Suburbia |


Pankaj Mistry

The bald man bent the steel

Poem by Salil Chaturvedi

The bald man bent the steel –
he could pick up an elephant
he could pick up an elephant!
he was strong as a planet
really strong
no, listen, no,
strong like hanuman
maybe not, but
he was really strong…

and if he slips
if he slips!
like the man on fire
he’s way up
you can’t see him till he’s on fire
and he stands there
the tub is so small
will he make it?
but he slipped
he slipped!

there was no net
the acrobats were up there
they’ll jump up first
if they miss
there’s no net!
but they didn’t miss
and there was no net
every time,
only for practice.
there was no net
no, not even for the cycles
what’s the fun on the ground?
they were in the air
and no net.

only the cannon man
was wearing a helmet
but I could see his face,
and he had streaked hair
I think he was the son
of the man who bent the steel.
so many animals
tigers elephants hippos dogs
and ya! that rooster
he could really talk
in hindi?
of course! he could say anything!

listen, who was there
you or i?

only one more week
tell your dad
get the 150 ticket.

All images from the series Circus
Mumbai-Goa, 2008

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