Home Inspiration Where I am From

Where I am From

by Vidya Sury March 24, 2024 0 comment
Where I am from - beautiful woman's hands with henna design and bangles

Inspired by teacher, award-winning poet, and author, George Ella Lyon’s poem Where I am From

Where I am From

I am from my mother’s delicate henna-ed hands,
from discovering fragrant dried petals of Magnolia in her diaries,
with recipes for food lovingly cooked from scratch,
cherished from treasured steel tiffin carriers.

I am from conversations on the communal porch,
anticipation draped in nine-yard Kanjeevaram silk sarees and dhotis
spicy homemade mango pickles, from giant sheets of linen sun drying
dry condiments, vegetables, and rice sago paste.

I am from spices and masala powder in rustic kitchens with leaky roofs,
from pounding dried chilis in hot Indian summers, singing folk songs
until twilight when glowing charcoal embers flavored shared delicacies,
collecting ash from stoves to scrub utensils and smooth skin.

I am from basil and turmeric and sesame oil and shikakai
anointed on my skin every Friday, whose fragrance forever will linger
I am from packed suitcases and holdalls from grandpa and grandma
and from their legacy of kindness and generosity.

I am from evenings on the back porch with aunts and cousins, oiling and combing each other’s hair,
gossiping, sharing secrets as fragrant as the jasmine we wove.
I am from moonlight dinners with my grandma
listening to anecdotes in wonder about my grandfather I did not know.

I am from moments of pain and joy, estranged relationships,
loss, guilt, redemption, hushed whispers, chipped nail polish,
smiles and laughter… whispered conversations
over coffee with Mom.

I am from inherited silver plates and cups and an old South Indian coffee filter,
a 100-year-old brass lamp lit with a wick soaked in love at dawn,
a tradition of prayers sung together, offering vadas and chakra pongal
at the altar, celebrating festivals, life and death.

Where I am from - Woman's hands weaving flowers maghizhampoo, spanish cherry flowers

Rayabhari, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

I am from bathing in our temple pond, laundry on the rocks,
picking lotus flowers and maghizampoo, weaving them into heady garlands,
sleeping under the stars laughing at dirty jokes,
memories that won’t fade even though we grew apart.

I am from rugby jokes and Harrold Robbins novels at 10,
finding Cadbury chocolates and postage stamps next to my pillow
when I woke up, from doting uncles and aunts
who fed me self-confidence and resilience and a legacy in rare books.

I am from cheap cotton sarees, money saved in mud pots on the kitchen shelf,
fermented overnight rice with mango pickle for breakfast,
stripping coconut leaves in the backyard to make brooms
collecting cow dung cakes to fuel our hot water boiler.

Featured image source: Shutterstock

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