Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Phone Calls By Roberto Bolaño

B is in love with X. It is, of course, an ill-fated love. B, at one time in his life, was prepared to do anything for X, more or less what everyone in love thinks and says. X breaks up with him. X breaks up with him over the phone. At first, of course, B is in anguish. But eventually, as is usually the case, he gets over it. The
years pass.

One night, when B has nothing to do, he manages, after making two phone calls, to get in touch with X. Neither of the two is young and this can be heard in their voices that cross Spain from one end to the other. Their friendship is reborn and a few days later they decide to meet again. Both carry the baggage of divorce, new illnesses, frustrations. When B takes the train heading for X’s city, he is still not in love. They spend the first day holed up in X’s house, talking about their lives. (Actually, it is X who speaks; B listens and asks a question now and then.) At night X invites him to share her bed. Deep down, B has no desire to sleep with X, but he accepts. When he wakes in the morning, B is again in love. But is he in love with X or is he in love with the idea of being in love? The relationship is problematic and intense: X borders on suicide from day to day, is in psychiatric treatment — pills, lots of pills, which nevertheless do nothing to help her. She cries often and without any apparent reason. So B takes care of X. He cares for her tenderly, diligently, but also awkwardly. His ministerings imitate those of a person truly in love. B realizes this right away. He tries to lift her out of her depression but only succeeds in leading X down a dead-end street or one X judges to be a dead end. At times, when he is alone or when he is watching X sleep, B also believes the street to be a dead end. He tries to recall his lost loves as a kind of antidote; he tries to convince himself that he can live without X, that he can save himself on his own. One night X asks him to leave and B catches the train and leaves the city. X goes to the station to see him off. Their farewell is affectionate and desperate. B travels in a sleeping car but is unable to fall asleep until very late. When at last he goes to sleep, he dreams of a monkey made of snow walking through the desert. The path of the monkey is bordered off, leading most likely to failure. But the monkey prefers to ignore that and its cunning turns into its will: it walks by night when the frozen stars sweep the desert. When he wakes up (now in the Estación de Sants in Barcelona), B believes he understands the meaning of his dream (if it had one) and is able to make his way somewhat consoled. That night he calls X and tells her his dream. X says nothing. The next day he calls X again. And the next. X’s attitude is getting cooler and cooler, as if with each call B were receding in time. I am disappearing, B thinks. She is erasing me and knows what she’s doing and why. One night B threatens X that he will take the train and be standing on her doorstep the next day. Wipe that thought from your mind, X says. I am going to come, says B. I can’t stand these phone calls any longer, I want to see your face when I talk to you. I won’t open the door for you, X says, and then hangs up. B doesn’t understand a thing. For a long time he thinks, How can a human being possibly go from one extreme to another in her feeling, her desires? Then he gets drunk and seeks comfort in a book. The days pass.

One night, a year and a half later, B calls X on the phone. It takes X a while to recognize his voice. Oh, it’s you, she says. The coldness in X’s voice is enough to put his hair on end. Nevertheless, B senses that X wishes to tell him something. She’s listening to me as if no time had passed, he thinks, as if we had spoken yesterday. How are you? B says. Tell me something, says B. X answers with monosyllables and after a while, hangs up. Bewildered, B dials X’s number again. When they are connected, however, B prefers to remain silent. At the other end, X’s voice says: Hello, who is it? Silence. Then she says, hello, and is quiet. Time — the time that separated B from X and that B was unable to comprehend — passes through the telephone line, is compressed and stretched, reveals an aspect of its nature. B, without realizing it, has begun to cry. He knows that X knows who is calling her. Then, silently, he hangs up.

Up to this point it is a familiar story — sad but familiar. B understands he must never call X again. One day he hears a knock at the door and standing there are A and Z. They are policemen and wish to question him. B asks what the reason is. A is reluctant to tell him. Z, after awkwardly beating around the bush, explains. Three days ago, at the other end of Spain, someone has murdered X. Initially B collapses, then he realizes that he is one of the suspects and his survival instinct puts him on guard. The police ask him about two days in particular. B doesn’t remember what he has done, whom he has seen during those two days. He does know — how couldn’t he — that he hasn’t left Barcelona, that in fact he hasn’t left his neighborhood and his house, but he can’t prove it. The police take him away. B spends the night at the police station. At one point in the questioning he believes they are going to transfer him to X’s city and he finds the possibility strangely seductive, but in the end that does not happen. They take his fingerprints and request his permission to do a blood analysis. B agrees. The following morning they let him go home. Officially, B has not been arrested, he has only agreed to work with the police to clear up this murder. When he gets home, B gets into bed and immediately falls asleep. He dreams of a desert, of X’s face. Just before he wakes up he understands that they are one and the same. It is not hard for him to conclude that he is lost in the desert.

That night he throws some clothing in a travel bag and heads for the station, where he takes a train whose final destination is X’s city. During the course of the trip, which takes the whole night, from one end of Spain to the other, he is unable to sleep and spends the time thinking of all that he could have done and didn’t, of everything he could have given X and hadn’t. He also thinks: If I were the dead X, I wouldn’t have taken this trip in the other direction. And he thinks: That’s precisely why I am the one who’s alive. During the sleepless trip, he contemplates X as she actually was for the first time, he once again feels love for X and scorn for himself, almost unwillingly, for the last time. When he arrives, quite early, he goes straight to X’s brother’s house. X’s brother is surprised and confused, but nevertheless invites him in, offers him a cup of coffee. He has just washed his face and is half dressed. He hasn’t showered, B notices. He’s only washed his face and splashed some water on his hair. B accepts his offer of coffee, then says that he just found out about the murder of X, that the police have questioned him, that he should explain to him what happened. It’s awfully sad, says X’s brother as he makes the coffee in the kitchen, but I don’t see what you have to do with all of it. The police think I could be the murderer, says B. X’s brother laughs. You always had bad luck, he says. It’s funny he should say that, B thinks, when I am the one who’s alive. But he is also grateful that X’s brother doesn’t doubt his innocence. Then X’s brother goes off to work and B remains in his house. A while later, exhausted, he falls into a deep sleep. X, as one would expect, appears in his dream.

When he wakes up he thinks he knows who the murderer is. He has seen his face. That night he goes out with X’s brother. They go to bars and speak of trivial things and no matter how hard they try to get drunk, they fail. As they walk down the empty streets heading home, B tells him that once he called X and didn’t speak. Son of a bitch, says X’s brother. I only did it once, says B, but then I understood that X was getting these kinds of calls. And she thought it was me. Follow me? says B. The murderer is the anonymous phone caller? asks X’s brother. Exactly, says B. And X thought that it was me. X’s brother frowns. I think, he says, that the murderer was one of her ex-lovers. My sister had many suitors. B chooses not to respond (X’s brother, it seems, hasn’t understood a thing), and they are both silent until they get home.

In the elevator B feels like he is going to throw up. He says, I am going to throw up. Hold on, says X’s brother. Then they quickly walk down the hallway, X’s brother opens the door and B takes off like a shot for the bathroom. But when he gets there he no longer feels like throwing up. He is sweating and his stomach aches but he can’t throw up. The toilet bowl, with the lid up, looks to him like a mouth full of gums laughing at him. After washing his face he looks at himself in the mirror: his face is white as a sheet. He can barely sleep the rest of the night and passes the time trying to read and listening to X’s brother snoring. The next day they say good-bye and B returns to Barcelona. I will never visit this city again, he thinks, for X is no longer here.

A week later X’s brother calls him to say that the police have caught the murderer. The guy had been harassing X, the brother says, with anonymous phone calls. B doesn’t answer. An old lover, X’s brother says. I’m happy to hear it, says B. Thanks for calling me. Then X’s brother hangs up and B is alone.

Translated from the Spanish by Mark Schafer

From Grand Street 68, in memory of Roberto Bolaño, 1953-2003

Against Jesters Who Defame and Insult (Nobel prize speech by Dario Fo, 1997)

“Against jesters who defame and insult”. Law issued by Emperor Frederick II (Messina 1221), declaring that anyone may commit violence against jesters without incurring

The drawings I’m showing you are mine. Copies of these, slightly reduced in size, have been distributed among you.

For some time it’s been my habit to use images when preparing a speech: rather than write it down, I illustrate it. This allows me to improvise, to exercise my imagination – and to oblige you to use yours.

As I proceed, I will from time to time indicate to you where we are in the manuscript. That way you won’t lose the thread. This will be of help especially to those of you who don’t understand either Italian or Swedish. English-speakers will have a tremendous advantage over the rest because they will imagine things I’ve neither said nor thought. There is of course the problem of the two laughters: those who understand Italian will laugh immediately, those who don’t will have to wait for Anna [Barsotti]’s Swedish translation. And then there are those of you who won’t know whether to laugh the first time or the second. Anyway, let’s get started.


Ladies and gentlemen, the title I’ve selected for this little chat is “contra jogulatores obloquentes”, which you all recognize as Latin, mediaeval Latin to be precise. It’s the title of a law issued in Sicily in 1221 by Emperor Frederick II of Swabia, an emperor “anointed by God”, who we were taught in school to regard a sovereign of extraordinary enlightenment, a liberal. “Jogulatores obloquentes” means “jesters who defame and insult”. The law in question allowed any and all citizens to insult jesters, to beat them and even – if they were in that mood – to kill them, without running any risk of being brought to trial and condemned. I hasten to assure you that this law no longer is in vigour, so I can safely continue.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Friends of mine, noted men of letters, have in various radio and television interviews declared: “The highest prize should no doubt be awarded to the members of the Swedish Academy, for having had the courage this year to award the Nobel Prize to a jester.” I agree. Yours is an act of courage that borders on provocation.

It’s enough to take stock of the uproar it has caused: sublime poets and writers who normally occupy the loftiest of spheres, and who rarely take interest in those who live and toil on humbler planes, are suddenly bowled over by some kind of whirlwind.

Like I said, I applaud and concur with my friends.

These poets had already ascended to the Parnassian heights when you, through your insolence, sent them toppling to earth, where they fell face and belly down in the mire of normality.

Insults and abuse are hurled at the Swedish Academy, at its members and their relatives back to the seventh generation. The wildest of them clamour: “Down with the King … of Norway!”. It appears they got the dynasty wrong in the confusion.

(At this point you may turn the page. As you see there is an image of a naked poet bowled over by a whirlwind.)


Some landed pretty hard on their nether parts. There were reports of poets and writers whose nerves and livers suffered terribly. For a few days thereafter there was not a pharmacy in Italy that could muster up a single tranquillizer.

But, dear members of the Academy, let’s admit it, this time you’ve overdone it. I mean come on, first you give the prize to a black man, then to a Jewish writer. Now you give it to a clown. What gives? As they say in Naples: pazziàmme? Have we lost our senses?

Also the higher clergy have suffered their moments of madness. Sundry potentates – great electors of the Pope, bishops, cardinals and prelates of Opus Dei – have all gone through the ceiling, to the point that they’ve even petitioned for the reinstatement of the law that allowed jesters to be burned at the stake. Over a slow fire.

On the other hand I can tell you there is an extraordinary number of people who rejoice with me over your choice. And so I bring you the most festive thanks, in the name of a multitude of mummers, jesters, clowns, tumblers and storytellers.

(This is where we are now [indicates a page].)


And speaking of storytellers, I mustn’t forget those of the small town on Lago Maggiore where I was born and raised, a town with a rich oral tradition.

They were the old storytellers, the master glass-blowers who taught me and other children the craftsmanship, the art, of spinning fantastic yarns. We would listen to them, bursting with laughter – laughter that would stick in our throats as the tragic allusion that surmounted each sarcasm would dawn on us. To this day I keep fresh in my mind the story of the Rock of Caldé.

“Many years ago”, began the old glass-blower, “way up on the crest of that steep cliff that rises from the lake there was a town called Caldé. As it happened, this town was sitting on a loose splinter of rock that slowly, day by day, was sliding down towards the precipice. It was a splendid little town, with a campanile, a fortified tower at the very peak and a cluster of houses, one after the other. It’s a town that once was and that now is gone. It disappeared in the 15th century.

“‘Hey’, shouted the peasants and fishermen down in the valley below. ‘You’re sliding, you’ll fall down from there’.

“But the cliff dwellers wouldn’t listen to them, they even laughed and made fun of them: ‘You think you’re pretty smart, trying to scare us into running away from our houses and our land so you can grab them instead. But we’re not that stupid.’

“So they continued to prune their vines, sow their fields, marry and make love. They went to mass. They felt the rock slide under their houses but they didn’t think much about it. ‘Just the rock settling. Quite normal’, they said, reassuring each other.

“The great splinter of rock was about to sink into the lake. ‘Watch out, you’ve got water up to your ankles’, shouted the people along the shore. ‘Nonsense, that’s just drainage water from the fountains, it’s just a bit humid’, said the people of the town, and so, slowly but surely, the whole town was swallowed by the lake.

“Gurgle … gurgle … splash … they sink …. houses, men, women, two horses, three donkeys … heehaw … gurgle. Undaunted, the priest continued to receive the confession of a nun: ‘Te absolvi … animus … santi … guurgle … Aame … gurgle …’ The tower disappeared, the campanile sank with bells and all: Dong … ding … dop … plock …

“Even today”, continued the old glass-blower, “if you look down into the water from that outcrop that still juts out from the lake, and if in that same moment a thunderstorm breaks out, and the lightning illuminates the bottom of the lake, you can still see – incredible as it may seem! – the submerged town, with its streets still intact and even the inhabitants themselves, walking around and glibly repeating to themselves: ‘Nothing has happened’. The fish swim back and forth before their eyes, even into their ears. But they just brush them off: ‘Nothing to worry about. It’s just some kind of fish that’s learned to swim in the air’.

“‘Atchoo!’ ‘God bless you!’ ‘Thank you … it’s a bit humid today … more than yesterday … but everything’s fine’. They’ve reached rock bottom, but as far as they’re concerned, nothing has happened at all.”

Disturbing though it may be, there’s no denying that a tale like this still has something to tell us.

I repeat, I owe much to these master glass-blowers of mine, and they – I assure you – are immensely grateful to you, members of this Academy, for rewarding one of their disciples.

And they express their gratitude with explosive exuberance. In my home town, people swear that on the night the news arrived that one of their own storytellers was to be awarded the Nobel Prize, a kiln that had been standing cold for some fifty years suddenly erupted in a broadside of flames, spraying high into the air – like a fireworks finale – a myriad splinters of coloured glass, which then showered down on the surface of the lake, releasing an impressive cloud of steam.

(While you applaud, I’ll have a drink of water. [Turning to the interpreter:] Would you like some?

It’s important that you talk among yourselves while we drink, because if you try to hear the gurgle gurgle gurgle the water makes as we swallow we’ll choke on it and start coughing. So instead you can exchange niceties like “Oh, what a lovely evening it is, isn’t it?”.

End of intermission: we turn to a new page, but don’t worry, it’ll go faster from here.)

Above all others, this evening you’re due the loud and solemn thanks of an extraordinary master of the stage, little-known not only to you and to people in France, Norway, Finland … but also to the people of Italy. Yet he was, until Shakespeare, doubtless the greatest playwright of renaissance Europe. I’m referring to Ruzzante Beolco, my greatest master along with Molière: both actors-playwrights, both mocked by the leading men of letters of their times. Above all, they were despised for bringing onto the stage the everyday life, joys and desperation of the common people; the hypocrisy and the arrogance of the high and mighty; and the incessant injustice. And their major, unforgivable fault was this: in telling these things, they made people laugh. Laughter does not please the mighty.

Ruzzante, the true father of the Commedia dell’Arte, also constructed a language of his own, a language of and for the theatre, based on a variety of tongues: the dialects of the Po Valley, expressions in Latin, Spanish, even German, all mixed with onomatopoeic sounds of his own invention. It is from him, from Beolco Ruzzante, that I’ve learned to free myself from conventional literary writing and to express myself with words that you can chew, with unusual sounds, with various techniques of rhythm and breathing, even with the rambling nonsense-speech of the grammelot.

Allow me to dedicate a part of this prestigious prize to Ruzzante.

A few days ago, a young actor of great talent said to me: “Maestro, you should try to project your energy, your enthusiasm, to young people. You have to give them this charge of yours. You have to share your professional knowledge and experience with them”. Franca – that’s my wife – and I looked at each other and said: “He’s right”. But when we teach others our art, and share this charge of fantasy, what end will it serve? Where will it lead?

In the past couple of months, Franca and I have visited a number of university campuses to hold workshops and seminars before young audiences. It has been surprising – not to say disturbing – to discover their ignorance about the times we live in. We told them about the proceedings now in course in Turkey against the accused culprits of the massacre in Sivas. Thirty-seven of the country’s foremost democratic intellectuals, meeting in the Anatolian town to celebrate the memory of a famous mediaeval jester of the Ottoman period, were burned alive in the dark of the night, trapped inside their hotel. The fire was the handiwork of a group of fanatical fundamentalists that enjoyed protection from elements within the Government itself. In one night, thirty-seven of the country’s most celebrated artists, writers, directors, actors and Kurdish dancers were erased from this Earth.

In one blow these fanatics destroyed some of the most important exponents of Turkish culture.

Thousands of students listened to us. The looks in their faces spoke of their astonishment and incredulity. They had never heard of the massacre. But what impressed me the most is that not even the teachers and professors present had heard of it. There Turkey is, on the Mediterranean, practically in front of us, insisting on joining the European Community, yet no one had heard of the massacre. Salvini, a noted Italian democrat, was right on the mark when he observed: “The widespread ignorance of events is the main buttress of injustice”. But this absent-mindedness on the part of the young has been conferred upon them by those who are charged to educate and inform them: among the absent-minded and uninformed, school teachers and other educators deserve first mention.

Young people easily succumb to the bombardment of gratuitous banalities and obscenities that each day is served to them by the mass media: heartless TV action films where in the space of ten minutes they are treated to three rapes, two assassinations, one beating and a serial crash involving ten cars on a bridge that then collapses, whereupon everything – cars, drivers and passengers – precipitates into the sea … only one person survives the fall, but he doesn’t know how to swim and so drowns, to the cheers of the crowd of curious onlookers that suddenly has appeared on the scene.

At another university we spoofed the project – alas well under way – to manipulate genetic material, or more specifically, the proposal by the European Parliament to allow patent rights on living organisms. We could feel how the subject sent a chill through the audience. Franca and I explained how our Eurocrats, kindled by powerful and ubiquitous multinationals, are preparing a scheme worthy the plot of a sci-fi/horror movie entitled “Frankenstein’s pig brother”. They’re trying to get the approval of a directive which (and get this!) would authorize industries to take patents on living beings, or on parts of them, created with techniques of genetic manipulation that seem taken straight out of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.

This is how it would work: by manipulating the genetic make-up of a pig, a scientist succeeds in making the pig more human-like. By this arrangement it becomes much easier to remove from the pig the organ of your choice – a liver, a kidney – and to transplant it in a human. But to assure that the transplanted pig-organs aren’t rejected, it’s also necessary to transfer certain pieces of genetic information from the pig to the human. The result: a human pig (even though you will say that there are already plenty of those).

And every part of this new creature, this humanized pig, will be subject to patent laws; and whosoever wishes a part of it will have to pay copyright fees to the company that “invented” it. Secondary illnesses, monstrous deformations, infectious diseases – all are optionals, included in the price …

The Pope has forcefully condemned this monstrous genetic witchcraft. He has called it an offence against humanity, against the dignity of man, and has gone to pains to underscore the project’s total and irrefutable lack of moral value.

The astonishing thing is that while this is happening, an American scientist, a remarkable magician – you’ve probably read about him in the papers – has succeeded in transplanting the head of a baboon. He cut the heads off two baboons and switched them. The baboons didn’t feel all that great after the operation. In fact, it left them paralysed, and they both died shortly thereafter, but the experiment worked, and that’s the great thing.

But here’s the rub: this modern-day Frankenstein, a certain Professor White, is all the while a distinguished member of the Vatican Academy of Sciences. Somebody should warn the Pope.

So, we enacted these criminal farces to the kids at the universities, and they laughed their heads off. They would say of Franca and me: “They’re a riot, they come up with the most fantastic stories”. Not for a moment, not even with an inkling in their spines, did they grasp that the stories we told were true.

These encounters have strengthened us in our conviction that our job is – in keeping with the exhortation of the great Italian poet Savinio – “to tell our own story”. Our task as intellectuals, as persons who mount the pulpit or the stage, and who, most importantly, address to young people, our task is not just to teach them method, like how to use the arms, how to control breathing, how to use the stomach, the voice, the falsetto, the contracampo. It’s not enough to teach a technique or a style: we have to show them what is happening around us. They have to be able to tell their own story. A theatre, a literature, an artistic expression that does not speak for its own time has no relevance.

Recently, I took part in a large conference with lots of people where I tried to explain, especially to the younger participants, the ins and outs of a particular Italian court case. The original case resulted in seven separate proceedings, at the end of which three Italian left-wing politicians were sentenced to 21 years of imprisonment each, accused of having murdered a police commissioner. I’ve studied the documents of the case – as I did when I prepared Accidental Death of an Anarchist – and at the conference I recounted the facts pertaining to it, which are really quite absurd, even farcical. But at a certain point I realized I was speaking to deaf ears, for the simple reason that my audience was ignorant not only of the case itself, but of what had happened five years earlier, ten years earlier: the violence, the terrorism. They knew nothing about the massacres that occurred in Italy, the trains that blew up, the bombs in the piazze or the farcical court cases that have dragged on since then.

The terribly difficult thing is that in order to talk about what is happening today, I have to start with what happened thirty years ago and then work my way forward. It’s not enough to speak about the present. And pay attention, this isn’t just about Italy: the same thing happens everywhere, all over Europe. I’ve tried in Spain and encountered the same difficulty; I’ve tried in France, in Germany, I’ve yet to try in Sweden, but I will.

To conclude, let me share this medal with Franca.

Franca Rame, my companion in life and in art who you, members of the Academy, acknowledge in your motivation of the prize as actress and author; who has had a hand in many of the texts of our theatre.


(At this very moment, Franca is on stage in a theatre in Italy but will join me the day after tomorrow. Her flight arrives midday, if you like we can all head out together to pick her up at the airport.)

Franca has a very sharp wit, I assure you. A journalist put the following question to her: “So how does it feel to be the wife of a Nobel Prize winner? To have a monument in your home?” To which she answered: “I’m not worried. Nor do I feel at all at a disadvantage; I’ve been in training for a long time. I do my exercises each morning: I go down on my hand and knees, and that way I’ve accustomed myself to becoming a pedestal to a monument. I’m pretty good at it.”

Like I said, she has a sharp wit. At times she even turns her irony against herself.

Without her at my side, where she has been for a lifetime, I would never have accomplished the work you have seen fit to honour. Together we’ve staged and recited thousands of performances, in theatres, occupied factories, at university sit-ins, even in deconsecrated churches, in prisons and city parks, in sunshine and pouring rain, always together. We’ve had to endure abuse, assaults by the police, insults from the right-thinking, and violence. And it is Franca who has had to suffer the most atrocious aggression. She has had to pay more dearly than any one of us, with her neck and limb in the balance, for the solidarity with the humble and the beaten that has been our premise.


The day it was announced that I was to be awarded the Nobel Prize I found myself in front of the theatre on Via di Porta Romana in Milan where Franca, together with Giorgio Albertazzi, was performing The Devil with Tits. Suddenly I was surrounded by a throng of reporters, photographers and camera-wielding TV-crews. A passing tram stopped, unexpectedly, the driver stepped out to greet me, then all the passengers stepped out too, they applauded me, and everyone wanted to shake my hand and congratulate me … when at a certain point they all stopped in their tracks and, as with a single voice, shouted “Where’s Franca?”. They began to holler “Francaaa” until, after a little while, she appeared. Discombobulated and moved to tears, she came down to embrace me.

At that moment, as if out of nowhere, a band appeared, playing nothing but wind instruments and drums. It was made up of kids from all parts of the city and, as it happened, they were playing together for the first time. They struck up “Porta Romana bella, Porta Romana” in samba beat. I’ve never heard anything played so out of tune, but it was the most beautiful music Franca and I had ever heard.

Believe me, this prize belongs to both of us.

Thank you.

Translated from Italian by Paul Claesson

स्वप्न, चश्मा और ७ अप्रैल

By उदयशंकर 
आज ६ अप्रैल है. लेकिन इसका कोई भी सम्बन्ध ६ अप्रैल से नहीं है. ७ अप्रैल से है. आज जबकि आधी रात के बाद ७ अप्रैल आ जाएगा , मैं आँखें बंद किये सो रहा हूँ. कुछ सोच रहा हूँ या स्वप्न देख  रहा हूँ! मेरे एक दोस्त ने कभी कहा था कि दिन की नींद को भी सपने आते हैं. लेकिन, अंतर यह होता है कि उस सपने को नियंत्रित किया जा सकता है. यही नियंत्रण सोचने और सपने के बीच के फर्क को बारीक कर रहा है. आँखें खोलना नहीं चाहता हूँ. ऐसा लगता है कि आँख खोलते ही चीजें गायब हो जायेंगी. इसीलिए उसे लम्बे समय तक बनाये रखने की कोशिश करता हूँ.
७ अप्रैल का सन्दर्भ सच भी हो सकता है और झूठ भी. लेकिन अपने-आप में ७ अप्रैल एक सच्चाई है. मैं अभी चाहूँ तो विकिपीडिया में टाइप कर के देख सकता हूँ कि ७ अप्रैल किन महान घटनाओं या व्यक्तिओं के साथ साझा हुआ है और ऐसा करते हुए इस दिन को मैं और भी महत्वपूर्ण बना सकता हूँ. लेकिन मुझे तो महान घटनाओं और व्यक्तिओं के आसरे की आशंका से भी बचने की आदत सी लग गयी है.

स्वप्न-1 मेरे नियंत्रित सपने में एक तस्वीर घूम जाती है. और, उसी फ्रेम में एक निर्दोष सी लड़की का आधा अक्श उभरता है. मन ही मन जीवन का पूरा फ्रेम कब समर्पित हुआ, सपने में पता नहीं चलता. फिर, उसे भी एक दिन सपना आता है. सपने में समुद्र का विपुल-विराट विस्तार और विस्तार के पार एक घना जंगल  है. वह पानी पर चलती हुई जंगल में समा जा जाती है. पानी पर चलने का राज उसने कभी मुझसे बताया था. वह कहती थी  कि पानी पर चलने के लिए पानी से हल्का होना पड़ता है और इसके लिए वह डाईटिंग करती है. इस कारण उसे चश्मा भी लगाना पड़ा. लेकिन पानी पर चलते हए वो चश्मा लगाना पसंद नहीं करती है. जंगल में मांस की एक दुकान है और दूकान के सटे एक जिमखाना भी. जिमखाना के बोर्ड पर बड़े-बड़े अक्षरों में ‘मांस-दान.. महा-दान’  लिखा है. मांस की दुकान पर पानी से भी हल्के हो चुके लोगों की एक लम्बी कतार है और उस कतार में वह सबसे आगे खड़ी है. एक दूसरी कतार भी है जो जिमखाना से शुरू होकर मांस  की दूकान तक जाती है. यह मांस-दाताओं की कतार है. मांस की दूकान पर एक डॉक्टर बैठा है. डॉक्टर जिमखाने वाली कतार के लोगों के पुट्ठे, बांह और पिंडलियों से ताज़ा मांस निकालकर तराजू में डालता-तोलता है और डाईटिंग वाली कतार के लोगों के थैलों में उड़ेलता जाता है. जिमखाने के घायल लोग दौड़ते हुए समुद्र में घुसते हैं और किनारे आकर समुद्र का नमक अपने जख्मों पर लपेट लेते हैं. मैं समुद्र के इस किनारे उसी के चश्मे को लगाये बैठा हूँ. वह थैला लिए लौटती है, पूरा बदन नमक और खून से सना है. मैं चश्मा लौटाने लगता हूँ तो कहती है कि पहने रहो, इसमें तुम  बच्चे लगते हो और  अच्छे भी. चश्मा खोलता हूँ  तो दूर का कुछ भी नहीं दिखता है, बस उसका नाम दिखता है, जिसे मैं समुद्र की लहरों के बावजूद बार-बार स्थिर करने की कोशिश करता हूँ. 

मुझे याद नहीं कि मैंने वो चश्मा वहीं छोड़ दिया या लगाया या फिर पता नहीं क्या किया! लेकिन, कल  जब ७ अप्रैल है तो उस नाम-दिन ने मुझे फिर से पकड़ लिया है और पता नहीं, कहाँ से उसके हाथे में वही चश्मा फिर से नमूदार हुआ. उसने उसे तोड़ दिया और कहा- मुझे बच्चे पसंद नहीं हैं और तुम आदमी अच्छे लगते हो.

Night Market

Night Market


स्वप्न के बाहर-
सपने के बाहर की सच्चाई इतनी भर है कि कल ७ अप्रैल है. और ,आज ६ अप्रैल  को एक कवि-मित्र से उसकी व्यक्तिगत सी लगती कुछ कवितायें सुनीं और उसके बारे में  चिंतित भी हुआ. फेसबुक पर एक स्टेट्स  लिखा- आंसुओं के टपकने की आवाज़ मोबाइल -फोन पर सुनाई नहीं पड़ती है. और हाँ अपना प्रोफाइल पिक्चर भी बदला और तस्वीर उस पुराने चिकित्सक की है जिसने पहली बार melancholia को विश्लेषित  किया था.

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