Memory Braids and Sari Texts: Weaving Migration Journeys

The braid and the sari are the quintessential hairstyle and garment that women in India don every day. They are both texture and text. The braid—often kept long and styled with flowers (especially in South India) or lengthened with extensions (as in North India)—is a prized possession with both aesthetic and spiritual meanings. The sari is a length of untailored cloth material that has been the traditional everyday garb of Indian women for millennia.

Using the braid and sari as the framework and defining tropes that unify the collection, the poems of Memory Braids and Sari Texts: Weaving Migration Journeys carry the memory of independent India, which turned seventy-five in 2022. These verses draw from poet Pushpa Naidu Parekh’s distinct and entangled memories of migrant and diaspora experiences of journeying from India to the United States, the space of one homeland to another, spanning the inexplicable accruing of physical, emotional, and spiritual self and their many iterations. The braid and the sari both embody the draping of oneself and the unraveling of many selves. Richly layered and textured, this poetry collection explores one woman’s vivid and sometimes muted memories of her life in India, her move to the US, and her diaspora experiences there.