Shanta was a poet. At least he thought he was.
He could make words rhyme and place them in separate lines. That was his definition of poetry.
His third-grade teacher had praised his poem – ‘I Love My Mummy’ to the skies. Though there was nothing praiseworthy to it, the teacher’s four-year affair with Shanta’s mother could have been the reason for it.
Shanta’s friends and relatives which totaled to two and four respectively, gave the growing boy a wrong assessment of his talent. So after high school instead of attending college, Shanta picked up a pen and notebook and filled page upon page with verses that had no head or tail, nor rhyme or reason.
Ten notebooks, filled to their pages’ limits, seemed enough to submit to several publishers, but Shanta never heard from any of them. He never thought that his poetry could be at fault. It was more the negligence of insincere professionals.
If no one would print his poems, then he’d simply stand at street corners and sing them.
And Shanta got quite an audience. Seven dogs and a crazy parrot. The dogs howled along while the parrot squawked and flew in circles barely missing Shanta’s egg-shaped head. It seemed humans were a tougher lot to impress.
So like the Pied Piper, Shanta roamed the streets belting out his poetry while his dog following grew in number. They marched behind Shanta like he was their messiah. The parrot perched itself upon Shanta’s shoulder, screaming when it felt like it.
The procession and ruckus were a sight to behold, and people flocked to the streets and their balconies. No one knew the man or the animals, but they laughed and cheered like it was appropriate.
When Shanta stopped to bow and wave, the animals skittered away. The parrot dug its beak into the man’s cheek leaving him bloody before flying away.
The poet learnt his lesson and now never stops his poetry procession. He walks and sings day and night with hundreds of dogs and an annoyed, green parrot. People offer what they can. The man, dogs, and parrot grow fatter.
Turns out, Shanta’s poetry was too complicated for people.