I ask you. What do you do when you suddenly find yourself in the same room as someone whose words you cherish beyond life.
Whose poetry courses through you like that other red substance.
Whose songs are.... in his own words... "तेरे बगैर दिन न जला, तेरे बगैर शब् न बुझे"!
Do you tell him,"I love your poetry. It has lightened many a dark moment in my life". Can you reveal to him that all that he's written about feels as though it has really happened to you and that when you finished reading what he wrote, it belongs to you and to you alone: the good, the bad, the rapture, the torment, the bliss?
Do you ask him: "What inspires you?"
Do you inquire if he had lunch and whether it was to his liking?
Do you demand to know how he met and became friends with Meena Kumari and how did he chance upon her poetry?
How do you pry into his politics?
Do you implore him to share the true nature of his relationship with Raakhee, his former wife, friend, permanent muse? Do you quiz him on how love dies, and yet friendship remains?
Do you beseech him to explain his love for "mojris"?
Do you probe into his signature quirky phrases which push the frontier of language, which hop and skip from Urdu to Punjabi to Hindustani to English, much as dragon-flies skip on the surface of a still lake?
Do you grill him on who this new young person in his life is, to whom he so laughingly refers in his poems?
With Gulzar, every question seems an intrusion. The man wears an aura every bit as shiny white as his trademark crisp white kurtas. To pose questions would be, in some way, to sully this purity. The peace that he carries within cannot but percolate to the lovers of his poetry. Each one seems struck as silent by his presence as I am!!!
मिसरे अटके हुए हैं होठों पर
उड़ते फिरते हैं तितलियों की तरह
लफ्ज़ कागज़ पे बैठते ही नहीं
कब से बैठा हूँ मैं, जानम
सादे कागज़ पे लिखके नाम तेरा
बस तेरा नाम ही मुकम्मल है
इससे बेहतर भी नज़्म क्या होगी...