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To the Objects in my Grandmother’s House by Pankhuri Shukla


Art by Sunaina Mehrotra

I always wanted a thicket in the backyard

A verandah facing the forests in monsoon

A terrace where I could fall asleep

To the sound of a peacock in its bloom

Entire rooms with cupboards stacked

With regional paperbacks and antiques

A rocking chair that could date back

Creating some space for my fantasies.

I wanted knowledge of the arts

Passed down to me through the aroma

Of my grandmother’s incense sticks

And stories that cut through social

Barriers proudly poking out of the spines

Of my ancestors as they struggled

To keep up with their time, I wanted

Dusty corridors just as they come

Little poets, now dead, on the last page

Of their damaged botany textbooks

Half-blood relatives that have eloped

Meeting halfway in different corners of the world

The tinkling of nostalgia tied around my feet

As they move through the corridors of my dreams

Some fungi-laden wells, and ghost stories to tell

Drawers that pull out to expose little horrors

That I have grappled with for long

Before leaving them behind.

So when my grandmother calls me home

I look up at the first storey house that was:

Where I first mispronounced the word July

And heard of how important it is for men

To be able to feed themselves, and cry

Where the concept of privacy was obscure

And guavas grew right next-door

Where I first got frightened by a cockroach

Where we knocked on doors, then roared

And heard bitter stories laced with power cuts

Followed by the urgency to keep insects outdoors.

– And think about how the world moves on:

From the first storey three-bedroom house

To a ground floor mansion with parking space

From verbose anecdotes to still photographs

That move around in binary codes

From celebratory gatherings at midnight

To cramped long weekends that feel like a chore

From slumbers under the summer skies

To one air-conditioned room only – for the better


From,

The Obliged

 
 
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