Chandigarh: They may be attending meetings and signing not-so-inviting government files every day, but their work has not stopped a handful of senior bureaucrats in Haryana from penning down poetry and fiction.
For instance, Vajai Vardhan, a senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer posted as principal secretary and financial commissioner with the Haryana government, is a poet, Sufi researcher, bureaucrat and more.
Vardhan, who recently released his second book "Ibadat - the breath of my soul", is a collection of 120 haikus (a form of Japanese poetry) and short poems penned by him.
"Haiku is a difficult form of poetry where the poet has to express in maximum 17 words. `Ibadat` is very special to me because in this book I have surrendered myself as a `murir` to the ultimate. In today`s world, people are so fragmented and alienated in their relationships. But if they follow the Sufi way, they can bring back the closeness among their relationships, be it a father and a son or a husband and a wife," Vardhan said.
His research on the Sufi poets of his hometown, Lucknow, made him come out with haikus in English. Earlier too, he had written a similar book of haikus - "Beyond the Great Beyond".
"The poetry just flowed one night. I have put my heart and soul into the book," Vardhan said about his latest book.
Then there is Haryana`s chief electoral officer, senior bureaucrat Sumita Misra. She may be responsible for various elections, but she has always found time to write poetry.
Misra, who, like Vardhan, comes from Lucknow, recently released her book of poetry, "A Light of Life". Her book is a compilation of poems that she had written all through her life.
"I used to write for myself. But then famous author Khushwant Singh advised me to publish the poems for everyone to read," Misra said.
Her book had two sections. The first is "In transit", which has poems which are thoughts or reflections of life and its joys. The second part is "Except Love", which has poems that say there is nothing in this world except love.
"Life in bureaucracy gives you enough downs to go back to your first love - poetry and literature. People think poetry is for intellectuals, but each one of us remembers some poem or the other that we had read in school. The public place for poets has vanished in the last few years. It`s time for us to give poetry a chance. Only thing we poets want from people is to stop and listen," Misra said.
Another bureaucrat, Vivek Atray, who is posted as joint commissioner-transport, has written comic fiction on the life of a Punjabi boy in his book "Move on Bunny".
Having contributed middles to leading newspapers, Atray has come up with comic fiction to give flight to his writing skills.
"Working in a straitjacket government, I used to feel that the creative mind inside me is dying. People who are into public service can write from their own experiences. For me, writing is a break from my life at the office. I do not like to bring my office into my leisure," Atray, who holds an engineering degree, said.
"I write for myself and for encouraging the creative person inside me. It`s an outlet for me. So I write what I feel would make people laugh and keep off their worries."
Vardhan says: "While working as civil servants, we have seen so much destitution, we`ve seen the dark side of so many politicians and we`ve seen how the common man is being treated. We need something not to escape from all that, but to take our mind off those images for a while: so I feel writing poetry is that therapy for me."
Vardhan says more bureaucrats could take to writing.
"There are just three people from Haryana`s 210 civil servants who have taken up writing. I think more people should start writing. If they can just spare one hour writing and bringing back what we are losing in the age of tablets and other technology. When I look at my daughters, they don`t read. With this habit of mine I am trying to get that old time back for my daughters."