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

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

The Confessions of Her Pillow

I’m jealous of my own existence. Whatever I have today, it’s because of her; it’s for her. Nothing belongs to me, yet I’m proud of what I have. To this day, and happily counting, I’m her sole counselor. I’ve consoled her on countless occasions. I’ve seen, shared every single dream she’s ever had. I’ve been inspiring her, supporting her in her every endeavor. I’ve told, “It’s as important to stop and rest as it is to stand up to a cause.” I’ve been the only support of hers for years, and she’s relied on me equally. She knows the importance of my existence. Even if she doesn’t value my presence, or so I think, she registers and acknowledges my absence. Day in and day out, she needs me. She wants me. We’ve numerous memories together. She cuddles me, caresses me, irritates me, embraces me. More so, she dreams with me, imagines with me, rests and wakes up with me, attests me, uses and at times abuses me. She loves me, hates me, but the best part is, she shares her tears with me. I’m her companion when she detests everyone else. I’ve lived through those sleepless nights when she has reached me with her tears. When she tears me down, it just tears me down. Her comfort, her confidence, and her victory, what else do I want? After all, I’m her pillow. And her story is my story. I think I’m jealous of my existence. Very jealous.

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

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

Memoir: Mathematics and Me

Even though reading came as early as mathematics in my life, I took to writing much later. And now, writing is a permanent part of my life. But did learning—or failing at learning—mathematics make me a better writer? I wish to delve.

I choose to, decide to, make myself sit and write about something that I have hated all my life. Yet, it is comforting and consoling to discover that I truly am good at certain aspects of it. In comparison to mathematics, though, I have found that deriving a unique solution isn’t as mandatory in real life. Even when, in either case, all we do is define and chase variables.

Back when I was young, the teachers would seem to me as those hungry beasts that could smell the fear in my blood and flesh. Only, in this case, the feeling thrived on mathematical complexities. It was truly the survival of the fittest and, naturally, I’d fall prey to variables x and y.

Source: Commons.WikiMedia.Org

Now when I think about it, I find that the contention of mathematics teachers was a result of agony. That’s because I was not able to see what to them was but easily derivable. My equations were never equated, never solved. The truth is, I hadn’t even defined the variables worth equating. Life and mathematics: they are that easy; they are that difficult.

Since then, the writer within me has continued to mature. Now, defining problems in (or through) writing has been more of a revelation—I am not useless anymore. I am now entitled to receive respect—and bread—from the society. It has been one equation worth solving. They don’t look down upon me just because I cannot find x.

Even though mathematics and I have agreed on this ceasefire, I still hate problems that have two trains moving in the opposite direction. But now I’m more interested in describing the beautiful view from those trains. I’ve also come to enjoy the nothingness in my mind as much as my aggrieved math teachers loved populating my notebooks with remarks.

Today, as I stand in the middle of this tightrope, somehow balancing between “from where I have come” and “to where I lead,” I realize how carefully crafted is this design of nature. I see stream of knowledge converging into this ocean of wisdom: art, religion, science, and mathematics, I swim in all of that. Occasionally, I dive deeper into this ocean. And, whenever I do, I bring to the shore the rarities from its depths. I conclude, art and religion be made an everyday affair as much as accounting and mathematics. The discovery of this convergence, it seems, has had its effect on me.

At least in my culture, not a day passes without us giving obeisances to the parameshwara. But much like frills are to frocks, art is to the mainstream subjects; and religion, to living. There is much more to living than spending time defining the social behavior. That tells me why the Sanatana Dharma is more a way of life than just a religion. But, I am diverting.

The point is, there should be much more to learning than merely learning from the limiting perspective of the mainstream subjects. What are even the non-mainstream subjects? Those that teach us how to be open towards accepting the world as it is? As long as I remember, it is because of one such subject—that is writing—that I earn the well-deserved respect. Why can’t we teach writing at schools?

Probably that is why, in Sanatana Dharma, there weren’t any mainstream subjects. Learning came through exploration as much as observation; through listening as much as doing; and, through all streams of knowledge that flew into this mind from all directions, giving it the influx of the much-needed wisdom. All of our spiritual leaders and Maharshis wore all of those hats: arts, mathematics, religion, science. The most important takeaway is that they were all probers. They all passed through the same stages of truth: seeking, discovering, questioning, and experiencing.

This may not be the prescribed approach to solving mathematical equations. But, it does the job of helping me understand most problems, mathematics or otherwise. Turns out, one size (read approach) doesn’t fit all. I don’t hate the subject. I hate the approach I was given, the perspective I was lent, and the resources I had. The subject is rather interesting and thought-provoking. I, perhaps, was lame to not able to connect the dots, which I now have. I think I have finally found a thread that holds back the two seemingly opposing subjects that, for a long time, had occupied the farthest ends of interests.

LHS is now equal to RHS. 🙂

Vultures Around

As the winds around soar
I spread my wings
It is a world of definitions
Of it, I know not all things.
The vultures await my failure
Wait for me to fall, of a failed flight.

The vultures that wish to nibble
The crumbs of my plight.
I wish once again
Neither to prove them wrong
Nor myself right.
For I know that I must
Let success speak through my might.

I choose to rise to the occasion
Wings to the wind, Eyes to the Sun
Head held as high as the morale
Who’s afraid of the height?
With drifts and thrusts
I sway myself through
Through the blinding days
Through the darkest nights.

©Suyog Ketkar