A City Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Aditya Shankar

A delusional man is the earth placed beneath an absent sky. He finds the clock to be the stupidest toy, perennially stuck at the present moment. The rooster is his favorite soloist, and cock-a-doodle-doo, the latest chart buster. At breakfast, the way he caresses the egg gives away the hands of a great lover. At the window, his downcast eyes read the shadow on the ground and feels the gravity of a silent silhouette. The wings flapping above his head, non-feather. An installation made of metal, gypsum and easily corrodible materials (such as memory and photographs), the city flying above his head is a giant archaeopteryx that swoops down to peck the polythene grains and vanishes. It has the stench of rotting flesh and clogged drains; its stifled rivers search for the sea. Only the lovers cuddle in trains and parks, as if they lost nothing. Frantic, he runs down the street and bumps into a distant relative who says, I know what you saw. At the Biennale venue, they walk from stall to stall. No, not this one, he repeats till the exit. At the city centre, he insists No, not this one, and exits to a place, only his own.

Aditya Shankar is an Indian poet, flash fiction author, and translator. His poems, fiction, and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in the The Ghost Parachute, Canada Quarterly, Indian Literature, Modern Poetry in Translation, Anti Heroin Chic and elsewhere. Books: After Seeing (2006), Party Poopers (2014). He lives in Bangalore, India.