The brooding streets
took me for their shadow.
For months, we feigned ignorance,
securing the comfort of
warm silences in our many-layered winter clothes.
The city relished the trick of
withdrawing to its deserted alleys,
We nodded; sealed our pact
with occasional glances
as we ran hands over fading wall graffiti.
One day, I woke up
to the smell of lavender flowers,
in my blue-carpeted hostel room.
You peeped through my window,
chilled beer in hands, humming summer songs,
The shadow-game was over.
I was walking in circles again,
stepping over sticky lumps of
leftover love.



Being a great-granddaughter

Before I had ever gone near the sea
I had made that brief journey
from a house by the tiny canal
to see her for the first time,
or maybe I was too small to remember
our previous meetings.
She was love that smelt of sea.
I didn’t know how
but, I knew it was the scent of the sea.
Words like caressing waves
slipped out of the few tooth left in her mouth.
The bent gait; her bluish
whitener-dipped plain mundu*
rustled inside the old house.
She smiled; when it was bright enough
she could see I was smiling too.
She laughed often, asking after everyone-
in the family and the neighbourhood
and of course, her beloved village-goddess.
Sometimes, as we sat
she left me there
and went back years away,
I tried to walk along,
delving into the depth of her cloudy eyes.
But, the sea scent faded away
and I lost my way.
What did this place look like
over nine decades ago?
She was young, on her mother’s lap.
The monsoons, summer sun and ripe water melons in the field.
Thae.. thae.. thethathambiri…
A folk tune played on her lips.
Then, a very young bride blinked at me,
I sniffed around for the familiar scent of the sea.


  • A garment worn around the waist in South India.


Nileena MS

Nileena MS

Nileena MS is a poet and journalist from Kerala, India. She has published a collection of poems in Malayalam language titled Mazhayil Ente Veede (My House in the Rain, Kairali Books, Kerala, 2009).