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Shapeshifter by Greeshma Gayathri

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

Art by Atreyee Basu


(For Ammu and the stories)

I could swear upon the dust gold –

two worlds met in those rocky grey valleys.

Far from home, far off, when the flap of prayer flags

against the endless blue ricocheted,

white cumuli mountains whirled to their wish. On

those red embered evenings, Beas would be a green slime

to match our canteen pond and the crushed copper pod

yellows on which we stood, unspooled

like fishes were paisleys, tailfins lopsided, leaping in

a little lesser truth

every time you finish with Delhi. And I too would see qawwalis

yet again, blinking easy into my cup.

After all, no spice is too much

for a Sulaimani.


Sulaimani is an aromatic sweet-sour black tea popular in the Malabar region of Kerala. In popular culture, it is said that every cup of Sulaimani has a pinch of love in it and the world would come to a standstill as you savour it. During my college days, one among the best conversations I’ve had with friends is about this shared, yet, very different winter memory that my friend and I had. He used to tell these stories over and over again that they stayed with us like the aftertaste of a warm Sulaimani.

About the poet:

Greeshma Gayathri is 23 and a civil engineering graduate from Kerala who ended up falling in love with poetry. She has just begun unpacking the craft and you can find her forage for poems on Instagram @here.for.the.lyric. Her work has appeared in Jaggery lit journal and is forthcoming in Pop the Culture Pill magazine.

About the artist:

My name is Atreyee and I am a self taught illustrator and a teacher. I started doing watercolour illustrations during the first lockdown. It was a way to connect with my inner child,I acknowledge feelings, emotions, thoughts and needs of my child self through art.Most of what i draw is mundane memories of my childhood, like waking up early, getting a cup of tea like the adults in the house and seeing birds chirping outside or looking at bugs in our garden, discovering a grasshopper as big as your hand or napping in a cozy armchair.In the 90’s there were a lot of children’s books from Russia and China translated in Bengali filled with illustrations done by amazing artists,a Bengali bi monthly magazine called Anondomela and hand drawn animations on tv. They all have influenced my art style. You can find me on IG @_eeyerta


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