Amma says that history is preserved below the tongue. I must stop looking for it in the wombs because the uterus is a river that knows only to flow forward. To know the past of my small town, I must dig through the memories. To know my past, I must only plead with her. In the late evening darkness, we sit in a circle, and Amma tells us stories of our ancestors – the famine they survived, the war they witnessed, and the love they let go. Here, privacy is too elite an act. What is done is spoken. Amma spins her stories just the way she kneads and draws the thinnest vermicelli, as good as mending the truth. That’s how history is retained for good, by mending:
– how she patches torn clothes,
– how she safety pins things to stay stuck,
– how she knots strings.
Amma says that history is preserved below the tongue: twisting is as easy as swallowing.
Poornima Laxmeshwar resides in Bangalore, India. Her books of poetry include ‘Anything but Poetry’ (Writers Workshop), ‘Thirteen’ – a chapbook, (Yavanika Press) and ‘Strings Attached’, (Red River).