The Tiniest Man on Earth and more…

By Aditya Shankar

The Tiniest Man on Earth

Was so tiny

he did not belong among humans.

Too big for microbes and fungus to befriend.

Too small for mushrooms

to feel the entitlement of a rain shelter.

Eliot’s practical cats were too practical

to respond to his queries.

Orwell’s Old Major

was busy inspiring a rebellion.

With none to acknowledge,

his happiness bore no relation to happiness.

His grief bore no relation to grief.

He watched the communion of men from afar—

their greets, hugs, smiling eyes.

He was happy.

But with none to share it,

his happiness hurt worse than grief.

He watched the war of men from afar—

their slit throats, longing, silence.

This hurt him.

But with none to relate with,

his grief grew light and comical.

He roamed the lonely world,

depressed and happy at once,

a microcosm of the humanosphere.

On his epitaph, he wrote:

Emotion seeks a watching eye

and lay in his grave.

But death never came for him.

It did not want to devour a breath

that wouldn’t distill into a potion of loss.


Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot.

Old Major, a character from Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Annapurna// A History of Food

Mouth opens like the door of a shrine.

God, hungry and veiled by gloom is within.

She clutches her children tight.

Sets her men and women to work on barren lands,

pickaxes in their hand.

They plant crops, harvest the yield.

Chases away pigeons and crows.

War, they charge at rats in the granary.

Time is but the rushes of a never ending film on food—

the land our ancestors moved/ oxen ploughed,

earthworm that wiggled/ lizard fish that splashed,

cranes and parakeets that flew.

Not to forget the much more ancient recordings.

Spears that we darted/ meat that we roasted,

forests that thronged the fields once/

hills that we scaled.

No love story, without an episode of meal.

No battlefield, without a thirsty dying throat.

No captivity, as unbreachable as hunger.

Grounded by roots that we assume are severed,

an indoor sapling channels light.

A hand fed parrot pecks from our digital nest.

Concise and edible in its beak,

the epic of Annapurna, my mother’s fond deity.

Note: Annapurna is the Hindu goddess of food and nourishment

Aditya Shankar is an Indian poet, flash fiction author and translator. A Best of the Net and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Aditya has his poetry translated into Malayalam and Arabic. His poems have appeared or is forthcoming in The Little Magazine, Chandrabhaga, Asiawrites, Indian Literature, Poetica Review, Columba, Periwinkle Literary Magazine, Reality Break Press, Brasilia Review and so on. Books: After Seeing (2006), Party Poopers (2014), and XXL (Dhauli Books, 2018). He lives in Bangalore, India.