For Sentimentality

Materialized by Sneha Subramanian Kanta on Monday, March 20th 2023.

It was long after that year when the remembrance ritual began. It came in somatic bursts, when I was walking, in the middle of work, chopping onions, or in the shower. The smallest part of my brain holds the memory intact: I can still feel as though I am outside the temple, inhaling the aroma of dewy jasmine strands. My mother gets a small portion out of the four-inch diameter to wear in her hair. My father knows I like barahmaasi champas, and always asks the flower-seller for one lone barahmaasi champa and hands it to me. He continues this love language ritual even today.

When I complete dance classes on summer evenings, my mother, as she returns from work; brings me home. On the way, we walk by streets speckled with parijatas, raat-ki-raani, Gulmohars with orange and red flowers, and the evergreens. I remember her voice when she calls my father, slowly ironing out details that we will be home soon, asking when he will be back from the office.

On a June night when the south-westerly monsoon winds bring drizzles to Mahrashtra, my father asks if we must call my grandfather. I immediately agree. My father dials a number in the STD booth in a corner in Chembur, Mumbai, and my grandfather picks up the phone in Veerapanchatram, Erode. The familiar distance between longing and the night sky is wholly ours. Over three decades since, I realize I can slumber listening to my father speak in Tamil.

Sentimentality means you and I are elsewhere, or together, but we were together at one point in time in an exact dimension, and I honour the memory.

Sneha Subramanian Kanta is the author of the chapbook Ghost Tracks (Louisiana Literature Press, 2020). She is the recipient of the 2022 Digital Residency at The Seventh Wave, the 2021 Robert Hayden Scholarship from Stockton University and the inaugural Vijay Nambisan Fellowship 2019. She was the Charles Wallace Fellow writer in residence (2019-20) at The University of Stirling. Her multi-genre work has appeared in Pleiades, Cream City Review, The Carolina Quarterly and elsewhere. Most recently, her poem "Partition Homes" won third place in The 2022 Previously Published Poem Prize at Palette Poetry. Her poem “Witness” is an honorable mention in The 2021 Foster Poetry Prize at Contemporary Verse 2. She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal. Website: