Poornima Laxmeshwar

Piercing Language

From Bangla: shesh (the end)

It’s the taste of an aftermath. The tang of lime soaked in ashes. A flavour that’s unrealized, an overdose of hot afternoon, grief with hands of a gravedigger, gumboots in a coal mine, cigarettes’ butt, an infant’s shrill whine, the silence of a fluttering butterfly, the abandonment of love but not hope.

From Kannada: puchka (the muah)

The sound of a kiss, a muchness of such a stretch of a howl, longing folded into fours, an indifferent landscape picture hanging on an old wall, stickiness of a half-fried okra, wisdom of a half-emptied peg of scotch, reduced desire, elementary longing, a deep dive in the endless mouth of touch-hunger.

From Hindi: kshitij (the horizon)

It’s a dream built out of thin wafers – the crunch of which can be an awakening, a distant birdsong, an almost assurance, evening hues of blues, burning wick of a lantern, raag malkauns on transistor, incense stick, open doors for goddess Lakshmi, the sky’s tender touch, jasmine fragrance, betrayal of optics, a vanishing act.


Abada jabada is key to good chutney. It’s the best when the ingredients don’t become a whole. Entirety need not always be the objective. Crude is a cue – the hands show and tell. Look at the corn on Ustad’s palms. That happens when you play tabla for eight hours in the name of riyaaz. He claims to catch fever otherwise. Crude isn’t cute. It is on-the-face list of facts that is best ignored. It is the truth that he tells you without mixing any chai to it. Gulp it or sip it. The taste is always bitter.

Abada jabada is when your daughter holds the purple crayon in her tiny hands and says she wants to paint the clouds red. It will be so when she gets her first period and onwards. It will be so when she makes her first bhakri until she learns that there is a shape to everything.

Abada jabada is Ajji’s favourite word. She says that there are two beautiful things in this world: fireflies and flaws. I tell her that crude is nice only when sexing. Why don’t you colour your hair? You look too elderly for your age, says she.

Abada jabada: In Kannada – anything that is not finely pounded. Don’t bother Google.

POORNIMA LAXMESHWAR resides in the garden city Bangalore and works as a technical writer for a living. Her recent book of poems ‘Strings Attached’ was published by Red River.

A traveller between worlds and mediums, JOSHUA SAILO transforms his experiences into artistic expression through dance, music, photography, and visual art. His creative works are autobiographical in nature, highlighting themes of identity and the negotiation of power. He is the creative director of Sailoway, and co-founder of U&I Rescue Organisation and 206 Dance Collective. Discover more of his creative universe here: www.sailoway.com.

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