Tourists

It was at the first light of life
That they took the baby step.
And continued to walk along
Even as they slept.

Still bright and breezy
Were they at the wee hours.
Trudged through while
Still learning their powers.

Amidst the blossoming yellow
Bathed, fed the fellows!
Then around the noon
Their lives began to bloom.

Their gaily souls traced the trails.
Still young at hearts, very hale.
The afternoon arrived, though pale,
Blessed with occasional bursts of the gale.

Until evening, their routine was set.
Along with pleasure, closures were met.
Truths were told. Masks had fallen.
Even the hardest had begun to soften.

Wearied souls came upon a bridge.
Living each episode unabridged.
Twilights coated with burnt orange.
Forgiveness tasted sweeter than revenge.

The night, it seemed, soon fell.
Such that no one could foretell.
It was time to pack the bags—
It was time to bid farewell.

The tourists then made the choice
For how long were they to dwell?
Death then enrobed those
Who had managed to quell.

The tourists then sojourned the bright tunnel.
They seemed to cope. And well.
What lay beyond that comfort, now
How were they to tell?

©Suyog Ketkar
June, 2021

Inner Voice

I said, “I listen to you every time 
Yet you sound anew on each occasion.”
“Someday, I’d sit back and listen to you,” it said.
Or, perhaps, it was my assumption.

Ever since I’ve yearned for
That participating audience.
With whom I can discuss
All problems and their solutions.

The wait, how I wish, to soon be over.
The wait, which has been rather long and clever.
I can hardly wait. Actually, no longer.
Here I am to you, my muse; in full submission.

Be my thoughts, words, and voice.
Lend me the pleasure.
Here I am to speak and to listen.
Give me thy affirmation.

©Suyog Ketkar
Composed in March, 2021

Just the Way of Life

From when the life sprouted
When coziness wrapped its fingers around yours
And opened your vision to its ‘me-ness’,
It is what it is.

From when mistakes could be erased
When errors didn’t scar us for ever
And the time was full,
It is what it is.

From when ignorance was blissful
When choices still weren’t that costly
And confessing to all piffle cames effortlessly,
It is what it is.

Until when thee acknowledges
When the build-up will reach its zenith
And celebrate the short-lived festivities.
It is what it is.

Until when days pass slowly,
When the fall arrives,
And leaves carpet trails of thee,
It will be what it must—the way of life.

©Suyog Ketkar

That’s Who I Am

Of all that I did that day,
Were things rather in plenty.
Breaking with the dawn, for once
Had I had this idea, if any…

Where my vigilant brain had caught this
Wonderful signal through my mental antennae,
And, the day had arrived where
I could turn stories into pure honey.

“Do not confine,” I’d told myself,
“If you ever must reach the uncanny.”
“You can visualize anything,” I said
“Without stepping into the mahogany.”

This was some strange business.
Or wasn’t it? For it was quite funny.
Limitless thoughts, I wondered how—
Could fit within those little crannies!

Thoughts led to thoughts,
And words popped too many.
Stories after stories, I played
Characters after characters, aplenty.

In some, I was a teacher,
In the others, I studied botany.
In some, I was a preacher,
I the others, I was involved in a felony.

Just as you have companions, my friend,
I have stories to keep me company.
The cat has only nine lives, remember.
As a writer, I realized, I’ve rather one too many.

©Suyog Ketkar

Trees in the Winter

Trees we’re, witnessing
Yet another Solstice—
We’ve seen—
Yet another year

For you, we might be
Useless, worn out.
Devoid of what we can
No longer bear.

Call us what you might
Fixture. Fossil. Forget not
But that we’re the ones
Who had you reared.

Like old parents, we’re—
That one thing is clear.
As clear as the love we showered
Unconditionally until last year.

But here’s the justice 
Now you’ve got to hear
Soon upon the next Solstice,
Fruits we shall bear.

Celebrate beauty, pain of nature.
Listen to us.
Life is a celebration. A soiree.
Live today. Be here.

©Suyog Ketkar

Being Humble

Strike here. Gone there.
The Kafkaesque nature of
The momentary thought
Is worthy of being rare.

Doing. Redoing.
Writing. Wiping. Committing.
How else will you otherwise
Wayfind that Something?

Patience, my friend,
Is a costly affair.
If it strikes, it’s fair.
If it doesn’t, it still isn’t unfair.

Failure or pressure.
Spark or seizure.
Will you or won’t you
Then find the pleasure?

Being Wrong is fine.
Accepting Mistakes: even better.
Assuming ‘Another Fresh Start’
Is, quite humbly, the way to the Divine.

©Suyog Ketkar

Life, Sort of, Makes Sense!

It must be logic,
For we hide carefully our aces.

It must be magic,
For even a thought can take us places.

It must be tragic,
For else why would people switch their stances?

It must be a mirror,
For a few change faces.

It must be an accomplishment,
For some deal with it in paces.

It must be a sieve,
For that’s how we treat our experiences.

It must be a choice,
For that’s why we tend to preferences.

It must be valuable,
For the not-wanting-to-die embraces.

It must be a puzzle,
For that’s how we mend our ways.

It must be a timestamp,
For otherwise why’d we spend those days?

Amidst the puny fights of ignorance,
Amongst the countless episodes of submissions,

And after all that’s there,
Life, sort of, makes sense.

©Suyog Ketkar

Keep Writing

The inspiration for this poem comes from my undying love for writing. Despite how people dislike and despise my habit of looking at everything through the lens of writing—or hate what I do—I continue to write. Someone asked a simple question some time back. Both the question and the answer to it had a profound impact on me, for it is when I addressed the question, I realized how much I love writing. The question was, Will you continue to write even if you never rewarded for it? And I replied in a ‘Yes.’

I stand by the mirror,
Yet again; seeing a myriad
Expressions on the blank face;
Of documents that I left behind.

I stare void, yet again.
Lost. Overwrought.
I wish I could go back.
Rewind.

I argue, yet again.
Taking an umbrage
Dare you disrespect my love
Even in your mind.

I stand stupefied,
Yet again; knowing that
Cluelessness is temporary
That I must face the grind.

For I soon will cherish
The moment of realization.
The encounter with words!
It will be rapturous!

For yet again I plunge,
Swim to explore and
From deep within, bring ashore
Thoughts. What a find!

©Suyog Ketkar

Just Another Lens

Another day, another life lesson. Each day reminds me of looking at life’s brilliance in the simple terms it has lent me. Yet how complicated, difficult I make it to even survive through this ordeal. Life can become comfortable, provided I follow its quintessential policy of unconditionally believing in its design; His design.

The more I wish to take up control of my life, the more I realize that You are both the cause and the catalyst to it.

On Monday, Shambhavi and Aai came back from shopping—they’d accomplished this mammoth task of ticking all items off their long list. Aside from the monthly groceries, the list contained all fancy and unusual names that this Diwali could lend us. But only after mentally reconciling her accounts, Shambhavi realized that she had underpaid one of the vendors. Even though the amount was a meager 20 rupees, it made sense to pass it to him. It helped that we were planning to pass through the same route.

That one negligibly small act of kindness, perhaps, might have triggered a series of events that then took place. On our way, we saw humanity flourishing, radiating in its new awe.

On one occasion, we saw a biker helping an old street cart-puller push his cart up a bridge. On another occasion, we saw two men on their scooter stop at a signal before us. They then drew a few biscuit packets from their under-seat storage and handed them to three children who had occupied the pedestrian walkway.

Some day for all sorts of acts of kindness, wasn’t it?
Their rich perspective toward life lent me this poem, which I share here with you all. If there is a cause to this poem or a catalyst to it, then you know who it is! Through these strangely amusing and simple ways, He (or is it She?) continues to teach me life lessons that then flow through my words, such as these:

Those erudite discourses,
Those wise’s omens,
Those conversations
That exude Your brilliance.

Those detailed accounts,
Those sung, unsung ballads,
Those dances
That he performed in Your presence.

Those feelings of compassion,
Those acceptances of altruism,
Those promises
That reflected once in Your benevolence.

Have all been undone;
Annihilated by just one act.
The act that reflect
Not penitence, but Your essence.

That one act of kindness,
Of staying true to the oneself,
Of giving, unconditionally, and
Being one with the One, in a sense.

All it required was
That one heart: dyed and drenched in love;
That one act of feeling others’ pains.
Essentially, of using a different lens.

©Suyog Ketkar

Only You

Last week, while cleaning up my bookshelf, my wife dug out a collection of my old, yellowed notebooks that had gotten buried under books.

To my surprise, the collection had everything in it from the notes from my previous professional stints to the notes I took way back in my school days. Even though my wife was witnessing a journey backward in quite literally the bits and pieces of those yelllowed pages, the journey was breathtakingly refreshing and energizing. I’ve realizesd that traveling back in time, even though momentarily, is a good remedy and escape from this on-going anxiety called present.

Amongst the notes, she found a poem that, on a folded paper, was tucked inside a notebook. To her surprise, my handwriting looked completely different back then—she liked that version of my handwriting. To my surprise, my writing seemed completely different back then. She thought it was more artistic. I thought it was pretty lame of me to concentrate on rhyming words just for the sake of it. Thinking past our contrasting thoughts, we discovered that the poem had also unfolded with it a flood of memories, none of which were inked on the paper and yet had left their marks. Thank you, Shambhavi, for taking up this long-due task of cleaning.

I hadn’t titled the poem back then—I can’t remember why. I am doing so now. And for what the poem conveys, or at least what I THINK I wanted to convey through it, I cannot think of any better title. After a few trials, when we had successfully failed at clicking a reproducable picture of the poem, I resorted to writing it down for you. 🙂

So, here is that poem. I hope you like the effort of the then boy from grade eight:

The rising Sun,
I see You.
The first prayers.
I dedicate to you.
In every blood of life,
As it never ages,
I see You. I see You.

In the cold breeze,
I butter or cheese,
I feel You; I taste You.
The woods, the lake.
The fair, the fake.
Be it north or east,
Or south or west.

The soul, the entities,
Keep aside the necessities.
At last, come to You.
They may desire You.
But, they deserve You.

Did I say just I see You?
Did they say just they feel You?
Did we say we will get You?
But yes, we say, You are in everything.
Everything is in You.

The Soul inside.
The light outside.
Filled with You
are pure and white.

The worst counts as the best.
The good comes off the rest.
Perhaps, it is just Your presence
In the nest.

Let be the angels.
Let be the spirits.
Let be the speechless.
Let be those with lyrics.
Or those under the rain.
Those having fun.
Or those in pain.

Nothing values until
You are in everything.
Everything is in You.

©Suyog Ketkar