“Creative Engine” : The Muse
“CREATIVE ENGINE” — THE MUSE
Story by Vikram Karve
Chotte Lal is in seventh heaven.
He is 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 — he drowns his self in his creation — in a state of blissful timelessness — till the bookstall owner roughly shakes him out of his idyllic reverie by 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 Chotte Lal 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.
(Nowadays — I think — in the Railways — “Engine Drivers” are called “Loco Pilots”…)
Chotte Lal’s father was a humble Gangman whose life’s ambition was to make his motherless son an Engine Driver.
Every day — Chotte Lal’s father looked up from his lowly place beside the railway tracks — fascinated by the sight of the haughty Engine Drivers speeding by — who roughly snatched the tokens which he held up for them.
And then — the Engine Drivers would rudely throw their tokens — kept in small leather pouches — mounted on large cane rings.
They would throw the tokens at a distance — for him to fetch — and hand over to the signalman.
As he underwent this routine time and again — his resolve became stronger and stronger — and Chotte Lal’s father dreamed of the moment — when his son — sitting in the Engine 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 — he indulged himself so much — that he died of liver failure in the morning.
Now — Dear Reader — after this small digression — 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 fellow Engine 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…!!! You buggers are only interested in money…!!!” Chotte Lal shouts in anger at the Engine Drivers — and he snatches the paper.
“Oh yes — we are illiterates worried about money — we are 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 and join the film industry and write poems for songs — or do “sher-shairy”…” they all jeer at Chotte Lal.
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 time in their leisure and during their changeover breaks — Chotte Lal reads — and now — he writes.
Had Chotte Lal got the proper opportunity — he would have been a man of erudition — but as I have already told you — circumstances willed otherwise — and poor Chotte Lal had no choice.
Chotte Lal is a good Engine Driver.
He is happy in his job — and he is content with life.
He never gets bored with the long waits — for he always carries with him a good book to read.
And now — Chotte Lal has started writing too — yes — creative writing — poetry.
Chotte Lal always wanted to write — but he did not know how to do it — till one evening — he got the inspiration to write.
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 — this 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 to Chotte Lal:
“We will see…!!!”
Chotte Lal waited — and waited — he almost lost hope — and now — at long last — his poem “Waiting for the Signal” had been published on the back page of the tabloid newspaper.
Chotte Lal walks conspicuously towards the exit of the Railway Station — deliberately stopping by at the Station Master’s Office — the ASM’s Office — the Train Clerk’s Room — the TTE’s counter — yearning for appreciation.
He is hoping that someone would have read his poem — he is eagerly waiting for someone to say something in appreciation.
But — all he gets is smiles of forced geniality.
“Useless fellows…!!!” Chotte Lal says to himself — and then — he begins walking fast towards his house — eager to show his poem to his wife and children.
Seeing Chotte Lal walk past his Dhaba — the street-food joint — without even a glance in that direction — the Dhaba owner — Ram Bharose — he senses something is terribly wrong — because — every time Chotte Lal returns from duty — he always stops by at Ram Bharose’s Dhaba — for a cup of tea — and — to pick up a parcel of Anda-Bun (Boiled Egg in a Bun) — for “Engine” — his pet dog.
(Yes — the name of Chotte Lal’s pet dog is “Engine”…)
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 — waiting for his Master — to give him his treat of Anda-Bun.
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.
Chotte Lal’s pet dog “Engine” is confused at his Master’s odd behaviour — but — the pet 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 — See…” Chotte Lal says with childlike enthusiasm to his wife, “See here — my poem had been published in the newspaper…”
“Poem…? What Poem…?” his wife asks.
Chotte Lal hands over the tabloid to his wife — and he shows her the poem — “Waiting for the Signal”.
Chotte Lal’s wife gives the poem a cursory glance — and then — she looks up at Chotte Lal
“How much did they pay you for your poem…?” she asks him.
“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 — your poem is so “third rate” — that they think that your poem isn’t worth even one paisa…” his wife says, scornfully.
“Please don’t say such rude things that hurt me…!!!” Chotte Lal raises his voice getting angry, “This beautiful poem is the fruit of my creative effort — it is not some item for sale. Where is the question of money…? You will never understand the value of the reward of creative satisfaction…!!!”
“Reward of Creative Satisfaction — 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 Chotte Lal.
Chotte Lal’s wife looks at Chotte Lal and speaks.
“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…” Chotte Lal’s wife says to Chotte Lal.
“I don’t want to go to the city…” Chotte Lal says.
“Do you want to rot in this Godforsaken place — driving Railway Engines all your life…?” Chotte Lal’s wife says to him.
“I like my job. I like this place. I like to read and write…” Chotte Lal says to his wife.
“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 — Mother is right…” his daughter interjects — appearing suddenly.
“What do you mean…?” Chotte Lal asks his daughter.
“Why don’t you retire and take your pension…? You should take up the job Uncle is offering you as Regional Manager in his Transport Business. We can all move to the city…” his daughter says to Chotte Lal.
“Here — here — look at this…” Chotte Lal 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 — show it to your teacher…” Chotte Lal says to his daughter.
A horn honks.
The girl puts the newspaper in her bag and she rushes out.
Chotte Lal excitedly runs behind his daughter towards the gate.
“My poem is on the back page — the name of the poem is on the top — it is called “Waiting for the Signal”…” Chotte Lal shouts excitedly to his daughter:
A boy is waiting for his daughter.
The boy is sitting on a motorcycle.
Maybe — the boy 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.
His son is obsessed with earning money — and he has no time for the finer things of life.
Like Mother — Like Son.
Chotte Lal 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.
Chotte Lal 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.
Then — 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.
Yes — 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 boyfriend.
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 the poem.
Then — she sits on the motorcycle seat behind the boy — and they drive off on the motorcycle.
Chotte Lal experiences an excruciating 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…” Chotte Lal says to “Engine” — his dog.
He picks up the newspaper — and they both — Master Chotte Lal and Pet Dog “Engine” — they both walk towards Ram Bharose’s Dhaba (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 with Chotte Lal 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 at 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 Dhaba.
A few minutes later — after a leisurely walk — Chotte Lal and his pet dog “Engine” — both of them — they reach Ram Bharose’s Dhaba.
“What happened — Driver Sahib…? You didn’t take your usual Anda-Bun parcel…?” Ram Bharose says Chotte Lal.
“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 — if could not appreciate his poem — yes — if no one could appreciate his creative composition — how can he expect this country bumpkin Ram Bharose to do so.
So — Chotte Lal sits down — and — he 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 eating the boiled egg and bun hungrily.
Then — Chotte Lal sips the piping hot rejuvenating tea — and he starts reading his poem to himself.
Suddenly — he feels a nudge on his feet.
It is his pet dog “Engine” — prodding with his paw — looking up expectantly at his Master Chotte Lal.
Engine’s eyes are dazzling — and the dog is 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 lovingly on Chotte Lal’s knee — 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 Chotte Lal 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 — the pet dog “Engine” gratefully devours the delicious Anda-Bun.
And then — Chotte Lal’s pet dog “Engine” looks pleadingly at Chotte Lal — as if saying:
“Encore — Once More…!!!”
“Do 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.
The pet dog “Engine” 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 — they both walk back home.
Chotte Lal looks admiringly at “Engine” — his sincere patron — a true connoisseur who understands poetry — and who appreciates the poem that Chotte Lal has written.
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.
They say that fiction is a dramatized version of the truth.
They also say that most fiction is autobiographical.
If you want to write — first — you must observe — and — you must emotionally “feel”.
And then — you metamorphose your feelings, your emotions, into stories — of course — with due literary licence.
In most cases — your creative writing — your stories — they are based on something you observed — something that happened to you — something that emotionally affected you.
That is why they say that most fiction is autobiographical.
Well — this story certainly is.
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 Blogs.
Yes — believe it or not — no one reads my writings — my “Better Half” — my Children — my Mother and Mother-in-Law — my 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.
They say 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 or relatives appreciates my creative writing and blogging — and — 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 (picture below)
SHERRY AND ME (circa 2006)
Sherry was my Muse — my source of inspiration — who motivated me to write.
You can see Sherry’s picture — and a picture of Sherry and me too.
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.
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)
This Story was written by me Vikram Karve 16 years ago in the year 2006 and earlier posted by me online in my creative writing blogs in the year 2007 and a number of times later at urls: http://creative.sulekha.com/engine_68620_blog and http://creative.sulekha.com/the-poet-and-his-muse_71919_blog and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2011/05/creative-engine.htmland http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2012/03/poet-and-his-muse.html and http://creative.sulekha.com/the-railway-engine-driver-and-his-engine_79206_blog and http://creative.sulekha.com/engine_68620_blog and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/03/a-poet-and-his-muse-creative-engine.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2012/09/chotte-lal-and-his-creative-engine.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/07/the-creative-engine.html andhttp://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/07/do-you-have-creative-engine.html andhttp://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/07/do-you-have-creative-engine.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/10/the-creative-writer-and-his-engine.html and https://karve.wordpress.com/2018/02/11/creative-engine-the-muse/ and https://karve.wordpress.com/2021/09/27/creative-engine-the-muse-2/ and http://karvediat.blogspot.com/2017/06/creative-engine-story.html and https://karve.wordpress.com/2020/01/12/the-engine-driver-and-his-muse/ and https://karve.wordpress.com/2019/05/09/do-you-have-a-creative-engine-a-muse-who-inspires-you/ and https://karve.wordpress.com/2022/04/26/the-muse-story-and-moral-of-the-story/ and https://karve.wordpress.com/2022/09/19/creative-engine-the-muse-3/ etc
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.