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Coppell Student Media

The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

Pencil to paper

Krishnan creating worlds through words

An array of sweets is enclosed in a glass container. Children press their hands on the glass, making their pick on the perfect treat. Friends laugh about their days. Couples are in conversation with each other. This is Paris Baguette, a cafe in Coppell. But, hidden away from the bustle is a girl.

Her glasses are at the tip of her nose, as if they’ve been sliding for quite some time, but the wearer hardly notices. Her eyebrows are squinted in fierce concentration as she types away, lost in her own world. On her screen is the beginnings of a new poem.

Coppell High School senior Akshita Krishnan writes at Paris Baguette, a cafe in Coppell. Krishnan’s writing has been published in Eunoia Review, Bright Flash Literary Review, Eucalyptus Lit and more. (Anushree De)

“Start with a spot—a simple canvas—and carve it, make ridges with your fingertips until it swallows everything whole, a hollowed conclave made of blackened glitter dust…”

The poem will eventually be published as to radhika, my star name, but for right now it is the sentiments of an about-to-be-sophomore. The writer, in question, is Coppell High School student Akshita Krishnan.

Two years later, Krishnan, now a senior, sits in the same spot of the cafe as she crafts a new poem. Each of Krishnan’s poems tell a profound story, yet follow the same theme.

Belonging.

“Akshita’s style is like drinking a cup of tea,” junior Audrey Wu said, who met Krishnan at the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop. “It’s like sitting down at a table while it’s raining outside with your favorite mug. It’s a little chipped. It’s a little broken, but you still love it. It feels like home. She creates that belonging.”

This sense of belonging in poetry stems from Krishnan’s initial lack of it. While she was born in India and lived there for ten years, Krishnan did not feel connected to her identity.

“I don’t remember much of India,” Krishnan said. “When I was there, there was no attachment to any people or location. It’s a larger question of belonging and how we fit into space. Is it the people or the environment?”

Despite the lack of connection to her past, India was where Akshita was exposed to her first love for storytelling. Through her grandfather’s storytelling, Krishnan also became connected to her heritage.

Coppell High School senior Akshita Krishnan writes at Paris Baguette, a cafe in Coppell. Krishnan’s writing has been published in Eunoia Review, Bright Flash Literary Review, Eucalyptus Lit and more. (Anushree De)

“One of the first stories my grandfather told me was from the Ramayana,” Krishnan said. “It was where Hanuman, a monkey, broke into Ramayan’s castle to talk to Sita. My grandfather is very imagery based, so he lets the setting take control of the story and guide it.”

However, Krishan would once again face the question of where home was as her father, Krishnan Sundararaman, received a job offer in the United States and moved to Marshall, Minn. in 2016.

Krishnan and her sister were the only two Indian students in school.

As Krishnan acclimated to her new life, she began to create a new identity, one that diluted her Indian past in order to feel belonging. This came in terms of Krishnan’s accent which she made nasally in order to sound American.

“I didn’t want my voice to sound Indian,” Krishnan said. “My voice would get so high to the point that it was the only thing you could focus on. You’re no longer focusing on the Indian accent of it. That was my first push into assimilation – chaining that accent as soon as I possibly could.”

As Krishnan desired to conform, it also affected the food she ate.

“My mom would make me lunch for me every day,” Krishnan said. “Whatever food she made generally had an Indian twist to it. If it was pasta, it wouldn’t just be pasta: it would be sautéed with veggies and spices. One time she packed me idli with podi, which is a spicy chowder that you put in idli. There was this girl who asked if she could try it. I said totally. She tried it, and she was so disrespectful. She said ‘ewwww, that’s so gross.’”

Krishnan, in her hometown of Marshall, Minn., was seen as different. To others, that difference was scary.

“The second time I brought idli, she asked me why I brought it,” Krishnan said. “She said ‘cover it up, no one needs to see that.’ Conformity comes from other people. This push for assimilation comes from what we don’t like about the unknown. After the idli incident, I begged my mom to never pack me anything other than Nutella sandwiches. For an entire semester of fifth grade, all I ate for lunch was two slices of Nutella sandwiches.”

16 months later, Krishnan moved to Edison, N.J. The shift from being one of two Indian students to seeing others like her was the start of Krishnan’s embracing of her past.

“Community is so important,” Krishnan said. “There was suddenly no shame in bringing Biryani to school. There were a variety of dishes from all parts of India. But, I still brought my Nutella sandwiches. I had the most boring lunch there. The next day my mom made me fried rice, and I was excited.”

Soon, Krishnan began to revel in her heritage. As Krishnan made memories with her newfound community – by going to the temple, engaging in holi and traveling to New York – she was becoming comfortable with her surroundings for the first time. At the same time, she joined Model United Nations and began to explore her own voice.

Yet, once again two years later, she had to move. This time to Coppell, Texas.

Coppell High School senior Akshita Krishnan writes at Paris Baguette, a cafe in Coppell. Krishnan’s writing has been published in Eunoia Review, Bright Flash Literary Review, Eucalyptus Lit and more. (Anushree De)

“I noticed early on how strong Akshita’s voice is in her writing,” Matthew Bowden, sponsor of the Coppell Young Writers’ Association, for which Krishnan is president . “When we would share journals every six weeks, she would read a journal out loud. You could hear something that differentiates her writing from a lot of other students. There’s a strength to her writing. When she describes a feeling, you know what she is talking about.”

Krishnan’s writing offers an introspective look into the intersection of her identities. Krishnan’s poetry can be found in various literary magazines including Eunoia Review, Bright Flash Literary Review and the Texposure Zine. She finds herself in her writing, and helps others find themselves too. Krishnan will attend Smith College in Northampton, Mass. and study economics and literature.

“Akshita is the kind of person who is not afraid to look at how things can be improved,” AP English teacher Tracy Henson said. “There are people who make waves of changes. She’s got the skill set and personality that would make a big difference in the world.”

Maybe you too will eventually go to a cafe and see an array of sweets in a glass container, friends laughing, couples in conversation and a girl nestled in a corner, typing away. If you get a chance, talk to her.

She’d be willing to listen.

Coppell High School senior Akshita Krishnan writes at Paris Baguette, a cafe in Coppell. Krishnan’s writing has been published in Eunoia Review, Bright Flash Literary Review, Eucalyptus Lit and more. (Anushree De)

Follow Anushree De (@anushree_night) and @CHSCampusNews on X.

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About the Contributor
Anushree De
Anushree De, Features Editor
Anushree De is a senior and the features editor of The Sidekick, where their passion for storytelling flourishes. Their favorite films, La La Land, Zootopia, and Everything Everywhere All at Once, resonate with creative optimism, mirroring her outlook on life. Born in Topeka, Kansas, Anushree embarked on a journey that ultimately led to finding her place in Coppell during second grade. The challenging transition from charter to public school shaped Anushree into the resilient individual they are today. In her spare time, Anushree immerses herself in the enchanting world of Spanish literature, relishing the perspectives it offers. As they have started their senior year, their advice to their younger self would simply be a hug, a reminder that growth is a journey worth embracing. Anushree finds comfort in taking walks in nature as a break from her busy schedule. You can contact her through [email protected] or on X (@anushree_night).

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    Elizabeth De SantiagoMay 18, 2024 at 8:38 pm

    this is such beautiful story Anu 🙂

    Reply