1. Shailaputri wears a yellow

All that I can think of yellow is death by jaundice. When I was little, my eyes gathered a light shade of the sunshine and Amma was quick enough to take me to the village temple priest. She carried a tiny container with a needle. While he would say some shlokas, water transformed its colour. It matched my skin tone and my restlessness became an obligation to continue my existence. By the end of eleventh day, the yellow faded itself as though it was the storm of the mountains, unsettled by the wind that had travelled the seas to slowly fall back and rest in the fields of marigold.  

For a long time, my only encounter with Yellow was the song by Coldplay. I despised turmeric as much as Amma hated untangling my thick hair after a good oil bath. Every time Jogamma gave me bhandaar, I refused it. The blessing of the god didn’t come in the hues of one shade, I thought. The golden shower tree peeks from our window and curtains my unpleasantness of dying slowly.

The jackfruit slips out of Appa’s hands and he takes some more coconut oil. It makes me want to throw up. Amma asks me to smell a lemon, immediately. I run. I write a poem. The purpose of poetry is to instigate. 

2. Food as an identity of being

Ajji told me that gamaka kala is a lost virtue. Her father was good at it. His troupe chose and sang songs of the Mahabharata that went around trotting villages. After all, Kumaravyasa was their forefather. Poetry and music was their blood. But so was infidelity. She said that her father had another family somewhere where the village ended and the cotton crops stood shivering in the winter nights. Ajji gets a bit sad at the memories of her father. She says he always brought her hairpins and colourful ribbons when he returned and she stored it in her tin box where her kumkum and comb now rest. 

While Ajji takes me to a different time-space, Moti barks standing at the front door waiting for Ajji to give him his share of bhakri. He has become too brahminical, too chaste for a dog’s way of living, I suppose.

3. The sea of gossamer webs

The fight is about spaces
You take my sky, knot the clouds
So that they spell your cadence
Tunes that you stitched to my throat
To recite poetry that doesn’t talk hunger

My palms scream of holes
that you drilled to make a telescope
stargaze the world, spot the clusters on cheeks
while the fingers create timesheets
marking the beginning and the end
of the story, you carved on my tongue
You rip the calf muscles, second heart,
build tall walls that don’t let the share of
my air to come in. You store your secrets underneath
the armpits you have licked to paste the secrets.
I crumble into
a vagina. Your draw flowers on my thin wrists
After every puff of the lit cigarette
I decay as easily as tobacco-stuffed-gums
This fight is about spaces

4. Predilection

A desire is
a time fragment suspended
on a bare sky
with a tattooed navel
glaring in the eye of lust
When the fleeting moments
are stripped
to the world’s end
the residue is a want
that is cardamom flavoured
honey rolled in the name of love
So when you asked me
to burn out my soul,
you missed the inferno in me
Wasn’t that enough poetry, already?
I was nothing but another
passing sure sunset
that became an absolute memory
in your book of captured split seconds
You blossomed into a howl
that was let out
by every withering petal
once the world was done with the show

I think I love everything that dies now

5. The tale of two equals

Half is a good word.
It makes me feel like I am suffering
a portion of the pain
and the rest is stacked for another time
The other day when I gulped down
half the whiskey bottle
I learnt the art of managing my issues
over which I was to cry
I aligned them in an ascending order of grief
before setting the next chain of pegs
Nobody knew the door to my secret half
the neglected corner where I religiously buried
my hurt until it became a disease
I carefully gift wrapped
to curtain the symptoms
It blossomed into a black hole
that contained my rage
a seven ringed planet lost in the evolution of reasoning
I went chasing the half-filled idea of love
it seemed to serve the purposelessness of being
until I realised that this half is whole


How do we get to Hebbal from NR Colony, that buck tooth Kaka
would ask, half spitting the chikini adike
Mixed with pungent of the tobacco
Spitting, almost painting the town red
Bengaluru mama would take his white Reynolds ball pen
that was capped with a blue cloud of middle-class affordability
Precision was a trait he wore as carelessly as his holed vest
That loudly declared his struggle to raise four daughters in an urban land
(The pouring relatives from Dharwad chose to selectively ignore.
Subtlety, a failed objective in our family)
His frail fingers that fixed the machinery at HAL
Drew the maps with names of lanes
Along with stops and pit stops that BMTC
Had chalked for a city that grew bigger than a pregnant woman’s passing weeks
Bengaluru mama would then be a part time pundit also
Performing poojas, reading and rote the mantras that could fetch him fatter bundles
He always walked back home with his cotton bag that
Atya stitched out of worn out bedsheets
Rice, dry coconuts, dried dates and bananas overflowed like a river of someone else’s guilt/fear/greed
Bengaluru mama —
Always urging Atya for payasam or dink ladoos
Always eager to feed everyone who stopped by their house

Last time when we visited the Model Street house in Basavangudi
read the name plate hung at the wooden door
Age seemed like a careless bitch who ate letters like thrown away bones
Age seemed to have chewed his brains that once spread as taut as a map
Age seemed like Alzheimer who kissed so gently that one swung back to nothingness
Bengaluru mama sat in his diapers and white vest
Wrinkled, toothless in his father’s wooden chair
Asking every passerby, again and again

Poornima Laxmeshwar resides in Bangalore and works as a content writer for a living. Her poems have been published in national and international Journals of repute. Her first poetry collection “Anything but Poetry” was published by Writers Workshop, Kolkata and a chapbook of her prose poems “Thirteen” was published by Yavanika Press. Her full-length poetry collection “Strings Attached” was published by Red River. When not working, writing, cooking or cleaning, she likes listening to Hindustani Classical and to the umpteen stories of her 9-year-old daughter.