There are cities buried under this one

Gaurav Monga's marvelous and strange fragments have the feel of being found as a sheaf of unbound, unnumbered pages in a yellowing envelope, laying perhaps on an otherwise empty shelf at the back on an abandoned safe-deposit vault. They tell of a lost city of self, ancient excavations, and half-glimpsed memory.

Gaurav Monga’s marvelous and strange fragments have the feel of being found as a sheaf of unbound, unnumbered pages in a yellowing envelope, laying perhaps on an otherwise empty shelf at the back on an abandoned safe-deposit vault. To preserve their idiosyncratic character, The Fabulist Words & Art has eschewed the usual editorial process and presents these texts as written.

The city has finally come into full-bloom, crowded with offices and people in suits. City fashion has even taken villages by storm, so much so that farmers have started wearing their suits into the fields….

On the fifth of July, 1977, I was born in a coastal town. In October, 1982, I ate a doughnut covered with sand. A year later I will do the same. On the 17th of April, 1986, I accidentally cut my thumb into two. The stub of my thumb lay red on the table.

In November, 1989, whales came on to the land, sailing past us, past city corners. While we were busy playing at sea, flip-flopping whales slowly died in the city. On the 15th of July, 1990, I went away to boarding school.

At no exact point did I return.


In the city was the street where our apartment stood on the 5th story of a six- story building.

Our apartment stood suspended in air while I walked about it in my pajamas. I was looking for a tooth I had been playing with which I knew I had kept underneath one of the pillows. I had come to the last pillow in my bedroom on the fifth story of a six story building in a city suspended in air.

All we had was a carpet on top of which was a table, a coffee table with a vase that had flowers in it. I removed the flowers. Shweta removed the vase, as it had no use and could be kept away, or better still, broken, as we were never going to have flowers in this house anymore. The table was also put away and was eventually covered with an ugly sheet. Shweta and I always returned to the carpet, no matter where we went.

We had a shed at the back of the building where a carpenter used to come twice a week to make some useless wooden objects.

Our city was crammed into a single courtyard with high walls and no windows to look out.

The country path never made its way here and the highway, which started in the suburbs, made endless circles around our town.


I showed up accidentally in a city where I was not meant to be.

On a street I saw a telephone pole, which looked just like me. I stood next to it, to see if passers-by noticed the difference, but there were only telephone poles there.

When I visited homes in the suburbs, I found that the people there were flies. I went back to the center. Even the telephone poles had been razed.

I was surrounded by this city. If the city disappeared, I did, too. I was surrounded by myself. If I disappeared, I’ll still be there.


Our city was once a fortress. It took four entire days to break down her walls. Only the doors remained. Much later, no one could have been sure on which side of the doors the city stood.


In the old city park new city residents were not allowed.

As a child, while playing there, I was picked up by a vulture. When he dropped me down, I was all grown up and knew how to fly. I flew past an abandoned city. The inhabitants had all fled to a neighboring town, which looked identical.

When I got there, I found that the city was not abandoned but created for trespassers. They would be left breaking into empty homes.

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Gaurav Monga

Gaurav Monga

Gaurav Monga is a prose poet from New Delhi, India. His debut book, Tears for Rahul Dutta, was published by Philistine Press. Much of his other work can be read at Birkensnake, Zero Ducats, Juked, Spurl Editions, Danse Macabre and Sein und Werden. He is also the author of the book "Ruins," and the short-fiction anthology "Family Matters." He teaches creative writing, literature, German, theater and epistemology, and has worked at schools and universities in India, Nepal, and Switzerland. He is currently teaching in the Czech Republic.

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