat, maybe his wife. She will nod in perfect agreement with the unfair judgement he passes on drivers of fairer sex. She is either too scared of him or too submissive. She probably wants to pat her husband’s fragile male ego at your expense. She doesn’t realize that she is being ‘Jai Chand’ to her gender.
 4. Surprised Ignorant ‘ Man-Driver

 This kind is found mostly in rural or remote areas. He looks at you as he would look at a Yeti in zoo. He finds it equally incredulous or probably more to see a woman driving the car. He may keep staring at you till you vanish from his sight. The surprise factor is multiplied many folds if you have your husband or a male member sitting on the co-driver seat.

 5. Comic Sexist ‘Man-Driver

Their whole sense of humor revolves around making fun of woman. These are the ones responsible for creating all those female driver jokes, the ones we women too laugh at and forward to our friends as a proof of our own good sense of humor. After all the best humor, they say is laughing at oneself. But think, if we had such good sense of humor wouldn’t be creating our own sexist jokes at male’s expense or even at our own. Why should we forward and re-tell their jokes ridiculing females? By the way their next biased cliché after ‘Women are bad drivers’ is ‘Women have bad sense of humor’.

 6. Patronizing Advising ‘Man- Driver

These ‘man –drivers’ grudgingly agree that you do drive well but in the same breath they criticize you for something minor. Like just when you drop him at his destination after driving three hundred kilometers without a glitch he may just point out that fifty kilometers before you overtook a bus a little too closely and should be careful in future. Never mind that he himself owns the record of crashing his yet another car headlong every other year in drunken stupor!

 7. Helpful Chivalrous ‘ Man- Driver

They are the ones who treat you as damsel in distress the moment you pull the rear gear. They will help you to back your car, to park it. They will give direction unsolicited as soon as you roll down your window panes. The only thing they may not do is move their own car parked in your way causing you trouble in the first place.

8. Superstitious ‘Man-Driver

These ‘man-drivers’ are scared of your presence on road behind the steering wheel maybe more than the black cat which crosses his path. Probably he read and believed all those jokes ‘sexist comic man-driver’ circulated on the social media. He believes in the urban legends too. And ‘Woman-driver’ is an urban legend to him. He blames you for everything bad going on in the universe- bad roads, potholes, traffic jams, road accidents, misbehaved kids, broken homes, rising divorce rates, stock market crashing, rise in terrorism , cause of next world war…….anything, you get the drift! You are the symbol of ‘Kalyug’ for him

 9. Own Spouse ‘Man Driver

Now this is your own spouse squirming on the co-driver seat. He has lost many bitter battles at home before vanquishing his driving seat to you. He fearlessly place his life in hands of his friends who have the passion for mixing drinking and driving. He has not suffered a single scratch because of your driving but still his legs are constantly pressing the imaginary clutch, brake and accelerator. You have to hit his hand to keep it off your gear box. He is probably chewing his tongue so as not to comment on correct speed for changing gear for the fifth time in last fifteen minutes or blinking the indicator light nano second before you actually do. He is also trying his best to be nonchalant at the expressions he is receiving from the different types of ‘man –drivers’ on the road. He knows exactly what they are thinking! His only solace is pulling down the window glass and smokes a much needed relaxing cigarette or make phone calls to his out of touch friends!

 10.Normal ‘Man- Driver

They are the ones who treat you equally. They see you as another person driving the car and are oblivious to your gender. They do not ridicule you as woman driver, do not make fun of you or judge you unfairly. They are the ones who upheld your equal claim on roads as they upheld your claim on half the sky. Where are these kinds of male driver found? In our imaginations… and in our dreams… I have ambition to groom one such normal male driver in my son. My eleven year old son who I have been driving safely since before he was born and then to school, tennis court, shooting range, martial arts classes etc. God forbid if I hear ‘Woman driver’ from his mouth with its inherent negative connotation. I will certainly put him in car , drive miles and miles and drop him off in the middle of nowhere to walk back home!
Dear readers do share your comments and I am waiting to know about the eleventh category of ‘Man-driver’ if you know of one!


लाख चाहा उन्हें रोशन कर दूँ

अंधेरा ही था पर वजूद उनका

बुझा रहे थे जो हर लम्हा नूर मेरा

उन सायों को कह दिया अलविदा मैंने 


लमहों की पोटली बाँधे

फिरती हूँ यादों के सेहरा में

मेरी ख़ानाबदोशी के छालें 

बिखर जाते हैं काग़ज़ पे आह बनके

और नींद को तलाशती रात

 एक नजम का सवेरा बन जाती है

इस बसन्त

इस बसन्त बीत जाये ठिठुरन रिश्तों की

मन का भ्रमर पूछे फिर अनुराग का पता

फूल खिले चहूँ ओर विश्वास के

सन्देह की बर्फ़ अब कुछ पिघलें ज़रा 

मादक हवा बहे जो उतरी दिशा से

महकाये अब हर जीवन-आँगन 

निराशा का पतझड़ गुज़रे 

नूतन आस की अब कोपल फूटें

मृद बोल कोयल की कूक से

मरहम बनें कडवें जखम के

उन्मुक्त आकाश में उसूलों की डोर थामे 

बेधड़क उड़े रूपहले सपनों की पतंग 

सरस्वती का अब हाथ थामे

लक्ष्मी करे जीवन में आगमन 

उल्लास मख़मल घास-सा

चूमे प्रगति पथ पे क़दम