Black Magic


He made a circle

we children sat around

the basket flipped open

and the earth got the goose-bumps.


The serpent vengefully raises its hood

and dashes to the ground

on flute music, a girl dances

and a boy juggles on the tight rope.


The crowd claps,

as the tom-tom plays,

and he makes the girl unconscious

with his rosary,


covers her body with a dark linen,

the skull giggles,

and the tom-tom plays again

under the old banyan tree!


He ripped her stomach open,

with a knife, it's blood,

it is real blood...

the girl is dead!


The boy circles around wide eyed,

almost insane, and says -

she won’t wake up,

she will never wake up again,


ladies, gentlemen

children and friends,

please give us something in her memory,

in her name...


The one who won’t be kind,

is going to die

in the middle of the night,


I grope for a coin

but find nothing in my school bag,


my heart sinks,

and I push my way through the crowd,

trying not to be seen,


come home running

and collapse in my bed!


And as the night deepens,

I find myself hanging upside down,

among the fibrous roots of a banyan tree,

swinging in the air,


and in the middle of the night,

exactly at midnight,

my breathing stops

and I'm nowhere!


I wasn’t anywhere,

I do not know, where I was

I still do not know,

where I am!


© Kalpna Singh-Chitnis.


From the poetry collection “Tafteesh Jari Hai” (The Investigation Continues). This poem is translated from original Hindi into English by the poet.