The Folklore of Settling the Score

Crumpled papers
Yet again blurt this lore.
Akin to the silent lips
That confess the days of yore.

Fragments of paragraphs
Yet again rise from ashes to roar.
Akin to the shards of the glass
That once kept her thirsty for more.

Stories of the unknown
Yet again begin to pore.
Akin to some deepest secret
That once lay riddled fore.

Shreds of torn ships
Yet again sweep ashore.
Akin to Sailor’s ambitions
That sailed across the seafloor.

Wings of dreams, but be sure
Yet again will soar.
Akin to life’s own way, it is,
Strangely just ‘settling the score.’

©Suyog Ketkar
October, 2021

The Poor Truth

The empty caverns of little stomach
Echoed through the moans.
Gratification could be sought with food,
She has learnt, not with expensive loans.

The burdened shoulders couldn’t slouch further
They were forced into a truce.
She had a younger brother to feed
Only that much was her poor, little truth.

The journalist, too, paid her heavily
After all, she didn’t speak for free.
The agonizing, bitter truth, he too must learn
Is as rewarding as the stuff on page 3.

A meal was thus secured
Despite her inner turmoil.
That night she’d brought
Hot food, packed in a tin foil.

©Suyog Ketkar
September, 2021

Show me the Way

When the dark skies of uncertainty
Don’t let the light gleam through.
And it’s impossible to see, decipher
In the absence of any hope-resembling ray.
I, with folded hands and eyes tightly shut,
Shall look up to you and thus begin to pray.

It is that time again.
I must choose.
That time to commit — Yay or nay!
Believe in belief.
Tread towards my true north
Amidst walloping winds that are at play.

I must go the extra mile:
Beyond my boundary.
Accomplish the impossible,
for that’s how I’ll make a merry.
Then I churn into gold what’s my stack of hay.
You lent me the idea. Now enlighten my way.

©Suyog Ketkar
September, 2021

The Interview and the Strange Feedback

Last month, I attended a formal interaction for a job opportunity within my team. One of my teammates is looking for an instructional designer. Since it is a small team, they included us to review the candidate. That’s how and why the interaction happened last month.


In India — specifically in all the interviews that I have attended either as interviewee or interviewer — there are a few things that have gone unnoticed, unsaid, or but understood:

  • The interviewer asks more questions than the interviewee
  • The interview process has to cover all questions relating to the candidate’s professional life, including if and why was there a gap in their career
  • The interviewer has to have an upper hand or can interrupt


Thankfully, I have never followed any of these rules… and thankfully, organizations are evolving. Come 2021, I have rarely heard anyone facing such questions.


I am of a firm belief that first, it is an interaction and not an “interview,” and two it has to be two-way communication.

But, the recent interaction went from an interaction into an interrogation. And I am speechless.

So, here is how it went.


My first impression was that even though the candidate had over 20 years of experience, she didn’t have the positivity I was expecting her to have. So, I motivated her to talk more or elaborate right from her first answer. It might be true, after all, that the interview is over in the first 50 seconds.


Then, I asked her a few questions, which she answered promptly. And answered a few of her questions. Hopefully, I answered those questions satisfactorily.


Then I happened to ask her about the Oxford comma. I expect that a technical communicator with over 20 years of experience will have, at least, heard about it. She didn’t know what it was. To which I told her that I would have expected someone of her experience to know such things. Nevertheless, she appreciated me for pointing that out, and we moved on.


Then I picked up a few sentences from her resume and asked her to find out if and what was wrong with those. I was prepared to hear her say that the sentences were OK, which they weren’t. To which I would have said nothing.


But when she could not point out the oversight, I pointed out those to her and told her that she could correct those. Even though I realize this is an interview, I thought this helping hand would be acknowledged as a welcome gesture. Besides, I even clarified that the answers to those questions would not impact the interview result.


On a side note, let me tell you a secret. For all the interviews I have attended, I have purposely asked for the interviewers to point out the instances where I could have gone wrong or improved myself. I have always received welcoming replies. In the process, I have made friends with the interviewers… Selection or no selection, we have gone above and beyond those social boundaries to create a collaborative environment. I still talk to a lot of them, more as friends.


So, back to this interaction. I told the candidate how I committed mistakes and overcame those by asking the right questions. I also told her how I liked the interaction to be two-way, and not one-way. Within a week after the interaction, I heard from my boss — during our weekly interaction — that she found me to be aggressively authoritative and egotistic. Although we did clear the confusion between us (my boss and I), and even he felt nothing wrong with my approach, I have since learned a few hard lessons the hard way.


At least I now know one more thing. It is OK for me, as an interviewee, to ask what mistakes I committed. But, as an interviewer, I must not point out the scope for improvement, despite how objective and positive my intentions maybe because not everyone shares my state of mind.


Let me know what you think.

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