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rel kee raat – a story by Illachandra Joshi

gaadee aane ke samay se bahut pahale hee mahendr steshan par ja pahuncha tha. gaadee ke pahunchane ka theek samay maaloom na ho, yah baat nahin kahee ja sakatee. jis chhote shahar mein vah aaya hua tha, vahaan se jaldee bhaagane ke lie vah aisa utsuk ho utha tha ki jaan-boojh kar bhee agyaat man se shaayad kisee abodh baalak kee tarah vah samajha tha ki usake jaldee steshan par pahunchane se sambhavat: gaadee bhee niyat samay se pahale hee aa jaayagee.

holdaal mein bandhe hue bistare aur chamade ke ek puraane sootakes ko pletaphaarm ke ek kone par rakhava kar vah chintit tatha asthir-sa anyamanask bhaav se tahalate hue tikat-ghar kee khidakee ke khulane ka intajaar karane laga.

mahendr kee aayu battees-taintees varsh ke lagabhag hogee. usake kad kee oonchaee saadhe paanch pheet se kam nahin maaloom hotee thee. usake shareer ka gathan dekhane se use dubala to nahin kaha ja sakata, tathaapi mota vah naam ka bhee na tha. rang usaka gehuna tha, kapol kuchh chauda, bhaunhen kuchh motee kintu tanee huee, aankhen chhotee par lambee, kaalee moonchhen ghanee par patalee aur donon siron par kuchh oopar ko uthee theen. vah khaddar ka ek lamba kurata aur khaddar kee dhotee pahane tha. sar par topee nahin thee. paanvon mein ghadiyaal ke chamade ke bane hue chappal the. usake vyaktitv mein aakarshan avashy tha, par vah aakarshan sab samay sab vyaktiyon kee drshti ko apanee or nahin kheenchata tha.

sooraj bahut pahale doob chuka tha aur shukl paksh ka apoorn golaakaar chandrama apane kiran-jaal se dig-digant ko snigdh aalok-chhata se vibhaasit karane laga tha. steshan par adhik bheed na thee. pletaphaarm par tahalate-tahalate poorv kee or kadam nikal jaane par aisa maaloom hone lagata tha ki chaandanee deergh-vistrt samatal bhoomi par alas klaanti kee tarah padee huee hai. jhillee-jhanakaar ka ekaantik marmar svar is alasata kee vedana ko nirmam bhaav se jaga raha tha, jisase mahendr ke hrday kee supt vyaakulata tilamila uthatee thee.

siganal daun ho gaya tha. tikat-ghar khul gaya tha. thard klaas ka tikat khareed kar mahendr gaadee ka intajaar karane laga. thodee der mein door hee se sarchalait ke prakhar prakaash se timir-vidaaran karatee huee gaadee dikhaee dee aur jhak-jhak karatee huee steshan par aa khadee huee.

saamane ke kampaartament mein keval do vyakti baithe the aur ve bhee utarane kee taiyaaree kar rahe the. mahendr ek haath mein bistar kee gatharee aur doosare haath se sootakes pakad kar usee mein ja ghusa. jo do vyakti kampaartament mein the, unake utarate hee ek chashmaadhaaree sajjan ne do mahilaon ke saath bheetar pravesh kiya. kulee ne aakar navaagantuk mahaashay ka saamaan bheetar rakh diya aur majooree ke sambandh mein kaaphee hujjat karane ke baad paise le kar chala gaya. chashmaadhaaree sajjan mahilaon ke saath mahendr ke saamane vaale bench par bade aaraam se baith gae. maaloom hota tha ki vah badee hadabadee ke saath gaadee ke aane ke kuchh hee samay pahale steshan pahunche the aur ghabaraahat mein the, ki mahilaon ko saath le kar yadi kisee kampaartament mein jagah na milee, to kya haal hoga. vah abhee tak haanph rahe the, jisase unakee ab tak kee pareshaanee spasht vyakt hotee thee. ab jab aaraam se baithane ko khaalee jagah mil gaee, to ek lambee saans le kar chashma utaar kar roomaal se munh ka paseena ponchhane lage. paseena ponchhate-ponchhate mahendr kee or dekh kar unhonne prashn kiya, ‘shikohaabaad kai baje gaadee pahunchegee, aap bata sakate hain?’

mahendr ne uttar diya, ‘jahaan tak mera khyaal hai, baarah baje ke kareeb pahunchegee.’

mahendr kanakhiyon se mahilaon kee or dekh raha tha. mahilaen usake ekadam saamane baithee theen aur yadi drshti seedhee karake svaabhaavik roop se unhen dekhata rahata, to bhee shaayad na to chashmaadhaaree sajjan ko aur na mahilaon ko koee aapatti hotee, par use apanee svaabhaavik sankochasheelata ke kaaran unakee or sthir drshti se dekhane ka saahas nahin hota tha. donon mahilaen beparda baithee theen. unamen ek kee avastha praay: paintees varsh kee hogee, vah ek saphed chaadar odhe thee; doosaree baees-teees varsh kee jaan padatee thee; vah ek gulaabee rang kee sundar, suruchipoorn sari pahane thee. donon yathesht sabhy aur susheel jaan padatee theen. jyeshtha ke dekhane se aisa anumaan lagaaya ja sakata tha ki kisee samay vah sundar rahee hogee, par ab asvasthata ke kaaran usaka mukhamandal bilakul nistej jaan padata tha. kanishtha yadyapi saundary-kala kee drshti se sundaree nahin thee, tathaapi usake mukh kee vyanjana mein ek aisee saral madhurima vartamaan thee, jo barabas aankhon ko aakarshit kar letee thee.

aaj kaee kaaranon se mahendr ka jee din bhar achchha nahin raha. gaadee mein baithane tak vah chintit, anyamanask tatha udaas tha. par gaadee mein baithate hee shisht, susheel tatha sundaree mahilaon ke saahachary se usake khinn man mein ek sukhad saralata chha gaee. yadyapi vah sankoch ke kaaran kuchh kam ghabaraaya hua na tha, tathaapi chashmaadhaaree sajjan kee bholee aakrti tatha saral bhaav-bhangimaon se aur mahilaon kee shaaleenata se use is baat par dheere-dheere vishvaas hone laga tha ki unake beech kisee prakaar ka sankoch anaavashyak hee nahin balki ashobhan bhee hai.

chashmaadhaaree sajjan ne chashma utaar kar ek roomaal se use ponchhate hue poochha, ‘aap kya shikohaabaad ja rahe hain?’

‘jee nahin, main dillee ja raha hoon. kya aap shikohaabaad mein hee rahate hain?’

‘jee nahin, mujhe toondala jaana hai. main vahaan kort mein praiktis karata hoon. idhar kuchh dinon ke lie ghar aaya hua tha. ab apanee ‘vaiph’ ko aur ‘sistar’ ko le kar vaapas ja raha hoon. ‘sistar’ kee tabeeyat theek nahin rahatee, isalie use hava-badalee ke lie le ja raha hoon.’

ek saadhaaran-se prashn ke uttar mein itanee baaton se parichit hone par mahendr ko navaparichit sajjan kee betakalluphee par aashchary hua aur vah man hee man muskaraane laga. usane anumaan lagaaya ki jyeshtha mahila ‘sistar’ hogee aur kanishtha ‘vaiph’.

thodee der mein gaadee chalane lagee. koee doosara yaatree us dibbe mein na aaya.

chashmaadhaaree mahaashay gaadee chalane ke kuchh der baad oonghane lage. ve rah na sake aur bandhe hue bistar ko takiya bana kar ek doosare bench par let gae aur letate hee kharraate lene lage. na jaane kayon, mahendr ke man mein yah vishvaas jam gaya ki in navaparichit mahaashay ka jeevan bada sukhee hai. unakee betakalluphee tatha unake mukh ka aatm-santoshapoorn bhaav dekh kar usake man mein yah vishvaas jamane laga tha aur jab usane unhen nishchint sote hue tatha kharraate bharate dekha, to usakee yah dhaarana drdh ho gaee.

jyeshtha mahila ne bhee thodee der mein oonghana shuroo kar diya. vah oonghatee jaatee thee aur beech-beech mein jab jabardast hichakola khaatee thee to jaag padatee thee. keval kanishtha mahila poornat: sajag thee. vah kabhee khidakee ke baahar jhaank kar chaandanee ke ujjval aalok mein shaayad ‘palapal parivartit’ praakrtik drshyon ka aanand letee thee, kabhee oonghanevaalee mahila kee or dekhatee thee, kabhee kharraate bharanevaale mahaashay, shaayad apane pati ko ek baar sarasaree nigaah se dekh letee thee aur kabhee mahendr ko snigdh kintu vismay kee utsukata se poorn aankhon se dekhane lagatee thee. un aankhon kee sthir drshti jab mahendr par aa kar padatee thee to, use aisa maaloom hone lagata ki mohaavisht hua ja raha hai aur usakee saaree aatma, yahaan tak ki saara shareer bhee apana roop badal raha hai aur yah kisee avyakt tatha ateendriy maayaavee sparsh se kuchh ka kuchh hua ja raha hai. vah us sthir drshti ka tej sahan na kar sakane ke kaaran aankhen phira leta tha.

gaadee tatar-tatt-tatar-tatt shabd se chalee ja rahee thee. jaagrat mahila kee gulaabee sari ka aanchal hava ke jhonke se neeche khisak kar usake laharaate hue ghanakunchit kaale keshon kee bahaar dikha raha tha. gulaabee sari bhee hava ke jor se phar-phar phahara rahee thee. mahendr poorn jaagrat avastha mein svapn dekhane laga. use yah bhee bhram hone laga ki yah mahila, jo isake pahale usake lie ekadam agyaat thee aur nishchay hee sada agyaat rahegee, na jaane kis chidaanandamay lok se akasmaat aavirbhoot ho kar usake paas aa baithee hai aur gulaabee rang kee pataaka phahara kar vishv-vijay ko nikalee hai aur vah usaka saarathee ban kar us anantagaamee rel roopee rath par chala ja raha hai. saara vishv, samast maanavee tatha maanasee srshti usake lie us kampaartament ke bheetar sama gaee thee, jisamen oonghanevaalee mahila tatha soe hue sajjan ka koee astitv nahin tha, aur usake baahar kshan-kshan mein parivartit honevaale asthir maaya jagat ka chir chanchal roop ekadam asaty sattaaheen-sa lagata tha.

mahendr sochane laga ki usane jeevan mein kitanee hee striyon ko vibhinn roopon tatha vichitr paristhitiyon mein dekha hai, par aaj ka yah bilkul saadhaaran-sa anubhav use kyon aisa apoorv tatha anupam lag raha hai. vah soch hee raha tha ki phir us vishv-vijayinee ne apanee sundar vismit aankhon kee rahasyamayee utsukata se bharee sthir drshti se usakee or dekha. vah man hee man sambodhit karate hue kahane laga, chir agyaata, chir aparichita devee! tum mujhase kya chaahatee ho. tumhaaree is marmabhedinee drshti ka kya arth hai? daivayog se mahaakaal ke is naganyatam kshan mein, jisakee satta mahaasaagar mein ek kshudratam budabude ke baraabar bhee nahin hai, ham donon ka aakasmik milan ghatit hua hai, aur mahaasaagar mein budabude kee tarah yah kshan sada ke lie vileen ho jaayaga. tathaapi itane hee arse mein kya tum ham donon ke janmaantar ke sambandh se parichit ho gaee athava yah sab kuchh nahin hai? tumhaaree aankhon kee utsukata ka koee mooly nahin hai, meree vihval bhaavukata ka koee mahatv nahin hai! mahatvapoorn jo kuchh hai, vah hai tumhaare paas lete hue vyakti ka kharraate bharana.

shikohaabaad pahunchane par chashmaadhaaree sajjan kee neend na tootee aur jyeshtha mahila oonghatee rahee. par mahendr kee vishv-vijayinee kee aankhon mein ek kshan ke lie bhee nidra-rasaavesh ka lesh nahin dikhaee diya. vah beech-beech mein apanee marm-bhedinee drshti kee prakhar utsukata se usake hrday ko akaaran nirmam roop se biddh karatee chalee jaatee thee. phalasvaroop mahendr kee gulaabee mohakata bhee shikohaabaad pahunchane tak akhand banee rahee.

shikohaabaad pahunchane par vishv-vijayinee ne chashmaadhaaree sajjan ke kinchit sthool shareer ko haath se hilaate hue jagaaya. oonghatee huee mahila bhee sanbhal kar baith gaee. kuliyon se saamaan utarava kar chaaron vyakti utar pade. dilleevaalee gaadee jis pletaphaarm par laganevaalee thee, vahaan ko jaane ke lie pul paar karana pada. pul paar karake ve log jis pletaphaarm par aae, vahaan kaheen ek bhee battee jalee huee nahin thee. par choonki sarvatr nirmal chaandanee chhitak rahee thee, isalie battee kee koee aavashyakata na jaan padee. gaadee ke aane mein abhee dedh ghante kee der thee. chashmaadhaaree mahaashay ek bench par bistar phaila kar let gae. donon mahilaen bhee neeche rakhe hue saamaan ke oopar baith gaeen.

chashmaadhaaree sajjan ne mahendr se kaha, ‘aap bhee kisee bench par bistar bichha kar let jaie.’

par koee bench khaalee nahin thee aur na mahendr sone ke lie hee utsuk tha. aaj kee relave yaatra kee chandrojjval raatri use chirajaagrat tatha chirajeevit svapn-lok mein vicharan ka avasar de rahee thee. vah pletaphaarm par tahalate hue apane antarman mein navodghaatit jeevan-vaichitry kee chahal-pahal dekh kar vismit ho raha tha. use aisa anubhav ho raha tha ki vah jeevan kee madhurima se aaj pratham baar parichit ho raha tha. relave lain ke us paar digant vistrt jyotsna-raashi apane aavesh mein svayan pulakit ho rahee thee aur saamane kaaphee door par do raktaranjit golaakaar prakaash-chihn aakaash-deep kee tarah maano aanandojjval rangeen jeevan ka maarg usake lie ingit kar rahe the. relagaadee mein ho kar vah anek baar aaya tha aur gaya tha aur kitanee hee baar use raat ke samay steshanon par gaadee ke intajaar mein thaharana pada tha, par aaj kee aindrajaalik ullaasapoorn anubhooti usake lie ekadam naee thee. is baar indrajaal ke udghaatan ka shrey jisako tha, vah maayaavinee is samay teen kee chhat ke neeche kee chhaaya mein baithee huee thee aur andhakaar mein usakee aankhon ke jaadoo ka chalana band ho gaya tha. par vahaan par maatr usaka astitv hee mahendr kee aatma mein maayaalok kee mohakata ka srjan karane ke lie paryaapt tha.

vah tahalate-tahalate na maaloom kin niruddeshy svapnon kee maaya ke pher mein pada hua tha ki achaanak chashmaadhaaree mahaashay ne bench par se pukaarate hue kaha, ‘are janaab, kab tak tahaliega. agar letana nahin chaahate, to yahaan par baith to jaie. neend to ab aavegee nahin. isalie gaadee ke aane tak gap-shap hee rahe.’ mahaashayajee pahale hee kaaphee so chuke the isalie ab neend nahin aa rahee thee. mahendr muskaraata hua unake paas apane sootakes ke oopar baith gaya.

mahaashayajee ne kaha, ‘aap dillee mein kaheen mulaajim hain?’

‘jee nahin.’

‘tab aap kya karate hain, aap khaddar pahane hain, kya aap raajaneetigy hain?’

‘pahale tha, ab nahin ke baraabar hoon.’

‘vah kaise?’

is prashn ke uttar mein mahendr ne param klaanti ka bhaav dikhaate hue kaha, ‘are saahab, sun ke kya keejiega. vyarth mein aapake sanskaaron ko aaghaat pahunchega. is charcha ko hataie aur kisee achchhe vishay kee charcha chalaie.’

svabhaavat: chashmaadhaaree ka kautoohal badha. unhonne aagrah ke saath kaha, ‘phir bhee jara sunen to sahee. aakhir kaun-see aisee baat ho gaee.’

mahendr kee supt smrtiyaan tilamila utheen theen. kanakhiyon se usane dekha, praay: andhakaar mein baithee huee maayaavinee mahila ka dhyaan usee kee or tha. pal mein usake maanasik chakshuon ke aage usake saare vigat jeevan kee vyarthata ke du:khad sansmaranon kee jhaankee chitrapat par kram se parivartit honevaale chitron kee tarah bhaasamaan hone lagee. bhaav ke aavesh mein aa kar usane kaha, ‘achchha to sunie. gyaarah varsh se le kar tees varsh tak kee avastha tak gaandhee ke siddhaanton ke peechhe paagal ho kar, bhookhon rah kar, pag-pag thokaren kha kar, samaaj tatha parivaar kee phatakaaren sah kar, jeevan ke sab sukhon ko apane dhyey ke lie tilaanjali de kar, raashtreey aadarsh ko brahmatatv se bhee adhik mahatv de kar sachchee lagan se apanee saaree aatma ko nimajjit karake desh ka kaam kiya. teen baar kaaphee avadhi ke lie jel mein sadata raha, baar-baar pulis ke dande sar par padate rahe. jameen-jaayadaad kurk ho gaee, maata-pita apanee kapoot santaan ke kaaran tabaah ho kar maanasik aur shaareerik peeda kee paraakaashtha bhog kar chal base, patnee tadap-tadap kar apane bhaagy ko kosatee huee mar gaee. phir bhee main raashtr ke kalyaan ke param dhyey ko stree, parivaar, aatma aur paramaatma se bahut ooncha maanata hua sachchee lagan se kaam karata raha. jab antim baar jelakhaane mein bandee miyaad pooree karane ke baad thaka-maanda man tatha shareer se klisht aur klaant ho kar main baahar aaya, tab ek-ek karake un snehee janon kee smrtiyaan mere man mein udit ho-ho kar vyakt hone lageen, jinakee main sada avagya karata aaya tha. apanee patnee se mainne jeevan mein shaayad do din bhee ghanishthata se baaten na kee hongee. jab main baahar rahata tha, to usake patr baraabar mere paas aate rahate the aur main sarasaree drshti se padh kar avagya se phaad kar phenk deta tha. ek ya do baar se adhik mainne usake patron ka uttar nahin diya aur do baar jo uttar diya tha, vah bhee chaar panktiyon mein bilkul rookhe-sookhe dhang se. ab jab main apane ko saare sansaar mein akela, sneh tatha sanvedana se vanchit, asahaay tatha nirupaay anubhav karane laga to usakee bholee-bhaalee, sakarun, sneh kee vedana se bharee sahaj salonee moorti pratipal meree aankhon ke aage bhaasit hone lagee. usake patron mein saral shabdon mein varnit kaatar vyaakulata ke haahaakaar kee pukaar maano meree smrti ke atul gahvar mein deergh supti kee ghor jadata ke baad akasmaat jaagarit ho kar mere hrday par jalate hue angaaron ke golon se aaghaat karane lagee. apane jeevan mein kabhee kisee baat par nahin roya tha. maata-pita tatha patnee, kisee kee mrtyu par aansoo kee ek boond meree aankhon se na nikalee thee. ab rah-rah kar un logon kee yaad mein bilakh-bilakh kar main baar-baar ro padata. meree snehasheel patiparaayan patnee kee karun punyachhavi ujjval nakshatr kee tarah meree aankhon ke aage spasht bhaasamaan hone lagee. rah-rah kar mera jee vikal ho uthata tha aur mujhe aisa prateet hone lagata, jaise mere hrday mein kisee ke nishkalank sukumaar praanon kee paishaachik hatya ka aparaadh paashaan-bhaar kee tarah pada ho. bahut dinon tak is nrshans aparaadh kee bhayankar anubhooti ka bhoot meree aatma ko atyant nishthurata se dabaata raha. ab bhee yah bhautik aatank kabhee-kabhee mere man mein jaagarit ho uthata hai. phir bhee ab mainne apane man ko bahut samajha liya hai aur jeevan ko ek naee drshti se nae roop mein dekhane laga hoon aur saadhaaran se saadhaaran ghatana bhee kabhee-kabhee mere man mein ek alaukik aanand ka aashchary utpann karane lagatee hai. kisee stree ko dekhate hee ab mere hrday mein ek shraddha-poorn utsukata ka bhaav jaag padata hai. aisa maaloom hone lagata hai, jaise apane jeevan mein pahale stree ko dekha bhee na ho, ab pahalee baar is aanandadaayinee rahasyamayee jaati ke astitv ka anubhav mujhe hua ho.’

mahendr ka lamba lekchar samaapt hote hee chashmaadhaaree sajjan ‘ha ha’ karake thatha kar hansate hue bole, ‘aap bhee bade maje ke aadamee hain. khoob!’ yah kah kar vah bench par aaraam se let gae aur unhonne aankhen band kar leen. thodee der baad vah joron se kharraate lene lage.

ek lambee saans lete hue mahendr ne praay: andhakaar mein aspasht jhalakatee huee gulaabee sari kee or dekha. do aankhon kee maarmik drshti se teevr mohakata us arddh andhakaar mein bhee vismit vedana kee utsuk ujjval rekhaon ko vikeerit kar rahee thee. mahendr pulak-vihval ho kar mantr-mugdh-sa baitha raha.

ghantee bajee, dillee ko jaanevaalee gaadee ke aane kee soochana dete hue siganal daun hua. saamane rakt aakaash-dveep ke badale hare rang ka prakaash jal utha. yah harit aalok mahendr ke maanas-pat mein sari ke gulaabee rang ke saath mil kar ek snigdh-shuchi saundary-lok ka srjan karane laga.

thodee der mein door hee se gaadee ka sarchalait dikhaee diya. chashmaadhaaree mahaashay mahendr ke jagaane par phadaphadaate hue uthe. kuliyon ne saamaan sanbhaal liya. bhak-bhak karatee huee gaadee pletaphaarm par aa lagee. badee bheed thee. chashmaadhaaree sajjan ko mahilaon ke saath kulee log injan ke ultee or bahut door tak le gae. kaheen sthaan na pa kar ant mein ek dibbe mein jabardastee ghus gae. mahendr bhee un logon ke saaath-saath ja raha tha par jis dibbe mein ve log ghuse, us dibbe mein sthaan ka nipat abhaav dekh kar vah vivash ho kar ek doosare dibbe mein chala gaya. vahaan bhee kaaphee bheed thee. kisee prakaar usane apane baithane ke lie thoda-sa sthaan banaaya.

gaard ne seetee dee. gaadee chal padee. mahendr ke mastishk mein naana aspasht bhaavanaen chakkar kaatane lageen. do din se use neend nahin aaee thee. aaj bhee vah abhee tak so nahin paaya. isalie sochate-sochate vah oonghane laga. oonghate hue usane dekha ki gulaabee rang kee sari draupadee ke cheer kee tarah phailatee huee akaaran saare aakaash mein chha gaee hai. sahasa do sthaanon par vah gaganavyaapee sari phatee aur un do chhidron se ho kar do vedanaasheel, teekshn, ujjval aankhen teer kee tarah prakhar veg se usakee or dhaavit ho kar ek roop mein mil kar ek badee aankh ke aakaar mein parinat ho gaeen. vah badee aankhen usake shareer ko chhed kar usake hrtpind ko chhoo kar phir oopar aakaash kee or teer kee tarah chhooteen aur aakaash mein phailee huee gulaabee sari mein ja lageen aur phat kar phir se do sundar, kintu karuna-vikal aankhon ke aakaar mein vibhakt ho gaeen.

toondala steshan par gaadee thaharane par mahendr poornat: sachet ho kar baith gaya. chashmaadhaaree mahaashay donon mahilaon ko saath le kar kampaartament se baahar utare aur saamaan ko kuliyon ke havaale karake unake saath baahar phaatak kee or chale. mahendr ne apane kampaartament se apanee vishvavijayinee ko dekha. vah is utsukata mein tha ki ek baar antim samay ke lie donon kee aankhen chaar ho jaaven, par na hueen aur gulaabee sari se aavrt sajeev pratima vyast vihval-see aage ko nikal gaee.

toondala se gaadee chhootane par mahendr ke kaanon mein chashmaadhaaree sajjan ke thatha kar hansane ka shabd goonjane laga. usake adrsht ka chir vyangy pukaar maano baar-baar kahata tha – ‘ha ha! aap bhee bade maje ke aadamee hain: khoob!’

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By: Illachandra Joshi

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