Lakshmi Silks. 
Photographed by Madhavan Palanisamy
Creative Direction by Radha Rathi
Beauty by Mitesh
Muse: Archana and Vishakha 

What She Said

Bigger than earth, certainly,
higher than the sky,
more unfathomable than the water
is this love for this man

      of the mountain slopes
      where the bees make rich honey
      from the flowers of the kurinci
      that has such black stalks

Kurinchi: Lovers’ meeting
Tevakulattar - Kuruntokai 3

What She Said

to her girlfriend,
when she returned from the hills

Bless you, friend, listen.
           Sweeter than milk
           mixed with honey from our gardens 

           is the leftover water in his land,

           low in the waterholes
           covered with leaves

          and muddled by animals 


What She Said

Like moss in water
in the town’s water tank:

    the body’s pallor

    as my lover touches
    and touches

   and spreads again, 
   as he lets go,

   as he lets go.

            Kuruntokai 399

What She Said

         to her friend

You ask me to forget him,
how can i?

His mountain,
wearing its dark raincloud

           as a bean flower
           the east wind opens,

his mountain,
that blue sapphire,
is never out of sight. 

What Her Girl Friend Said
to Her


Your heart is anxious,
you’re lonely, stricken
with pallor.
Now, what shall i say to Mother
If she should notice changes 
and ask for reasons?

I know, 
our man from the mountain top

                where long silver waterfalls shiver
                in the wind
                like whiter banners
                borne high on elephants
                with trappings on thier brow,

i know he brought you these pangs.

Maturai Marutanilanakanar, Akananuru 358

What She Said

her lover within earshot

Tell me:
how is it then
that women gather
like hill goddesses

and stare at me
wherever i go,
and say
“she’s good, she’s so good,”

          and I,
          no good at all for my man
          from the country of the hills?
Text taken from Poems of Love and War, Selected and translated by AK Ramanujan. From Kurinci: Lovers’ meetings. Translations from four anthologies of Sangam Literature: Kuruntokai, Narrinai, Akananuru, Ainkurunuru. 

 images © madhavan palanisamy 2019