Between three tablespoons of sickly bright orange tonic,
(administered thrice daily; no more, no less)
bottled in vials shaped unmistakably like grandpa’s third eye
(over which eyelashes locked themselves in a permanent embrace three fortnights ago)
Ammama leans in, toucan nose tickled by three errant strands of ivory
(Have you seen my hair net, lately? I could have sworn I left it right here three years ago)
And whispers furtively – with three exquisite breaths of denied exhaustion – referring to my mother
(Chirpiness of vocal cords had turned into rusted rasping after the third child succumbed to the seductions of a ceiling fan)
‘A lesser woman would have run away three decades ago’
(But not my mother, no. Not the womb that housed three: anxiety, my sister, and me)
‘She’s a home in herself,’ Ammama’s spoon quakes a third of an inch
(Like the time she discovered that vermillion was no longer one of the three colors she could smear over her scalp)
‘I don’t see how she does it all,’ brick brown saree rustles under the weight of a trio of folded palms
(But I see, and I see it thrice)
First, in the strength of my Ammama’s brow, tanned three different hues from hours spent under an indifferent, burning sun
(For thirty decades now)
Second, in the wrinkles on my mother’s wrist, forking in three ways, each pulled towards a new wave of palpitation at 03:00 pm on Sunday afternoons
(For thirty years now)
And third, in the curve of my sister’s neck arched precariously over three of her own brainchildren, nursed to pink, digital health
(For three years now)
I see it all, and I see it thrice.
I help Ammama take her final tablespoon of sickly bright orange tonic.
In our second winning entry, we have a poem about grandmothers. Deeksha writes exquisitely on the various transitions that have taken place through three generations. The way she faces life today is drastically different from that faced by her mother and grandmother, yet there are some inevitable similarities.
The Poem was illustrated by Shreya Utla from the MTTN Art Team.
This poem was selected as the Overall Grand Winner of Manipal Poetry Writing Month.