Nithya Mariam John
You call me after a decade.
To break the hungry silence you ask,
“What did you have for breakfast?”
For ten years,
I’ve been having
broken pieces of blue sky, dipped in reddish memories
I peel my heart and slice my body
every supper, to quell the hunger-pangs;
I leave the dough of sorrows to rise overnight
and make lacy appams at sunrise.
I consume at leisure
our past rendezvous pressed into wine;
those jars break whenever I forget a detail.
the smell of your shirt or the colour of my dupatta
which I wore on my twenty-third birthday
when we rode to the beach, on your bike.
There are noodling white hairs on my head,
which I ebony-sauce every morning,
so that I remain the way you’d left me.
I boil pain and stuff my mouth
with balls of rice and chutneys of conversations
we’d had once upon a time.
Among the masala dosas
which I make for my family,
I reserve two bloated-belly ones
stuffed with kisses we’d shared.
‘I cook biriyanis of desertion,
bake cakes of unanswered questions,
and brew coffees of our two, steaming bodies
under the asbestos of your old, single-room lodge’,
I say, “Appam and kadala curry”.
The cooker whistles three times.
*dosas- thin flat bread made from fermented batter of rice and lentils in South India
*kadala curry- a spicy dish made of black chickpeas and coconut