Daily Bread

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

as starters;

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.

For instance,

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.

 

At noon,

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.

 

Instead of,

 

‘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

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