Artwork by Gayoor Hassan
Photo: Artwork by Gayoor Hassan

A Soundless City

It was a soundless city

It was a soundless city

As it happened, a strange event

took place there.

Far off in a forest, behind the pine grove,

In the cypress branches was born a cuckoo bird.

Born she was, and grew she did in the shade of

the shadows, enjoying the warmth of her mother’s

bosom, and just nobody knew.

A day came when she learnt to hop, learning to hop

she learnt to fly and fly she did up in the air.

Excited at seeing the vastness of the earth and the sky,

She sang and in her full-throated song it seemed as

if the sky and the earth merged.

Time moved on and it so happened

That the cypress also heard the

Cuckoo’s song.

Frightened and trembling, in fright, shedding

Its green leaves, said a lot and did a lot.

It tried to convince the cuckoo as not to

overdo her song, asking her to hide herself

But she in her excitement declined.

She flew in pride, singing to her heart’s content.

She flew to different avenues, over the mountains

And beautiful gardens, over the greenery and the

Lush pastures new; unmindful till the burning news

Of her being reached the city.

They say the cypress tree itself was cut, destroyed

And chained. They enquired of her whereabouts

Saying you know, you are aware, this is a soundless city.

There is a ban on joyful chatter. Either be banned or be

Punished. Why did you allow her space to build her nest;

Why did you allow her to sing? This is a soundless city

This is a soundless city.

Destination, unknown

I entered the garden

Through the open gate

I saw no barriers

It was a strange scene

Stunned was my sight

Frozen my foot-step

This was not that garden

Neither that place

Nor its beauty

Neither the flower

Nor it's wandering scent

The blossom of my heart

Shed its petals-no tears,

No sigh but just a deep

Internal lingering pain.

Through restrained my

Dwindling faith and

Perceptions and reality were

In conflict

Gaining strength, but still

In fear, feigning sympathy

I questioned thus_

The tulip I asked: why

Did the pain not show?

It replied the scar is visible

I asked the wind the reason

For the fearful hurry. It

Replied that the evil one was

In search of him.

I asked the rose the cause

Of the missing scent, "autumn

Scared it away", replied he

Why the anger? I asked the spring

It replied it had

Oozing wounds

The door beckoned

And I left,

Ever since I wander


Naseem Shafaie is a noted poet

(This appeared in the print as 'Neither A Shadow Nor A Reflection')