If you walk the streets of the city
that I write about,
you would call me a liar.
The broken wall,
no more a playground ingress
or a sunset bench.
A new coat gobbles the graffiti,
an extinct backdrop for the urban day.
an elusive rabbit that pops its head
from a new substrate of the burrow.
At the bookstore,
a hot new bestseller takes centrestage;
yesteryear stars resigned to a corner.
Pigeonhole the visit to my lonely study.
The overburdened wardrobe blended in
with a new family of cockroaches.
The goblet emptied the leftover whiskey.
The rusty tap sheds tears. It gurgles, a
widower clearing a lump in his throat.
Detour from my piece.
I’m yet to befriend the designer of being.
The Forest of Chamataka
My cell-powered toy horse in
the attic wakes, estranged.
trumpet, pause, trumpet, pause –
It reminds a dead-drunk performer.
It must have been me
who has fallen
from the language of love
unable to engage
my old toy in a conversation,
or to gallop together like
legends of yore into the
dense forest of Chamataka, where
perching on a decayed twig
of justice, Kalia stitches together an
escape route from the maze of deceit.
Harry Potter infuses the believer with
a prayer, saving the day for the muggles.
Battle Cat gives up his meal, to
fight off the bad chaos.
Suppandi brings the house down
hopping over hungry crocodiles,
conjuring up a green bridge.
The single-eyed Annai
meets his three-eyed perfect match.
Misha the bear sprints towards a
They win, as our ruthless history
remind that I do not exist,
that I speak from a vacuum.
In the forest of Chamataka,
the only ones engaged in
hide and seek past the playtime hour
are the Police and the Maoists.
The children are back home,
the toys are performing their routine–
A fall from language is a
fall from freedom.
Note: Comic book and fantasy novel character references included in this piece. Annai is a character in ‘An eye for Annai’, an animated short.
About the author:
Aditya Shankar is an Indian poet, flash fiction author, and translator. His poems, fiction, and translations have appeared or is forthcoming in the The Ghost Parachute, Canada Quarterly, Indian Literature, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Little Magazine, The Four Quarters Magazine, The Anti Heroin Chic, The After Happy Hour Review, Chandrabhaga, Muse & Murmur, and elsewhere. Books: After Seeing (2006), Party Poopers (2014). He lives in Bangalore, India.