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Created by

Sheetala Bhat

Developed by

Laxmi Priya SN and Sheetala Bhat

Support by

Grant Dempsey

Background music

Lyrics by


Performed by

Vasuki Vaibhav and Arundhati Hegde

Composed by

Shripad Bhat

Website designed by Puneeth Rao

How do you mourn a home when its loss is either denied or imperceptible to those who never have to think about the possibility of such a loss?

Who has the right to mourn a home?

What does it mean to love, lose, leave, or return home?

How can mourning also be an act of imagining, making visible, recreating, reconnecting with, and even celebrating home?

How can the mourning of home connect our many homes?

This project is about home,

the heart of a resistance,

a poem,

an olive tree,

a town of desire,

a diary,


an escape,

a patchwork,

a fiction.

This is a collection of poems written by our friends and lovers, who speak of many homes—imagined, real, and the imagined real.

You, dear audience, will connect all these homes on a map of words,

On the next page, you will see a list of poems. You can select any two poems at a time. For each poem, you can listen to an audio recording read by the poet or you can read the text. You will then be asked to create a sentence, using approximately ten to fifteen words, from both poems you have selected. Your sentence should in some way connect the two poems. You can do this for as many pairs of poems as you desire. And if you complete all possible pairs, you will have created your own map of homes. Then you too are a part of the web of heart-like-homes or mind-born-homes.

This is an exercise in collective bridge-building between distinct expressions of mourning, and reimagining, asserting, and recreating homes from seemingly disparate sites of resistance. We hope you use this interactive poetry-map as an invitation to become a part of alliances and intimacies across pathways of homes.


A Diary Anonymous Yearning for Home Nadine Alaloul A Nation is the Shape of the Patchwork on Torn Pants Lakshman K P Home Nisha Abdulla A Diasporic Shame Sheetala The Cousins are Home Appu Ajith The Town I Never Found Anonymous We Will Remain Nadine Alaloul Chinese Auntie, Sugarcane Lemon juice Lakshman K P These are Heirlooms Too Nisha Abdulla Sadarame in the Front Yard Shripad Bhat Mezhuveli Appu Ajith Mothers and Languages Seemab Zahra

Select any two poems


Created by

Sheetala Bhat

Developed by

Laxmi Priya SN and Sheetala Bhat

Edited by

Grant Dempsey

Background music

Lyrics by


Performed by

Vasuki Vaibhav and Arundhati Hegde

Composed by

Shripad Bhat

Website designed by Puneeth Rao

Loading poems..

The Town I Never Found

AnonymousView bio

The town I never found has a fountain

In the town I never found the cold doesn’t sting

in the town I never found everyday is a breakthrough and every night is a celebration with company or in solitude

In the town I never found, I am never misunderstood because they know my heart

In the town I never found love and obligation aren’t adversaries. They are friends and I never had to pick a side

I never had to bid my lover farewell because I am expected to marry a man

In the town I never found my friends are okay, they are safe

In the town I never found my escape plans worked.

There is no dictatorship or a policy change to determine or undermine my humanity

In the town I never found my friends and family did not die in war

In the town I never found, I never experienced survivor's guilt

In the town I never found men saw women as human beings worthy of respect

In the town I never found my skin was never pierced

And in the town I never found I didn’t have to work so hard everyday to heal

In the town I never found I don’t have scars

In the town I never found I don’t gaze at the stars because there is so much to be present for here

In the town I never found I dare to dream because I am not terrified of hope

Yearning for home

Nadine AlaloulView bio

Oh ya Falasteen you are so close yet so far.

I see you in every olive tree,

in every hill

I see you in no speed limit yellow taxis

& I smell you as I wif the wind of the Mediterranean.

I yearn for you in every fibre of my being

A Nation Is the Shape of the Patchwork on Torn Pants

Lakshman KPView bio

My nation is the shape of the patchwork on torn pants

I like

the house I live in

And the small lizards

that crawl along the walls

The insects that come and go


That shyly run away in the backyard

Snakes that rarely visit and wriggle away

This is my nation.

The first time

I traveled beyond the plains

to see the ocean

Hundreds of miles away

I was 21

The ocean and I

Brimmed over together

And the border crossed

Among the small crabs that pitter pattered in the ocean and made shelter in the sand

Along with the smell of the fishermen’s sweat,

Dipping and drowning in the company of the evening sun.

And now, that forever youthful and vast ocean,

the nest of crabs, fishermen’s sweat,

the evening that slept inside the belly of the darkness

are part of my nation.

Last year, in Argentine’s potato field

I saw four women

dancing for rain.

I too danced with them

And sang for rain

And I drank

Shared roasted potatoes with them.

And listened to the story of the blind poet Boris.

They too became my nation.

At night

Tree jasmine is especially fragrant

She and I are crazy for its scent

Inside its white form

A hint of purple

She and jasmine are my nation.

I am not sure if it is to your taste

My nation


of places,

people and insects,

trees, flowers and scents,

infinite tastes


the patched blanket she has made with love.

The one who taught how to do patchwork was my mother

My torn pants

patched with pieces of her torn skirt

Those patches

are the texture of my presence, my dignity, and my breath

The salt from my neighbour’s house

in the curry made in my house

But the taste does not change.

To tell you the truth

My nation has no kings

Anyone, anytime, and from anywhere

Can come to my nation

It is not pricey

For love

It is warm inside the quilt of my nation.

A Diary

AnonymousView bio

1. Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of Mahjoub’s death. His sister changed her handle on social media to @martyrsister. I wonder how much of her identity will be defined by grief.

2. I remember the day that Mahjoub died. I remember that he was on campus at a sit-in to protest the government. And I remember that he died fighting off soldiers who were trying to assault his female classmates. I remember how the nation mourned him and his sweet smile, and the fact that he won’t get his computer science degree, and that his friends will never see his sweet smile again.

3. It’s March and my friend was beaten by cops. There isn’t an inch on his back that is not covered in bruises. Mohammed Osman had survived the Yemen war two years prior. He is in his early twenties but he can’t find a therapist because his trauma is too much.

4. It’s May 30th, it's my cousin’s birthday and I am in charge of dinner. He is 33 this year. He told us about lying down in a barricade and being shot at and not knowing which moment will be his last. My dad says he’s proud of him, I offer him cake, he is the only brother I have ever known. Today, he is diagnosed with panic disorder, PTSD among other things, more suicide attempts than I can count, and we no longer speak.

5. It’s June 3rd , the day of the massacre. My friend Fayez disappeared; we are crying because we are afraid that he’s going to turn up with the bodies dispersed in the Nile. It’s the day before Eid. His ex-girlfriend is my best friend. We go to the hair salon together. We step outside to cry and smoke. And we go back in to get our hair done. One minute we talk about our hair and one minute we talk about our fears. We are tired.

6. It’s June 10th, my mom wakes me up because there is an ambulance coming to pick up my dad. He is not ok. In the same breath, she tells me that my cousin Ismail is missing. Ismail is my asshole cousin. Once a gentle little boy, then an annoying teenager, then an introverted adult. I, for the very first time, am angry. I am mad at how he could be so selfish. Things are already hard enough. I have to take my dad to the hospital. I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time for his ill-advised disappearing act. He was never found, and every now and then my aunt tours morgues looking for her son’s dead body.

7. I have more stories to tell, but no will to write nor utter them. Time is taking its sweet time healing my loved ones and progress is non linear and relapses fucking suck.

8. Today, after I wrote this, I called my cousin for the first time in 3 months. He says he is sober and he has taken up obsessive cooking as a new coping method. He told me he got on top of a tank on January 3rd and told soldiers to stop killing children. He told me these stories were and are his reality.


Nisha AbdullaView bio

I’m often asked where I’m from

and my heart answers with a pause.

The problem is I lived in a city

that needed my sweat

but not the brown aching arms

those they could forget.

The problem is I lived in a city

where guests from faraway towns

are welcome to stay while

They’ll treat us nice

and eat our rice

But after we’ve worked hard

and grown ragged through the years

We must leave for our own

with gratitude weighed in gold.

The problem is I forget sometimes

that these men and women

carry their pride

in their land and their language,

and my people carry their pride

in their land and language,

and our hearts aren’t big enough

for all three - them, us,

and our similar dreams.

The problem is I lived there from

month three to one ninety three

knowing I cannot go

onward to one ninety four.

But god, the blue in the water

still makes for a dry throat

And that daf and the oud

still soothes my mood.

I still long for the brown in my eye

the mountain cove soft to the back

and warm from the sun.

I’m often asked where I’m from

and my heart answers with a pause

I come from a home that was loaned

I carry my city in my bones.

A Diasporic Shame

SheetalaView bio

To come home is to never arrive. Or to mourn what you thought you arrived at the last time you came home

You come, hungry for home. Like a lizard you flick your tongue. Crawling across the walls of home. To taste, to catch, to devour home. To get it in your belly, so that a part of your home lives with you

What a shameful thing it is to come home from elsewhere. To not see what is there. To see what was unseen. The enormous rooms in your memory look so wickedly small. Small like those matchboxes which too, by the way, have disappeared. “Dil” was the brand of the matchbox. It had a red heart against a blue background. An arrow piercing through the heart. What a terribly shameful thing to be nostalgic about

You come home to notice new wrinkles, new gray hair, new love, new patterns of silences, new sticky exclamations: ohs and ahs and ayyo. What a pity to not know where they originated. To not be able to trace the odyssey of that sigh that can fill the room like a tornado.

You come home to come home. To mourn the many homes that always live. Elsewhere, in someone else’s belly.

The Cousins are Home

Appu AjithView bio

I sit silently among the trees.

The mango has seen a few new leaves sprout,

Since I last saw her.

A promising new bough's ready to spring,

Blooming season not so far away.

I can only glimpse a little of the guava,

Obscured as it is by

The outstretched envy of morris bananas on either side;

A shriveling rind or two,

Safekeeping bits of rotting, gooey flesh-left-over bat feed-stay put,

Scattered around its foot.

The coconuts sway a still way. A gentle way.

The wind rhythms with the yellow flowers of the Ashoka.

Deftly, a caterpillar negotiates the edges of a tamarind leaf.

A fallen pod reminds me of its bittersweet.

Two green moths flit past the turmeric in wee jocundity.

And the sunbathing coucal coopcoopcoops.

I remember when there used to be a chicken coop;

The armchair where Appooppan would read

The New Indian Express to sleep, little past repast.

And Ammaamachi, with renewed vigour,

Scrubbing away the last of a coconut shell against the grater.

A phone would ring,

Ammu chechi on the other end – on an inquisitive note, –

"Are the cousins home yet?”

And we would jump and jolt straight to the gate,

Throwing it open, unlocked, in gleeful abandon,

And cutting across the road,

Rampage into Velyamma's house,

Yelling, “The cousins are,

The cousins are, the cousins are home.”

Home and ready for playground pillage.

Hide and seek and matches.

Police and the robber.

Badminton and athappoo.


The Onam swing.

And tulsis lining the territory of ancestral graves.

Picket fences, sacred groves.

Gardens watching on.

And the coconuts swaying a still way. A gentle way.

We Will Remain

Nadine AlaloulView bio

Oh dear home of hilly land,

of sands & seas,

I will never cease to forget you.

You are imprinted in my heart & in my blood.

Generations of revolutionaries & resilience,

we will continue on.

They will continue to erase our existence through,

wiping villages & renaming them

a colonial classic tactic.

But we will remain,

We will continue to exist & resist.

We don’t care what the world thinks because we know our home is ours.

We know they will take & terrorize but we will rise.

We have been displaced all around the world, but we all speak of the same home.

The same olive groves,

the same makloobas cooked on stoves,

the same names of villages wiped still inscribed in our brains.

They will make every aspect of living a pain,

from going to one city to the next,

from trying to visit the holy steps-

of Jerusalem

No matter how far or near we are, we will remain.

Chinese Auntie, Sugarcane Lemon Juice

Lakshman KPView bio

I can’t drink anything with ice in it

A food court in Singapore

A tiny box-like stall

She is alone

She sells many varieties of juices

Chinese auntie,

Always looks like an agitated bird

When I say “a sugarcane juice with lemon and no ice”

Like an agitated bird, she makes a sugarcane juice with ice

and without lemon

Within minutes

Not just once, but always

It is not that she makes it on purpose

It just happens that way

I remind her again

To remove the ice and add lemon.

She looks at me but doesn’t smile.

The agitated bird takes orders from the next customer.

Not just once, but always

On my way back, I sip my sugarcane juice and wonder,

Are we related?

Beyond this life and back into the origins of time?

What if she were my mother-in-law Dodda Hanumi’s sister-in-law’s cousin sister, from my ghetto?

Or her aunt?

In my foolish rumination, I make her my relative,

and relish the delight it brings me

If I try to tell myself

she is a stranger, an unknown woman from another land,

I can feel the unease in my throat like the cold ice in my sugarcane juice

And just a pinch of grief

Because of my addiction to this comfort and grief

I stand in the long cue the next day

I order sugarcane juice

And I wait for her to forget the lemon.

Not just once, but always.

These are Heirlooms Too

Nisha AbdullaView bio

There’s two different methods to make beef stew

(one from Uppuma, the other from Ummama)

There’s the precise moment to dum the biryani

(when I smell the full note of meat)

There’s the pathram to make it in

(cheap, bought from the naadu)

There’s recipes long living in Ma’s head which I’ve finally written down

her tips sit along the margins beside my anxiety about cooking them right.

There’s pictures of Ma’s gold that paid for my education and this confident tongue

in a language that pulls me apart from her but brings the world to my feet.

There’s story and song brought back by ancestors who traded with the winds and danced to their deaths

whose bones seep into this land that nourishes the food that feeds me today.

These are heirlooms too.

Sadarame in the Front Yard

Shripad BhatView bio

I was a boy of 12 or 13. During the village festivals, a Yakshagana company would come to our village. The company often arrived in a large truck. The truck carried chairs for the audience, the tent and rods, and the throne on which the Yakshagana characters would sit during the play, all heaped on top of each other. Once the truck arrived in a field, us kids would do nothing but watch the workers unload it, build a stage, and set up the tent where the audience would sit. On those days, our only “duty” was to marvel at how the stage carried many fictional worlds that would be built in interaction with the outside world. When hungry, we would run home, eat, and run back so as not to miss this phenomenal event. At times we would have the opportunity to help the company carry trunks containing makeup and costumes. We were always thrilled at the wonderful opportunity to touch a “magical trunk.”

One day, when I came to that open ground after school, there was a big tent being put up! But this was not the Yakshagana company; it was a “Company Nataka” (commercial theatre in Kannada) troupe. Everyone was busy working on building the tent and the stage. A tall man saw us and smiled. He handed us a playbill and said there would be a play called Sadarame beginning the very next evening. I was beyond thrilled. I waited in excitement, begged my grandmother for permission to go, and promptly ran to the tent the next night. It was the first play I ever saw. Have you seen Sadarame? It is a wonderful play with kings, queens, rich villains, and clever thieves. The thief and Sadarame became my heroes. Sadarame looked so beautiful. She was more magnificent than anyone I had ever seen, even in films.

At the time, I was staying with my grandparents. They lived in an old, huge house with a red tile roof. There used to be many families under the same roof, but now there were only my grandparents. My grandfather expected everyone to be home by evening. If I came after 7, he would start performing the role of Ugra Narasimha (an angry version of God Vishnu). He wanted us to finish dinner and turn the lights off and sleep by 8. But the plays and Yakshagana that I desperately wanted to see always begin at night. There was a never-ending disagreement between the home that I lived in and the home that I sought.

So, I found a solution: I removed a tile from the top floor, got on the roof of the house, and jumped across to the roof of the barn next to the house, and slid and fell onto the dried grass inside the barn. Every time I wanted to see a play or Yakshagana, I would eat an early dinner and pretend to go to sleep at 8, obediently observing my grandfather’s rules. And then, I would use my new route to get out as well as to get back inside the house.

And this is how I saw Sadarame many times. To buy tickets, which cost 50 paisa or 1 rupee, I sometimes stole or used up the money I had gotten for other things. The tall man, who was also the head of the company and who played the thief, was my favourite actor. Since he probably noticed how much I adored him and how I always tried to get near him, he allowed me to watch Sadarame shows for free until the company left our village.

It was a very poor company. Big companies toured in cities and district centres. Only poorer troupes came to villages and small towns. Often the companies constituted of members of one or two families. They lived in the same tent they made for the stage and audience. They had nothing more than two painted screens of a road and a house (common in “Company Nataka”), a dozen chairs, and a few mats made from cement bags. Since they couldn’t make ends meet with their ticket sales, they collected alms in the village during the day. They went from home to home, collecting rice, coconut, or clothes. They performed five or six plays that they had in their collection for a few months, and then moved on to the next village. But there was no comparison for the richness of my first experience of theatre that this company gifted me.

One morning, Sadarame was standing with her friend in the front yard of our house! My heart was in my mouth. Sadarame told me to go and ask if there was an old saree that my grandmother would give away. I ran inside. My grandmother was working in the backyard. I opened the cupboard and took out two of what to me seemed like my grandmother’s most beautiful sarees, and grabbed a couple of dhotis. I ran back and handed them to her. Her friend asked if we had any coconuts we would give away too. I ran inside again, as quietly as possible, afraid that my grandmother would come in to find out about her sarees, and I got four coconuts and handed them to her friend. Sadarame smiled at me!

That night I had a huge surprise! Sadarame was wearing my grandmother’s yellow saree in the show. She had changed the saree’s border. In its new border and on Sadarame, the saree too looked magnificent. I felt closer to her.

By the time they left our village, the owner of the company had become my friend. I had decided to run away from home and go with them. The day before they left, I told him I had decided to go with them. Taking my hand in his, he said firmly, “We can’t take you. You must study now and then you can do what we do. You must be able to earn. Or else you will have to struggle like us. We are forced to beg more than we are able to perform plays.” I was on the verge of tears and couldn’t speak.


Appu AjithView bio

On the dark brown teak table,

Betel leaves and an areca nut,

The silver glimmer of an ancient steel torch,

A 10 paisa coin from 1965,

Translucent paper weights with entire crystal worlds inside them,

Cupboards that hid old shirts and fresh naphthalene balls.

Here is where Achachan was afflicted by the lightness of the loss of memories,

Ammachi by the weight of remembering for the both of them.

Here they had sheltered us on all our summer vacations.

Three little boys, cricket, fire and video games.

I was leaner back then-barely any hair on my face.

Kannan was yet to be charred to a deeper shade of brown,

His hair still gold in color, golden boy.

And Shambhu, the middle brother, the most self-assured.

Always fighting my elderhood and winning.

Two showers, three taps, four buckets of water.

One bar of soap. Infinite lather. Endless possibilities.

Mothers and Languages

Seemab ZahraView bio

You are an amalgam of dust particles from Mazar Sharif,

Ashes from Ganga,

Clay from Multan,

Mixed with the water of Chenab and Ravi.

You carry the love from all these places,

And the languages your great

Grandmothers taught your great


While Rabab makes you ecstatic,

Waris Shah’s Heer makes you sad.

Lighting a chiragh at Shah Shams’ tomb

Becomes your best memory.

You never knew what you were

Until you became a mother

And passed on all the love and languages

You carry to your daughters

Who will ultimately become mothers

To pass on all the love and languages

To their great


Using words that stand out to you in both poems, please make a sentence that expresses how the two poems connect for you.

Nadine Alaloul

Nadine Alaloul is Palestinian Canadian Poet. She’s a passionate writer & performer. She uses art as a medium to spread awareness on social justice issues & as a medium of her own healing journey. Nadine is an active participant in the spoken word scene in London Ontario & Toronto, performing at both the London & Toronto poetry slam events. She has been performing for years at coffee houses, open mics, poetry slams, & student club events. Nadine’s poetry has been published on several online magazines, journals & zines worldwide. She hopes to inspire people through her resilience, healing journey, & the lessons she has learned along the way. She is currently working on her book & uses Instagram & tiktok as a platform to share her work with the world. You can find her at @nadinethepoet

Appu Ajith

Appu Ajith is a writer hailing from Thiruvananthapuram, in the southern Indian state of Kerala. He was formerly the Deputy Editorial Manager of The Caravan Magazine. He completed his Bachelors in Design from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Hyderabad, and an MA in Development from Azim Premji University, Bangalore.

Nisha Abdulla

Nisha Abdulla is a theatremaker, performer, and educator based in Bangalore. She is the Artistic Director of Qabila, a collective whose work centers new writing around lived experience and dissenting imagination.

Seemab Zahra

Seemab Zahra is a multidisciplinary artist in Waterloo Region, Canada. She works as a poet, writer, photographer, and educator. Her work has been published in various local and international magazines. She has been a part of various arts projects and has presented her work at various arts festivals. Seemab is completing her BA in Honours Sociology from Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada.


A Sudanese poet who would like to remain anonymous

Lakshman KP

Lakshman KP is an actor, director, writer,poet, and teacher from Karnataka, India. He graduated from Intercultural Theatre Institute Singapore in 2018 and Ninasam Theatre Institute in 2012 and has been travelling across India, working in various productions with different theatre groups. He has performed in many national and international theatre festivals in India and abroad. Lakshmana has had the opportunity to work not just in professional theatre, but also exploring theatre-in-education with children and young adults. He is also a founder member of Jangama Collective Bangalore.

Shripad Bhat

Shripad Bhat is a theatre director, teacher, and researcher from Karnataka, India. His work largely pertains to the possibilities of community theatre, including workshops and productions for children, government school teachers, farmers, factory workers, and feminist organizations in rural and urban Karnataka. Over the last four decades, he has directed more than a hundred productions. He is also the author of three books: one on theatre titled BhahuBhoomike, one on Yakshagana titled Yakashagana, and one on folk theatre of Uttara Kannada titled Uttara Kannada Janapada Rangabhoomi.


Sheetala is a researcher, playwright, and theatre artist from Karnataka, India. She is the author of Performing Self, Performing Gender, published by Manipal University Press, as well as several articles. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa.

Home yet? Home yet? Home yet?

Flying on the patchwork blankets, home yet?

Picking apart the red-tiled roof above our head, home yet?

Under the shade of olive trees, home yet?

Margin-noting and foot-noting, home yet?

Interspersing groans with sighs and smoke with cries, home yet?

Jotting down memories on the path of the tamarind leaf-zigzagging caterpillar, home yet?

If you found rooms of home in the poems that you read and the lines that you made, we invite you to send in your poems about home(s) (if you are from the Global South), along with audio recordings in your own voice, to expand this imagining of home(s).

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We thank you for your time and stay here. Please share it along your way, if you are so inclined. 😀


Created by

Sheetala Bhat

Developed by

Laxmi Priya SN and Sheetala Bhat

Support by

Grant Dempsey

Background music

Lyrics by


Performed by

Vasuki Vaibhav and Arundhati Hegde

Composed by

Shripad Bhat

Website designed by Puneeth Rao