Odyssey: Prose poetry (Tanka prose)
By Shloka Shankar
The taxi was asked to take us straight to my father’s pseudo-ancestral house. Still in awe of everything about this city we used to once visit yearly, I shift about in my seat restlessly. The rising heat even at this hour of the evening seemed quite perplexing, coupled with the scent of fresh dung that was characteristic of Madras. A city that somehow defies all my attempts to dislike it. People often find a million reasons to hate this city. But for me, it has always been home. A cord that has not been severed even after all these years. My roots have only gotten stronger with time – etching smells, people, memories and places into my psyche.
A rickety gate welcomes us by the entrance. I almost feel like Ulysses returning to his beloved Ithaca, having charted out my own odyssey. The same house, the same people, the same concrete below my feet. The same parapet that I fell off from so many times as a child. Those same smiling faces milling around us, fetching our bags and what not.
The house seemed smaller all of a sudden. Perhaps we were one too many. Three generations huddled together under the same roof. I fondly trace old and new cracks on the walls and even find a few of my scribbles to my delight. Everything was just the same. The musty smell of each room makes me wonder if we were ever away for so long.
Going about the house, I inspect my familiar haunts; my place on the sofa, the thinnai out front that always stained my dresses red, the room where I slept with my grandparents – the wind whistling through the branches of coconut and mango trees, and the outhouse where I spent countless hours of my vacation.
Everything felt so right, so alive. Here I was. Home. My palace of dreams.
dangling from the eaves
casts a shadow…
retracing my footsteps
to all that I’ve lost
Photo: Dwarakanathan Ravi
Shloka Shankar resides in Bangalore, India. She is notable for her work in several reputed anthologies, including ‘The Dance of the Peacock,’ ‘Traversal of Lines,’ and ‘Rainbow Hues’ among others. Her poetry has also been published in online literary journals such as Ekphrasis, Kalyani Magazine, Wordweavers, Writers Asylum, The Literary Yard, Urban Confustions, RaedLeaf Poetry India, Verse Wrights, and Emanations.
For more stories, read Café Dissensus Everyday, the blog of Café Dissensus Magazine.