But one thing is sure. This is the happiest moment of his life.
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.
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 Lal's father dreamed of the moment when his son, sitting in the driver’s seat, would pick up the token from him.
Chotte Lal certainly doesn’t belong here amongst this hard drinking rough and 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.
This quaint mofussil town boasts of a newspaper – a four page tabloid really.
The back page of this local rag features crosswords, tit-bits, and creative contributions from readers, which Chotte Lal always reads with avid interest and it was his dream to see his own creative writing printed right there on that page one day.
His wife of twenty years opens the door, gives him a preoccupied look, and begins walking towards the kitchen.
A boy is waiting for her on a motorcycle. Maybe it’s 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, his son 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.
Then, she 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 doesn't even open it, leave alone showing her father's poem to her friend. She just crumples the newspaper and wipes the motorcycle seat with it and throws it on the ground.
Then she sits on the seat and they drive off on the motorcycle.
He picks up the newspaper and they both, Master and dog, walk towards Ram Bharose’s Dhaba.
Since then Engine remained home, and whenever Chotte Lal was away on duty, poor Engine was dependent on the reluctant love of his wife who Chotte Lal suspected actually liked the cheerful dog.
Chotte Lal looks admiringly at Engine – his sincere patron, a true connoisseur who understands, appreciates.
He gets the inner urge to write, to express, to say something – Engine has ignited the spark of creativity within him.
Moments later, the creativity within him unleashed, Chotte Lal sits at his desk and pours out his latent emotions, his inner feelings, on paper, writing poem after poem, while his darling pet dog, 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 and his "Creative Engine" inspires and appreciates - they sit together in sublime unison - the Poet and his Muse - in perfect creative harmony.
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog: http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm
Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile of Vikram Karve: