If you have the littlest idea of who I am, and the things which inspire and occupy me, you would know that PC (or Poets’ Collective) is quite central to my existence. This 3 year old baby hasn’t existed forever in my life, nor, I reckon, will it always be a tangible reality of existence, but now that it has come into being, it will stay in my being. I owe so much to PC, which is not just confined to Poetry. It has given me friends, hope, belief and love. So much of love.
In April this year, we decided to go for a little break; a sabbatical of our own. We had been organising lovely soirees and gatherings which attracted multitudes from across Delhi and NCR, but we always kept thinking what is that little ‘extra’ that we could do. And so, with a little break behind us, we decided to hit the stage with the best of performances and compositions nurtured under our own gaze.
In a quaint little theatre, called Akshara, right in the heart of the city, PC stepped up onto the stage, and as an organizer, my heart leapt up into the air. Shashank Shukla, a poety and organiser very dear to Delhi, often says, ‘event karwana beti ki shaadi karwaane se kam hai kya?‘, and while I usually laugh away at the analogy, it did stick around to resonate somewhere. And so, our invite came out like one to a destination wedding. All floral and pretty!
Our performances were themed on ‘love’, the one thing PC has given me a lot of, and the one thing the world can anytime do with a lot of. Whether it is the cheesy kind, or the nurturing kind; whether it is the romantic kind or the filial kind. Your kind, or my kind. The sung kind, or the felt kind. All kinds.
To keep our quirks alive, a few days before the event went on floors, we decided to dress ourselves in black. Just a thing. No reason. And we went out shopping especially for the occasion. If this doesn’t feel like a wedding, I don’t know what does. Despite creating the hype around the colour black, our dearests, including Atif, decided to visit us in the glorious opposite – colour white. But since love was the theme, and black only the quirk, we decided to let him stay. (He’ll probably laugh and plan to kill me while reading it, but that’s okay.)
Our pretty girls, decided to go overboard on the day, because Sarees are their answers when it comes to dressing up for an occasion. Saree is also the perfect answer when you want to turn up late for the occasion. But the fact that they put in the effort of planning, posting, promoting, sharing, and then ensuring max smiles and applause and energy in the hall, makes their sheepish faces laced with the embarrassment of turning up late still adorable.
Since we were coming back into the public domain after a while, and that too in a different format, I have to admit, personally, I was a little nervous. Of late, this space of free-flowing literature and culture we occupy has become scrutinizing and narrow. There is an upscaling of art, and when you know you have people looking ‘down’ on you from a higher vantage point, feeling intimidated, and even nervous, is only natural. I remember innumerable conversations with my dear ones, sharing these fears about judgement, till I was reminded of the mission we had put ourselves on – to create nurturing, judgement-free, joyful environments for pursuing poetry (and not necessarily perfection therein).
When you have a cohort to call your own, one which constantly keeps infusing strength and love in your game, you eventually grow confident and tower above the untoward fears. And so, when on the morning of #IshqAurHum, I finally managed to reach the venue, I knew our day was going to be grand. Be it in Dhruv’s ghazals or Puneet’s poetry, in Nimisha’s tales infused with the smell of home, or Prateek’s sublime ramblings on human condition, in Tauseef’s tribute to Jan Nisar Akhtar or Shashank’s devotion to Jaun Elia, in Rajneesh’s letters of love or Aparupa and Shibani’s skepticism over the same – resounding applause and glints of pride in our eyes were only consistent. The scene was given grandest sparks by Mohit’s unexpectedly brilliant act, which his parents were there to witness too, as well as Girish’s songs which flew down from Mumbai especially for us. Atif’s white shirt and Adhiraj’s difficulty of penning love also found an organic blending in a fabric we all like to own and call our own.
While you think we’re doing poetry, we’re actually playing family. PC days are special because they don’t end. They continue in conversations meandering through the crowd which disperses into little groups over to cafes and bars to complete their day. And they continue in hopes and plans we put in motion for times to come.
In August, we head over to Bhopal with poetry and people.
In September, we celebrate three years of existence, which you’re all invited to be a part of. Block 8th September on your calendar if you’d like to be with us.
As for the greatest personal takeaway, I think I will mention my need to create nostalgia even as things were in motion. These people, these artists, have been my life since the past 3 years. Hearing them, appreciating them and sharing more than just poetry with them has been drawn out of an instinct of survival. As they took the stage and did their thing, I looked at the audience to see reflections of my own mesmerised responses in their faces. Guess what – I found ample to go back home fatter, and happier. Like always.
Thank you, all, for being.