Poetry is his cup of tea!

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Sudha Kathrikadavu reads one of her poems from the anthology in her makeshift tea shop | Arun Angela

In the morning and evening, when the Kochiites take a break, Sudha Kathrikadavu sells them tea and snacks. At noon, when the sun is shining brightest, she saves watermelon juice and buttermilk for thirsty passers-by, helping them beat the heat. Sudha’s tea stall offerings change, as do the moods of her poetry. The owner of a makeshift tea shop on Thammanam-Pullepady Road will amaze you with her unrivaled diction if you just find the time to stand up and listen. She is the author of “Pranamam”, an anthology of 24 poems which she wrote between the ages of 12 and 67.

The subjects of his poems range from nostalgia and homesickness to the feelings of a mother or a child. But grief is a common denominator for all. Although she couldn’t even finish elementary school, Sudha recites from memory every line she wrote even decades ago. Among them, his favorite is that of Jesus Christ, his lord and saviour. It is titled ‘Pranamam, as a dedication to him. She also chose the same title for her anthology.

“Coming from a farming family, my siblings and I had to work hard before and after school. One day after school, I forgot to take care of the plantains in our field and went home. Unfortunately, some cows destroyed the crop and when my father found out, I felt guilty. He was angry because I lied at first and asked me not to go to school anymore. But he didn’t want to stop my studies. However, I was sad that my father scolded me, because I was his favorite child. That’s how I stopped going to school from class V,” she said.

Although she left school, she continued to write and turned every sad moment into a poem. The loss of his mother and his inability to see her before the cremation is still a great sorrow for Sudha. When she received the news of her mother’s death, Sudha rushed to the station, as traveling by train to Kozhikode and then taking a bus to Wayanad was a more feasible option to return home. However, the train was delayed for over four hours and she was unable to see her mother in time. She laments the lack of affordable transportation systems despite all the development we claim to have. The grief of this incident is also part of the anthology – a poem titled amma.

The death of Rajiv Gandhi and his fascination with the actor Mohanlal find a place in his poetry. Someone once gave her a cutout of the actor and she keeps it as a prized possession in her tea room. Standing nearby, she happily recites a poem she wrote about him.


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