I once had been to a narrow lane
to sell the sky.
The residents of the narrow lane
took me for a lunatic.
I was made fun of,
I was manhandled,
I was pelted with stones.
My clothes were torn off.
They tried to make me unclench my fist.
But could the sky ever be in one’s fist ?
Poor people of the narrow lane !
They don’t know
that the sky could never be kept
in one’s pocket, in a carpet bag, or a trunk, or a fist.
I was merely going to lift their drooping eyelids
and show them the sky !
They were going to get the sky free !
The selling of the sky was but a ruse !
But the residents of the narrow lane—
they drove me away
and went to sleep,
burrowing their faces deep in their pillows.
Once again I dragged myself
and kept hoping that the sky will be sold
tomorrow, if not today,
and kept breathing deeply, with determination.
Well to begin with
these residents of the narrow lane
and, what’s more, the selling of the sky—
couldn’t possibly have been over that soon.”
The poem is a translation from its original Gujarati version ,written by a famous Gujarati poet Chandrakant Seth. Shorn of complicated imagery ,the poem is a delightful take on the lives of the urban people who live in their narrow lanes without turning their gaze to the vastness and the freedom of the sky .The beauty of the poem is not so much in rich lines or in exquisite imagery as in its starkness and irony. The typical Gujarati family lives in its perpetual concerns of money making, staying huddled in claustrophobic houses. They do not try to come out of their narrow lanes to enjoy their freedom of open spaces and the blue sky. The entrepreneur in a Gujarati tries to sell even a fistful of the sky! The poet is trying to sell them the sky because that is the only language they understand .