Untitled – Ritwik Chaudhary


Some time between hours of learning
addition and subtraction, and remembering
the ghosts of a Christmas carol, I had a dream
of an old man who lived with his tortoise collection
on the second floor of the hut
perhaps in the garden of the orphanage in the school church,
which I found during the break;
the tortoises, some big, held them, “they don’t bite,”
Samson said, who I think is today happy,
he was happy before as well,
but, like me, I think he turned to drinking,
it was he who showed me this place;
the old man disappeared to fetch
himself something he lived with, necessary,
needed, I don’t know what, water, wood, maybe,
something real in fact,
before I left to tell everyone, I don’t know if I ever did;
but I did mean to come back to it,
I know, however, the old man is long dead,
since I tried to find it, once asked someone in the orphanage,
the gardener: graves, and a beautiful, happy day,
said nothing, silence, just a memory,
then said politely, the old man has died, his house is demolished,
and the tortoises, which to me, growing up,
were a symbol of wonder, had been taken away,
and put in an aquarium, the ones on the main road,
carrying on for four hundred years,
as the old man had said,
telling me all about tortoises, and left me
with the idea that there is life still
even if it be found in the hat,
the hot day, and the house in the shade,
a house, not a home, for he said,
the house doesn’t belong to me,
it doesn’t belong to anyone, in fact,
and then I left, when the school bell rang,
before he could tell me,
and I could never manage to find that house again.


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