When A Boy Gave Me His Heart

“Don’t be nervous okay? Draw like how you do at home. If other participants want to use your colours, don’t say no…” Father advised. I listened to the hum of Father’s vintage TVS Champ and kept nodding. He looked at my reflection on the rear-view mirror. “Are you listening? Will you be all right?” He posed an array of questions to ensure that I was comfortable and confident. I was going to attend my first creative workshop, where I would learn some drawing techniques and simply have fun. He was more excited than me. Mother was as thrilled as Father too. As she handed me a bowl of curd rice and mango pickle (perfect summer breakfast), she told me she was proud of Father for encouraging his daughter to explore. “Don’t be shy to ask questions. I am sure the teacher will be kind,” Mother assured. The workshop was memorable. And, I did share my colours.

I was eight then.

IMG_20160402_145404Today, 20 years after my first class, I attended a beautiful workshop called Peace Doodle. Kirthi Jayakumar, my close friend, who inspired me to practise Zen Doodling, conducted the workshop. We learned some interesting Zen Doodling techniques, and we were encouraged to create many pieces in the class.

I found one of the activities particularly moving. I drew a circle and filled one half of it with some Zen Doodle patterns. I was paired up with a young boy, who filled the other half. Quite cutely, he shared his thoughts on my doodle, and I gushed about his work. Kirthi, who knows how I miss my nephew (Shravan), followed our discussion, and told me that the boy reminded her of Shravan. My heart was warmed. Perhaps if Shravan was in India, we would have participated in the workshop together.

I immensely enjoyed the workshop, as Kirthi shared her incurable love for Zen Doodles, and motivated us to unleash our creativity.

When I signed up, Kirthi asked me to think of an idea that I could execute at the workshop. She offered many topics and I chose ‘Animal Welfare’.

This is what I did today:


Every once in a while, I slip into denial; I struggle to believe that I have mustered the courage to wield ink-pens. But, I remind myself that Gaiman asked us to make “good” art. 😉

“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.

Make it on the good days too.”

And, that boy, who filled the other half of the circle I had drawn, gave me a little souvenir today. I told him that I loved the skeleton that he had done. “If this kind of skeleton bursts out from my closet, I would laugh at it and have a little chat with it. It is that cute,” I told him. He took a picture of it and handed the paper to me. “You like the skeleton right? You keep it,” he said. He didn’t smile; he said it like that paper was my report card and that he was not happy with my performance. Of course, I might have been asked to bring my parents too. 😉

In retrospect, I realise that he said it in a matter-of-fact tone. It was his way of saying that the skeleton with a heart for a nose belonged only to me.



26 thoughts on “When A Boy Gave Me His Heart

      1. That was a lovely peace doodle for Animal welfare (I got it right, I hope?). That friendly skeleton certainly needed a friendly pep talk, which I’m sure you would’ve given him.

        I watched the commencement speech by Neil Gaiman. And I also watched some more commencement speeches, including that of Jim Carrey JKR. I could identify with so many things that they said, but there were so many things that were different. Gaiman (and JKR, as well as you, or any other writer whom I know of) was sure of what he wanted to do, that is to write. I was afflicted by success, and the problems of success that Gaiman describes. I suffered from the “Impostor syndrome”. I had further imprisoned myself with the expectations that comes with “success”. The reality is that I never faced any real difficult time, so I never ventured to make “good art”. I was content with turning out mediocre work (like bossing over people 😉 ), as long as I was getting a safe salary. One thing that I did do, was to enjoy myself doing whatever I did. Thanks for the share.

        Hey btw – he too started as a journalist, just as you did.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, OT. Of course, you got it right. It is a peace doodle for animal welfare. I am so glad you watched more commencement speeches. And, thank you for sharing your story. I loved reading it. It warms my heart when friends tell me that they enjoy themselves. I am glad you said that too, OT. 🙂

        And, I was surprised to learn that Gaiman started as a journalist too. Inspiring. 🙂


  1. As you know, I’m a big fan of zen doodles. I really love how Rick and Maria, the founders of Zen Doodle, have made art seem so accessible, and so joyful!

    I love the way you riff off on the doodles even more! It’s so easy to see who you are shine through all the artwork you do, Deepika. You have such a big heart!

    This, “If this kind of skeleton bursts out from my closet, I would laugh at it and have a little chat with it. It is that cute,” was just the perfect thing to say to a soulful young boy imo! And I agree, that skeleton is unique enough to have some interesting stuff rattling around in his bones!

    I also like how you started the beginning of your piece with your first brush with art (heh. “brush” with art. :P) and then connected it to your current experiences. bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Juhi, thank you SO much for being kind. I am comfortable and happy here because of people like you, who share a lot of love and warmth. Many thanks! 🙂

      PS: Rick and Maria are awesome. 🙂

      PPS: Do you think I will see some Zentangle of yours soon? 🙂 I am hopeful.


  2. You are so fortunate to have such supportive parents. I loved the story that you recounted about going to art class when you were eight.

    I am glad that you are able to continue your drawing in your Zen Doodles class. I enjoy your writing and drawing so much. I think your approach to both is fresh and joyful. And yes, you are already making good art! I think Gaiman would agree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heidi, thank you very much. My parents are amazing. I am so grateful. From encouraging me to try new things, to bailing me out of predicaments, they are with me through and through. I feel lucky. 🙂

      Thank you for all the kind words, Heidi. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The event sounds amazing, and it’s good to her you had such a lovely time there and in such wonderful company!! 🙂 I love the doodle you did, some animal activist group should use it as their icon! 🙂 One of these days I will give zen doodling a try, I just have no art skills at all and so it’s a constant struggle 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bina, thank you for all the love. 🙂 ❤

      I am SO SO glad that you are going to try Zen Doodling. I believe that we are all creative. I am sure you will "make good art" too. 🙂 Perhaps, you may start with doing doodles, which can be your favourite cause's statement. Your love for the cause will bring the doodle out. 🙂 I am sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I do love zen doodling and coloring and acquiring black pens and different kinds of colored pencils. I would treasure the skeleton doodle! It’s perfect. I loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I also had never heard of Zen Doodling before. Based upon what you have posted and your description I see that it is a fun and meaningful art form.

    I love the idea of collaborative art like you and the your young friend participated it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It took me some time to understand how abstract doodling can become structured but I guess I am getting there. But more than the doodling, it’s lovely that you have created memories and made a story that is at once good and doodly. Did I just write that?

    Liked by 1 person

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