Kali of Kalighat, Chitpur, Bengal, 1870
  The green bench  

  The rite stuff
  Vol I : issue 4

  Gloria Orenstein
  Tapan Raychaudhuri
  Paula Gunn Allen
  Prayag Shukla
Shrikant Verma
  Lakshmi Kannan

  Only in Print

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Prayag Shukla

Etching by GAUTAM KAR

Vines hold the trees in embrace. In the veins

blood now simmers, now calms.

Many a trial zigzag. The days

go without a straight autobiography.

Somewhat amazed

we find that we do exist.

For a while we pick on some strands

from someone else’s life-story, and

wonder at their variance

from those of our own.

We also pick out a bench which is green

and green its thatch overhead, although

the colour and the looks do not remain

the same through the day-time sun

and the night-long gloom.

We come back again and again

as if looking for something we forgot.

We recall our forgetting, and soon

we are tired of recap and recall,

for we did not know the purpose of it all.

From nowhere a horse appears and

snaps at the grass and dry leaves.

Its appearance is a relief.

With a jolt we note the abrupt

ending of the holidays. In a flash

the bench we used to come and sit upon

looms up:

its face set to the hills

through every season.


Art critic, poet, writer of fiction and children's literature, Prayag Shukla edits Rang Prasang,
a biannual publication of the National School of Drama, New Delhi