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vipathaga – a story by Agyeya

yah maanavee thee ya daanavee, yah main itane din sochakar bhee nahin samajh paaya hoon. kabhee-kabhee to yah bhee vishvaas nahin hota ki us din kee ghatana vaastavik hee thee, svapn nahin. kintu phir jab apane saamane hee deevaar par tangee huee vah tootee talavaar dekhata hoon, to hathaat usakee satyata maan lenee padatee hai. phir bhee abhee tak yah nirnay nahin kar paaya ki maanavee thee ya nahin…

usake shareer mein laavany kee damak thee, munh par saundary kee aabha thee, othon par ek dabee huee vichaarasheel muskaan thee. kintu usakee aankhen! unamen anuraag, viraag, krodh, vinay, prasannata, karuna, vyatha, kuchh bhee nahin tha, thee keval ek bheeshan, tushaaramay, athaah jvaala!

manushy kee aankhon mein aisee mrtavat jadata ke saath hee aisee jalan ho sakatee hai, yah baat aaj bhee mere gumaan mein nahin aatee. kintu aaj ek varsh beet jaane par bhee, main jab kabhee usaka dhyaan karata hoon, usakee ve aankhen mere saamane aa jaatee hain. usakee aakrti, usaka varn, usakee bolee, mujhe kuchh bhee yaad nahin aata, keval ve do pradeept bimb deekh padate hain… raatri ke andhakaar mein jidhar aankh pherata hoon, udhar hee sphatik mani kee tarah neele aakaash mein shukr taare kee tarah, harit jyotimay usake ve visphaarit netr nirnimesh hokar mujh par apanee drshti gadaaye rahate hain…

main bhaavuk prakrti ka aadamee nahin hoon. puraane faishan ka ekadam saadhaaran vyakti hoon. meree jeevika ka aadhaar isee peris shahar ke ek skool mein itihaas ke adhyaapak ka pad hai. main sinema thiyetar dekhane ka shaukeen nahin hoon, na mera kavita mein hee man lagata hai. manoranjan ke lie main kabhee-kabhee desh-videsh kee kraantiyon ke itihaas padh liya karata hoon. ek-aadh baar mainne is vishay par vyaakhyaan bhee diye hain. isase adhik kuchh nahin kar sakata, kyonki yah videsh hai. jab padhane se man ukata jaata hai, tab kabhee-kabhee puraane astr-shastr ke sangrah mein lag jaata hoon. badee mehanat se mainne inaka sangrah kiya hai. jis kataar se samraat peetar ne apanee premikaon kee hatya kee thee, usakee mooth mere sangrah mein hai; jis pyaale mein kaitharain ne apane putr ko vish diya tha, usaka ek khand; jis golee se ek agyaat stree ne aark-enjel ke garvanar ko maara tha, usaka khaalee kaaratoos; jis ghode par savaar hokar nepoliyan mosko se bhaaga tha, usakee ek naal; aur nepoliyan kee jaiket ka ek batan bhee mere sangrah mein hai. aisa sangrah shaayad peris mein doosara nahin hai shaayad mosko mein bhee nahin tha…

par jo baat main kahana chaahata tha, usase bhatak gaya. haan, main bhaavuk prakrti ka nahin hoon. meree ruchi isee sangrah mein ya kabhee-kabhee kraanti sambandhee saahity tak parimit hai aur idhar-udhar kee baat main nahin jaanata. phir bhee us din kee ghatana se mere shaantimay jeevan mein usee tarah uthal-puthal mach gayee, jis tarah ek udyaan mein jhanjhaavaat. us din se na jaane kyon ek agyaat, aspasht ashaanti ne mere hrday mein ghar kar liya hai. jab bhee meree drshti us tootee huee talavaar par padatee hai, ek gambheer kintu bhaavaatirek se kampaayamaan dhvani mere kaanon mein goonj uthatee hai:

“deep bujhata hai to dhuaan uthata hai. kintu jab hamaare vistrt desh ke bhookhe, peedit, anaashrit krshak-kutumb sadakon par bhatak-bhatakakar hemaavrt dharatee par baithakar apane bhaagy ko kosane lagate hain, jab unake hrday mein surakshit aasha kee antim deepti bujh jaatee hai, tab ek aah tak nahin uthatee. na jaane kab tak vah bujhee huee raakh padee rahatee hai, padee rahegee! kintu kisee din, sudoor bhavishy mein, kisee ghor jhanjha se usamen phir chinagaaree nikalegee! usakee jvaala – ghoratam, anavaruddh, pradeept jvaala! kidhar phailegee, kisako bhasm karegee, kin nagaron aur praanton ka maanamardan karegee kaun jaane?”

mujhe romaanch ho aata hai, main mantramugdh kee tarah nishchesht hokar us din kee ghatana par vichaar karane lag jaata hoon…

raatri ke aath baj rahe the. main moskon mein apane kamare mein baitha laimp ke prakaash mein dheere-dheere kuchh likh raha tha. paas mein ek chhotee mez par bhojan ke joothe bartan pade the. idhar-udhar deevaar par tangee ya angeethee par rakhee huee mere sangrah kee vastuen theen.

baahar varsha ho rahee thee. chhat par jo aavaaz aa rahee thee, usane mainne anumaan kiya ki ole bhee pad rahe hain kintu us jaade mein uthakar dekhane kee saamarthy mujhamen nahin thee. kabhee-kabhee laimp ke pheeke prakaash par kheejhane ke atirikt main bilakul ekaagr hokar doosare din padhane ke lie ‘saphal kraanti’ par ek chhota-sa nibandh likh raha tha.

‘saphal kraanti kya hai? asankhy viphal jeevaniyon ka, asankhy nishphal prayatnon ka, asankhy vistrt aahutiyon ka, ashaantipoorn kintu shaantijanak nishkarsh!’

(un dinon main mosko ke ek skool mein adhyaapak tha. vaheen itihaas padhaane mein aur kabhee-kabhee kraanti-vishayak lekh likhane mein tatha padhane mein mera samay beet jaata tha. kraanti ka arth main samajhata tha ya nahin, yah nahin kah sakata. aaj main kraanti ke vishay mein apanee anabhigyata ko hee kuchh-kuchh jaan paaya hoon!)

ekaek kisee ne dvaar khatakhataaya. mainne baithe-baithe hee uttar diya, “aa jao!” aur likhane mein laga raha. dvaar khula aur band ho gaya. phir usee aviral jaladhaaree kee aavaaz aane lagee, kamare mein nihstabdhata chha gayee. mainne kuchh vismit hokar aankh uthaayee aur uthaaye hee rah gaya.

bahut mota-sa ovarakot pahane, sir par bade-bade baalon vaalee topee rakhe, gale mein laal roomaal baandhe, daravaaze ke paas khadee ek stree ekatak meree or dekh rahee thee. usake kapade bheege hue the, topee mein kaheen-kaheen ek aadh ola phans gaya tha. pairon mein usane ghutane tak pahunchane vaale bade-bade bhadde roosee boot pahan rakhe the, jo keechad mein sane hue the. oopar topee aur neeche roomaal ke kaaran usake munh ka bahut thoda bhaag deekh padata tha. is prakaar aavrtt hone par bhee usake shareer mein ek lachak aur saath hee ek khinchaav ka aabhaas spasht hota tha, maanon kapadon se dhank kar ek tane hue dhanush kee pratyancha saamane rakh dee gayee ho. aankhen nahin deekhatee theen kintu un othon kee patalee rekha dekhane se bhaavana hotee thee ki usake peechhe vidyut kee chapalata ke saath hee vajr kee kathorata dabee huee hai…

main kshan-bhar usee kee or dekhata raha kintu vah kuchh bolee nahin. mainne hee maun bhang kiya, “kahie, kya aagya hai?” koee uttar nahin mila. mainne phir poochha, “aapaka naam jaan sakata hoon?”

usane dheere-dheere kaha, maano pratyek shabd ko taul-taul kar rakha ho, “mainne suna tha ki kraantikaariyon se aapako sahaanubhooti hai aur aapane is vishay par vyaakhyaan bhee diye hain. isee sahaanubhooti kee aasha se aapako paas aayee hoon.”

main kaanp gaya. meree is sahaanubhooti kee charcha baahar hotee hai aur kraantikaariyon tak ko isaka gyaan hai phir mujhamen aur kraantikaariyon mein bhed kya hai? kaheen yah moskon ke raajanaitik vibhaag kee jaasoos to nahin hai? meree naukaree… shaayad saiberiya kee khaanon mein aayu-bhar… par agar yah jaasoos hotee, to aisee dasha mein kyon aatee? aise baat kyon karatee? isase to saaf sandeh hone lagata hai… jaasoos hotee to vishvaas utpann karane kee cheshta karatee… par kya jaane, main aapaka abhipraay nahin samajha!”

vah bolee, “main kraantikaarinee hoon. mujhe abhee kuchh dhan kee aavashyakata hai. aap de sakenge?”

“kisalie?”

vah kuchh der ke lie asamanjas mein pad gayee, maano soch rahee ho ki uttar dena chaahie ya nahin. phir usane dheere-dheere ovarakot ke batan khole aur bheetar se ek talavaar – raktaranjit talavaar! – nikaalee. itanee der mein usane aankh palabhar bhee mujh par se nahin hataayee. mujhe maaloom ho raha tha, maano vah mere antaratam vichaaron ko bhaanp rahee ho. main bhee mugdh hokar dekhata raha…

vah bolee, “yah dekho! jaanate ho, yah kis ka rakt hai? karnal gorovskee ka! aur usakee loth usake ghar ke baag mein padee huee hai!”

main bhaunchak hokar bola, “hain? kab?”

“abhee ek ghanta bhee nahin hua. usee kee talavaar, in haathon ne usee ke hrday mein bhonk dee. tum poochhoge, kyon? shaayad tumhen nahin maaloom ki stree kitana bheeshan pratishodh karatee hai!”

“tum yahaan kyon aayeen?”

“mujhe dhan kee zaroorat hai. mosko se bhaagane ke lie.”

“main tumhaaree sahaayata nahin kar sakata. tum hatyaarinee ho.”

vah eka-ek saham-see gayee, maano use is uttar kee aasha na ho. phir dheere-dheere ek pheekee, vishaadamay hansee hans kar bolee, “bas, yaheen tak thee tumhaaree sahaanubhooti! isee kraantivaad ke lie tum vyaakhyaan dete ho, yahee tumhaare itihaason ka nishkarsh hai!”

“main kraantivaadee hoon par hatyaara nahin hoon. is prakaar kee hatyaon se desh ko laabh nahin, haani hogee. sarakaar jyaada davaab daalegee, maarshal-lo jaaree hoga, phaansiyaan hongee. hamaara kya laabh hoga?”

“tum kraanti ko kya samajhate ho, gudiyon ka khel!” yah kahatee huee vah meree mez ke paas aakar khadee ho gayee. mez par pade hue kaagazon ko dekhakar bolee, “yah kya, saphal kraanti! asankhy viphal jeevaniyon ka… vismrt aahutiyon ka nishkarsh!”

vah thathaakar hansee. “saphal kraanti! jaanate ho, kraanti ke lie kaisee aahutiyaan denee padatee hain?”

main kuchh uttar na de saka. main use vah lekh padhate hue dekh kar jhemp raha tha.

vah phir bolee, “tum bhee apane aapako kraantivaadee kahate ho, ham bhee. kintu hamaare aadarshon mein kitana bhed hai! tum chaahate ho, svaatantry ke naam par vishv jeet kar us par shaasan karana, aur ham! – ham isee kee cheshta mein lage hain ki apane hrday itane vishaal ban saken ki vishv unamen sama jaay!”

mainne kisee shadyantr mein bhaag nahin liya hai – kraantivaad par lekchar dene ke atirikt kuchh bhee nahin kiya hai phir bhee main apane siddhaanton par aakshep nahin sah saka. mainne tan kar kaha, “tum jhooth kahatee ho. main sachcha saamyavaadee hoon. main chaahata hoon ki sansaar mein saamy ho, shaasak aur shaasit ka bhed mit jaay. lekin is prakaar hatya karane se yah kabhee siddh nahin hoga. jise tum kraanti kahatee ho, usake lie agar yah karana padata ho, to main us kraanti ka virodh karoonga, use rokane ka bharasak prayatn karoonga. isake lie agar praan bhee…”

“kraanti ka virodh karoge, use rokoge tum? soory uday hota hai, usako rokane kee cheshta kee hai? samudr mein pralay-laharee uthatee hai, use roka hai? jvaalaamukhee mein visphot hota hai; dharatee kaanpane lagatee hai, use roka hai? kraanti soory se bhee adhik deeptimaan, pralay se bhee adhik bhayankar, jvaala se bhee adhik uttapt, bhookamp se bhee adhik vidaarak hai… use kya rokoge!”

“shaayad na rok sakoon. lekin mera jo karttavy hai, vah to poora karoonga.”

“kya kartavy? lekchar jhaadana?”

“desh mein apane vichaaron ka nidarshan, ahinsaatmak kraanti ka prachaar.”

“ahinsaatmak kraanti! jo bhookhe, nange, prapeedit hain, unako jaakar kahoge, chup-chaap bina aah bhare marate jao! roos kee bhayankar sardee mein barph ke neeche dab jao lekin is baat ka dhyaan rakhana ki tumhaaree loth kisee bhadr purush ke raaste mein na aa jaay! rote hue bachchon se kahoge, maata kee chhaatiyon kee or mat dekho, baahar jaakar mittee-patthar khaakar bhookh mitao! aur atyaachaaree shaasak tumhaaree or dekhakar man-hee-man hansenge, aur tumhaaree ahinsa kee aad mein nirdhanon ka rakt choos kar le jaenge! yahee hai tumhaaree shaantimay kraanti, jisaka tumhen itana abhimaan hai.”

“agar shaasak atyaachaar karenge, to unake viruddh aandolan karana bhee to hamaara dharm hoga.”

“dharm?, vahee dharm, jise tum ek skool kee naukaree ke lie bech khaate ho? vahee dharm, jisake naam par tum skool mein itihaas padhaate samay itane jhooth bakate ho?”

mainne kruddh hokar kaha, “vyaktigat aakshepon se koee phaayada nahin hai. aise to main poochh sakata hoon, tumheen ne kaun bada balidaan kiya hai? ek aadamee ko maar kar bhaag aayeen, yahee na?”

mujhe us par bada krodh aa raha tha. kintu jis tarah vah chhaatee ke batan khole haath mein talavaar liye, daanavee kee tarah khadee meree or dekh rahee thee, use dekhakar mera saahas hee nahin pada ki use nikaal doon! main prashn poochh kar usakee or dekhane laga. mujhe aasha thee ki vah mujh par se drshti hata legee, mere prashn ka uttar dete ghabaraegee, kruddh hogee. kintu yah sab kuchh bhee nahin hua. yah dheere se kaagaj hata kar meree mez ke ek kone mein baith gayee aur talavaar kee nok meree or karatee huee bolee, “mainne kya kiya hai, sunoge, tum? mainne balidaan koee bada nahin kiya, lekin dekha, bahut-kuchh hai. mere paas bahut samay hai – abhee gorovskee ka pata kisee ko nahin laga hoga. sunoge tum?”

pahale mainne socha, sunakar kya karoonga? abhee lekh likhana hai, kal skool bhee jaana hoga, aur phir pulis – ise kah doon, chalee jaay. lekin phir ek adaamy kautoohal aur apanee hrdayaheenata par glaani-see huee. mainne uthakar angeethee mein koyale hilaakar aag tez kar dee, ek aur kursee uthaakar aag ke paas rakh dee, aur apanee jagah baithakar bola, “haan, sunoonga. aag ke paas us kursee par baith kar sunao, sardee bahut hai.”

vah vaheen baithee rahee, maano meree baat usane sunee hee na ho. keval talavaar ek or rakhakar, kuchh aage kee or jhukakar aag kee or dekhane lagee. thodee door dekhakar chaunk kar bolee, “haan, suno. mainne ghar mein aaraamakursee par baith kar yantraalayon mein pisate hue shramajeeviyon ke lie saamyavaad par lekh nahin likhe hain. na mainne manch par khade hokar krshakon ko jabaanee svatantray-yuddh kee mareechika dikhalaayee hai. mainne ghar-baar, maata-pita, pati tak ko chhod kar dhakke hee dhakke khaaye hain. saubhaagy bechakar apane vishvaas kee raksha kee hai. svatv bachaane ke lie pita kee hatya kee hai. aur… aur apana stree-roop bechakar desh ke lie bhiksha maangee hai – aur aaj phir maangane nikalee hoon.”

mere munh se akasmaat nikal gaya, “kisase?”

is prashn se maano usakee vichaar-shrnkhala toot gayee. talavaar kee or dekhatee huee bolee, “yah phir bataoongee, vah mere antim, mere ekamaatr balidaan kee kahaanee hai.”

vishvaas aur svatv kee raksha, pita kee hatya, mujhe kuchh bhee samajh nahin aaya.

“mere pita peetarsabarg mein pulis-vibhaag ke sadasy the. mere pati bhee vahaan raajanaitik vibhaag mein kaam karate the. kutumb mein, vansh mein ek main hee thee jisane kraanti ka aahvaan suna… phir bhee, kitane virodh ka saamana karana pada! pahale-pahale jab main kraantidal mein aayee, to leaag mujh par sandeh karane lag gaye. na jaane kis agyaat shatru ne unase kah diya, isaka pita pulis mein hai, pati raajanaitik vibhaag mein, isase vinaash ke atirikt aur kya aasha ho sakatee hai? mainne dekha, itanee kaamana, itanee sadichchha hote hue bhee main anaadrta, parityakta-see hoon… mere pati ko bhee meree vrttiyon ka pata laga. phalasvaroop ek din main chupachaap ghar se nikal gayee! unhen bhee naukaree chhin jaane ka dar tha! usake baad – usake baad meree pareeksha ka prashn utha! pati ko chhod dene par bhee mujhe sadasy nahin banaaya gaya, pareeksha dene ko kaha gaya. kitanee bhayankar thee vah!”

kshan-bhar aag kee or dekhane ke baad phir usane kahana shuroo kiya, “main aur chaar aur vyakti pistaul lekar ek din saayankaal ko nikolas paark mein baith gaye. us din udhar se peetarsabarg kee pulis do bandiyon ko lekar jaane vaalee thee. isee par vaar karake bandiyon ko chhudaane ka kaam hamaare supurd hua tha. yahee meree pareeksha thee!”

“ham raat tak vaheen baithe rahe. nau baje ke lagabhag pulis ke booton kee aahat aayee. ham saavadhaan ho gaye. kisee ne poochha, ‘kaun baitha hai?’ hamane uttar nahin diya, goliyaan daaganee shuroo kar deen. do minat ke andar nirnay ho gaya.. hamaare teen aadamee khet rahe, par hamen saphalata praapt huee. bandee mukt ho gaye. ham chaaron sheeghrata se paark se nikal kar alag ho gaye.”

main bahut dhyaan se sun raha tha. aisee kahaanee mainne kabhee nahin sunee thee, padhee bhee nahin thee… mainne vyagrata se poochha, “phir?”

“doosare din… doosare din mosko mein akhabaar mein padha, bandiyon ko lekar jaane vaale aphasar the- mere pita!”

us chhote-se kamare mein phir sannaata chha gaya. varsha ab bhee ho rahee thee. main vimanask-sa hokar chhat par pad rahee boonden ginane kee cheshta karane laga.

usane poochha, “aur kuchh bhee sunoge?”

mainne sir jhukaakar uttar diya, “mainne tum logon par anyaay kiya hai. vaastav mein tumhen bahut utsarg karana padata hai. main abhee tak nahin jaan paaya tha.”

“haan, yah svaabhaavik hai. ek akele vyakti kee vyatha, ek aadamee ka dukh ham samajh sakate hain. ek praanee ko peedit dekhakar hamaare hrday mein sahaanubhooti jagatee hai, ek hook-see uthatee hai… kintu jaati, desh, raashtr! kitana viraat hota hai! isakee vyatha, isake dukh se asankhy vyakti ek saath hee peedit hote hain.. isamen itanee vishaalata, itanee bhavyata hai ki ham yahee nahin samajh paate ki vyatha kahaan ho rahee hai, ho bhee rahee hai ya nahin.”

“theek hai. tumhen bahut dukh jhelane padate hain. kintu is prakaar akaaran dukh jhelana – chaahe kitanee hee dheerata se jhela jaay – buddhimatta to nahin hai.”

“hamaare dukh prasav-vedana kee tarah hain, isake baad hee kraanti ka janm hoga. isake bina kraanti kee cheshta karana, kraanti se phal-praapti kee aasha karana vidambana-maatr hai.”

“lekin har aandolan kisee nirdhaarit path par hee chalata hai, aise to nahin badhata?”

“kraanti aandolan nahin hai.”

“sudhaar karane ke lie bhee to koee aadarsh saamane rakhana hota hai?”

“kraanti sudhaar nahin hai.”

“na sahee. parivartan hee sahee. lekin parivartan ka bhee to dhyey hota hai!”

“kraanti parivartan bhee nahin hai.”

mainne socha, paoochhoon to phir kraanti hai kya? kintu main bina poochhe usake mukh kee or dekhane lag gaya. vah svayan bolee, “kraanti aandolan, sudhaar parivartan kuchh bhee nahin hai; kraanti hai vishvaason ka, roodhiyon ka, shaasan kee aur vichaar kee pranaaliyon ka ghaatak, vinaashakaaree, bhayankar visphot! isaka na aadarsh hai, na dhyey, na dhur. kraanti vipathaga, vidhvansinee hai, vidagdhakaarinee hai!”

“ye to sab baaten hai. kaviyon vaala shabd-vinyaas hai. aisee kraanti karake kya milega.”

vah hansane lagee. “kraanti se kya milega? kuchh nahin. jo kuchh hai, shaayad vah bhee bhasm ho jaega. par isase yah nahin siddh hota ki kraanti ka virodh karana chaahie. hamen is baat ka dhyaan bhee nahin karana chaahie ki hamen kraanti karake kya milega.”

“kyon!”

“kodh ka rogee jab doktar ke paas jaata hai, to yahee kahata hai ki mera rog chhuda do. yah nahin poochhata ki is rog ko door karake isake badale mujhe kya doge! kraanti ek bhayankar aushadh hai, yah kadavee hai, peedaajanak hai, jalaane vaalee hai, kintu hai aushadh. rog ko maar avashy bhagaatee hai. kintu isake baad, svaasthy-praapti ke lie jis pathy kee aavashyakata hai, vah isamen khojane par niraasha hee hogee, isake lie kraanti ko dosh dena moorkhata hai.”

main niruttar ho gaya. chupachaap usake mukh kee or dekhane laga. thodee der baad bola, “ek baat poochhoon?”

“kya!”

“tumhaara naam kya hai?”

“kyon?”

“yon hee. kautoohal hai.”

“pita ne jo naam diya tha, vah us din chhoot gaya, jis din vivaah hua. pati ne jo naam diya tha, use main aaj bhool gayee hoon, ab mera naam meriya ivaanovana hai.”

kuchh der ham phir chup rahe. mainne talavaar kee or dekhate hue poochha, “yah-yah kaise hua?”

usake un vichitr neel netron kee sushupt jvaala phir jaag uthee. vah apane haathon kee or dekhatee huee bolee, “vah bahut veebhats kahaanee hai.” phir aap-hee-aap, “nahin, rakt nahin laga hai.”

kautoohal hote hue bhee aagrah nahin kiya. itanee der mein main kuchh-kuchh samajhane laga tha ki is stree (ya daanavee?) se anunay-vinay karana vyarth hai, is par usaka kuchh bhee prabhaav nahin padega. main chupachaap isee aasha mein baitha raha ki shaayad vah svayan kee kuchh kah de. mujhe niraash bhee nahin hona pada.

vah aag kee or dekhatee huee dheere-dheere bolee, “to suno! aaj jo kuchh main kar rahee hoon, vah mainne kabhee kisee se nahin kaha, shaayad ab kisee se kahoongee bhee nahin. jab main tumhaara pata poochhakar yahaan aayee, tab mujhe zara bhee khayaal nahin tha ki tumase kuchh bhee baat karoongee. keval dhan maangakar chale jaane kee ichchha se aayee thee. ab mera khayaal badal gaya hai. mujhe dhan nahin chaahie. main…”

“kyon?”

“main apana kaam karake mosko se bhaag jaana chaahatee thee. kintu ab nahin bhaagoongee.”

“aur kya karogee?”

“abhee ek kaam baaqee hai. ek baar aur bhiksha maanganee hai. usake ba…”, vah eka-ek ruk gayee. phir talavaar kee dhaar par tarjanee pheratee huee aap-hee-aap bolee, “kitanee teekshn dhaar hai yah!”

mainne saahas karake poochha, “bhiksha kee baat, tumane pahale bhee kahee thee, aur balidaan kee bhee. main kuchh samajh nahin paaya tha.”

“ab kahane lagee hoon, to sab-kuchh kahoongee. ab lajja ke lie sthaan nahin rah gaya hai. streetv to pahale hee kho diya tha, aaj maanavata bhee chalee gayee! aur phir aaj ke baad sab-kuchh ek ho jaega. par tum chupachaap sunate jao, beech mein rokana nahin.”

main prateeksha mein baitha raha. vah is tarah nireeh hokar kahaanee kahane lagee, maano svapn mein kah rahee ho, maano masheen se dhvani nikal rahee ho.

“tumane maikel kreskee ka naam suna hai?”

“vahee jo peetarsabarg mein pulis ke teen afasaron ko maar kar laapata ho gaye the?”

“haan, vahee. vah hamaaree sanstha ke pradhaan the.” yah kahakar usane meree or dekha. main kuchh nahin bola, kintu mere mukh par vismay ka bhaav usane spasht dekha hoga. vah phir kahane lagee, “vah kal yaheen moskee mein giraphtaar ho gaye hain.”

kshan-bhar nihstabdhata rahee.

“par unako giraphtaar karake le jaane par bhee pulis ko yah nahin pata laga ki vah kaun hai? vah isee sandeh par giraphtaar kiye gaye the shaayad kraantikaaree hon. mujhe is baat kee khabar milee, to mainne nishchay kiya ki jaakar pata lagaoon. main yah saadhaaran ganvaar stree kee poshaak pahanakar pulis vibhaag ke daftar mein gayee. vahaan jaakar mainne apana parichay yahee diya ki main unakee bahin hoon, gaanv se unhen lene aayee hoon! tab tak pulis ko un par koee sandeh nahin hua tha. lekin idhar-udhar se, peetarsabarg se bhee poochhataachh ho rahee thee.

pahale to mainne socha ki peetarsabarg se apane saathiyon ko bula bhejoon, unase milakar unhen chhudaane ka prayatn karoon. lekin isake lie samay nahin tha – na jaane kab unhen peetarsabarg se uttar aa jaay! main akelee sivaay anunay-vinay ke kuchh nahin kar sakatee thee… uf! apanee ashaktata par kitana krodh aata tha! main daant peesakar rahee gayee… jab tak aise samay mein apanee asamarthata, nissahaayata ka anubhav nahin hota, tab tak kraanti kee aavashyakata bhee pooree tarah se nahin samajh aa sakatee.”

meree or dekh aur mujhe dhyaan se sunata paakar vah boleeh

“phir – phir mainne socha, jo kuchh main akele kar sakatee hoon, vah karana hee hoga! agar gidagidaane se unhen chhuda sakoon to yah karana hoga, chaahe baad mein mujhe phaansee par bhee latakana pade! mainne nishchay kar liya – meree hichakichaahat door ho gayee. kal hee shaam ko main janaral kolpin ke bangale par gayee. us samay vahaan karnal gorovskee bhee maujood tha. pahale to mujhe andar jaana hee nahin mila, darabaan ne jo kuchh mere paas tha, talaashee mein nikaalakar rakh liya. bahut gidagida kar main andar ja paayee!
pahale janaral kolpin ne mujhe dekhakar daant diya. phir na jaane kya soch kar bola, ‘kyon, kya baat hai?’ mainne apanee gadhee huee kahaanee kah sunaayee ki mera bhaee nirdosh tha, pulis ne yon hee use pakad liya. janaral saahab bahut bade aadamee hain, sab kuchh unake haath mein hai, jise chaahe use chhod sakate hain… main usake aage royee bhee, usake pair bhee pakade – usake, jisakee main zabaan kheench letee!

vah chupachaap sunata raha. jab main kah chukee tab bhee kuchh nahin bola. thodee der baad usane aankh se gorovskee ko ishaara kiya. kuchh kaanaaphoosee huee. gorovskee ne mujhe kaha, ‘idhar aao, tumase kuchh baat karanee hai.’ main usake saath doosare kamare mein chalee gayee. vahaan jaakar vah bola, ‘dekho, abhee sab-kuchh hamaare haath mein hai, par kal ke baad nahin rahega. hamen use adaalat mein le jaana hoga.”

“phir?”

“yah kahakar vah chup ho gaya. mainne kaha, ‘aap maalik hain, jaisa kahenge main karoongee.’ vah bola, ‘janaral saahab tumhaare bhaee par daya karane ko taiyaar hain – ek shart par.’ mainne utsuk hokar poochha, ‘kya?’ vah mere bahut paas aa gaya. phir dheere-dheere bola, ‘meriya ivaanovana, tum apoorv sundaree ho’…”

vah bolate-bolate chup ho gayee. mainne sir uthaakar usakee or dekha, usakee aankhen vichitr jyoti se chamak rahee theen. vah eka-ek mej par se uthakar mere saamane khadee ho gayee. bolee, “jaanate ho, usakee kya shart thee? jaanate ho? aiesee shart tumhen svapn mein bhee na soojhegee… yahee ek shart thee, yahee ekamaatr balidaan tha, jisake lie main taiyaar hokar nahin gayee thee…”

vah phir chup ho gayee. donon haathon se apanee kameez ka kolar aur gale ka roomaal pakadakar kuchh der meree or dekhatee rahee. phir eka-ek jhataka dekar kameez aur roomaal phaadatee huee bolee, “dekho, adhyaapak! aisa saundary tumane kabhee dekha hai?”

usaka mukh jo ki roomaal aur topee se dhaka hua tha, ab ekadam spasht deekh raha tha. usake neeche usaka gala aur vaksh khula hua tha… usaka vah apoorv laavany, vah prasphutit saundary, adharon par dabee huee vishaadayukt muskaan, hemavarn kanth aur vaksh… aisa anupam saundary sachamuch mainne pahale nahin dekha tha… mere shareer mein bijalee daud gayee, phir mainne drshti pher lee…

kintu usakee vah aankhen-visphaarit, nirnimesh… unaka vah tushaarakanon kee tarah sheetal pradeepan… unamen viraag, krodh, karuna, vyatha kee anupasthiti… vah shukrataare kee harit jyoti…!

“yah hai bali! yah stree ka roop hai maikel kreskee kee mukti ka mooly!”

mainne chaaha, kuchh kahoon, chillaoon, par bahut cheshta karane par bhee aavaaz nahin nikalee!

“usane, us nar-pishaach gorovskee ne, mere paas aakar kaha, ‘meriya ibaanovana, tum apoorv sundaree ho – tumhaaree lie apane bhaee ko chhuda lena saadhaaran-see baat hai…’ mujh par maano bijalee giree. kshan-bhar mujhe is shart ka poora abhipraay bhee na samajh aaya. phir samudr kee laharon kee tarah mere hrday mein krodh umad aaya. mera mukh laal ho gaya. mainne kaha, ‘paapee! kutte!’ aur teevr gati se baahar nikal gayee. kintu peechhe usakee hansee aur ye shabd suneeyee pade – ‘kal shaam tak prateeksha hai, usake baad…’

baahar thandee hava mein aakar meree sudh kuchh thikaane aayee. main shaant hokar sochane lagee, mera karttavy kya hai? maikel kreskee ka gaurav adhik hai ya… unhen mar jaane doon? kabhee nahin! chhudaoon to kaise? isee aasha mein baithee rahoon ki shaayad pulis ko pata na lage? prataarana! kaheen ve unhen pahachaan gaye to…! peetarsabarg se kisee ko bulaoon? par usake lie samay kahaan hai! akelee kya karoongee? vah shart…!

pradhaan, hamaara kaary, desh, raashtr! isake viruddh kya hai? ek stree ka sateetv…! mainne nirnay kar liya. shaayad mujhase galatee huee; shaaday is nirnay ke lie sansaar, mere apane kraantivaadee bandhu, mere naam par thookenge; shaayad mujhe narak kee yaatana bhoganee padegee… par jo yaatana mere nirnay karane mein sahee hai, usase adhik narak mein bhee kya hoga?”

vah phir thahar gayee. abakee baar mujhase nahin raha gaya. mainne atyant vyagrata se poochha, “kya nirnay kiya hai?”

“abhee yaheen se janaral krolpin ke ghar jaoongee. par suno, abhee meree kahaanee samaapt nahin huee. aaj chhah baje main karnal gorovskee ke ghar gayee. mere aate hee vah hansakar bola, ‘meriya, tum jitanee sundar ho, utanee hee buddhimatee bhee ho. ijzat to baar-baar bigadakar bhee ban jaatee hai, bhaee baar-baar nahin milate!’ mainne sir jhukaakar kaha, ‘haan, aap saahab se kahala bhejen ki mujhe unakee shart manjoor hai’.

vah us samay vardee utaar kar rakh raha tha. bola, ‘tum yaheen thaharo, main teleefon par kahe deta hoon.’ vah kone mein teleefon par baat karane laga. usakee peeth meree or thee. mujhe eka-ek kuchh soojha… mainne myaan mein se usakee talavaar nikaal lee, dabe-paanv jaakar usake peechhe khadee ho gayee. teleefon par baatacheet ho chukee – gorovskee use band karake ghoomane ko hee tha ki mainne talavaar usakee peeth mein bhonk dee! usane aah tak nahin kee.. anaaj kee boree kee tarah bhoomi par baith gaya. phir mainne usakee loth uthaakar khidakee se baahar daal dee aur bhaag nikalee!”

mainne poochha, “tumhaare in haathon mein itanee shakti!”

vah hans padee, bolee, “main kraantikaarinee hoon – yah dekho!”

usane talavaar uthaee, ek haath se mooth aur doosare se nok thaamakar bolee, “yah dekho!” dekhate-dekhate usane use chapatee or se ghutane par maara – talavaar do took ho gayee! usane ve donon tukade meree mez par rakh diye.

mainne poochha, “ab..ab kya karogee?”

“ab kolpin ke yahaan jaoongee. kreskee ko chhudaoongee. usake baad? usake baad…”

usane apanee jeb mein haath daalakar ek chhota-sa rivaalvar nikaala, “yah bhee goraavskee ke yahaan se mil gaya.”

“par isaka kya karogee?”

“prayog!” kahakar usane use chhipa liya.

isake baad shaayad chaar-paanch minat phir koee na bola. mainne usakee saaree kahaanee ka man-hee-man sinhaavalokan kiya. usamen kitanee veebhatsata, kitanee karuna thee! aur usaka dosh kya tha? keval itana hee ki vah kraantikaaree thee! eka-ek mujhe ek baat yaad aa gayee! mainne poochha, “tumane kaha tha ki tumane pahale bhee bhiksha maangee thee – isee prakaar kee. vah kya baat thee bataogee?”

vah ab tak khadee thee, ab phir mez par baith gayee. bolee, “vah puraanee baat hai. un dinon kee, jab main peetarsabarg se bhaagee thee. akelee nahin, saath mein ek ladakee bhee thee – tumane polina ka naam suna hai?”

“haan, suna to hai. is samay yaad nahin aa raha ki kahaan.”

“vah novgorod mein pakadee gayee thee – veshyaon kee galee mein – aur golee se uda dee gayee thee.”

“haan, mujhe yaad aagaya. usake baad bahut shor bhee macha tha ki yah kyon hua, lekin kuchh pata nahin laga.”

“haan. us din main bhee novgorod mein thee – usee ghar mein! ham donon vahaan rahatee theen. ek veshya ke yahaan hee. vaheen, nity-prati raat ko log aate the, hamaare shareeron ko dekhate the, gande sanket karate the, aur ham baithee sab-kuchh dekha karatee theen vahaan, jab choose hue neemboo kee tarah beemaariyon se ghule hue ve poonjeepati saaf-saaf kapade pahanakar ithalaate hue aate the- uf! jisane vah nahin dekha, vah poonjeevaad aur saamraajyavaad ka dooravyaapee parinaam nahin samajh sakata! dhan ke aadhiky se hee kitanee buraiyaan samaaj mein aa jaatee hain isako jaanane ke lie vah dekhana jarooree hai!

phir ve aasapaas kee kothariyon mein chale jaate the… kisee-kisee mein andhera ho jaata tha… phir…”

thodee der vah chup rahee. phir bolee, “kabhee-kabhee unamen ek-aadh navayuvak bhee aata tha- shaant, sundar, sudaul…unake aane par vah ghar aur usamen rahane vaale-kitane vidroop, kitane veebhats maaloom hone lagate the… kintu shaayad agar ve na aate, to hamaaree vaheen mrtyu ho jaatee, itana glaaniyam drshy tha vah!

yahee the hamaare sahaayak, hamaare sahakaaree… hamen peetarsabarg se jo ailaan baantane ke lie aate the, ve ham inhen de detee theen – ye unhen baant aate the. novgorod mein hamane apanee sanstha kee shaakha isee tarah banaayee. phir novrogod se aarkenjel, phir jeroslaaval, phir peetarsabarg aur phir vaapas novrogod… aarkenjel mein teen garvanaron kee hatya huee; jeroslaaval mein raajakarmachaariyon ke ghar jala diye gaye, novgorod mein pulis ke kaee afasar maare gaye. phir-polina pakadee gayee, aur main mosko mein aa gayee…”

“par vah pakadee kaise gayee?”

“ve muhalle jinamen rahate the, raat hee ko khulate the… din mein ve vaise hee pade rahate the, jaise visphot ke baad jvaalaamukhee ka phata hua shikhar… par us din zarooree kaam tha, polina mota-sa kot pahan, munh dhankakar baahar nikalee. usakee jeb mein kuchh patr the aur ek pistaul, vah patr pahunchaane ja rahee thee. isee samay…”

ghadee mein tan! tan! gyaarah baj gaye. vah chaunkakar uthee aur bolee, “bahut der ho gayee, ab main jaatee hoon.”

“kahaan?”

“kolpin ke yahaan – antim bhiksha maangane.”

usane sheeghrata se apane kot ke batan band kiye aur uth khadee huee. main bhee khada ho gaya.

mainne ruk-rukakar kaha, “svaatantry-yuddh mein bahut siron kee bali denee padatee hai.” maano main apane aapako hee samajha raha hooon.

vah bolee, “aise svaatantray-yuddh mein sir adhik tootate hain ya hrday, kaun kah sakata hai?”

“main chup hokar khada raha. vah kuchh hansee, phir bolee, “jeevan kaisa vichitr hai, jaanate ho adhyaapak? main aayee thee dhan lekar vilupt ho jaane aur chalee hoon, smrti-svaroop vah bokar – vah ashaanti ka beej!”

jidhar usane sanket kiya tha, main udhar dekhata hee rah gaya. laimp aur aag ke prakaash mein laal-laal chamak raha tha – us tootee huee talavaar kee mooth!

sahasa kivaad khulakar band ho gaya. mera svapn toot gaya, mainne aankh utha kar dekha.

varsha ab bhee ho rahee thee, ole bhee pad rahe the. kintu vah vahaan nahin thee. tha akela main aur vah shaanti ka beej!

vah beej kaise prasphutit hua, yah phir kahoonga. abhee us din kee ghatana pooree kahanee hai.

vah chalee gayee. par main phir apana lekh nahin likh saka… ek baar mainne kaagajon kee or dekha, ‘saphal kraanti!’ do shabd meree or dekhakar hans rahe the… vismrt aahutiyon ka shaanti-janak nishkarsh!’ pravanchana! mainne ve kaagaz phaadakar aag mein daal diye. phir bhee shaanti nahin milee.. main sochane laga, isake baad vah kya karegee? kolpin ke ghar mein… maikel kreskee to shaayad mukt ho jaenge… kintu usake baad?

us uddhaar ke phalasvaroop, aanand, ullaas, gaurav-kahaan honge? vahaan hogee vyatha, prajvalan, pashuta ka taandav! jahaan svatantrata ka uddaam aahvaan hona chaahie, vahaan kya hoga? ek stree-hrday ke tootane kee dheemee aavaaj!

mainne jaakar laimp bujha diya. kamare mein andhera chha gaya keval kaheen-kaheen angeethee kee aag mein laal-laal prakaash padane laga aur usamen kursee kee taangon kee chhaaya ek vichitr nrty karane lagee! main use dekhate-dekhate phir sochane laga, isee samay kolpin ke ghar mein na jaane kya ho raha hoga… meriya vahaan pahunch gayee hogee… shaayad ab tak kreskee mosko kee kisee galee mein chhipane ke lie chal pade hon… vah kya sochate honge ki unaka uddhaar kaise hua? meriya kee baat unhen maaloom hogee? shaayad vahaan unaka milan ho jaay kintu kolpin kyon hone dega? meriya ke balidaan kee baat shaayad koee na jaan paega – kisee ko bhee maaloom nahin hoga… aseem samudr mein bahate hue eka-ek bujh jaanevaale deep kee tarah usakee katha vaheen samaapt ho jaegee aur main usaka naam tak nahin jaan paoonga! kaisee vidambana hai yah!

ghadee mein baarah baje. main chaunka ek atyant veebhats drshy meree aankhon ke aage naach gaya. kolpin aur meriya… us drshy ke vichaar ko bhee main nahin sah saka! mainne uthakar kivaad khol diye aur daravaaze ke beech mein khada hokar varsha ko dekhane laga. kabhee-kabhee ek-aadh ola mere oopar pad jaata tha, kintu mujhe usaka dhyaan bhee nahin hua. main aankhen phaadakar raatri ke andhakaar mein varsha kee boond dekhane kee cheshta kar raha tha…

poorv mein jab dhundhala-sa prakaash ho gaya, tab mera vah jaagrat svapn toota. tab mujhe gyaan hua ki mere haath-pair sardee se sangya-shoony ho gaye hain. mainne maano varsha se kaha, ‘vahaan jo kuchh hona tha, ab tak ho chuka hoga.’ phir main kivaad band kar andar jaakar let gaya aur apane thithure hue angon ko garmee pahunchaane ke lie kambal lapetakar pad raha…

us din kee ghatana yaheen samaapt hotee hai; par usake baad ek-do ghatanaen aur huee, jinaka isase ghanishth sambandh hai. vah bhee yaheen kahoonga.

isake doosare din mainne padha, “kal raat ko janaral kolpin aur karnal goraavskee donon apane gharon mein maare gaye. janaral kolpin kee hatya ek stree ne rivaalvar se kee. unako maarane ke baad usane rivaalvar se aatmaghaat kar liya. karnal gorovskee ghar mein talavaar se mare pae gaye. kaha jaata hai ki unakee apanee talavaar aur rivaalvar donon gaayab hain. jis rivaalvar se janaral kolpin kee hatya kee gayee, us par gorovskee aur kolpin kee ghaatak yahee stree hai. pulis joron se anusandhaan kar rahee hai, lekin abhee isake rahasy ka kuchh pata nahin laga hai.”

kreskee ka kaheen naam bhee nahin tha.

yah rahasy aaj bhee nahin khula. haan, usake kuchh din baad mainne suna ki maikel kreskee peetarsabarg ke paas pulis se ladate hue maare gaye…

vah rahasy daba hee rah gaya. shaayad maikel kreskee ko svayan bhee kabhee yah nahin gyaat hua ki ve mosko se us din aadhee raat ke samay kyon eka-ek chhod die gaye…

kintu ashaanti ka jo beej mere hrday mein boya tha, vah nahin dab saka. jis din mainne suna ki maikel kreskee maare gaye, us din meree dhamaniyon mein roosee rakt khol utha… kreskee ke kaaran nahin, kintu meriya ke shabdon kee smrti ke kaaran. mainen apane skool mein ek vyaakhyaan diya, jisamen jeevan mein pahalee baar vishuddh hrday se mainne kraanti ka samarthan kiya tha…

isake baad mujhe roos se nirvaasit kar diya gaya, kyonki kraanti ke poshakon ke lie roos mein sthaan nahin tha!

aaj main peris mein rahata hoon. mosko kee tarah ab bhee main adhyaapan ka kaam kar raha hoon, kintu ab usamen meree ruchi nahin hai. aaj bhee main kraanti-vishayak pustakon ka adhyayan karata hoon, kintu ab padhate samay mera dhyaan apanee anabhigyata kee or hee rahata hai. aaj bhee mera vah sangrah usee bhaanti pada hai, kintu ab usakee sabase amooly vastu hai vah tootee huee talavaar! haan, ab mainne vyaakhyaan dena chhod diya hai, ab ek vichitr vishaadamay ashaanti, ek vikshobhamay glaani, mere hrday mein ghar kiye rahatee hai…

jvaalaamukhee se aag nikalatee hai aur bujh jaatee hai, kintu jame hue laava ke kaale-kaale patthar pade rah jaate hain. aandhee aatee hai aur chalee jaatee hai, kintu vrkshon kee tootee huee shaakhen sookhatee rahatee hain. nadee mein paanee chadhata hai aur utar jaata hai, kintu usake pravaah se ekatrit ghaas-phoos, lakadee kinaare par sadatee rah jaatee hai. vah tootee talavaar usake aavaagaman ka smrtichihn hai. jab bhee is or dekhata hoon, do dhadhakate hue nirnimesh vrtt mere aage aa jaate hain, main sahasa poochh baithata hoon, “meriya ivaanovna, tum maanavee theen ya daanavee, ya svarg-bhrashta vipathaga devee?”

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