on the way home
turning the bend hesitatingly,
I saw a fox.
To make sure
I blinked my eyelids, you were not to be seen.
This time you have disappeared
faster than when I used to see you earlier.
Though our pace
has gained pace
and several of us
have been pushed back unable to catch up with the rest,
your pace has not lost its pace.
To determine pace anew
did you observe us again and again,
without our knowing?
I wanted to ask:
for several thousand years,
not changing a whit
not caring a whit
how do you remain thus
Gods have vacated the sacred groves
cursing and muttering.
Gulikan* has ceased to be even on the tongue.
Pits are packed
bends have disappeared.
Unable to withstand the light
the last owl has left the bough.
Reminding ‘I am still here’
you remain here even now.
The unexpected is still on the earth,
you state unexpectedly.
You, within the bounds you have set
unseen even where you may be seen.
Within the blinds you have erected.
Though not in the wild, without resigning your wildness.
Elephants, tigers and the rest
within the lines drawn by us
within our earshot
– are tamed animals living in the forest!
While for you,
does not diminish.
Though you dwindled in count
didn’t dwindle in girth.
Within this given time
did not give in to any deal
nor hand nor leg nor shoulder has grown contorted.
With the same vigilance with which you started,
your ears have not drooped a whit!
Not a grape turned sour
(Except in our tale!)
Did not get trite
even when Darwin got trite!
somewhere where one cannot say for sure,
it is good to have a fox.
In this high alert zone
it is good to spy as an omen
who keeps his secret.
Only the size of a dog
never being a dog
never wagging the tail at all!
isn’t the fox
A deep sigh.
Original Poem written in Malayalam by Kalpatta Narayanan.
Translation: Sandhya Pai
* Gulikan: Malefic spirit in astrology. Supposed to thwart the tongue while speaking, so that bad things uttered may come true.
Kalpatta Narayanan is a Malayalam Professor and a noted novelist, critic and poet. He writes regularly in Malayalam journals and has several books to his credit. This poem was published in the Mathrubhumi Weekly.
Poet’s Bio- Sandhya Pai is an Associate Professor in English at St. Joseph’s College for Women, Alleppey, affiliated to the University of Kerala. She is a bi-lingual writer, editor and reviewer, writing poems and articles and translating from English to Malayalam and vice versa. She has published academic articles on literary subjects. She holds a doctorate from the Mahatma Gandhi University.
Illustration by Alan Van Every (Featured image on the front page)