Street Dog

By Amrita Pritam 1919–2005 Amrita Pritam

Translated By R. Parthasarathy

It's really something from the past—
when you and I split up
without any regrets—
just one thing that I don't quite understand . . .      

When we were saying our farewells
and our house was up for sale
the empty pots and pans strewn across the courtyard—
         perhaps they were gazing into our eyes
and others that were upside down—
         perhaps they were hiding their faces from us.

A faded vine over the door,
perhaps it was confiding something to us
         —or grumbling to the faucet.

Things such as these
never cross my mind;
just one thing comes to mind again and again—

how a street dog—
catching the scent
wandered into a bare room
and the door slammed shut behind him.

After three days—
when the house changed hands
we swapped keys for hard cash
delivered every one of the locks to the new owner
showed him one room after the other—
we found that dog's carcass in the middle of a room . . .      
Not once had I heard him bark
         —I had smelled only his foul odor
and even now, all of a sudden, I smell that odor—
it gets to me from so many things . . .

Source: Poetry (September 2007).


This poem originally appeared in the September 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2007


Amrita Pritam was a Punjabi poet and novelist who recorded the trauma of Partition in her best-know poem, “I Call upon Varis Shah Today.” Denis Matringe’s French translation of her novel, The Skeleton, was awarded the La Route des Indes Literary Prize (2005). Among her other honors were the Jnanpith award (1981) and the Padma Vibushan (2005).

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Amrita Pritam

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Separation & Divorce, Relationships, Men & Women, Pets


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