A Pony in a Carousel


Like a pony fettered to a carousel, I’ve been travelling miles after circular miles and yet not have moved a millimetre from the pole I am suspended. I am not in charge of this motion, nor do I control this stasis. I cannot even choose the music or the riders that cling to my back at intervals. Try as I might, I cannot relate to their fear or delight, for they are free of the shackles of the gravity while I am a slave to the carousel’s periphery.

I fret the elephant and the camel no longer, who will forever lead and trail me on this voyage with placid looks carved in their faces. I am unknown too, to the turmoil or torpor my fellow serfs might be undergoing, time after time, spin after spin.

My other life is an evanescent dream where I am a galloping steed in a grassland. The shrubs of this pasture are verdant and velvety, oozing with juice and scent. Before the day spills its brightness on the land of rabble I wake up to a dawn under dulcet skies, lyrical and winged like birds. And when the sun turns yellow in the firmament I trot to a stream, the wind rustling through my flaming mane.

I am saying this to you as if it all were a fragment of truth, but I am saying this for it’s not a figment of my fancy; that world is as real as this roundabout is cruel. But what has shrivelled over the countless gyrations is the silken wings of my sleep.

When I was a freshly hewn colt from the trunk of an oak the woodcutter had painted fat eyelids on my hopeful visage, a kind god that he was, so that I could dream even in my drudgery. Those eyes lasted rains and countless summers, surviving siroccos and mistrals of the planet, till the talons of time scraped away the brows and lashes. And I would sleep lesser and lesser, falling farther and farther from my somnolent treasures, eventually ending up having a pair of mouldy grey eyes that would just not close, just not swim.

Then a fool turned up one day with cans of paint and painted me a shade of mustard yellow as if I were a clueless carthorse, and he left me with huge white lidless vision so that I could focus ahead rather than glaze in my fantasies. Worse fates befell to the elephant and the camel too who were painted green and pink with same horrid eyes. Now whoever has seen a green elephant or a camel that is pink, except in his wildest trance? The bitter truth remains then, you have to trot to the tune of your masters if you don’t want to be a part of a landfill, like the black swan who broke free from the pole the other day thinking he could fly away like a real avian.

Such is the sad fate of my other life, friends, and that is why it has been increasingly hard to be swirling my pen. We all want to stay put and retain our utility lest we are discarded by the heartless crowds. So unless the clown of the park who came to me the other day and whispered in my ears that they are conspiring to install a roller-coaster in this cold, whirling ground, all fibre and steel, and that probably he will buy me in the ensuing auction to make me a part of the wooden canoe he is building for the lake across the palm trees, I will zoom ad nauseam about my life till the dead end. The small chance that I may get to become a part of the canoe will mean I’ll be able to sail along the bank of a lake with the breeze dancing on the grass.


  1. Poetic philosophical soothing prose. The note of optimism towards the end was the highlight for me. Life goes on with change being the only constant.

      1. I loved your post, have never commented before….only just stumbled upon it….as for now, I have freed myself of one carousel, to be able to enjoy others’ rides….sorry to be cynical, hope the light at the end of the tunnel is not another train coming in our direction….I am going to become a fan of your writing….Shubha

        1. If I am happy you decided to leave your footprints here, I am happier you freed yourself from a carousel. As for the trains in tunnel, they mow down both who are headed against it and running away from it; at least we are trying.

  2. While a carousel horse does go round and round, never stopping, the one thing it will always have are the giggles of delight and the shrieks of joy from the children and young at heart who line up to pick a horse to ride. It is the one thing in the park that will draw visitor after visitor and bring memories to mind at the same time it forms new ones. A carousel will never be out dated and when it stops it’s spinning each horse goes on to become a part of someone’s home, loved in stillness as much as it was loved in action. Many humans should be so lucky.

    1. Many thanks for those encouraging words, my friend —they are like so much sunshine in the icy greyness. How true it is that there will always be takeaways from the grimmest of situations!

  3. I hear the pony.
    I’m sure the pony will have its day. (Actually days by the lake).

    Another great piece of writing; one that evokes empathy.

    I’m sure the next time I’m at a carousal, I’m going to be thinking about ‘A pony in a carousal’ – the post. And about what would happen to it when the paint on it begins to chip away. I now hope the pony and the elephant and the camel, even the unicorn end up some place they would like to be.

  4. all this talk of your `other life’ US? a little dark to be sure…but you can fly US…. sometimes in the shadow of a mountain, but often in the sun.
    your pony always has wings

  5. A brilliant metaphorical analogy of your current state of mind. I am nowhere near as brilliant as you are, but being in ‘that’ frame of mind for almost two years now, I can certainly empathize with you. 🙂

    1. Each of us is as original and true as a butterfly, Akshay —the possibilities are countless. Your time will surely come; there is enough sand in the top of the hourglass.

  6. Your prose is so ornamental it always leaves me a little dazed and bottle green with envy.

    Coming to the content, aren’t we all free yet bonded trying to as you said “retain our utility”…dismal and so true as your span on Earth exceeds your ambitious dreams, you realize the futility of wide-eyed innocence and bloated conviction more than you care to.

    1. I have an adaptive style that alters itself in tune with the mood and the theme. NormaIly, I believe in packing the punch in minimal expressions and that, rather than embellishments, is my effort when I begin tapping the keyboard. Many thanks for the compliment and understanding, not the least for your approval.

  7. So wonderfully imaginative, Umashankar, becoming the pony in the carousel to tell your tale! Remarking on the daily grind and then running free and unfettered in your dreams. I like it and can relate. And I felt for the pony (the elephant and camel too), their beautiful colors repainted in wrong shades by a fool with no vision (sigh!). Especially love the line, “I wake up to a dawn under dulcet skies, lyrical and winged like birds.” Beautiful, I really love this one!

  8. This has been so beautifully penned that I have returned to it many times to savour the beauty of the imagery, the analogy, the settings, the subtlety… and mostly your wand. It is always a pleasure to read your craft, Uma.

  9. Beautifully poetic and philosophical. Brilliant as usual Uma. Dreams are the one thing we can call our own, something that offers us escape in many a dreary situations. Lucky are those who don’t need to dream anymore.

    1. Thanks for your deep appreciation, Ash. Dreams play a vital role in our lives, reconciling the dreariness of the reality with our aspirations.

  10. Very interesting allegory, Umashankar – I could really relate to that

    I was also somehow reminded of the story by Robin Hobb where dragon eggs are made into ships called live ships.

  11. The imagery and extended metaphors are astounding, and your writing is beautiful. The dreams of restriction vs. freedom are universal, and this will touch everyone individually.
    Well done.

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