First Memory: Chandigarh wali Chachi by Kandala Singh


Photo by Greyson Joralemon


Dressing up for a wedding at her place, I watch

as she applies silver lipstick to match

a sequined silver-and-white salwar kameez.

Silver? I ask, coming from a mother

who doesn’t know makeup.

Silver look sexy darling, she says, winking

at me in the mirror. 8-year old me stumbles

over the word sexy, rolls its delicious

danger on my tongue. When we hit the floor

that night, I watch her dance

with all the boys batting

their eyes at her, then pull

my chacha into the circle of her arms.

They spin round

and round, her hips rolling, swirling,

silver sequins flashing in my eye.



Kandala Singh is a writer and qualitative researcher from New Delhi. She lives in a flat that looks out at Ashoka trees, and escapes to the mountains as often as she can. Her poems have appeared in Rust + Moth, SWWIM Every Day, Muse India and nether Quarterly. You can find her on Instagram @kandalasingh.