Silver Foil, Calcium Soda and Water /

Amma was a Chemistry student. By the diagrams 
she drew for me one would imagine she was a botany veteran.
On Saturday afternoons we stripped silver foil 
from used, discarded, cigarette boxes. We had an orange crush bottle
half-filled with lime. She took care to drop in tukada
pieces of silver foil into the bottle, add some water and seal the
mouth with a balloon. The balloon swelled with hydrogen.
No, not hydrogen. Helium. When the balloon ballooned, she tied a string
to its neck. We would float
messages into the sky. ‘In Sivakami Textiles goods are sold at
Government Controlled price. Go Buy Now.’
Amma once wrote. I grew up to be the Science Class Prefect
during my seventh grade–
dusting skeletons and test tubes with baby snakes, keeping a pot full
of water for our Rose Mary Sister. It was an important post.
Sometimes I left home without having my breakfast.


Sivakami Velliangiri is a poet, born in Madras and brought up at Trivandrum, and now living in Chennai. When Sivakami Velliangiri was Sivakami Ramanathan she published her poems in Youth Times, and in various other literary journals. Professor Srinivasa Iyengar included her among the women  poets in his History of Indian Writing in English (1980). She is Founder Member and Co-curator of The Quarantine Train, an online Poetry Workshop. Her online Chapbook In My Midriff was published by Lily Literary Review.How We Measured Time’ is her debut poetry book. Her poems appear in The Penguin Book of Indian Poets, April 2022.