A poem by K.Siva Reddy
You may read the poem at http://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poem/item/16120/auto/0/TRAFFIC
(copywright: the poem cannot be reproduced here)
Traffic is a slow-crawling snake.Some times it sheds its skin, like a snake does for periodic renewal.Which means it moves a bit and comes to a standstill.Some times it seems to be brooding , its head between its raised knees. (like you see a distraught man squats on the floor , his head inserted between his knees). Now come back to the snake metaphor.Traffic is snake back again ,one would not know whether alive or dead. Whether it is going forward or back.The traffic makes its contorted movements like a torso with its broken limbs.
Even the police van has to wriggle in this traffic like a fish caught in the angler’s rod. And then somebody kicks your behind suddenly. We who are familiar with our city’s traffic would know. Since the vehicles move slowly “bumper to bumper” as they say ,the slightest acceleration of a vehicle behind leads to such kicks on the behind. No offence is meant and nobody says sorry either.You only acquire a pretty dimple on the bum.You can neither move forward nor turn back. You stay put wherever you are .Two crows sitting on the overhead electric wires shit on the traffic’s head fearlessly.
I like this cameo , so very authentic to the Indian situation. Just imagine the overhead electric wires with the crows sitting on them. The traffic is humanity in vehicles , a mass of steel hiding human faces that do not scare crows. The crows sit on the wires and shit fearlessly on the vehicle-tops. The crows are part of the human situation.They are there everywhere and participate in the drama of our actions. In Indian urban living birds and animals cannot be separated from humans.
Observe the “animal” imagery used in the poem. Traffic crawls like a snake. Traffic sheds its skin. Police van wriggles. Crows shit on traffic.traffic is a half dead snake with its tail still wriggling with life. Police van caught in traffic like a fish wriggling in an angler’s rod.
Traffic is human too.It is brooding like a distraught man with his head inserted between his raised knees.Traffic has a head for the two crows to shit on.Traffic has its arses too ,each of them kicking other arses. It is a river that cannot move and struggles with labor pains.
What does the poet do? He is just throwing his glances at it like kids fearlessly hurling stones at a dead snake. If only he could fold traffic like an umbrella and walk away with it under his arms!
I love this image .An umbrella can be folded and tucked away ,when it is not raining and you open it only when you need it. Traffic cannot be folded up once you are in it .Neither can you decide to go at your speed nor return to get out of it.Traffic is the flow you have to move with and you have no choice. Traffic is full of regrets about roads not taken.
I love the little girl standing by the river of traffic ,her fingers on her lips, wondering if the river would give her way .Just like river Yamuna split in two to give way to little Krishna.