Malathi Who?

Shakespeare raised

The compelling question

What is in a name?

So I thought

Until now.

A query popped in my head,

Who’s Malathi?

All the intriguing relationships

Among Indians!

I am chinnamma, the little lady, at home

Peddamma at work, the supevisor,

Attamma for brother’s kids

Pinnamma for sister’s kids

And, ‘hey, you’, for whom,

Ma-la-thi is quite a mouthful.

I am mom or mommy,

And MOTHER, on occasion,

To my baby dearest!

I fondly muse over

The old German lady

Who took my chin in her palm

And asked, “Can I call you Melanie?’

Of course, I said.

I wanted her business

I was ready to flip,

If she snapped her fingers.

And then

Of course, the labels

“You are a feminist”

“No, I am not”

“Yes, you are”

“Why do you say so?”


“No, one ripple

Will not make waves”

“Ohh, come on…”

What a joke!

The good Lord knoweth I didn’t measure up

To somebody’s idea of feminism,

Wasn’t one of those

Dear darlings of Mother Telugu

‘Telugu talli muddubiddalu’

Or, I wouldn’t be in this mess,

In the first place!


A move I make

A philosophy I believe in

A principle I choose to live by

Sums me up and sets me apart.

In my country,

I used to say

“They call me malathi”

I am not Malathi

Just, they call me malathi

Like the profile on AMW

A male Caucasian, 5 foot 6, brown eyes,

black hair, a tattoo or two.

A tag attached to me

A bunch of syllables to mark a man, woman, or a thing.

Type in the keyword malathi

You will see four hundred hits on the screen,

Not counting the millions

who dodge the mouse

and beat the odds on the high-tech

Oh, yeah, the Finnish scholar.

His bibliography under Malathi Rao

A long, impressive list,

A few of my writings

And a lot more, not mine.

Wow, now I know

There is another Malathi Rao

Probably a decade or two younger,

Made the name famous!

“Are you the famous writer?”

“No Sir, the name is famous,

I am not!”

There IS something to a name,

I am somebody

In relation to others


A speck of dust

Floating around

In the outer Space


I am Malathi


Someone else could be so.

-Malathi Nidadavolu

May 2002