Here, under this tree,
often slept
the fiend of our folktales.
Roaring Laughter was his name!
His laughter was not crude or bad, though.
His story has no beginning, has no ending.
Now he has no likes or dislikes.
The seven seas have dried up,
the forests on seven hills are razed,
no mysterious castle or a cage with a parrot,
not even a handful of berries to devour.
As no one tells the tale
the fiend needs no more
the tremendous makeup or his fiend’s costume.
He need not steal the princess anymore.
The hero bothers him no more.

The fiend
gets up in the morning,
brushes his fang,
takes a dip in the pond,
adorns his horns with jasmine,
and then,
till the next day, sits quietly
having nothing in particular to do.

His story has faded out,
and, that, worries his heart.
Now he belongs to a different realm
and we to another province.
Between the two of us
much water has flown in the river.
We can no more make him even grin.

Bordering on his realm
sprawls the snaky civilized world.
Varieties of souls are bought and sold.
The bulls and bears of the market
take out an endless procession
headed by useless numskulls.

The robot seems far better than the fiend.
The fiend can’t jump to the skies,
can’t conduct the star wars,
can’t rape the souls,
can’t provoke the perversity.

The fiend was, after all, alive like you and me-
teased the princess when the story-teller asked him,
ate dirt when the hero fought him,
was a model to propagate the idea of poetic justice,
and he laid low till the story was told again.
That was his way of life.

The other day, in a story told by the Americans,
It seems, there was a furious battle
between him and the robot.
The robot beat the fiend black and blue.
And the fiend ran away to cover
and hid himself in the folk tale.

The folk didn’t let him alone.
Dragged him out,
made a beautiful frame,
and displayed him
on the walls of the museum.
Now he looks no more at the robot
or, even at the children.
For,
he says,
the children, after all,
are the offspring of the robot.

Aren’t they?