she has inherited her father’s cracking bones and

her mother’s dimple



stands in front of the mirror,

Ma’s green dupatta resting against her chest, and


It is 1988 all over again.


It is

her mother with crisp hair and a raised eyebrow, her

father with a stuttering mouth and doe eyes, it is

a friend’s wedding, the

scent of milk sweets and crushed flowers in the curtains.


She writes with her left hand, the

charcoal indentations on her arm shaped like

her thatha’s battle wounds, sometimes,

you can

hear the whirring of fighter-planes in her left wrist, she

carries her older brother’s laugh in her belly, his

tee shirt on her back, she can

fit into the same spaces her mother can,

her body has been taught to accommodate. She lets herself

bloom at night, body unravelling, only cicadas to keep her company.


You can

still hear her grandmother’s poetry in her collarbone and when she

sings, her aunt’s

croaky tenor seeps out. If you

look closely, the

tendons on her neck resemble the patterned vines creeping up their Chennai home and on

rainy days, she can hear

little girls playing whispered games in the courtyard, empty,

when she rushes towards the sound, with only

traces of laughter left to peep out of

sepia photographs.



trees still bend down to kiss her face,

mistaking her silhouette for her grandmother’s and she

still gets lost in the ridges of her body, trying to find out which parts came from where because

it is not easy to trace lineage, she has tried, time and again,

palmistry and cartography merging until she

cannot tell the difference between her hand and a map but

it is even harder to unpeel the lineage you do not want to carry, to

undo the brashness under the voices of the men of the house,

reclaim all the space that was left untouched by the little girls in the courtyard, to

forgive the mistakes of your loved ones, but she is

learning, she is

intertwining her fingers with the branches of her family tree, yet

allowing her wings to unfurl around the monsoon breeze, this is


the unmaking of a legacy, yet

the remembering of a legacy, this is

a reconstruction, this is

a re-learning,

this is



come home,


this is