• Mistaken Identity

    Sridala Swami

    November 23, 2016


    Obasa min Dahlin’ used his head to stop a bullet. The people in the press room used their eyes. If they blinked with their eyes closed they sometimes saw a deeper red. Their wideangled phones caught everything – they were so powerful.

    They were so powerful they could tune rumour into fact. [One of those instances when the word ‘powerful’ and the word ‘sensitive’ are nearly synonymous.]

    Dahlin’ was a free bird in a free world because he has wings. I have never had wings. I have never felt the air solidify around me because I never travel at such speeds.

    What I have is roots. What he had is caves. What they have is fences. [You could call this a primer.]

    I have seen fences that shed the clothes they were given so that they could keep their neutrality in plain sight. In a borderless world I like the reassurance of fences I can see through. I often wonder at what speeds a person would need to travel to make it through those gaps all fences have. If you travel really fast – at bullet-speed, say – is the fence still porous or is it solid?


    So one day Osaba stood tall and carried a plaent in his right hand. Oops. I meant planet. He spun the planet & he chinked his spurs – which were, he said privately, and only into ears that drank his words in at one end and spit them out the other, the spurs of discontent. As soon as he said this, two words fell out the other ear of his listener.

    ‘Disco’ and ‘tent’.

    Osaba was always an ambitious man and you should not judge the scale of his ambition by the size of these two words. Remember: he can carry a planet in one hand and only people who cannot spell think that what he holds is a plant.



    800px-hieronymus_bosch_008Hieronymous Bosch, detail from 'The Temptation of St Anthony' / Wikimedia: full image




    Sridala Swami is a poet and fiction writer.  Her first book of poems, A Reluctant Survivor, was published by the Sahitya Akademi in 2007.  This poem was first published in Escape Artist (Aleph Book Co., 2014).  It is part of our unfolding Citizens against War series of literature and art, initiated in the spirit of listening: to our poets, artists, fellow citizens, against war and warmongering.


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