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Verve People
August 06, 2017

Instagram Poets Who Took Our Hearts By Storm: Arunoday Singh

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

“Appearances can attract, athleticism can make hearts flutter, but only poetry can stir the soul awake”

You could say Arunoday Singh leads a double life, pursuing his acting profession by day and spinning meditatively like a whirling dervish at night. How else would you justify his calligraphic whisperings where he spouts words so tender, the only plausible explanation could be Rumi himself using Singh as a vehicle to heal the world? And heal he does. His short poems, under the fitting moniker Sufi soul, assuage the intensity of your pain one verse at a time and at the end of a healthy perusal of his Instagram account, you will find yourself feeling infinitely better and marginally enlightened as well.

His popularity on Instagram is purely serendipitous because Singh was unrelenting in his pursuit of being a published author. He laments that this dream hasn’t come to fruition yet because poetry, as a medium fails to excite publishers – a minor snag that his social media loyalists certainly aren’t complaining about. Most of his poetry is inspired by music, nature and his wife Lee Elton to whom he is devoted in a way that is soul-crushingly beautiful. Unlike other Bollywood actors, he started out small with an audience of ten being privy to his poetic sermons. Currently close to fifty thousand followers, all on the back of his poetry, he is now one step closer to his life’s mission of seeing his name in print in the very bookstores where he spent a major part of his childhood. At present though, he is content with enthralling people with his distinctive scrawl until the universe sends him a sign for greater things in store.

Excerpts from our interview:

Humble beginnings
“I was a shy, bookish kid, a couple of years younger than all my classmates and completely out of my social depth. Literature, brimming with angst and passion much like me, became my confidants. For a meek kid, there was nothing like knowing that words have the power to transform you into a giant. Poring over the Romantics, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare and the magic spells they wrought with nothing but words was heady stuff to me as a boy. Appearances can attract, athleticism can make hearts flutter, but only poetry can stir the soul awake. I had a couple of wonderful English teachers who encouraged me by providing reading suggestions outside of our curriculum, all of which I eagerly lapped up. Somewhere in that period, I started to write and for reasons I cannot fully understand, I never stopped.”

Poetic promptings
“Everything, if struck with the right note, if noticed in the right light, can inspire. A particular sunset, the lay of a perfect day, the sound of music, the laughter of a pretty girl, my hidden sorrows and secret desires, the hope I find so hard to nurture, the faith that we struggle to hold on to – all of these inspire me. Sometimes, merely the act of sitting down to write and meditating for a few minutes before I begin can galvanise me into action. The world, our own lives and the landscapes of our hearts are filled with inspiration. People like me have just learned to listen and grab hold of it when it becomes tangible.”

Writing off challenges
“Finding a unique voice that did complete justice to my individualistic style was no mean feat. I spent years trying to emulate my favourite writers, sometimes successfully, sometimes appallingly, but always with the hollow feeling of being a fraud. It took me many years of introspection to find my groove. Then, the challenge was getting my work out for people to read. I tried to get some publishers interested, but was met with only rejection and fairly so because I was still a fledgeling talent at best. The next hurdle I encountered was the pattern of similarity that ran through all my poems. I hadn’t experienced enough for life to give me edges and a writer without cracks is an egocentric one. I realized that I had to keep writing from my core, allowing what I felt to bleed onto the page, even the unpleasant truths, perhaps especially those. I had to do away with needing to sound like a great writer and just be honest about myself and my place in the world.”

Instagram connect
“As cliched as it sounds, I love my followers. They are wonderfully warm, sensitive and receptive. There’s not a troll among them and I don’t think I’ve ever received a mean or derogatory comment. They give me honest feedback about which poems move them. Some of them send me private messages detailing all the things that they are going through in their lives, ranging from high school heartbreaks and acute depression to thoughts of suicide. These speak to my core, so I reply to every honest message I receive. I have to. I believe it’s part of the contract I’ve signed with the type of poetry I write. It’s very comforting to be reminded of our shared, frail humanity. To know we are all muddling through the same waters. To tell each other we are not alone, even if we feel so.”

Soul speech
“There are two poems that have left an indelible mark on me. The one on the left was a poem I wrote for a follower who was going through a particularly hard time. She felt unappreciated and said she was seeking something – a sign, a reprieve, a lover – anything that would make her feel like less of a failure. It’s a short poem, but it’s full of love and support. She wrote back to me saying that the ache in her heart had abated a little after reading my words and she found herself smiling for the first time in days. It was a greater honour than I have ever received, perhaps more than I deserved, but it was one of the first instances when I realized how important it was to connect with people through my writing.

The second poem on the right is shorter and simpler, but I love it because it is one of the few that I consider perfectly constructed in its minimalism, precision and love.  I wrote it for my wife on our wedding day and it’s my most liked poem on Instagram.”

You can follow him on Instagram at @sufisoul

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