Waiting – A Haiku

below the staircase

a forlorn pair of slippers

waiting in silence …


[Reproduced below is a translation of this haiku into Japanese. I am deeply indebted to  Kalyan Dasgupta, Shinsuke Ikeda, Jun-ichi Itaya, Tomoichi Shinotsuka and, in particular, Tatsuyoshi Saijo, for helping me out with the project. Over time, I will probably revise the Japanese version further. An English transliteration of the Japanese version is provided at the bottom of the post.]



dan no shita
wabishii surippa
shizuka ni matsu

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  • Sujata  On June 23, 2010 at 1:14 am

    “slippers may slip off

    those stairs will always lead you

    to your waiting friends!”

    A poor attempt perhaps, but meant it from my heart:)

    • dipankardasgupta  On June 23, 2010 at 1:29 am

      Thanks a lot Sujata. I am a regular at the friends’ haunt. I read what they write and comment to make them happy. After so much effort at building a shelter for myself, I don’t think I want to slip again. 🙂

  • Philip Neale  On June 23, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Emotional. We do tend to attribute human feelings to inert things.

    Nice one.


    • dipankardasgupta  On June 23, 2010 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks a lot Phil. I have been trying to play with this haiku for a while. You saw earlier versions. The one I put up finally is the 19th try!!


  • knot2share  On June 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Expressing using an economy of words to paint a multi-tiered picture. This is Haiku. I picked this defintion up from google of course. Its not easy and I found this out in just a few attempts while I wrecked my brain to come up with something similar. I feel for the slippers and am also excited at the prospects of some good smelling and good looking feet finding their way towards somebody who is eagerly waiting to be of service.
    Sujata, I do like your attempt!

    Here is my attempt at a Haiku too! OJ da, no no please don’t turn away. You have to read this and bear with me.
    And there HE sits
    laughing at my predicament
    I am at crossroads again….”

    By the way, your Haikus on Boloji are very beautiful too.
    Loved Ephemeral and Caterpillar the most.

    • dipankardasgupta  On June 23, 2010 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks k2s for the kind words. It’s taken me quite a while to come up with this haiku. What I posted was the 19th attempt. I don’t know if I have still been able to achieve the effect I wanted to achieve. Basically, the forlorn slippers were meant to be a transferred epithet. But whom it describes is left to the readers’ imagination.

      Also, it could be a stairway leading up to a temple, or simply a staircase inside a dwelling house. It could be a small staircase, going up to the Puja room. It could be a wide, revolving stairway leading who knows where!

      I wish I could make the mystery deeper. Do they belong to a woman or a man is yet another question. In any case, what I finally ended up with could perhaps be described in painting jargon as a “still life”.

      I did read your haiku. Why shouldn’t I? Normally, a haiku should have the 5-7-5 syllable break up. More recently though, I notice that people are not following this convention, at least in English. But they still stick to the three lines.

      Best regards.


  • Utteeyo  On June 24, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Very nice! Well, why shouldn’t I try as well… maybe pick from where you left off! 🙂

    …Waiting in silence
    two smiling eyes
    for his approval…

    • dipankardasgupta  On June 24, 2010 at 10:13 am

      Nice, very nice indeed! Finally I seem to have caught you in my net. I feel a bit like the Old Man who waited for the fish because he couldn’t believe it will never show up!!

      And yes, those smiling eyes waiting for approval will haunt me for a million years yet!


  • kamal  On June 24, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Dear OJ,

    Wonderful.Slippers are waiting, under the staircase.They could be taken to a temple or to a meat shop, it is not in the slippers’ hands.

    I too wear slippers at home, in office, as it is too hot to wear shoes, the socks give me marks which itch a lot, so yes the slippers of mine must be wondering everyday where i will take them, today maybe to the barber.



    • dipankardasgupta  On June 24, 2010 at 10:55 am

      Dear Kamal:

      You have often commented on my posts. But this one is the best of them all. You took the haiku several steps ahead by thinking on behalf of the slippers!! Fantastic. 🙂


  • Devadatta Joardar  On February 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Read your Haiku. It’s very intriguing! I know next to nothing about Haikus, but are they marked by the sparse beauty described by RT in one of his Chhinnapatra letters – a small floor-mat, a flower vase, probably a picture hanging in a corner, and a lot of space – the Japanese ideal of cleanliness and beauty?


    • dipankardasgupta  On February 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      It is not easy to define a haiku. However, classical haiku (plural of haiku is haiku) had certain rules which were adopted for the English language. Three lines, the first line should have 5 syllables, the second 7 syllables and the third 5 syllables again. If the composition dealt with pure nature, it would be a haiku. Otherwise, it would be called a senryu. A very important rule for a haiku is that it cannot use similies. You are supposed to draw a picture and express something about eternity, without using words such as “like a …”. It should also contain a contrast, which the present haiku doesn’t. To that extent, it is not a good haiku. Normally, a haiku deals with beauty, but it also attempts to tell a story. Here are two examples of translated haiku (which don’t follow the syllable rule):

      A kite
      In the same place
      In yesterday’s sky!
      (By Buson)

      The swallow
      Turns a somersault;
      What has it forgotten?
      (By Otsuyu)

      Tagore quoted a famous haiku (can’t remember where).

      The old pond
      A frog jumps in —
      The sound of water.
      (By Basho)

      (In Japanese, this reads:
      furuike ya
      kawazu tabikomu
      mizu no oto)

      I know this is not much of an introduction. If you feel interested, search google. You will find fascinating examples as well as explanations concerning the haiku art.

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