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Inculcating Gratitude

The Purple Cat

I know it’s a bit late (or too early in the year, depending on how one looks at it), to discuss Christmas. But nevertheless… this past Christmas has been unforgettable. Not because it was a day of great hope and miracles and spiritual moments. In fact, it was a super simple Christmas with me visiting my best friend, enjoying the delectable cake made by him and exchanging presents. This is where it got special.

My best friend gifted me a colouring book for grown-ups and a huge box of coloured markers!  I was thrilled beyond words!!!!!!

My friend couldn’t understand what I was so excited about. According to him, he gave me the book because he’d seen me browsing one in a bookstore recently. 

But I just couldn’t stop thanking him. As he watched me with a very amused look, I kept clutching the book and repeating “thank you! Thank you so much! Really, thank you so much!”

As I flipped through the book, I went back in time – precisely 32 years back.

I’d been gifted a very important slice of my own childhood. A slice which not only brought back fun memories but an astounding lesson which subconsciously shaped my future and provided a unique reassurance that it was okay to be me.

I revisited a time when I sat with my oldest ever best friend on the porch of our house, colouring my first ever colouring book. That book had also been a gift and had come with a box of 64 crayons – back then I had NEVER imagined so many colours could fit in one box! This “bestest” friend always sat with me when I coloured and ALWAYS approved whatever crayon I picked up. He also ALWAYS told me I’d done a beautiful job regardless of how crazy the final picture would look.

Once I picked a purple crayon to colour a cat. I looked up at him and asked, “How about this?” 

He asked me, “Do you think a cat can be purple?”


“Then it can! Go right ahead and colour it in.”

Another time, we were filling in a picture of a bunch of flowers. I had coloured every petal of every flower a different colour. When my mother walked past, she gently pointed out that flowers were of different colours, but all the petals of one flower were always the same. I’d looked down at my masterpiece sadly. But my co-artist, stepped in and said, “do you think flowers could be like what you’ve coloured in?”

“Yes. Maybe”

“Where would you see such flowers?”

“In my story.”

“That means you can see such flowers in your mind. That’s nice. That’s important too. That’s what imagination is all about!” (At the time, I was so small, I didn’t understand what the word imagination meant.)

This co-artist and best friend was none other than my father.

My mother probably thought of my artistic expression as too abstract for my age; she herself having a wonderful talent for painting and sketching and a discerning eye for colours and textures. She guided me to see things as they were, in the real sense, to be carefully observant – more so because she knew my teachers would not understand my visions and dreams and that would affect my grades in school. And grades were important. 

My father, on the other hand, encouraged the avid dreamer within me, telling me it’s ok to imagine things in a different colour… it’s fine to see things in a different light, outside of boundaries set by rules. (This despite the fact that he, himself, was not a dreamer.)

Yes, these were lessons in creativity, but more importantly, they were vital life lessons that taught me to never put a fence around my imagination; to never think my idea was a lesser one because it did not fit into the general worldview. And they came from something as simple as a children’s colouring book. 

Today, these books are a rage. Everyone everywhere is using them as tools for relaxation. Recently, I overheard someone who rightly said, “God bless whoever makes these books! They’re helping reduce the stress on Planet Earth!”

True I agree. But I’d like to thank “whoever makes these books” for much more… 

For not only bringing hours of joy to children of all ages (literally ALL ages!) across the world, but gently, subconsciously helping their imaginations soar; by NOT listing a set of rules in these books which say “Use blue for the sky, green for trees and red for apples”. This gives people the scope to visualize purple cats, lions with multi-colour manes, pink penguins and coffee-coloured clouds.

For nurturing the artist within people. There are so many of us, who love art and also have a talent for it, but have never gained the confidence to display our work to the world owing to the criticism we got from our art teachers as students. Back then, we were too young to understand that the teacher probably didn’t – probably couldn’t – visit dreamlands like we did. For us, these books are our secret canvas which we can celebrate at will.

For reassuring some poor souls who can’t draw or sketch to save their life, that the world needs them to fill in colours to make it a more beautiful place.

Credit : Snezhana Soosh

Last but definitely not the least, for giving a little girl and her father countless delightful afternoons in which they forgot the worries of the world because they were busy creating a vibrant magical one of their own.

To all the people who design colouring books, thank you, for bringing these joys to a whole planet. You probably don’t realize it but you truly make this world a colourfully enchanted place.

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Mugdha Savkar

A culinary researcher by profession, Mugdha Savkar, loves to travel and discover places, people and foods. Her love for books, however, overpowers everything else and she often finds her best escapes in the many worlds that lie hidden within the pages of a good book.

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