ಬೀರಕಥೆಗಾರ

ಏಳು ಕಥೆಗಳ ಸರಣಿಯಲ್ಲಿನ ಮೊದಲ ಕಥೆಯಿದು; ಒಬ್ಬ ಅದ್ಭುತ ಕಲಾವಿದ, ಜಗದ್ವಿಖ್ಯಾತ ಕಲಾವಿದನಾದುದರ ಹಾದಿಯಲ್ಲಿನ ಮೊದಲ ಹೆಜ್ಜೆಯ ಕಥೆ. ಓದಿ, ಆನಂದಿಸಿ.

 

ಶ್ರದ್ಧೆ, ಶಾರದೆ ಇದ್ದಲ್ಲಿ ಸೋಲಿಲ್ಲ ಎಂಬುದಕ್ಕೆ ಬಹುದೊಡ್ಡ ಉದಾಹರಣೆ, ಹದಿನಾರನೆ ಶತಮಾನದ ಬಹಮಣಿ ಸುಲ್ತಾನರ ಆಸ್ಥಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಥೆಗಾರನಾಗಿದ್ದ ಬೀರ. ಆತನ ಪ್ರತೀತಿ ದಕ್ಷಿಣದ ವಿಜಯನಗರ ಹಾಗೂ ಉತ್ತರದ ಮುಘಲರ ಸಾಮ್ರಾಜ್ಯದಲ್ಲೆಲ್ಲ ಹರಡಿ, ಬಹುಭಾಷಾ ಪಾರಂಗತನಾದ ಆತನ ಕಥೆ ಕೇಳಲು ಜನ ಸಹಸ್ರ ಸಹಸ್ರ ಸಂಖ್ಯೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಆಗಮಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಬಹಮಣಿ ಸುಲ್ತಾನರ ಪ್ರಾಂತ್ಯ ಈಗಿನ ಮಹರಾಷ್ಟ್ರ, ಮಧ್ಯಪ್ರದೇಶ, ಸೀಮಾಂಧ್ರ ಹಾಗು ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಬೀದರ್, ಬಿಜಾಪುರ ಮತ್ತು ಗುಲ್ಬರ್ಗ ಜಿಲ್ಲೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಸೀಮಿತವಾಗಿದ್ದರೂ, ಬೀರಕಥೆಗಾರ ತನ್ನ ಪ್ರತಿಭೆಯ ತೇರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ದೇಶವನ್ನೆಲ್ಲ ಸಂಚರಿಸಿ, ಕಥೆಗಳಿಂದ ಜನರನ್ನೂ, ರಾಜತಾಂತ್ರಿಕ ಜ್ಞಾನದಿಂದ ರಾಜರುಗಳನ್ನೂ ತನ್ನ ತೆಕ್ಕೆಗೆಳೆದುಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದ.  ಅವನ ಪ್ರತಿಭೆಯನ್ನು ಮೆಚ್ಚಿದ ಮುಘಲ್ ದೊರೆ ಅಕ್ಬರ್, ತನ್ನ ಆಸ್ಥಾನಕ್ಕೆ ಕರೆಸಿ, ಸಕಲ ವೈಭವ ಮರ್ಯಾದೆಗಳಿಂದ ಸತ್ಕರಿಸಿ ಕಳುಹಿಸಿದ್ದು ತನ್ನ ಕೀರ್ತಿ ಭಂಡಾರದ ಕಿರೀಟವೆಂದು ಬೀರನ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯ.

ಆದರೆ, ಬೀರನ ಪ್ರತೀತಿ ತನ್ನದನ್ನೂ ಮೀರಿ ದೇಶದಲ್ಲೆಲ್ಲ ಹರಡಿದೆ ಎಂಬ ಕಾರಣಕ್ಕಗಿ ಬಹಮಣಿ ಸುಲ್ತಾನ ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನನಿಗೆ ಅತೀವವಾದ ಅಸೂಯೆ. ಬೀರನನ್ನು ತುಳಿಯಲು ಅವನು ಸತತವಾಗಿ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದನಾದರೂ, ಬುದ್ಧಿವಂತನಾದ ಬೀರ ಅಪಾಯದ ಜಾಡನ್ನು ಆಗಮನಕ್ಕೆ ಮುಂಚೆಯೇ ಹಿಡಿದು ಉಪಾಯದಿಂದ ಪಾರಾಗಿಬಿಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದ.

ಹೀಗಿರುವಾಗ ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಬೀರನಿಗೆ ಹಣದ ಕೊರತೆಯುಂಟಾಯಿತು. ಅವನ ತಾಯಿ ಯಾವ ವೈದ್ಯರಿಂದಲೂ ಪತ್ತೆ ಮಾಡಲಾಗದಂತಹ ವಿಚಿತ್ರ ರೋಗದಿಂದ ಬಳಲುತ್ತಿದ್ದಳು. ಅವಳ ಚಿಕಿತ್ಸೆಗೆ ಹಣ ಸುರಿದು ಸುರಿದು ಅವನ ಭಂಡಾರವೆಲ್ಲ ಬರಡಾಗಿ, ಕಡೆಯ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನವೆಂಬಂತೆ ಕನ್ಯಾಕುಮಾರಿಗೆ ಕಳಿಸಲೋಸುಗ ದುಡ್ಡಿನ ಅವಶ್ಯಕತೆಯೆದ್ದುದರಿಂದ, ಅಪಾಯವೆಂದು ತಿಳಿದಿದ್ದರೂ ಅನಿವಾರ್ಯವದದ್ದರಿಂದ, ಬೀರ ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನನಲ್ಲಿ ಸಹಾಯ ಹಸ್ತ ಚಾಚಿದ. ಮಾತ್ಸರ್ಯವನ್ನೇ ಮೈಯಾಗಿಸಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದ ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನ್, ಇದೇ ಸರಿಯಾದ ಅವಕಾಶವೆಂದು, “ಆಗಲಿ, ಹಣ ಕೊಡುತ್ತೇನೆ, ಆದರೆ ಒಂದು ಷರತ್ತು: ಇನ್ನು ಮುಂದೆ ನೀನು ಆಸ್ಥಾನ ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಬೇರೆಲ್ಲೂ ಕಥಾವಾಚನ ನಡೆಸುವಂತಿಲ್ಲ”, ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಿದ. ತನ್ನ ಜೀವನಕ್ಕೇ ಕುತ್ತಾಗುವ ಷರತ್ತು ಇದು ಎಂದು ತಿಳಿದಿದ್ದರೂ, ಪರಿಸ್ಥಿತಿಯ ಒತ್ತಡಕ್ಕೆ ಒಲಿದು ಬೀರ ಒಪ್ಪಲೇಬೇಕಾಯಿತು. ಆದರೆ ಬೀರನಿಗೆ ನಿಜವಾದ ಆಘಾತ ತಟ್ಟಿದ್ದು ಮಾರನೆಯ ದಿನ ಅರಮನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ. ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನ ಆಸ್ಠಾನಿಕರನ್ನುದ್ದೇಶಿಸಿ, “ಇನ್ನು ಮುಂದೆ ಬೀರ ಬೇರೆಲ್ಲೂ ಹೋಗದೆ ಅರಮನೆಯಲ್ಲೇ ಇದ್ದು ಪ್ರತಿದಿನವೂ ಒಂದು ಗಂಟೆಗಳ ಕಾಲ ನಮಗೆಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಕಥೆ ಹೇಳುತ್ತಾನೆ”, ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಿದ್ದಂತೆಯೆ, ಇಡೀ ಆಸ್ಥಾನವೇ ಹರ್ಶೋದ್ಗಾರದಿಂದ ಢಣಿಸಿತು. ಇದರಲ್ಲೆಂತಾ ಆಘಾತ? ಸಲ್ಪ ತಾಳಿ, ಸುಲ್ತಾನನ ಮುಂದಿನ ಮಾತುಗಳನ್ನು ಕೇಳಿ: “ಆದರೆ ಒಂದು ಕಟ್ಟಾಙ್ಞೆ! ಅವನ ಕಥೆಯ ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಂದು ಸಾಲಿಗೂ ‘ಆಹಾ! ಆಹಾ!’ ಎಂದು ಎಲ್ಲರೂ ಉದ್ಗರಿಸಬೇಕು. ಕಥೆ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿರಲಿ ಬಿಡಲಿ, ಕಡೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಎಲ್ಲರೂ ಸೇರಿ ಹೊಗಳಿ ಅವನನ್ನು ಸತ್ಕರಿಸಬೇಕು!” ಬೀರನಿಗೆ ಝಂಗಾಬಲವೇ ಉಡುಗಿಹೋದಂತಾಯಿತು! ‘ಎಂತಹ ಹೊಲಸು ನೀಚತನವಿದು’ ಎಂದುಕೊಂಡ. ತನ್ನ ಮೇಲೆ ಸುಲ್ತಾನನಿಗೆ ಅಸೂಯೆ ಇದ್ದದ್ದು ನಿಜ. ಆದರೆ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಈ ರೀತಿಯ ಶಿಕ್ಷೆಯೆ? ತನ್ನನ್ನು ಕೊಲ್ಲಿಸಲಿಲ್ಲ, ಕಾರಾಗೃಹಕ್ಕೆ ಅಟ್ಟಲಿಲ್ಲ, ದೇಶೋಚ್ಛಾಟನೆಯನ್ನೂ ಮಾಡಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಬದಲಿಗೆ ತನ್ನ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ್ಯವನ್ನೇ ಕಿತ್ತುಕೊಂಡು, ತನ್ನ ಸರಿ ತಪ್ಪುಗಳ ಅರಿವಾಗದಂತೆ ಹೊಗಳುಭಟರನ್ನು ನೇಮಿಸಿ, ರಸೋತ್ಪತ್ತಿಯ ಬಗೆಗಿನ ಕಥೆಗಾರನ ಉತ್ಸಾಹವನ್ನೇ ಹಿಸುಕಿಹಾಕಿ, ತನ್ನನ್ನು ಕೇವಲ ಒಂದು ವಾಚನಾ ಯಂತ್ರವನ್ನಾಗಿ ಮಾಡಿದ!

ರಾಜಾಗ್ನೆಯಾಗಿ ಒಂದು ವಾರದೊಳಗಾಗಿ ಬೀರ ಕಥೆಗಾರನ ಛಾಪು ಕಳೆದುಕೊಂಡ. ತಿಂಗಳೊಳಗೆ ಹುಚ್ಚನೇ ಆದ. ನಕ್ಕೇ ನಗುತ್ತಾರೆಂದು ಗೊತ್ತಿದ್ದರೆ ನಗಿಸುವವನಿಗೆ ಮಜವೇನು? ನಗಿಸಬೇಕೆನ್ನುವ ಹಂಬಲದಲ್ಲಲ್ಲವೇ ಹಾಸ್ಯಗಾರನ ಉತ್ಸಾಹ ಅಡಗಿರುವುದು? ಬೀರನ ವ್ಯಥೆಯೂ ಅದೆ. ಎಲ್ಲವನ್ನೂ ಅದ್ಭುತವೆನ್ನುವ ಕೇಳುಗರು; ಅದು ನಿಜವಾಗಿಯೂ ಅದ್ಭುತವೇ ಅಲ್ಲವೇ ಎಂದು ಎಂದಿಗೂ ತಿಳಿಯಲಿಕ್ಕಾಗದ ಪರಿಸ್ಥಿತಿ! ನಂತರ ಸನ್ಮಾನ. ಕ್ರೂರ ಸನ್ಮಾನ. ಭಯದ ಸನ್ಮಾನ. ಅವಮಾನದ ಸನ್ಮಾನ! ಪ್ರತಿದಿನ!

ಆದರೆ ಬುಧ್ಧಿವಂತನಲ್ಲವೆ ಬೀರ? ಅಷ್ಟಲ್ಲದಿದ್ದರೆ ಹಳ್ಳಿಯೊಂದರಲ್ಲಿ ಹುಟ್ಟಿ ಬೆಳೆದ ಹುಡುಗ, ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನನ ಆಸ್ಥಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಥೆಗಾರನಾಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದನೆ? ಎಲ್ಲ ಸಾಧಕರ ಹಾಗೆ ತನ್ನ ಕಥೆಗೆ ತಾನೇ ತಿರುವು ನೀಡಿದ.

ಮುಘಲ ದೊರೆ ಅಕ್ಬರ್ ರಾಜಕೀಯದ ಕೆಲಸಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಬಹಮಣಿ ಸುಲ್ತಾನರ ರಾಜಧಾನಿ ಮಹಮ್ಮದಾಬಾದಿಗೆ ಆಗಮಿಸಿದ್ದ. ಮೊದಲೇ ಪರಿಚಯವಿದ್ದುದರಿಂದ, ಬೀರ ನೇರವಾಗಿ ಅವನು ತಂಗಿದ್ದ ಅತಿಥಿಗೃಹಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಗಿ, ಉಭಯಕುಶಲೋಪರಿಗಳನ್ನೆಲ್ಲ ವಿಚಾರಿಸಿ, ಎಲ್ಲ ಸ್ವಸ್ಥ ಎಂದಾದಮೇಲೆ, ತನ್ನ ಅಳಲನ್ನು ಆತನ ಬಳಿ ತೋಡಿಕೊಂಡ. ಅಕ್ಬರ್ ಸಹಾನುಭೂತಿ ತೋರಿಸಿದನಾದರೂ ಅವನಿಗೂ ಏನು ಮಾಡಬೇಕೆಂದು ತಿಳಿಯಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಅದರ ಅಗತ್ಯತೆಯಾದರೂ ಎಲ್ಲಿತ್ತು?! ಬೀರ ಆಗಲೇ ಉಪಾಯವನ್ನು ಸಿದ್ಧಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡೇ ಬಂದಿದ್ದ. ಅದನ್ನು ಅಕ್ಬರನಿಗೆ ಹೇಳಿ, ಅವನ ಸಹಕಾರ ಬೇಡಿ, ಸಮ್ಮತಿ ಪಡೆದು ಹೊರನಡೆದ.

ಮರುದಿನ ಬೆಳಗ್ಗೆ, ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನ್ ಹಾಗು ಅಕ್ಬರ್ ಅರಮನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಉಪಹಾರ ಸೇವಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಆ ಸಮಯಕ್ಕೆ ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ಅಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ತೆರಳಿದ ಬೀರ, ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನನ ಬಳಿ ಬಂದು, “ಸುಲ್ತಾನ, ಇನ್ನು ನನ್ನಿಂದಾಗದು! ನನ್ನನ್ನು ಈ ನರಕದಿಂದ ಬಿಡುಗಡೆ ಮಾಡು! ನಿನ್ನ ಈ ಷರತ್ತಿನಿಂದ ನನಗೆ ಕೆಲಸದಲ್ಲಿ ಉತ್ಸಾಹವೇ ಬತ್ತಿ ಹುಚ್ಚು ಹಿಡಿದಂತಾಗಿದೆ!” ಎಂದು ದೈನ್ಯತೆಯಿಂದ ಬೇಡಿಕೊಂಡ. ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನ ಮಾತಾಡುವುದಕ್ಕೂ ಮೊದಲೆ, ಪಕ್ಕದಲ್ಲೇ ಇದ್ದ ಅಕ್ಬರ್, “ಏನು ವಿಷಯ?” ಎಂದು ಅಮಾಯಕನಂತೆ ಕೇಳಿದಾಗ, ಬೀರನೇ ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನನ ಷರತ್ತನ್ನೂ ಹಾಗು ಸಭಿಕರ ಮೇಲಿನ ಕಟ್ಟಾಜ್ನೆಯನ್ನೂ ವಿವರಿಸಿದ. ಆಗ ಅಕ್ಬರ್ ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನನಿಗೆ, “ಜಾಫರ್, ಈತನ ದೈನ್ಯ ಸ್ಥಿತಿ ನೋಡಿದರೆ ನನಗೆ ಅಯ್ಯೋ ಎನಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ಒಂದು ಪಂದ್ಯ ಏರ್ಪಡಿಸೋಣ, ಇಂದು ಬೀರ ಹೇಳುವ ಕಥೆಗೆ ಆಸ್ಥಾನದ ಸಭಿಕರು ನಿನ್ನ ಆಜ್ಞೆಯನ್ನು ಪಾಲಿಸಿದರೆ, ಈತ ಜೀವನ ಪರ್ಯಂತ ನಿನ್ನಾಳು, ಅಕಸ್ಮಾತ್, ಇದು ಅಸಾಧ್ಯವೆಂದು ನನಗೆ ತಿಳಿದಿದೆ, ಆದರೂ ಒಂದು ಪಕ್ಷ ಆಸ್ಥಾನಿಕರು ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ ಕುಳಿತು ಬಿಟ್ಟರೆ, ಬೀರನನ್ನು ಸ್ವತಂತ್ರಗೊಳಿಸಬೇಕು. ಒಪ್ಪಿಗೆಯೇ?”

ಪರಿಸ್ಥಿತಿಯ ಗಾಂಭೀರ್ಯವನ್ನರಿತ ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನ ಅಂದಿನ ಸಭೆಗೆ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯರನ್ನೆಲ್ಲ ಹೊರಗೇ ನಿಲ್ಲಿಸಿ, ಕೇವಲ ಬುದ್ಧಿಜೀವಿಗಳನ್ನು ಮಾತ್ರ ಆಸ್ಥಾನದೊಳಕ್ಕೆ ಬಿಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡ. ಪೌರುಷ-ಪರಾಕುಗಳೆಲ್ಲ ಮುಗಿದು, ಅಕ್ಬರನಿಗೆ ಸಂಭ್ರಮದ ಸ್ವಾಗತ ದೊರೆತು, ಅತಿಥಿ ಸತ್ಕಾರದ ನಿಯಮಗಳೆಲ್ಲ ಮುಗಿದು ಅಕ್ಬರ್ ಆಸೀನನಾದ ನಂತರ, ಬೀರನಿಗೆ ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನ “ಹ್ಮ್!” ಎಂದು ಶುರುಮಾಡಲು ಆಜ್ಞೆ ಕೊಟ್ಟ. ಅದೇ ಬೀರನಿಗೆ ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನ ಕೊಟ್ಟ ಕಟ್ಟ ಕಡೆಯ ಆಜ್ಞೆ!

“ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ, ಇಂದು ನಾನು ಹೇಳಲಿರುವ ಕಥೆಯ ಹೆಸರು ’ಕಪಿರಾಯ’”,
“ಆಹಾ! ಆಹಾ!”, ಸಭಿಕರ ಉದ್ಗಾರ.
“ಒಂದು ಪ್ರಾಚೀನ ನಗರಿ. ಆ ನಗರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಒಬ್ಬ ದೊಡ್ಡ ರಾಕ್ಷಸನಿದ್ದ”.
“ಆಹಾ! ಆಹಾ!”
“ಆ ದರಿದ್ರ ಬೇವರ್ಸಿ ಹುಚ್ಚು-ನಾಯಿ ಕ್ರೂರಿ ಕಾಮುಕ ಸೈತಾನ ಮನುಷ್ಯ ರೂಪಿ ರಾಕ್ಷಸನ ಹೆಸರು ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನ್!”

ಎಲ್ಲಿಯ ಆಹಾ ಎಲ್ಲಿಯ ಓಹೋ?! ಪ್ರತಿಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ದು ಒಂದೇ ಶಬ್ದ:ಹಹ್ಹಹ್ಹಹ್ಹಹ್ಹಾ! ಅದೂ ಬೀರ ಹಾಗೂ ಅಕ್ಬರನ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನೊಳಗೆ. ಉಳಿದಂತೆ ಮೌನ. ಆಸ್ಥಾನಮೌನ! ಮೌನಕ್ಕೆ ನಿರುತ್ತರ ಎಂಬ ಸಮಾನರ್ಥಕ ಹುಟ್ಟಿದ್ದು ಇದೇ ಘಳಿಗೆಯಲ್ಲಿರಬೇಕು. ಇನ್ನೇನು ಆ ಮೌನ ಮುಜುಗರಕ್ಕೆ ತಿರುಗುತ್ತಿದೆ ಎನ್ನುವಾಗ ಅಕ್ಬರ್ ಎದ್ದು ನಿಂತ.”ಭೇಷ್, ಬೀರ ಭೇಷ್!” ಎನ್ನುತ್ತ ಓಡಿಹೋಗಿ ಬೀರನ್ನನ್ನು ತಬ್ಬಿಕೊಂಡು, “ಮೆಚ್ಚಿದೆ ನಿನ್ನ ಚತುರತೆಯನ್ನು. ನೀನಿನ್ನು ಸ್ವತಂತ್ರ! ಸ್ವತಂತ್ರ! ” ಎಂದು ಅವನ ತಲೆ ಸವರಿ ಸಿಂಹಾಸನದತ್ತ ತಿರುಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದಂತೆ ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನ್ ಕೋಪದಿಂದ ಎದ್ದು ಆಸ್ಥಾನಿಕರನ್ನು ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಕೆಂಗಣ್ಣಿನಿಂದ ಧಿಕ್ಕರಿಸಿ ನೋಡಿ ಧಡಭಡ ಹೆಜ್ಜೆ ಹಾಕುತ್ತಾ ಒಳನಡೆದ. ಬೀರ ಹಾಗೂ ಅಕ್ಬರ್ ಒಬ್ಬರನ್ನೊಬ್ಬರು ನೋಡಿ ಜಯದ ಮುಗುಳು ನಗೆ ನಕ್ಕರು. ತಕ್ಷಣ ಅಕ್ಬರ್ ಸಭಿಕನ್ನುದ್ದೇಶಿಸಿ, “ಸ್ನೇಹಿತರೆ ನಿಮಗೆಲ್ಲ ಒಂದು ದುಃಖದ ಸಂಗತಿ ಕಾದಿದೆ. ಇದೇ ನೀವು ಬೀರನ ಬಾಯಿಂದ ಕೇಳಿದ ಕಟ್ಟಕಡೆಯ ಕಥೆಯಿರಬಹುದು. ಇಂದಿನಿಂದ ಬೀರ ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನನ ಆಸ್ಥಾನದಿಂದ ಬಿಡುಗಡೆ ಹೊಂದಿ, ಅಕ್ಬರನ ಆಸ್ಥಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಮಂತ್ರಿಯಾಗಿ ಸೇವೆಸಲ್ಲಿಸಲಿದ್ದಾನೆ! ನನ್ನ ಎಲ್ಲ ಕೆಲಸಗಳಿಗೆ ಮಾರ್ಗದರ್ಶಕನಾಗಿ ನಿಲ್ಲಲಿದ್ದಾನೆ!” ಎಂದು ಘೋಷಿಸಿ ತನ್ನ ಹೊಸ ಮಂತ್ರಿಯೊಂದಿಗೆ ಆಸ್ಥಾನದಿಂದ ಹೊರನಡೆದ. ಹೀಗೆ ಬೀರ, ತನ್ನ ಪ್ರತಿಭೆಯನ್ನು ಬಗ್ಗುಬಡೆಯಲು ಯತ್ನಿಸಿದ ಜಾಫರ್ ಖಾನನಿಗೆ ಅದೇ ಪ್ರತಿಭೆಯ ಅಸ್ತ್ರದಿಂದ ಏಟು ನೀಡಿ, ತನಗೊದಗಿದ ತಲೆನೋವಿಗೆ ತಿಲಾಂಜಲಿಯಿಟ್ಟು, ಕಥೆಗೆ ಶುಭ ಹಾಡಿದ!

ಈ ರೀತಿಯ ಚತುರತೆಗಳನ್ನು ಬಲ್ಲ ಆ ಬೀರನೇ, ಬೀರ್ಬಲ್ಲನಾಗಿ, ಅಕ್ಬರನ ಆಸ್ಥಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ಥಾನ ಪಡೆದು, ಜಗದ್ವಿಖ್ಯಾತ ಮಂತ್ರಿಯಾಗಿ ಬೆಳೆದು, ತನ್ನ ಜಾಣತನದ ಕಥೆಗಳಿಂದ ಶತಶತಮಾನಗಳ ಜನರ ಮನಸೂರೆಗೊಂಡು. ಕಥೆಯಾಗಿ, ಕಾದಂಬರಿಯಾಗಿ, ಕಾರ್ಟೂನಾಗಿ, ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆ ಮನಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ತನ್ನ ಮಿಣುಕುನೋಟ ಬೀರುತ್ತಲೇ ಇರುವನು!

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ಜಲಧಿ-ಧರಣಿ

                    

“ದೂರ ದಿಗಂತದಿಂ ಹೊರಟು
ಆಸೆಗಣ್ಣೊಳ್ ಕನಸ ಹಿಡಿದು
ನಾಭಿಯಿಂದ ಉಸಿರ ಎಳೆದು ಕದವ ತಟ್ಟಿದೆ.
ಆದರೇನು ಯೂಜ಼ು ಗುರುವೆ ಮಣ್ಣಮುಕ್ಕಿದೆ!

ಜಲಧಿ ನಾನು, ಘೋರ ರುದ್ರ
ಆಗಸವೂs ನನ್ನೆದುರು ಕ್ಷುದ್ರ
ಉದರದೊಳಗೆ ಜಗದ ನಿಧಿಯ ಹುದುಗಿ ಇಟ್ಟಿಹೆ,
ಅದರಿವಳ ಮುಂದೆ ಭಯದಿ ಬೆರಳ ಕಚ್ಚಿಹೆ!

ಬಳುಕಿ ಬಳುಕಿ ಮೈಯನೆಲ್ಲ
ಸುಸ್ತಾಗಿಹೆ; ಕೇsರೇ ಇಲ್ಲ!
ಎಂದಾದರೂ ಇವಳ ನಾನು ಒಲಿಸಿಕೊಂಬೆನೆ?
ಕೊಲ್ಲಬಲ್ಲೆನಿವಳ! ಛೇ, ಗೆಲ್ಲಬಲ್ಲೆನೇ?

ಸೂರ್ಯ ಚಂದ್ರರ್ ನೆಪವ ಹೂಡಿ
ಎರಗಿ ಎರಗಿ ಸೋಲುತಿರುವೇ
ನೋಡುತಿರುವ ಚುಕ್ಕಿಗಳೋ! ಕದ್ದು ನಕ್ಕಿವೆ;
ಇವಳ ಕಿವುಡು ಹೃದಯಕೊಂದು ಮದ್ದು ಬೇಕಿದೆ”.

ಹೀಗೊಂದು ಗೋಳ್ಕರೆಯನು ಕೇಳಿದ ಅವಳು ಉತ್ತರಿಸಿದಳು:

                  

ಜಗತ್ಕಾಲದಾದಿಯಿಂದ
ಕೇಳುತಿರುವೆನೀತನಿಂದ,
ಒಲವು ಅಮೂರ್ತವೆಂದವರನು ಎಳೆದು ತನ್ನಿರಿ,
ತೋರಿಸುವೆನಿನಿಯನ, “ಯುರೇಕಾ!”, ಎಂದು ಬೆತ್ತಲೆ ಓಡಲಿ.

ಒರಟಬಹುದು, ಕೆರಳಬಹುದು,
ಅರಚಿ ರಂಪ ಮಾಡಬಹುದು,
ಆದರಿವನ ತಾಳ್ಮೆ ನೋಡಿ! ಅಚಲ ನಿರ್ಜರ,
ಭೂಮಿ ನಾನು, ಒಲಿಯದಿರಲಿ ಹೇಗೆ? ಬಲ್ಲಿರಾ?

ಕೆಲಸವೆನಗೆ ಸಾವಿರಾರು,
ನಿನಗೋ, ಬರೀ ಒಲವು-ಪ್ಯಾರು.
ಬಡಿಸಿ ಉಣಿಸಿ ಜಗವನೆಲ್ಲ ಸಲಹಬೇಕಿದೆ,
ನೀನು ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ದೂsರ ನಿಂತು ಕಾಯಬೇಕಿದೆ.

ಹೂವ ಹಿಡಿದು ನಿಂತ ಹುಡುಗ,
ಮುಗುಳು ನಗುವ ತೊಟ್ಟ ಹುಡುಗಿ,
ಆಹಾ! ಕಾತರತೆಯಲಿರುವ ಸುಖಕೆ ಸಾಟಿಯಿರುವುದೆ?
ಮುತ್ತು ಜಾರಿ ಬಿದ್ದ ಮೇಲೆ ಮತ್ತು ಉಳಿವುದೇ?”

                   

ಮರಳೆ ಹಾಳೆ, ಅಲೆಯೆಕುಂಚ,
ಚಿತ್ರಕಲೆ ಇಡೀ ಪ್ರಪಂಚ;
ಧರಣಿ ಶರಧಿ ಎರಡು ಸೆರಿ ಬಣ್ಣ ಹಚ್ಚಿವೆ.
ಜಗದನಂತ ಬಾಧೆಗಳನು ನೋಡಿ ನಕ್ಕಿವೆ…

… ಬಿದ್ದೂ ಬಿದ್ದೂ ನಕ್ಕಿವೆ…

 

 

PS: A great man has said that a poem, only when read twice, will show itself fully.

ant story

‘Go out my child’, said the mother ant to her daughter. She further added, “You have grown old enough, go out and see what you can do with the world; but my dear child, always remember this”, and the mother pointed towards the moon and whispered something in her ears.

Carrying those precious words, the kiddo ant entered the real world. She became a ‘worker’ (ants are socially divided into workers, soldiers and queens). She joined the rest and started finding food and bringing it to the colony. She made friends and would tirelessly chat with them (some behavior of women remain unchanged even across species) all along the journey. She would sprint along a length, and then wait for her friends to join; she would pull someone’s leg from behind, then move around and lend her hand; she would take a dip in the water and sprinkle it on her friends. And oh yes she would fight! She had enemies whom she hated from the bottom of her heart and when a chance arose, she wouldn’t pull herself back from punching them in the face. Summing up, her days were extremely tiring, but she loved it that way. She would return to the colony, go to a quiet and lonely corner; with the cool breeze running across her face, she would look at the big white dot above her head pitted against the dark sky and remember those magical words of her mother. And slowly, a smile of satisfaction would appear on her face.

Days and months passed and her life went on as beautifully as before. She was a happy creature; the moon was with her. Then one day, a friend came to her and advised her to become a soldier. He told her that she was intelligent and strong enough to do the job. But the ant wasn’t keen on taking it up. She said, “If I became a soldier, I will have to wear a cap all the time and I cannot see the moon properly.”. But the friend told her that she was being stupid. He told that it was an opportunity that a very few people get and she should not miss this opportunity. But the kiddo ant wasn’t lured by it. Then the friend told that she would be respected by her friends and family and no sensible ant would let go of a chance like this. But the kiddo remained adamant.

But, after tireless persuasion by her friends and family, she agreed.

Again days and months passed and her life went on. She would march along with the other soldiers across the borders of the colony and see to it that ants from other colonies do not trespass or steal anything. She would miss her friends and all the fun of course, but she would make up for it at night, when everyone from the colony met for dinners. But she felt that a slight distance had been created between herself and her friends; her new cap might have played a role for that minute distance she was facing. This gap was not big enough to discuss about but not small enough to ignore as well. She was not as happy and lively as before and she knew something was wrong. It was not due to the turn that her life had taken, but something else, something so small that she couldn’t figure out what it was?

 The cap irritated her for another thing; it covered her line of sight and she sometimes would forget to look at the moon before sleeping. And when she did remember and saw the moon, she was not comfortable as she had to bend her neck back at a huge angle and it tired her.

One day, kiddo ant realized that she had a quality that was very rare among ants. She could lay eggs! Soon the news spread among the ants in the colony and she became an overnight celebrity! The queen of the colony had grown very old and the rumors started spreading that kiddo ant would be crowned as the next queen! And as fate has it, it actually happened! Suddenly, the kiddo had no time to think about anything as she was crowned as the queen. The limelight was too much on her and she could not refuse and had to yield.

The crown was bigger and heavier than the cap that she used to wear as a soldier. Did she enjoy it? She didn’t know. It shielded her from her foes of course, but didn’t it shield her from her friends as well? Friends who once used to kick her from behind would now beam a gentle smile from the front. As far as she knew, she hadn’t changed, but things around her somehow went out of control. She started thinking about the changes a lot these days in her solitude. Solitude! It was a rare luxury for her earlier, but it was almost a curse these days. Well, she had the crown on her head and one can’t blame her for that. 

And the moon! The very source of her happiness in her good old days, she had almost forgotten it. She didn’t know when it happened; she didn’t even know that it had happened. Like we humans fail to remember the last time we played our favorite childhood sport, kiddo ant had forgotten when she had seen the moon.

 It was a pathetic situation. To not know what it has lost; to keep groping for a thing in a dark room, not knowing what the thing that it has lost is.

But like all great people have said, the light will appear! It will. At least it did appear for the little kiddo. One night, she felt extremely bored after dinner and went for a lonely walk. Buried in her thoughts, she didn’t see the stone lying ahead and stumbled and fell on the ground. Having got used to luxury, she was frantic about falling down, cursed the stone with gritted teeth. Her crown slipped out of its position and she was angry. But as she composed herself, she felt her eyes pricked as a strong ray of light hit her eyes from above. She slowly turned her head up and saw a white circle shining against the black sky.

She stared at it; first with a blank mind and then with awe. Then, slowly a smile crafted on her face and she started laughing; like a mad one! The pitch of her laughter kept rising! If anyone was around, they would have definitely felt that something was wrong with this creature, for who would laugh looking at the moon?

But the kiddo ant knew why she was behaving the way she was! She had recovered her lost treasure! She had realised how stupid she was all these days! “Yes, I have been absolutely stupid”, she thought. She remembered the words of her mother and the magic of the moon, which was the source of her happiness, absolute happiness during her younger days. Her mother, pointing to the moon had whispered these words into her ears, “My child, every night, look at the moon. Even when he is not there, imagine him. Imagine that you are standing on him and look back at yourself from that height. And then question yourself, ‘when was the last time I was happy’? And if the answer is not ‘today’, then take my word; you could as well have died that very day.”

And then, kiddo ant dethroned herself.

 

the doomsday

I had kicked the bucket.

As I passed through the Threshold of Death, I got rid of all my tags. I was unshackled! I lost all my identity- the universe I was born in, the planet I was born in, the species I was born in, the sex I was born in, the nation I was born in, the state I was born in, the language I was born to, the caste I was born to, the sect I was born to, the sub sect I was born to…

“Oh wait wait wait wait! My dear fella,”, said a Voice from within, “you are using the wrong words. You were not born as/into anything. You were born only as a Being. It is your fellowmen who told you that you were born into those boundaries and please don’t blame me for their mistakes”, it said.

Let me continue. It was ecstasy over here. It was Heaven! Down there, I had heard what Heaven would be like but what I witnessed was completely different. There was no grandeur and effulgence as the fairy tales told us; but on the contrary it was plain, quiet and simple. It was just a maidaan like any other vast piece of land on earth. If one was in the middle of a sea on a skiff, all he/she would see was horizon. Heaven was just like that, with no beginning or end. But the only difference was the Beings. Unlike earth, there were no men and women, no humans and plants and animals, no hindus or muslims or christians, no brahmins or shiyas or catholics, no tigers or elephants or wolves. There was no one here except Beings. And there was nothing that could be exchanged except Love.

That is why it was ecstasy; to be able to love anyone, unconditionally, without bias, without even thinking if I should. Down there, I used to look at a being, its anatomy and texture, and then decide what I had to do with it; if I should love it or hate it or do nothing about it. Well, when did I have time to look through the layer of skin? Moreover, the world would have had told me beforehand what that being was. If it was good or bad, based on its own benchmarks. And of course I would agree with the world. For if I hadn’t, how would it be possible for me to be in Heaven today?!

Leave it, what I am thinking right now is this. Why can’t the dooms day occur on earth right now? It would be great! Everyone would pass through the Threshold and come here. Every captive on earth would be bestowed freedom here! Everyone would experience the divine joy that I am experiencing right now!

Just when I was pondering over these thoughts, the Voice spoke again. “The Threshold has ridden you of everything bad except this love for shortcuts”, it said in a mocking tone. “If what you were thinking was the solution, why would there be life in the first place? And the dooms day that you are thinking of, where everything crashes down to earth! I don’t know who filled that concept into your mind. How can something as beautiful as life end in such horrible a fashion? It cannot; its common sense! The only way that the life down there can end is by replicating the life on Heaven. That is, when Beings unshackle themselves, get rid of all their tags, and become what they really are- Beings. Life would end then, when the every single Being on earth realized that it was nothing more or less than its fellow Being. That’s it, nothing more or less”, it concluded.

Would that be ever possible? Thank god I kicked the bucket.

the Men who sold the abstract

 

 The Brothers sat in the Surveillance Room of the Corporation where the CCTV footage of the whole building ran. They were an amiable couple who had an interesting job of watching over the Room, which had some fifty monitors lined up on the walls in rows and columns, monitoring the mischief played by the employees. So the staff always greeted the Brothers with a smile, for they knew that they stood naked before the duo. Today, as one of the Brothers was glancing over the monitors, he noticed the Conference Room had been refurbished and the members of the Board were entering the Room to have a meet; that instantly aroused his interest, for that was a room that was infamous for its notoriety. Whenever the Board sat for a meeting here, there would be jittery traveling around the building, for the employees knew that something was coming. So the Brothers got keen on the monitor and they turned on the audio, which was, as the rules stood, illegal.

The Board sat for the meeting. In a room that looked serious with plush fitted furniture and cushioned chairs, funnily serious looked the people with their confidence-masked faces. They were a bunch that had had the courage to work for themselves over the years, and they had got what they wanted. But today they were here to discuss their unhappiness, and they did it with style.
The Man at the center of the table was a slim guy, but with an everlasting sternness on his face that made others feel insignificant. Holding the lapels of his coat with both his hands and pulling them towards each other, an act that was done out of habit more than anything, the Man started. “We won’t survive much longer”, he said in a serious yet calm tone. “I realized this only yesterday; and I have thought about it till today morning and it seems obvious to me. We won’t survive much longer” he reiterated, with an authority that left no doubt in the minds of others over his opinion. “We have been selling products over the years; and we have done well. We might be doing better now, but there are reasons to doubt that the future might be unstable. There will be threats for us in the future, which might uproot us. Competitors are already cropping up; products and commodities are getting outdated every second day, and there are hell lot of other obstacles”, he said.
Other members of the board sat with rapt attention as he spoke further.
“We are selling products”, he said in a degrading tone that made others feel like they were selling filth. “It is like running a Tiffin room. Getting up early in the morning every single day and working till night. We will have to be doing this for the rest of our lives; which by default makes a mockery of all the money we will earn. It’s a pitiful life. We won’t do that from now on. We will change”, he declared. After a moment’s pause he said, “Not ourselves. We will change the world”.

The Brothers were perplexed by the final punch.
“There is no concern or panic in his voice”, said the younger Brother. “He is just fueling the tank. Await for something huge buddy!” he said.
“Maybe he is planning to expand the company or something like that”, said the elder one.
“Hmm…”

“Until now, we have been selling tangible things to the world. And by doing so, we are making them think and judge. The day they realize that our product is inferior in quality to someone else; they will ditch us and go to that other person. This won’t work for us. We must change this”, he said.
The rest of the Board was all ears to what the Man was telling.
“From now on, we will move on to the intangible. We will sell the abstract! We will sell opinions to the world; we will sell thoughts. Don’t mistake me. We won’t sell our ideas. Selling my idea is a different thing from selling you a thought. Until this day, to a certain extent, we were selling our ideas. Our products were our idea. But selling a thought is a completely different thing. Selling a thought means telling the people how to live. And you are selling it at a high price so that they value it. And when they value it, they force themselves to believe in it. And mark my words, when they believe in it, they won’t leave it”, he said with a gloating smile.
There still remained an intense silence in the room; until a person from the Board broke it. “Elaborate on it my dear”, he said.
With a subtle nod, the Man started laying out the plan.”We have been quite successful in our ventures till date and we have enough money to play the big game. And we will play it now. Here is the plan. We can call it ‘Selling the Abstract’ or ‘Buying the World’; whichever you guys prefer”, he said with a smile. “First of all, we will go to the most basic thing of life; birth. We will sell motherhood”, he commanded. Then he looked around the table for reaction, and he didn’t get any, which was precisely the reaction he was looking for. He stood up from his chair and began giving the speech. “We will setup hospitals; child care hospitals. We will tell the world that we are the best and only at our place can a woman truly realize her motherhood. We will say that we are doing something holy! We will say that we are working for them. We will say that we are selfless. We will build that image. We will put up posters and hoardings of our ‘selfless service’ and make the world look at us and hear about us so many times that they start believing us”, he said. He gave a moment’s pause and looked around. “What are you all staring at? Job done! They believe in us!”
After a second, one of the guys laughed out loudly.
“Then the logical next step. Childhood. We will set up schools. Again we will tell the world that we are the best and only at our place can a child really grow up into a responsible human being and earn money. Again we will say that we are doing something as holy as blossoming the personality of a child. Again we will say that we are selfless; we will build that image and make the world believe in us”.
“Then adulthood. We will setup colleges that produce human commodities. We will produce commodities that setup human hierarchy. And when we create hierarchy, we will cater to each and every class and make them believe that they are the best. We will sell love. We will say that the only way to make another person realize one’s love is by gifting our products. We will sell lust and desire and health and every damn unsellable thing in this world in the name of selfless charity. And believe me, selfless work is the nicest thing that the world wants to hear and they will undoubtedly believe in us. Again, when they believe, it is?”
“Job done”, said a guy from the Board.
“The idea is simple. We won’t rule the market; we will rule the thing that rules the market. We will rule the minds of the people. We will tell them what is right, what is wrong. We will tell them how they should live; what they should wear; how they should look; where they should reside; we will conquer their minds and cease their thought process. We will buy the world right out”, he concluded triumphantly, with such a gesture and confidence that it left no doubt in the minds of the members about the success of this venture.

With their hands on their heads, the Brothers sat speechless. They were the first to witness the biggest legitimate-fraud in the history of the world, and they were pretty sure that this fraud will go unrealized forever. After a minute or two, the younger Brother broke the silence. “What do you say my boy?” he asked, laughing.
The elder brother thought for a moment and spoke. “Yesterday, just yesterday I was thinking about the virtues of entrepreneurship and capitalism. Working for someone else is a pity; it is against the fundamental philosophical laws. When every single living being in the world is equal at the highest level, why should one work under someone else? So I thought, what if every individual in the world becomes a capitalist? Every individual would work for himself, produce something of his own, and sell it to others; every single human being. By doing this we would go back to the barter system; that is, by being true capitalists, we can become true communists; we will take the path of selfishness to achieve altruism. We will remain ourselves to the core and yet be an indispensable, core part of the world, every one of us. But after listening to these guys, my whole belief system has broken down”, he said in a tone of utter disdain.

Later, the Man was successful in creating the world he dreamed of and the world remained oblivious to his beguile. But never did the Man realize that in the process of capturing the world, he remained the ever imprisoned captive to his own THOUGHTS.

 

 

it Dropped on me…

I stopped and stood in the crowd, jobless. At that very moment, when I transformed from being an actor to a spectator, standing beneath a rusted roof of an old shop and watching the hurrying crowd in awkward amazement, those haunting questions hit me again: “Who am I? Why am I here?”

Precisely at the next moment, as if it was the absolute answer waiting to show itself up, knowing I would ask those questions, a lone Drop of water dripped from the roof above onto my hand. “Those are very good questions with absolutely no answer”, said the Drop, as I stared at it in bewilderment. “You are a young chap, but I am as old as the heavens (if it exists). I have often asked these questions to myself and lately, looking back at my life, I have found out that they are dumb questions”, declared the Drop. Awestruck, I could only muster enough voice to utter a single word: “Why?” The Drop calmly ran down to my upper palm and stood there, staring at me; and it started telling its story.

“The farthest I can remember my life is when I was in the ocean (I remember a sailor passing above me calling it the Pacific). I was one among the innumerable drops that formed that ocean and I was happy there, with no real difficulties bothering and everything calm and quiet. But then I thought something was lacking. I thought! That is exactly where the problem began. I decided to get out of that placidity, made my way up to the top layer of the ocean and let myself get sucked up by the sun. And what a fascinating experience it was! Going all the way up to the sky, forming clouds, meandering around and watching the earth and smiling at its meagerness; like a prince and pauper! It really was a wonderful time. Alas! It didn’t last long. We collided with a group of clouds and fell into the earth as rain”.

Theists call it fate, atheists call it chance; fact is that I fell into a river. I had seen earth from high above, now I started seeing it from a closer perspective. The forests and the countryside, the many kinds of people, plants and animals, even those living in the river were so versatile. And then came the falls (or I fell, in other words). That’s the best part of the journey. Falling from great heights in the absolute silence of the woods, as if for a few seconds, I wrested all the freedom from the world; and in other places there were people waiting at the bottom, gaping at me like I was a magical entity that would change the course of their lives. And to listen to the shrieks of joy that came out of the core of their hearts when I fell on them… ah! That made me proud for a moment. But again, happy times won’t last long. A tired traveler I believe, standing on the bank of the river, drank me.

That guy, I don’t know what all he ate, mixed so many things into me and let me out of his body (I really didn’t enjoy this fall). I traveled the dirty drainage of a city and got stagnated somewhere. There it was, the most difficult time of my life, stinking in helplessness. People called me SHIT! At first, it bothered me, what the people said. But then, as time went by, it didn’t matter. I was more worried for myself, in getting myself out of the ‘shit’ than thinking about people. I was lost, helpless and frustrated. Sometimes I would get extremely angry and think what if I had decided to cease, at the tip of his pipe, when that guy was peeing me out…

Finally the wind blew.

So many things happened after that. I was the tip of an iceberg once. From the dirtiest thing to the purest, I transformed. I was inside plants and animals, I even went to moon once, with a group of astronauts and…

“Wait a minute”, I interrupted. “Is there any link between my questions and what you are uttering now?” I asked the little Drop.

“Absolutely” said the Drop. “Through my story, I clearly proved that those questions are dumb”.

“How”? I wondered.

“Taking a bird’s view into my vast life, all that matters today is the journey rather than the goal or the purpose. For, at a point of time, if I was a tear on the cheek of a girl, I was either destined to be there or was there by chance; and I can never know for sure which one it was. But what matters is what I was. I was a tear, carrying the burden off the heart of that little kid; or in some other instance being a drop of rain, bringing joy into the life of an old man; or tearing someone’s life apart with rage in the form of a storm. All that I was doing in these instances was pass time well. No, not utilize, pass. For doing great things by utilizing time is a misconception. All those things that seem great today might become meaningless in the long run. Moreover, I am just a minute little Drop. What great things can I do? So the best thing I could do was pass time, and how well I did it is the question. For that is how one can be happy, by passing time well, by loving the process, living the moment. That is exactly what I did. I didn’t bother about anything. I didn’t think if there was god or not, didn’t ask myself why I was here, didn’t even care for my life. I gave it all up, chose my path and let life take its course. For, if there was god, everything would be fine and if he wasn’t there, everything, all the joys and sorrows, will be ecstatically meaningless”.

For a few minutes, all I could do was stare at that little Drop, letting those thoughts sink into my head.

“This is how I chose to live my life and really don’t know if my views are correct”, said the Drop at last in a mild tone, as if speaking to itself.

With its words still ringing in my head, I let my hand drop sideways. The Drop chose to fall into the ground.