‘FOX’ by Sandhya Pai

This morning

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

among us?

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,

your allure

your vigour

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 near,

but

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

a guerrilla

who keeps his secret.

Yet,

between us

without fawning

without bowing

without cringing

without hunching!

Only the size of a dog

never being a dog

never wagging the tail at all!

 

For humans

isn’t the fox

a prestige?

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)

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