The Birth of a Poet

People go for years, sometimes even decades just going through the motions leading their mundane lives, being just another face in the crowd, a cog in the gargantuan mechanism of human civilization. Then suddenly comes one day when suddenly something goes ‘pop’ inside their head and they are suddenly awakened to a wellspring of talent that has been hidden for all these years. I had one such moments of epiphany back in the late nineties when I was on the verge of completion of the first leg of my education.

In order to proceed to the next leg, I was supposed to prove my mettle in this especially tough exam called IIT JEE. While big cities had good coaching institutes to prepare students for this ordeal, small cities had to depend on enterprising professors from local colleges. We were at the home of one such enterprising gentlemen on that fateful day - a portly one at that who styled himself a master Chemist. He had converted his home into a classroom by the mere act of purchasing a portable blackboard to put up in the hall. Usually, he would explain some concepts for few minutes. He would then dictate a few problems to solve from a text book as bulky as himself and divide us into two groups. One group would be dispatched to the kitchen and the other to the bedroom. As per the old Indian Guru Kul traditions, we made ourselves comfortable on the cold floor finding suitable niches for ourselves under the dining table, behind the refrigerator and other such exotic places. While we matched our wits against the Physical Chemistry Problems, he would switch on the Television in the Hall and sing along to encourage us.

“Thilana Thilana,” his hoarse voice boomed across from the hall. One of my co sufferers, tired of straining his brains computing temperature and pressure of gases, took up the note and joined in at a low voice. “Thithikindra Thena.” Immediately as if by magic more voices joined in chorus. “Ooooh, Oooh, Ooh, Woof, Woof, Oooh, Oooh, Ooh, Woof.” The new singers brought relief to the worn out chemists and we began to encourage our friend to continue to lead the singing to keep up our sagging spirits. He did and our friends outside also sportingly obliged as if they understood our need.

Later in the evening, as we walked back home in the night, we discovered that our friend with his singing had managed to forge a permanent bond with these four legged denizens of the streets. They graciously escorted us all the way to the bus stand and patiently waited alongside till we boarded the bus. So there was the moment of epiphany for him, who had discovered a Pied Piper like musical talent. During such momentous occasions in history you need bards and story tellers to record the events for posterity’s sake. So that was the moment of epiphany for me - for, suddenly my poetic talent surfaced and I began to spontaneously reel out verses eulogizing the amazing feats of our new found hero during our bus ride home. It was greeted by so much gaiety that I faithfully recorded the inspired verses on paper and brought it to class the next day for the benefit of the other classmates at school.

The poetry was received with the same enthusiasm here as well, further enhancing the glory of the Pied Singer of Trichy, the silver tongued Tamer of stray dogs. Enthused by the reception, I went on to pen another piece of work, this one dedicated to my faithful companion who shared my bench. The work titled ‘Dog in the Bog’ that portrayed my friend as entire humanity’s best friend was not too well received. He was apparently neither a patron of art nor a believer in free speech – he tore the paper carrying the poem to bits, denying the rest of humanity this great work of art. That was my first encounter with censorship and intolerance at such an early age.

Respecting the sentiments of the minority community, the person in question being the sole representative of the Odiya community in a land of Tamils, I shelved the work. However the fame of my first work continued to spread till it reached our Mathematics teacher, a known patron of poetry.

He was this traditional garden variety poet who wrote about subjects such as love, compassion, relationships and the like. So his finer sensitivities failed to appreciate verses dedicated to an unconventional subject such as the influence of music on canine minds. On the contrary he considered it an effrontery to poetry to label my writing such.

I could not for the life of me figure what was wrong with my poetry. In fact my lines rhymed so perfectly while hardly any of his did. And it was not like he used all those bombastic words like flabbergasted, obsequious etc. that we tried to use in our English essays. In terms of ideas, how much can one keep writing about love and stuff? What was wrong with dogs and dog tamers anyways? The only difference I could see was that his poetry was more difficult to comprehend and they were published in a book while mine was on a ragged piece of paper. Maybe that’s what made the difference ultimately.

Anyways for the next few years, I gave up poetry and focused on the more mundane matters such as entrance exams and jobs.

18 comments:

Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

Hahahaha! Absolutely hilarious TF! The birth AND the coma of a poet? :)

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Suresh.

Ragini Puri said...

Hhahah! Had a good laugh reading this. And now I am all the more curious about both Tamer of Strays and Dog in the Bog.
P.S. - Your Mathematics teacher was insecure. :D

Rio De La Sciocco said...

Really supe,

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Ragini. I tried hard to recollect the poems. But could not. Btw, you may be right about that maths teacher - there is more about him a couple of posts earlier.

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Rio.

jaish_vats said...

That was a fun read TF ... Of course I wouldn't want to be at the receiving end of such a piece of art but tearing your poem was destruction of creativity .... Not fair at all ! Do u still remember the lines ?

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Jaish. Unfortunately I have no memory at all of what exactly I wrote. Nor does that Odiya fellow who tore it up. Yes - I am still in touch with him.

Amit Agarwal said...

Ha ha:) Funny indeed:) Loved it:)

Cart Hick said...

Thanks a lot, Amit Agarwal,

umashankar said...

A refreshing piece of memorabilia that triggered memories of many a doggerel. And I would hand over my best doggerel to you for reading the 'Dog in the Bog'.

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Umashankar - the term doggerel fits in very well with the theme of my verses.

themoonstone said...

LOL. Your description of your teacher's style of teaching reminded of a similar Maths teacher we once had - who was deemed to be a magician in getting people to get through IIT

Cart Hick said...

Guess we have plenty of teachers like that, Asha. Our chemistry teacher was no such magician.

Rachna said...

This was such a fun post, K. So you are back to regular blogging now? Nice to see that.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks Rachna. Yeah, got back to writing in all forms - somehow writing relaxes and de-stresses me. Giving it up to improve productivity at work was not really working out.

Ramesh Grandhi said...

Beautifully written, TF. Enjoyed reading this, truly. I do hope we will get to see some of your verses soon.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot, Ramesh.

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