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Three Women in a Single-Room House: A Poetic Exploration of Intimate Spaces and Unfulfilled Dreams

The Apartment and the Diamonds

In the heart of the city’s bustling district, I found my new abode—a modest apartment, neither too cramped nor overly spacious. A balcony graced its facade, inviting my son to embark on joyful tricycle adventures. Within, the kitchen stood open, allowing the symphony of culinary creations to harmonize with the ebb and flow of familial life.

As I settled into my new surroundings, my thoughts drifted to my grandmother, the matriarch who bequeathed upon me the glistening diamonds that made this purchase possible. Memories of our shared history flooded my mind, like waves crashing against the shore.

In the darkness of our small room, where we slept huddled together on the floor, those diamonds once sparkled like distant stars. They were our beacons of hope, our silent companions in the night.

My mother, my grandmother, and I, we were all accustomed to living in intimate spaces. We knew how to make ourselves at home within the confines of smallness.

The Mother and the Ink Stain

In the sanctuary of our single room, my mother often perched herself upon the solitary bed, pen in hand, scribbling words onto paper. As I stumbled upon an ink stain marring the sheets, I couldn’t help but perceive it as an outstretched wing.

This image, seemingly insignificant to others, spoke volumes to me. It hinted at my mother’s creative spirit, her longing to break free from the limitations of our cramped quarters, to soar beyond the boundaries of our humble abode.

The Grandmother and the Sewing Machine

Meanwhile, in a corner of the room, my grandmother worked tirelessly at her sewing machine, stitching together a dress for me. The garment, two sizes too large, was a testament to her hopes for my future, her belief that I would grow into the woman she envisioned.

With excitement and a hint of trepidation, I slipped into the dress, feeling the weight of her aspirations upon my shoulders. It was a reminder that life was a journey, a path of growth and transformation.

The Single-Room House and the Sky

As I reflected upon our former dwelling, a tiny space where seven steps could carry you from any point to the sole window, I couldn’t help but ponder the sky. Did it fill us with a sense of spaciousness, teaching us to occupy space with boldness?

Truth be told, we simply adapted to the constraints of our small world, like rough diamonds trapped in the depths of a mine. We learned to make do with what we had, to find solace in the familiarity of our cramped quarters.

“Our Days Would Catch on the Cruellest Thorns”: Unfulfilled Dreams

We placed our hopes on the arrival of migratory birds, believing their presence heralded a brighter future. Yet, life had a way of dashing our dreams, turning our aspirations to dust.

I lament the unspent lives, the missed opportunities, the unreturned gazes that left us with a lingering sense of regret. The weight of these unfulfilled dreams presses down upon us, a burden we carry with us.

“Having Come This Far”: The Grief of Unspent Lives

The grief of unspent lives manifests in the small change that jingles in our purses, a poignant reminder of the paths we didn’t take. It’s the ride offered but not taken, the gaze not returned, the train missed by a whisker.

We mourn the lives we didn’t live, the experiences we didn’t have. We grieve for the unlived moments that slipped through our fingers like grains of sand.

“The Thing About Being an Older Woman is This”: Wisdom and Self-Acceptance

With age comes wisdom, a heavy knowing that settles upon my shoulders. I remember when I was once a solid teak chair, taken for granted, sat upon but never truly seen.

Day by day, I drowned a little, barely clinging to life, grasping at froth in a desperate attempt to stay afloat. But then, I found a way to breathe, to express my inner struggles and emotions through poetry.

I urge older women to embrace self-love and self-acceptance, to release themselves into the unknown. Write the poems you must write, gently and with love for yourselves, free from societal expectations.

Let us bask in the wisdom of our years, finding solace in the small moments of joy and connection. Let us live fully, authentically, and unapologetically.


K Srilata’s “Three Women in a Single-Room House” is a poignant exploration of intimate spaces, unfulfilled dreams, and the resilience of women in the face of adversity. Through vivid imagery and heartfelt reflections, the poem delves into the complexities of family relationships, the weight of expectations, and the search for meaning and purpose in life. It is a testament to the strength and resilience of women who, despite living in cramped and confining spaces, find ways to create a sense of home and belonging. It is also a reminder of the importance of embracing the unspent life and finding solace in the small moments of joy and connection.


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