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A Letter to Kerala

Ashlyn Roice

A Letter to Kerala
a poem by Ashlyn Roice

priya keralam.

you sound so foreign

in my mouth. just a whisper

in my memories. yet you feel

so safe.

what a difference

two years can make.

all i remember is the scent of

the munnar tea plantations.

the sounds of the river,

in the afternoons, and

my grandmother's rosaries

at night. monsoon nights where

the rain beat the devil in the

sky. masses at holy magi

that i never understood,

the tenderness of my

family's love, the sweet crunch

of gulab jamaan, the tearful

embrace of my grandparents

as i left for america. somehow,

you hold the most painful

and beautiful of

my memories.

nyan maari, kerala. i've

grown into my own person.

when i left you, i had no purpose.

i was lost, my thoughts fluttering

in the wind with no resting place.

now my tongue cannot form the

dialect it was so carefully taught,

i can count to one hundred in

spanish now, yet i can't remember

ten numbers in malayalam.

i know exactly who i want to be,

yet i can't remember who i

was. but somehow, kerala,

you are still a paradise in the

foggiest of my memories. it entha ithe?

the taste of you will never leave my lips.

will you still accept me, kerala?

i know my feet don't sink smoothly

into your perfectly green grasses.

yet i need you more than ever,

kerala. you are a reminder of my

identity, where i came from, the

source of the most pure beauty

my eyes have ever laid sight

on. every time my feet step onto

kerala soil, i assimilate all the

knowledge i once lost. all the

memories i thought would

disappear. they come back to

life as vibrant as my dreams.

ente pranayam, kerala.


every moon reminds me of you.

This piece is a poem I wrote about how I've changed since I've visited Kerala three years ago and how I've grown in my identity. Kerala is the home of my extended family, and it holds a very special place in my heart. I hope you enjoy!

Biography: Ashlyn Roice is a high school junior from Mountain House California. Her work on identity and social issues has been recognized by Defiant Magazine and the Scholastic National Art and Writing Awards.

Cover photo source:

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