Fables of The Self


Brisk pace,
head turns over and over again.
Queer echoes of my own footsteps
ring from lonesome jungle bell.

Hushed silence; fear is inside,
and I look out for a footmark -
a paw of unusual shape,
grotesque and real in illusion.

A shadow exactly suits my stature,
covers me as my duplicate; ever.


From many radii they slip down,
crowding in haste and fear :
the center may not have enough
space to accommodate them.

The person at the hub,
having arrived earlier,
joins the sport; rotates
the wheel in mere fun.

The radii shake and become
more slippery from the tears
of fearful occupants;
but as they fall they laugh, for they land on the terrace with a sigh of relief;
pronounce - enough space.

The Window

In the distance, the dust rose
like expectation in her heart.
With a hand over the brow
she looked beyond, unable
to tolerate the sun's scorch -
she'd remained indoors for long.

Earlier she could roam freely
as she liked, anytime, anywhere,
like a bird passing through a window,
but now the grille is dense,
prevents easy entry or exit;
and moreover she has grown on.

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The Door

At the threshold I stand,
one foot placed in front
and the head turned back.
They put a bar (slab) at 7 feet,
leaving a space of one foot
above our head;
that much ground is granted
for our eternal play.

The playground, however,
never gets crowed, for
a few escape ahead in open,
and rest withdraw in the room.

The Corner

At the junction where an angle is formed
a mouse has built his interior house.
He listens to the gossips of spinsters
and silent sobs of the newly married -
the tales his ancestors have recounted:

The thugs worshipped black Goddess
and as blessings received yellow cords,
the stories are written: of strangulation
of cornered victims in the jungle yards.

As the mouse is engrossed in this pastime
a cat attacks him with cushioned steps,
but he slides into the hole and survives;
one needs revise history, and the phrase:
A cornered mouse can't fight back.

The Backyard

We had a separate entrance for them
directly leading to the backyard,
for the workers who dug the soil
and allowed vegetables to grow.
We poured water for them to drink
from a height, in their cupped hands,
lest their touch should make us impure.
Mother fetched water from the well
and washed the vegetables before
they were declared fit for consumption.
Under a banyan tree, as I relaxed, I saw
two faces metamorphosed, a Mahatma
and a King; since then I grant the laborers
a direct access to my drawing room.

all poems by c s shah