2022 Poetry Collection

When I think of you, I am home

An Ode to Ammama (and Hyderabad)

When I think of you, I am home

Home in a city where the language only made it as far as my mother

Words dissolving on my tongue at six.

But when I think of you, ammama, I am home

I am in the rooftop of our house, grey dusty footsteps as we water your plants

Cracked ceramic bowls carefully balanced in my little hands.

I am sitting on the cold marble floor, painting flowerpots you bought me

With matching little pots of paint. They are misshapen but you kiss them and they’re the prettiest flowers in the world

I am sniffling after my annual bad haircut and you hand me your handkerchiefs, 

Blue and yellow and prints of roses on them. I keep them tucked right

And build a bouquet that never dies. 

When I think of you, ammama, I am home

Even if I didn’t visit you for four years, and lost thathaiya for two

And that house doesn’t get to have you anymore.

But as we sit in a new building, your hand holding the same kerchief (the flowers have wilted a little),

We look through the photos of our old house and you carrying me as a baby

And Ammama, I am home.

Samhita Shanker

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