She’s that Inspiration

I usually keep my feelings to myself unless I wish to write about them. Whether good or bad, this habit of writing looks like one that’s here to stay. Also, I cannot wait for another year to convey her what I feel for her: the person in context, my maternal grandmother.

It is easier to decide on your inspiration than to become like one. I, however, am finding it hard, for I have a little too many of them around. The trouble is, I can and do learn from each one of them with every passing day. This post is about the one who’s each day is a happy-sad challenge in her now salt-and-pepper life of intermingled experiences.

She is from an age (read era) where women were hardly considered powerful enough to have full education let alone running a family competing with husbands on the salary part. But, credit must be given where deserved. She has led her family well enough after her husband’s departure in 1976.

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From the Second World War, India’s struggle for Independence, and the 1965 and 1971 wars, she has stood firmly beside by maternal grandfather. But, after these hard phases, the worst ones for her have been losing her family members—first husband, then my father (in 1993), and then her son (in 2011). In January, this year, she brushed past death after a series of heart attacks (two of Mild and one of the Severe degree) in a single day. On one occasion, doctors told us later that they couldn’t detect her pulse for as much as 10 minutes.

In April, she turned 88. But, if only that was enough for her to think that she needs to stop working. She still does everything on her own, which I find amazing. Did I tell you that she performed stage shows of Violin in the past? And that she learned to play synthesizer about 10-12 years back and plays it every day since then? She reads a chapter from Bhagwat Gita every day and has been doing that for as long as I remember. In the process, she has learned all the shlokas from all the 18 chapters from the epic.

If that is not enough, cooking interests her. So, she takes mental notes from the cookery show on her favorite television channel. Then, she experiments in the kitchen to prepare that for all of us. Yes, even today. It is because she thinks that the ready-made clothes don’t give her the required comfort and fitting, she stitches her own gowns that she usually wears every day.

Here is my message: We are and will be yours. Why this message? That too, after four months, you may ask. I don’t need an occasion to write about Aaji. You are an inspiration for people. But, you are much more than that for your family. I have come to conclude that if old age were to add numbers to people’s lives, it added wrinkles and stories to yours’.

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The thing is: experiences disguise themselves as sometimes scars and sometimes as wrinkles. But they leave their marks on all occasions. And then, you don’t remain the same anymore. In the same sense, people are no more than wrinkles in the fabric of your life. You can iron out some; but, some just don’t go. They are there forever. They make you. They remain a part of you. You are as wrinkled a fabric as them. Have a healthy life ahead, Aaji. Your wrinkles and stories are a part of my fabric. They make me who I am.

Posted in Creative Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

What’s Your Writing Prompt?

In one of my previous posts, I covered how I compose my thoughts. In this post, I talk about how I get to what’s worth a composition.

The thing about writing prompts is that you can’t define them. There can and cannot be a pattern of how they occur. There isn’t a way you can generalize them. Pitchforking, for example, is one theme I have been itching to write about in the recent past. But, every time I sit down to write, my thoughts drift into the other unseen territories.

Today, I list all (or most) of my writing prompts for you:

  • An hourglass
  • Behavior and misbehavior of people around me
  • Countless dreams
  • Endless thoughts and thought-provoking issues
  • Everyday work-related challenges and my tiny accomplishments
  • Kids
  • Listening to old songs; mostly from my maternal grandmother’s collection of timeless classics
  • Longcase clocks
  • My “I’m home” moment when my daughter rushes back to me with all her might, jumps into my lap, and, with the limited and unclear vocabulary, explains how she spent her day
  • Petrichor
  • Photography, especially B/W pictures
  • Play-doh and toy shops
  • Seeing other writers fail or succeed
  • Soap bubbles
  • Storytelling my daughter to sleep—I must come up with a new story every day
  • Sunset from behind an office building right across my office window
  • The feel of my father’s thick mustaches when I was a kid (I was told that they belonged to my grandfather, but my father had put them and was no longer able to remove)
  • The reflection of the Rising Sun
  • Tracing tiny footprint of insects and crabs on a beach
  • Wet shores that sweep from under my feet

True that it is easier to find an inspiration than to be one. But, finding what inspires you is still the first step. Here’s mine.

As we come to the end of this conversation I have this takeaway thought for you:

Your writing flourishes when your head, heart, and hands work for the same purpose; in the absence of which, you can be anyone and no one at the same time.

Happy writing.

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Don’t Redesign

Yeah, you read it right.

How many times have you seen me make changes to my site’s template? The last time I made those changes was about a year back. I made the design simpler and more readable. Or so I thought. My mom found it difficult to locate her favorite articles on the blog. For long, she would navigate to them from the dropdowns that I have now done away with.

I know exactly what you are thinking. Unfortunately, revamping the look ‘n’ feel hasn’t improved the inbound traffic. The new template has only improved the presentability. So, it is now easier to categorize and tag the released posts by month and year. But, it makes it horrible for repeat readers—like you, there—who wish to select, search for, or read content they liked. Does that mean people hate change?

Yes, people hate change; no, they don’t.

Those of you who are new to my site MIGHT find the new design easier to navigate. But those who have spent time with the content might reject the outright changes. Familiarity is the word in context. It is just that the design had become a part of your physical and mental memory. For repeat users, they knew what they wanted from the content, they knew what I delivered, and they knew how to get to it.

For you, too, slamming on a new UI might ruin this flow for your readers, who are then more likely to take more time to locate something.

So, what’s the way around?

Here is the trick: familiarity trumps functionality. I have stated this in my book, too. If you wish to redesign, consider first reconfiguring the core design. Your design is purposeful. All you need is reconfigure it.

In most cases, all you need to do is progressively improve the things under the skin, rather than get a new skin. I find it to be a Win-Win. Bring a new change under the hood. This means the consumers get a familiar UI, with performance tweaks as perks. And. you get a chance to rollback if (and when) required. It takes time to take effect. But, it is a better approach.

Happy writing.

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Pretty. Simple.

It is easy to say that time flies. It is still easier to say that we wish it to stop sometimes. But, it is way harder to be in the present and still give the warmth of the limitless love to your child, who you see growing before you. But, it does feel like it was yesterday that she was born to us. Spruha turns 3 today.

Shambhavi and I envy each other for playing gopikas that compete for the love of Krishna. Just that the roles are reversed in this case: Spruha is Lord Krishna, we are the gopikas. From the tiny pink fist that wrapped around my thumb for the first time to the everyday hug that I receive when she sprints toward me as I get back home after work, there is so much more to this story than I can ever share. Here’s that poem for Spruha:

The silence in my speech was
Recognized by many.
But, she could recognize
The speech within my silence.

Each day, the sunrise sprinkled the magic
Of beaming glory through countless windows.
The happiness that gleamed to me was
However, from those sparkling eyes.

What contrast lies between Her and I.
For she is happy with even broken toys.
And the pains of a broken heart
Are visibly excruciating to my eyes.

It must be the contentment
That drives the smile.
For she knows that her feelings are
With us and not toys that beguile.
© Suyog Ketkar

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What Writing Means to Me

At first, I wanted to compose this post as a poem. But, that would mean another poem on my blog. And, I have had a little too many poems on my blog within the last one year. This, in one way, diverges from the original contemplation on writing. But, wait. I don’t wish to begin this post with a negative thought. That’s is how much writing means to me.

My writing is my ambassador to you. It means so much to me because it is how I express what I feel. Usually, I don’t speak much. Yes, for a lot of my friends, I am an out-and-out extrovert. But, deep within, I am an ambivert who leans, in fact, toward introversion. My words convey what I can feel but can’t express, can see but can’t report, and can write but can’t speak.

Writing is my textual meditation. It is the way I introspect. Just like one must close their eyes to see within themselves, one must pen their thoughts to sieve through to the core. The clearer they think, the clearer they write. And, the other way around. My writing is my soul disguised as words.

Writing for me is like composing verses in prose. It is a melody. A song. There are sentences of all compositions and lengths. Some are long. Some, longer. A few, like this one, shorter. True! The long and short sentences convey the long and short of it—and everything that lies within—to the readers. Mentally listen to yourself when you read varying lengths of sentences. It sounds good. Good, because it is rhythmic. Good, also because it means that the melody is as important as the messages conveyed through the melody. My writing is a lyrical composition that I can hum, listen to, sway along with, or fall asleep to.

Writing is like a mirror. It is that sense of contemplation that adds a dimension of meaning to reflections. It isn’t only the reflection of oneself, but also a cause to reflect onto oneself. Writing is that catalyst without which the inner and the outer selves don’t equate. No reaction, whether it is chemical, is ever complete without a word of thought. It is that skillful, scientific art; it is that masterful, artistic science.

Writing is that folklore that records, refers, and rekindles life. It is that act of play where you are both the actor and the audience. Writing is both the pen and the ink that scribes your acts, with or against your will. It is both the cause and the outcome of your performance. It is also the background score that amplifies emotions without your knowing.

To me, writing is the means, the medium, and the end. It is as nameless, formless, and transparent as water. It originates with a spurt, from within. When it begins to flow like a stream of thoughts, it seeps and snakes through people’s minds, one after another, finding its way to you, who after traveling for miles has got down on their knees to enjoy their glittering reflections. When it flows from my heart to yours, it becomes a burbling river. When it becomes an ocean of emotions, you can watch it hug the limitless skies at the horizon and experience it wash-off the rare conch shells of revelations to the shore.

The most rewarding writing, however, often trickles down your cheeks as pearls of love. What does writing mean to you?

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On Writing

I was amused, for what I had mused
Was either horribly bad or terribly wrong.
Then it dawned on me that Bad Writing is a rite
For the Good Writing to come just right.

I was devastated, for my thoughts were void.
Was that block my departure from my being?
Then it dawned on me that I mustn’t quit;
For it to pass, I must unconditionally submit.

I was clueless, for I had lost directions.
Were things leading me into the unknown?
Then it dawned on me that I mustn’t disgruntle.
I must ask questions. Seek answers. Rediscover.

I was seeking to rekindle imagination.
To cover more than covered, to rediscover that fire.
Then, it dawned on me that I mustn’t rekindle,
Smoldering afterthoughts sometimes bear more than fancied pyre.

I then went back to the stories untold,
Read something that I tucked under memories, and had never let unfold.
Made that cringe-worthy crap a subject of my Wrath.
And, decidedly strode toward the desk to create gold.
©Suyog Ketkar

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