Anser Journal

The Grief Picker

By Aditya Shankar

Walked from street-to-street and door-to-door, traveled across state lines to collect grief. As
homes had evolved to paper light globules of glee, we stealthily stashed away all our grief.
Homes that wished to levitate like colorful balloons found the possession of grief to be more
shameful than the 80 pounds of plastic in a pregnant whale that washed up dead. The grief-
picker came across bottles and carboys brimming with the viscous dark liquid of grief: a yard
full of discarded grief at times, a sky full of raining gloom elsewhere, a hopeless stance at
your heel, aimless. Obstinate like sin, indelible like blood. Enigmatic otherwise, like an
erratic misty pane. Grief, like oil spills, no one wanted to claim. Join us, the street kids
dealing in trash suggested, but the grief-picker who found his calling in handling disposed
grief, walked till he could no more. Bag-after-bag, night-after-night, the grief he gathered
turned into crows none could tell apart. Are all urban crows discarded grief? They flew into
new nests, perched upon unwatched electric lines and with a peck, turned the lonely grief-
picker into a crow. But none noticed the presence of a new crow or the puny absence of a
grief-picker. By washing a dish, cleansing a sofa, dusting a library, vacuuming a carpet,
grooming a pet, we were truly busy flushing out our dense gloom. From behind shut doors,
our eyes shine with relief. A murder of crows feast on our unnamed sadness, our untold tales.


Aditya Shankar is a poet, flash fiction author, and translator based in Bangalore, India with multiple nominations for the Pushcart and Best of the Net Prize. His work has appeared in international journals and anthologies of repute from twenty five or more nations and has been translated into Malayalam and Arabic. His books include After Seeing (2006), Party Poopers (2014), and XXL (Dhauli Books, 2018).