THE CAMEL

K. Satchidanandan (1946) is an Indian poet and critic, writing in Malayalam and English. A pioneer of modern poetry in Malayalam, a bilingual literary critic, playwright, editor, columnist and translator, he is the former Editor of Indian Literature journal and the former Secretary of Sahitya Akademi. He is also social advocate for secular anti-caste views, supporting causes like environment, human rights and free software and is a well known speaker on issues concerning contemporary Indian literature. He is the festival director of Kerala Literature Festival. 

For Nasira Sharma

I am the ship of the desert,

the tallest offspring

of sand-dunes and dust-storms,

the vessel of dates,

the solar sea,

the endless kiss of

the cactus’s dream,

the moist prophecy

of the mirage, the brown

beauty spot of the oasis,

the tenderness of silk,

the perfume-tree of Paradise,

the minaret of prayer.


The mark the prophet left

is still on my back;

all those who rode me

are here still: traders,

emperors, slaves, aggressors,

poets: at night they steal

out of the sarcophagi and

red sand-stone palaces

buried in the desert.

Swords and armours clash;

moonlight blossoms

in the heavy torrent of screams.


I breathe history

in this sandstorm

as I await with the exiles

the distant rain and

peer into the pathways

of the caravan to see

what the new century has to offer:

in saintly detachment

like my ascetic friends

of Rajasthan.

(from 'The Arabian Nights', written after a trip to Syria with writers including Nasera Sharma)

Best wishes



    K. Satchidanandan