Dean Learman with Snigdha Nandipati who is wearing her white coat
Photo Credit: Ryan Anderson for VTCSOM

The cloth she wore
Ammamma’s faded cotton cheera
Wrinkled with the burden
Of her children’s hopeful future

The cloth she wore
Amma’s stiffly pleated pattu cheera
Heavy with the responsibility
Of bridging worlds old and new

The cloth she wore
Her elegant silk cheera
Flowing with the hope
Of keeping her past alive

Every woman wore only one
That was the way
But for the first time
The way broke

Now she wears two.

The clothes she wears
Her brilliant white coat
And her elegant silk cheera
Separate and yet the same

Together they flow
In promise of giving to others
With the gift handed down
From generations past

Together they cling
In promise of teaching one another
The ways of the old
And the strides of the new

Together they stand
In promise of upholding dharma
Never backing down
From doing what is right.