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Poetry Month: HOME

On Building a Shell by Yashasvi


The word made of four letters

that tastes like mushroom soup

on a cool evening

and leaves you with a belly

full of cosy

I hear hermit crabs

have temporary homes

and when they outgrow one

they look for another ideal place

to find shelter and build a home

they sometimes even add decorations like sea anemones

I think of all the animals that carry their homes on their backs

Turtles, tortoises, snails

Their lamp of cosy that they can quickly turn on

when they need light and warmth

I wonder what their shells are made of

What do they have inside?

Google tells me it is bones and keratin

I wonder if they also have curtains of memories

and drawers full of joy

I think of all that feels like a sip of chai at the end of an exhausting day

as the warm familiar liquid makes it way to my belly, lighting up every

nook and cranny it touches

Neelu’s laughter

Tejal’s warm photographs of light

Mom’s crisp kokis

airy pockets of a good croissant

screeching voices of my students

stories that reside in books

my reading thoughts left to linger between lines

imaginary conversations with characters

the dancing light that comes visiting

cups of tea

photographs, stories, glimpses of life on instagram

the time spent staring at books in the library

conversations with the sea

I am gathering these bricks and bones,

these fragments of memories,

moments, places and people

to build my shell

to make me a home

to sew my

tapestry of homeliness


i make the bed

and make it again because

i can't find the body shaped dent i left

in the upper-left corner over four years of high school.

instead i climb into the sheets like a gun in a glove box, all too heavily,

if i fit at all.

but i




and in a week, i settle in,

i excavate the dent and the room smells like

lemongrass and coconut once more

and all the books i need to finish reading

stare me down

everyday from my desk

next to my windmill i whisper wishes to.

but now it's time




guess that's home for you.


i can read your identity

from footsteps afar

twice a knock &

dad here you are

mom, you eavesdrop a lot

& bring barfi filled jars

sprinkle your warmth

while i put on bizzare

you've upholded me thru

my irrational avatars

home is where bhai feeds

my cravings chocolate bars

my home's located in a

heart & we are

souls waiting to

return dispar

home is to be sung on

my awful strings of guitar

home is a home

wherever you all are


you have written countless poems

about home and it is clear now

that it doesn’t concern cement

and walls as much as it is

instead your very heart -

your home is your heart –

you live in it so entirely,

and it is a marvel that it hasn’t

burst out of your ribs yet,

and in this heart live all your darlings

and sometimes it closes in and

disallows them the space to wander

freely but mostly they flower merrily

and sometimes it feels as if

you absolutely cannot admit

one more person into your heart,

for there is simply no space,

for there is so much love inside of you

and it presses up against the flesh

like a little nose against a foggy

windowpane and it is so heavy

and your body so light and it is all

almost impossible to bear and in your

journal, on almost every other page,

the words “heart hurts” are wearily

scrawled and when she asks you

how long, how long until you

meet again, not even one of your

fantastical calculations can

provide an answer and so

your only consolation remains

that in your memories you will meet

again and again, and moon beams

will dart through the both of you

again and again and you will continue

to “poet” and she will continue

to “sing”, in your heart,

in your home.


My grandmother forgets.

she walks out of the front gate, saying she is going home

she talks of a place, not here, where she has now lived for years.

walking out of the only home she had ever known,

the one my grandfather and she had built:

the two trees of coconut on the sides of the old house,

the ones that grandma planted years ago when they had first arrived at this plot,

look, as if in desolation

as the only home they had known forever now, walks out of her own house.

They say it is the disease; she walks out saying she doesn’t want to live here anymore

confused and frustrated at what she cannot understand, yes, she forgets.  I walk behind her, ask her to come back

But she is going home, she says.

So, I walk beside her, ask her about this home she has

We walk across the busy roads and bewildered stares

the tall serious looking houses making way

and my grandmother’s neck perked up, eyes searching for the one that "looks like

home", as they say.

On the way she tells me that she has gone through a lot of pain

she says how all she ever did was give herself

and I silently nod beside her. Somethings one can never forget.

On the way I notice a black feather lying on the dusty road;

they say feathers bring good luck, I hope the bird whose feather now lies here trampled on by rubber tyres

found her home too.

We walk on for a few minutes more, in the autumn afternoon

sunrays racing through the clouds, the dust dancing in air;

I tell grandma, we’ve come the wrong way

and she turns back like a little child, lost in a stranger world,

and we walk back the way we came.

It’s almost like walking down memory lane, except

memory doesn’t live here anymore.

In her mind I think I see all the memories

line up in wicker

and as she reaches out to hold them

they crumble in her hands

like the biscuits that use to drop into my tea

on an autumn afternoon

when I sat on my grandmother’s porch

sipping on our favorite memories,

All roads lead home.


My little Alan, hold me tight,

Don't be scared of waters or the night sky,

The shore is close,

So is warm kalaneh, kuki and paklawa

See your brother making faces at you,

Yes, there are baby sharks under the boat

But they are hugging their mothers just like us,

Nothing to fear, my precious pearl,

I will be here and on the other side too.

But, Ammi! why are there tears in your eyes?

Are you scared just like others?

No,my love. These are happy tears.

Thank you Allah! we are together and alive.



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