Photographic artwork of woman in red saree gazing out at water with the saree partly undone; glare in the background obscures her face
Original photo: Somia D Costa (Unsplash) | artwork: Aditya Pandya

Poet’s note: The poem is about someone I knew who had dementia. Dementia is not only about memory loss and cognition, there are a host of behavioural issues too. One of the things that someone who has dementia does often is looking/searching/ finding for something. It is unclear what they might be searching or looking for as they forget about it very soon. Usually they are very confused about what they want to do or intend to do. Most of them have been wonderfully active, energetic people who still have flashes of brilliance but find themselves at a loss most of the time. It is painful to see a loved one go through something like this.

They are white
I like the red
I like the other colours
Some have small holes in them
I look at them
Take them out, unfold them
They lay spread on my bed
I leave them there
I am looking for something
They must be here inside the almirah
Why is it opened?
Someone must have opened it
Why? Was someone looking for something in there?
I think someone meant to take away mine.
I take out some more sarees
I need to put them away safely.

Dr. Nishi Pulugurtha is Associate Professor in the department of English, Brahmananda Keshab Chandra College and has taught postgraduate courses at West Bengal State University, Rabindra Bharati University and the University of Calcutta. She is a creative writer and writes on travel, film, short stories, poetry and on Alzheimer’s Disease. Her work has been widely published and she has a monograph on Derozio (2010) and a collection of essays on travel, Out in the Open (2019).