Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Creative Writer and his “Engine”

It is said that all creative writing is autobiographical. 

Well – this story certainly is...

Fiction Short Story

From my Creative Writing Archives: 

Here is a story I wrote more than 10 years ago – in the year 2006.

If you are a creative writer – do you remember the moment when you saw your first creative effort published  your very own words in print  for the world to read...?
I do. 
It was the happiest moment of my life when I saw my first fiction short story published in the Sunday literary supplement of a newspaper long long back. 

(Well  literary supplements have disappeared long back – and today we have Page 3 Gossip and Entertainment news in their place).
Tell me – Dear Reader  what inspires you to write...?
Do you have a “Creative Engine” – a creative engine which acts as a Muse to inspire you – a Creative Engine which helps you unleash your creative talents...?
Most Creative Persons are inspired by a Muse.
Here is a simple Story of a Poet and his Muse – a Railway Engine Driver and his Creative Engine...

If you are a creative person – a writer, a painter, a blogger, anyone who is creative  I am sure you will like the story...


Chotte Lal is in seventh heaven – on cloud nine – call it what you like.

But one thing is sure. 

This is the happiest moment of his life.

Chotte Lal experiences a delightfully beautiful emotion as he looks lovingly at his own words printed on the top left hand corner of the last page of the newspaper.

Chotte Lal experiences an ecstatic feeling of pride, joy, thrill – I really have no words to describe this unique emotion 
 but if you are a writer  just recall the moment when you saw your first creative effort in print  and you will understand what I mean.

Chotte Lal reads his poem to himself, slowly, deliberately, tenderly, drinking in each word, drowns his self in his creation, in a state of blissful timelessness, till the bookstall owner roughly shakes him out of his idyllic reverie loudly asking for money for the newspaper.

Chotte Lal pays him  and then  continuing to read his own poetry – he walks with a spring in his step towards the running staff room to share his happiness with his colleagues. 

And as he strides down the long platform towards his destination  let me tell you a bit about Chotte Lal  the hero of our story  an Engine Driver in the Railways.

Chotte Lal’s father was a humble gangman whose life’s ambition was to make his motherless son an Engine Driver.

Everyday as he looked up from his lowly place beside the railway tracks fascinated by the sight of the haughty engine drivers speeding by, roughly snatch the tokens he held up for them, and then rudely throw their tokens kept in small leather pouches mounted on large cane rings at a distance for him to fetch and hand over to the signalman, his resolve became stronger and stronger 
 and Chotte Lals father dreamed of the moment when his son, sitting in the driver’s seat, would pick up the token from him.

The day his dutiful obedient son Chotte Lal was selected as an engine driver – his father was so overjoyed that he celebrated by drinking all night  indulging himself so much  that he died of liver failure in the morning.

Now let’s get back to our story  and see what our hero Chotte Lal is up to.

Chotte Lal walks into the driver running room. 

No one notices. 

His fellow drivers are busy playing cards.

“See. See. My poem has been published,” Chotte Lal says excitedly holding out the newspaper.

A driver takes the newspaper from his hands and says. “Hey, look, there is going to be a pay hike…” 

The driver begins reading the headlines from the front page of Chotte Lal’s newspaper, as the others listen.

“No. No. Not there. My poem is on the back page,” Chotte Lal says.


Chotte Lal turns the paper and shows him.

“Good,” the driver says  even without reading the poem.

Then the driver turns back to the first page  and he begins reading aloud details of the pay hike.

“Illiterate Greedy Dopes. Bloody Riff Raff...! Only interested in money,” Chotte Lal says in anger and he snatches the paper.

“Oh yes  we are illiterates worried about money  not philosophers like you wasting your time writing poetry,” someone says to Chotte Lal.

“Why don’t you become a Professor instead of wasting your time here driving trains?” another taunts. 

“Or – you go join the film industry and write poems for songs – or do sher-shairy…” they jeer.

Chotte Lal walks out in a huff.

But let me tell you  Dear Reader  that the railway engine drivers are right.

Chotte Lal certainly does not belong here amongst this hard-drinking, rough and tough, earthy fraternity.

Chotte Lal lives on a higher plane – while his compatriots drink and gamble to pass their time in their leisure and changeover breaks 
 Chotte Lal reads  and now  he writes.

Had Chotte Lal got the proper opportunity he would be a man of erudition 
 but as I have already told you  circumstances willed otherwise  and poor Chotte Lal he had no choice.

Chotte Lal is a good engine driver. 

He is happy in his job and content with life. 

He never gets bored with the long waits for he always carries with him a good book to read. 

And now he’s started writing  yes  creative writing – poetry.

Chotte Lal always wanted to write but did not know how till one evening  while waiting for a signal  the glorious spectacle of the setting sun  the picturesque countryside  the villagers hurrying home  the birds chirping returning to their nests  the endless tracks disappearing into the horizon in front of him  the whole scene in its entirety  inspired him so much that the spark of creativity was ignited within him  and for the first time he poured out his inner feelings on paper  and thereby was born his first creative effort  a poem – to which Chotte Lal gave the title – Waiting for the Signal.

Chotte Lal lives in a typical railway town  a relic of the Raj  with its spacious well laid out railway colony with huge bungalows and neat cottages  amidst plenty of greenery and expanse.

This quaint mofussil town boasts of a newspaper – a four page tabloid really.

The back page of this local rag features crosswords 
– cartoon strips  tit-bits  and creative contributions from readers  which Chotte Lal always reads with avid interest.

It was always his dream to see his own creative writing printed right there on that page one day.  

So, Chotte Lal neatly wrote down his first creative composition “Waiting for the Signal” on a foolscap sheet of paper torn from his daughter’s notebook  and he personally submitted his contribution to the editor  who gave him an amused look.

The editor read Chotte Lal’s poem while Chotte Lal looked on anxiously.

Then  the editor said, “We’ll see!”

Chotte Lal waited – and waited  almost lost hope  and now  at long last  his poem “Waiting for the Signal” had been published.

Chotte Lal walks conspicuously towards the exit of the Railway Station  deliberately stopping by at the Station Master’s Office  the ASMs Office  the Train Clerks Room  the TTEs counter  yearning for appreciation  hoping that someone would have read his poem and would say something in appreciation  but all he gets is smiles of forced geniality.

“Useless fellows!” Chotte Lal says to himself  and then begins walking fast towards his house eager to show his poem to his wife and children.

Seeing Chotte Lal walk past his Dhabha without even a glance in that direction Ram Bharose senses something terribly is wrong  for every time Chotte Lal returns from duty he always stops by at Ram Bharose’s Dhabha for a cup of tea  and to pick up a parcel of Anda-Bun for Engine, his pet dog.   

As always  his pet dog Engine is the first to welcome him at the compound gate of his home and the dog gives Chotte Lal the customary enthusiastic reception, playful, vigorously wagging his tail, barking, jumping, running – but today Chotte Lal’s response is different – he just walks by –  no hugging, no fondling, no baby-talk – and most importantly no Anda-Bun treat.

Engine is confused at his Master’s odd behaviour  and the dog follows Chotte Lal loyally towards the door of the cottage.

Chotte Lal rings the bell.

His wife opens the door.

She gives him a preoccupied look  and she begins walking towards the kitchen.

“See, See,” Chotte Lal says with childlike enthusiasm to his wife, “My poem had been published in the newspaper.”

“Poem...? What Poem...?” his wife asks.

Chotte Lal hands over the tabloid to his wife and shows her the poem – Waiting for the Signal.

His wife gives it a cursory glance and asks, “How much did they pay you for it...?”

“Pay me...? What are you talking...?” Chotte Lal asks puzzled.

“Yes. How much money did the newspaper pay you for this poem? Don’t tell me you are doing this for charity. Or maybe the poem is so third rate that they haven’t thought it worth even a paisa,” his wife says scornfully.

“Please!” Chotte Lal raises his voice getting angry, “This beautiful poem is the fruit of my creative effort  not some item for sale. Where is the question of money? You will never understand the value of creative reward!”

“Creative reward my foot...! This good-for-nothing local rag prints a poem of yours  and you are boasting as if you have won the Nobel Prize in Literature...!” his wife mocks.

Then  Chotte Lal’s wife says, “Why don’t you stop wasting your time doing all this nonsense and join my brother’s transport business – he wants to make you the Regional Manager.”

“I don’t want to go to the city,” Chotte Lal says.

“You want to rot in this godforsaken place driving engines all your life?”

“I like my job. I like this place. I like to read and write.”

“Oh yes  now all you will be doing is wasting your time and your effort writing all this nonsense for free  when you could be earning a good amount of money if you put in the same efforts elsewhere!” Chotte Lal’s wife says.

“I am happy where I am  and I am content with what I have,” Chotte Lal says.

“Oh, sure. You are happy to live in a gutter and watch other men climb mountains!” his wife retorts.

“Papa  Mama is right,” his daughter interjects appearing suddenly, “Why don’t you retire and take your pension and then take up the job uncle is offering you as regional manager in his transport business and let us all move to the city...?”

“Here  here – look at this,” the father says excitedly  giving the newspaper to his daughter, “My poem is published today. Read it and tell me how you like it.”

“You can read it later. Have your breakfast first,” her mother says sternly, “you are getting late for college.”

“Take the newspaper with you. Show my poem to your friends, your teacher,” Chotte Lal says to his daughter.

A horn honks. 

The girl puts the newspaper in her bag and rushes out. 

Chotte Lal excitedly runs behind his daughter towards the gate – and Chotte Lal shouts to his daughter, My poem is on the back page – the name of the poem is on the top – it is called Waiting for the Signal... 

A boy is waiting for his daughter.

The boy is sitting on a motorcycle. 

Maybe it is her college classmate, her boyfriend, maybe… 

Chotte Lal realises how little he knows about his children.

His son – he has already gone to the city to work in his uncle’s company. 

He is obsessed with earning money and has no time for the finer things of life. 

Like mother like son. 

He feels sad. 

It’s a pity  a real pity. 

There is nothing worse for a man than to realise that his wife and his children are ashamed of him.

Maybe his daughter will appreciate his poem, his talent, his creative genius, his worth – after all she is a student of arts.

He looks at his daughter. 

Chotte Lal’s daughter is talking to the boy  she is pointing to the rear seat of the motorcycle and telling him it is dirty.

 Chotte Lal’s daughter takes out the precious newspaper which Chotte Lal has given her. 

Chotte Lal looks on in anticipation. 

Maybe his daughter is going to show the poem to the boy.

 Chotte Lal’s daughter does take out the newspaper from her bag. 

But she does not even open the newspaper.

Chotte Lal’s daughter does not show her father’s poem to her friend. 

Chotte Lal’s daughter just crumples the newspaper – and she wipes the motorcycle seat with it.

Then  and Chotte Lal’s daughter throws the newspaper to the ground.

Yes  Chotte Lal’s daughter consigns Chotte Lal’s poem to the dust without even reading it.

Then she sits on the motorcycle seat behind the boy 
 and they drive off on the motorcycle.

Chotte Lal experiences an inner pain much worse than if a knife had pierced through his heart.

His pet dog Engine rushes out  he picks up the newspaper in his mouth – and the dog brings the newspaper to Chotte Lal.

Engine drops the newspaper at Chotte Lal’s feet – and then the dog begs for his treat. 

Suddenly  Chotte Lal realizes he has forgotten to get Engine’s customary treat – the Anda-Bun (a boiled egg in a bun).

“Come,” he says to Engine.

He picks up the newspaper and they both 
 Master and pet dog  walk towards Ram Bharose’s Dhabha (Roadside Eatery).

Chotte Lal looks at his pet dog Engine  as he happily cavorts and gambols in spontaneous delight at this unexpected outing.

Chotte Lal remembers the day he had got Engine home.

“And now you have got a Pie Dog  an ugly Mongrel,” his wife was furious when he had rescued and adopted the tiny abandoned puppy whose mother had been run over by a train.

At first  Chotte Lal used to take the baby puppy along with him in his Railway Engine  and his assistant driver named the puppy “Engine”. 

But soon the word spread that Chotte Lal was taking his pet dog for rides in his railway engine  and he got a memo with a warning to stop this practice.

Since then 
Engine remained home.

So  whenever Chotte Lal was away on duty  poor Engine was dependent on the reluctant love of Chotte Lal’s wife  who Chotte Lal suspected actually liked the cheerful dog though she did not outwardly show it.

Now  Chotte Lal walks along with his dog Engine towards Ram Bharose’s Dhabha.

A few minutes later  after a leisurely walk  Chotte Lal and his pet dog Engine  reach Ram Bharose’s Dhaba.

“What happened  Driver Sahib...? You didn’t take your usual Anda-Bun parcel...?” Ram Bharose says.

“I forgot,” Chotte Lal says, “Give me one Anda-Bun now  and also give me a cup of tea.”

Chotte Lal thinks of showing the poem to Ram Bharose  but he hesitates. 

Ram Bharose may barely be literate. 

And if educated people like his colleagues  even his wife  and his highly educated daughter – could not appreciate his poem – yes – if no one could appreciate his creative composition  how can he expect this country bumpkin to do so.

So Chotte Lal sits down and decides to read his own poem to himself – he decides to celebrate his own personal victory  and not be dependent on others for his happiness.

He gives the Anda-Bun to his delighted pet dog Engine  who sits at Chotte Lal’s feet.

Engine starts polishing off the boiled egg and bun hungrily.

Then Chotte Lal sips the piping hot rejuvenating tea  and he starts reading the poem to himself.

Suddenly he feels a nudge on his feet – it’s Engine, prodding with his paw, looking up expectantly at him, eyes dazzling, making a sound, talking, trying to say something.

“Do you want to hear my poem...?” Chotte Lal lovingly asks his pet dog Engine, affectionately caressing the dog’s ears.

Chotte Lal’s pet dog Engine gets up  he nods his head – and the dog places his head on Chotte Lal’s knee adoringly  and wags his tail with love.

As Chotte Lal reads his poem “Waiting for the Signal”  his devoted dog Engine listens to His Master’s Voice with rapt attention.

The Dog’s eyes are glued on Chotte Lal’s face  and his tail wagging in appreciation.

After he finishes reading the poem  Chotte Lal looks lovingly at Engine

Engine looks back at him with frank admiration.

Then  the Dog wags his tail  and proffers his paw as a “shake hand” gesture. 

Chotte Lal is overwhelmed with emotion. 

He orders one more Anda-Bun for his pet dog Engine.

Delighted at his Master’s sudden spurt of generosity  Engine gratefully devours the delicious Anda-Bun   and then the Dog looks pleadingly at Chotte Lal as if saying: “Encore.”

“You want to hear my poem once again?” Chotte Lal asks his dog Engine.

Engine again keeps his head tenderly on Chotte Lal’s knee  looks up lovingly at his Master – continuously wagging his tail  listening with rapt attention to his Master’s voice  waiting for him to finish reading his poem  in eager anticipation for his reward of an Anda-Bun.

There are many such recitations  and many Anda-Buns later  Dog and Master  Engine and Chotte Lal  walk back home. 

Chotte Lal looks admiringly at 
Engine – his sincere patron  a true connoisseur who understands – and who appreciates good poetry. 

Suddenly, Chotte Lal gets the inner urge to write  to express  to say something.

His pet dog Engine has ignited the spark of creativity within him.

Moments later  the flood of creativity within him unleashed  Chotte Lal sits at his desk and his latent emotions come to life  and he pours out his inner feelings on paper  writing poem after poem  while his darling pet dog Engine  his stimulus  his inspiration  his muse  his motivating “Engine”  sits loyally by his side looking lovingly at his Master with undisguised affection.

And so  the Railway Engine Driver Chotte Lal creates poetry  and his pet dog Engine – his Creative Engine” – inspires and appreciates...

And  they both sit together in sublime unison  the Poet and his Muse  in perfect creative harmony. 


Dear Reader – do you remember – that right at the beginning of this post – I said that all creative writing is autobiographical.

And – I also said that – this story is certainly autobiographical.

I was always interested in literature – since my school days – I loved to read  and later – I developed a keen interest in creative writing – and – I started writing fiction stories. 

Sadly – no one in my family is interested in literature – and they have no appreciation whatsoever of my creative writing. 

You may be surprised – but – no one in my family reads my Blog – no one – my “Better Half”, my Kids, my Mother/Mother-in-Law, close relatives – no one is interested in reading my creative writing. 

In fact – I am sometimes taunted about my creative writing and blogging – by derisive comments that – instead of doing something useful – I waste my time sitting idle” whole day in front of my laptop doing nothing

It is sad – but – it is true – that – no one in my immediate circle of family/relatives appreciates my creative writing and blogging – forget about appreciation – they don’t even read my stories which I post on my blog.

However – there was one exception.

Yes – there was just one member of my family who always inspired me to write and blog – my pet dog Sherry. 

Sherry was my muse – my source of inspiration – who motivated me to write.

(You can see Sherry’s picture with me at the top right hand side of this blog in the “About Me” column). 

Whenever I sat down to write – Sherry would sit near me – inspiring me to write.

And – whenever I read out my stories to her – Sherry would listen intently in appreciation. 

Yes – Sherry was my Muse – my Creative Engine”. 

It was on my long walks with Sherry that I got the best ideas for my stories. 

It was Sherry who inspired some of my best creative writing.

Sadly – Sherry left for her heavenly abode in December 2014 – but whenever I sit down to write – I can still visualize her sitting near me and inspiring me to write. 

Sherry was – and will continue to be  my Muse – my Creative Engine”. 

So – whether anyone else appreciates my writing or not – I will “Bash on Regardless” with my creative writing and blogging – knowing that my muse Sherry is looking down at me from heaven  appreciating my creative writing  and inspiring me to write even better.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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