ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Atlas Has Muddy Feet


In monsoons when our gutters

overflowed, Tipu Chacha appeared

almost magically, his teeth yellowing

from early morning nicotine and last

night’s rum, 7.30 in the morning and

already smelling of a life

spent digging into sewers


At school Sabina Masi reminded boys

to tuck shirts into their pants and sat

under a banyan tree in winter, when

the leaves fell around her, anyone who

arrived early to class could see her

sweeping the floor and wiping the desks,

but no one remembered

touching her wrinkled hands,

she shrank back with horror

even if you tried


Old Bhujang had wobbly knees—arthritis

some would say—but his shoulders could

carry the world, though mostly they carried

a basket—almost as wobbly as himself—filled

to the brim with filth from the municipality

dustbin, and every time a car passed beside

him as he walked with his basket,

there’d inevitably be the sound

of a window rolling up


Yesterday the gutters overflowed again

dustbins hadn’t been cleaned for weeks

and someone had left carcasses on the

streets and my father desperately keeps

punching numbers on his phone—hoping

one of them would answer—meanwhile the

stench keeps growing stronger till Cologne

can’t mask it anymore, and I wonder

who’d shrink from whose touch, now?



Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

Pay INR 50.00

(Readers in India)

Pay $ 6.00

(Readers outside India)

Updated On : 10th Feb, 2017
Back to Top