Divya Venkat Sridhar, Writer

My papa’s papa used to run after the wooden cart of prasadam

Young feet bleeding over the rough road. I like to imagine his eyes:

bright like a brown beetle, fresh like monsoon soil,

his chest burning like metal on metal as he gulps dusty air.

He’s wearing sandbag shorts, mottled with flecks of dirt.

He’s hurdling red rock and plastic bottles, blooming like a wild indigo,

Stomach roaring in his lame body.

His small hands are cupped and trembling, so empty they could hold

a Ganges of riches, a Yamuna of flooding wealth–

only a thin paper cup of rice lands in his fingers.


I like to imagine the summer when we go to Hyderabad now:

He holds my hair, and I feel the lines in his palms

Like parted sediment along a freshwater river.

He likes to laugh until his beetle eyes fly off into the clouds

and his face goes wrinkly like pottery on an unmanned wheel.

And when he cooks, he lays out food and food and colours

Rushing around the big table to fill our hearts

With cardamom and cinnamon and cloves- his love language,

Grown from a tongue once parched in poverty.

I like to imagine he’s waited for this his whole life, and this pride

takes root in me like the eternal warmth of a sunlit sky.

His feet carry me over rough road, rock and rubble,

Until river, liquid gold breaks out from under his toes

like a lullaby.