The Mango Curry

The beauty that is

Mango Pulsedi 

This deserves the Nobel prize

My exclamation on a full stomach 

Holds truth and supercilious dreams

Not knowing if the Nobel even cares

Of raw love and hearth transmogrified into culinary excellence 

The Pulsedi is overwhelmingly beautiful 

I am simply overwhelmed 

The butteryness of the gravy 

The texture of the shred coconut 

The way the mango melts on my tongue

Unripened ones boiled in water and jaggery 

And I hope that the Gods are kind enough

That when I die, let it be after I have had my fill of this love

Let me have my last meal

In the plates of my home, scrubbed and shining 

After I have felt the spices that my grandmother kept in a tin box

My God,

Please be merciful 

If death must come at once

Please let it be now

Please let it be like this.

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Dal Chawal

                       Dal chawal 

            Hopelessly in love with it

                            I am

          How will I survive without it 

                       In my plate 

                      I feed myself 

                Morsel after morsel 

                       Dal chawal 

                      It’s fragrant 

             With my mother’s love 

              The rice is the proof 

              Of the ceaseless toil 
                 On marshy lands

                How will I survive

                Without dal chawal 

   That’s reminiscent of my motherland 

                   I feel deep love 

           And lingering nostalgia 

    For the food that is a peasant dish 

  That keeps me tethered to my roots 

That let’s me chase my dreams around the world 

But keeps me grounded to the soil of my sweet home

Dal chawal: Lentil and Rice

R.S.

And this is how

Then mix it well

and finally add the oil

and this is how you make the pickle

and this is how you preserve something 500 years old

older than you and older than me

and older than this house

and older than the lore

your grandmother told you

each night as your eyes drooped

and somewhere in your mind

live the kings and queens

and their sharp witted courtiers

and animals that were supernatural

and Gods that walked on earth

and this is how you carry on the legacy

the great grandmother of your grandmother

passed to her daughter and imparted to her son

and this is how you etch into the present

the specters of the past

and bring to life

an element of history that only lives in

dusted yellowed pages

and the stories they sang about

and the paintings and karigari

and this is how you immortalize

the forefathers of your land

and sustain a tradition

as old as time itself

and this is how you rest

all the ghosts of a millenium old

civilisation in peace

that they might be long gone

but never long forgotten.

 

karigari : workmanship (generally used to denote the artistry on an object) (hindi word)