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"Home" by Kuppusamy Shivani 2D/20

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

As I enter the driveway,

I see colourful drawings made of rice flour

And paaty in her saree rushing out of the house to welcome me.

Vanakkam, she says

Vanakkam, her neighbour says

A conversation takes place at the porch,

Words from my mother tongue pour out like music

With the many instruments playing in an orchestra

A stream of memories turn into a sea of pictures, paintings,

And the feeling of nostalgia washes over me,

As my face glows like a flame

From 3 year old me being called pattu and chellam,

To 5 year old me eating rasam sadham made by my paaty,

To 13 year old me, now, chit-chatting with my relatives,

I know this is home, I know that this is where I belong

Even if I fly to Canada or America

Or settle down in the coasts of New Zealand or Australia,

No matter if I travel to countries far or near,

I know that a part of me will always belong

At home, right here


Vanakkam - a greeting in Tamil

Pattu and chellam - common childhood pet names in Tamil

Rasam Sadham - a common south Indian lunch where rasam is mixed with rice

Paaty - grandmother in Tamil


One thing that I learnt from interviewing my family members that I did not know before were the benefits of kolams. Kolams are colourful drawings made with rice flour on the floor of entrances to houses. I learnt that kolams are made using rice flour so that ants and insects can eat the rice flour and also that drawing kolam is a form of exercise for women as bending down for a long period of time strengthens the hip area.

In my poem, I was trying to convey the sense of belonging I feel whenever I visit my hometown in India, Pondicherry and how that sense of belonging to my culture and heritage will always be there no matter what I do and where I go in the future. I wanted to convey the beauty of my language and traditions. I used imagery such as “Words from my mother tongue pour out like music//With the many instruments playing in an orchestra” to show how beautiful my language is and “As my face glows like a flame” to show the sense of warmth and comfort I feel in being part of my community. I named the poem “Home” because being surrounded by my people and my culture gives me a strong sense of identity and belonging and the idea that home is not a place but an intangible feeling is also brought across in this poem in the last stanza.

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