corner image   The Cafe Irreal: International Imagination 

Issue Twenty-Six

The Boatman's Home by Shome Dasgupta
Selections from
Fabulosae Aves (Fabulous Birds)
by Flavia Lobo
Two Compositions (from Empty Streets) by Michal Ajvaz
The Pavilion and the Lime Tree by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud
"I" Get Caught With
Marie-Yves's Pants Down
by Derek White
Wind by Ralph Wahlstrom
Thief of the Moon by Srinjay Chakravarti


Thief of the Moon

by Srinjay Chakravarti

Last night a thief came to my room and stole the moon.

There was a marvelous crystal chandelier from the Taj Mahal, lustrous as a thousand dewdrops and resplendent with history, but he did not bother to take it.

He could have taken that silver jewel box, now empty, but still flavored with the aftertaste of rubies that shone like pomegranate seeds and pearls which were redolent with the fragrance of amaranths. The metal casing itself would have brought him a fortune for the craftsmanship of its filigreed imagery.

He could have stolen that antique fountain pen, its knob encrusted with little glittering diamonds, worth a king's ransom; indeed, it was once part of the dowry of the Maharajah of Advutnagar and each gem was said to have been born from the crystallized tears of his serfs.

Or else he could have considered a paperweight made of solid gold with which I hold down my bank receipts, demat share transactions, tax invoices, and the final drafts of my new poems.

He could have filched my new ashtray made of the purest platinum, embossed with designs from the arcana of Tibetan mandalas — designs no less cryptic than the shadowy stains on the glowing globe of the full moon.

Or he could have helped himself to that priceless purple umbrella I have, its handle crafted with the finest Deccan rosewood and its fabric the most wonderful spun muga silk of Kaziranga. Don't think it to be just any ordinary sort of umbrella; it can be used as a parachute if you need it, or you can float across the stormiest of seas by using it as a magic boat.

He did not even deign to look at the locker in my wardrobe, where there were plenty of green dollar notes and white pound sterling and black money in various currency denominations.

He did not even try to pick the safe where I have kept my childhood secrets locked away with my shame and my sorrow, that inventory of lost innocence and forgotten remorse.

He could have pinched a thousand other little things, mementoes from Siam, knick-knacks from Persia, or keepsakes from Cathay. But no.

He ignored all that was there and took the one thing I needed the most: the moon at my window.

And now I'm left with nothing of my own.

Srinjay Chakravarti is a journalist, economist, writer and translator based in Salt Lake City, Calcutta, India. His poetry and prose have appeared in numerous publications in nearly 30 countries. In North America, these include Euphony, The Melic Review, Eclectica Magazine, and The Pedestal Magazine, among many others. His first book of poems, Occam's Razor, (Writers Workshop, Calcutta: 1994) received the Salt Literary Award from Salt, the Australian literary and publishing organization, in 1995. He won first prize in the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Poetry Competition 2007. His journalistic columns include essays and articles on economics, politics, physics (including astrophysics) and literature (including literary criticism and book reviews).

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