Poetry: Padmashri Maddala


Padmashri is a poet based in India. She is a graduate in English and holds a Masters in HRM. Her poems have been published in poetry anthologies, online poetry magazines and blogs.

Shades of Solitude

There is something
a mundane chore
like ironing can do,
the crumpled fabric
the tug of a wire
heat against cold.

These are times when
a small tune forms in my throat
and lips mouth forgotten lyrics,
water bubbles, as I wait for it to heat...
I lay the garment on the board
as my fingers open the collar,
the stiff buckrum now soggy
I smoothen the worn tericot.

Brows pucker in oblique notations
while I continue my solo,
going back in time when
we watched the film
in an old talkies nearby,
the shadows and smell
of popcorn on our breaths.

The iron moves gently
back and forth and sideways,
across the shoulders, under the arms
on the ink stained pocket
over the crease of the first button
where it opens onto the neck,
sliding ever so slowly...
nacreous droplets hiss
as vapours rise with scents
of buried perfume and sweat.

These are times when I
want to remember the little details...
the clear winter day when
we went to buy the shirt,
the small corner shop in the bazaar
with a predictable name, 'Classic Shirts',
how we couldn't make up our minds
between the blue checks and the grey stripes
and end up buying this one,
how we heckled for a measly discount.

I continue to warble the ditty
deftly flipping the shirt over,
the iron glides smoothly
covering the whole back
nudging away the creases,
I make two neat folds along the length,
place the arms and press again on the cuffs,
solitude folded into saccharine seams.

These are times of peace, perdure and poetry.


I sit listening to you sing the Tillana
lost in the sublime world of music
you hold the audience spell bound,
but each musical nuance tugs at my heart strings
knowing how difficult this journey has been for you,
the audience applaud in raptures,
our eyes meet and everyone fade into the walls,
only you and me in your hour of triumph.

I knew God didn't mould all of us with the same clay
and you not being 'normal' changed my perspective of ‘different’,
together we conquered destiny.

for you, music became the elixir of life
for me, you became my elixir,
Moksha has different connotations you know.

Memory of Rain

Somewhere in a dark chamber, her water broke,
it was a night when pregnant nimbus too emptied its aquae,
as a torrential downpour flooded the black Yamuna,
the sky roared and rumbled, while,
sheets of rain drummed the roof,
even as flashes of lightening caught a pale face,
a life was being born,
a mother was being born,
on the eighth day of Krishnapaksha, a Yadava prince was born.

Somewhere in a small sterile chamber, my water broke,
it was a night when pregnant nimbus emptied its aquae,
as a torrential rain flooded the Mithi,
the sky roared and rumbled, while,
sheets of rain drummed the roof,
even as flashes of lightening caught a pale face,
a life was born,
a mother was born again,
on the eighth day of Krishnapaksha, my prince was born.

Rains, bearer of life and love,
Then, now, forever.

1857, The Rani

Rumour spread like wild fire across the country
the men in uniform put up a stiff resistance, for,
their sentiments were hurt, their trust breached
by the people whom they worked for,
how could they do this?
their blood boiled in anger, for
the cartridges were greased
with fat from bovines and pigs
what blasphemy!
and then rose the revolt of sepoys.

Somewhere in a small city of Jhansi in Bundelkhand,
a warrior queen Manikarnika was quietly raising an army
fostering a plan to team up with the mutineers,
but horribly betrayed by a massacre of innocents by them,
misunderstood by the British, her fort was attacked
she fought like a lion, her sabre raised in valour,
outnumbered by the enemy, she fled to Gwalior
on her steed Badal, her son strapped to her,
but the British got the better of her, and,
in Kotah-ki-Serai was
attacked, chased and wounded
before being shot by a carbine,
She, the Rani of Jhansi,
laid down her life for her country.

Sinhasan hil uthe, rajavanshon ki bhrikuti tani thi,
Boodhe bharat mein bhi aayi, phir se nayi jawaani thi,
Gumi hui aazadi ki keemat, sab ne pehchani thi,
Door firangi ko karne ki sab ne man mein thani thi,
Chamak uthi san sattawan mein, woh talwar purani thi,
Bundele harbolon me munh humne suni kahani thi,
Khoob ladi mardani woh toh, Jhansi wali Rani thi.

Declaration: The last paragraph is an excerpt from the legendary poem written by a renowned poet Subhadra Kumari Chouhan in praise of the valour of the great Rani of Jhansi. 


The kitchen in my home tell stories of women
of my family, of my ancestors and of their presence
In the corners of attics and shelves of pots, in the
Roundness of that brass vessel, used for sweets,
Holding flavours of cardamom in it's smooth insides,
like a mother's womb,
I can feel it in ladles bent at an angle,
taking the shape of the hand that held them, and
The old wooden coconut scraper with a broken leg
tilted to a side,
The sounds of cutting, stirring and scraping
Echo through generations,
Rhythmic and robust like grandma's folk songs, in
the grinding stone smoothened with use,
like the wedding ring on their finger, in
Secret tears of hurt pickled in glass jars and stashed away,
The walls soaked with sugar, spice and sweat
Of mothers, mother's mothers and mine too…
Left as relics and heirlooms
For my children and their's
To see, feel, smell and breathe.

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