Sunday, 7 October 2012

Mary Jane, Narcissa, Jasmine and Chicken Liver

Our shoes identical mary janes
hers with a discreet trim around the sole
mine has nothing, just tan and plain
both crunching evenly on the sands
as she takes me home, a shared paper cone
of chickpeas passed between our hands


I’m a bit tired of Lady Macbeth
Be glad, by this time next year
we’ll be struggling with the context
and complexities of Raja Lear, best
not complain. I know, but I’ll still be happier
when I am finally done with that Friday test.


Ammi we’re home. Who’s with you?
Hello Aunt.  Oh I see, hello dear,  do
make yourself comfortable wafts
from the kitchen with blood and vinegar
freshly slaughtered chicken liver
cumin sizzling in oil, tossed


and served on a bed of sliced onion,
limes in small bowls, jasmine
white rice and singles of hot flatbread
cooked and immediately passed in
eat it warm, daughters, bread stiffens
if you let it cool.  We certainly break


more than bread together, we scoop rice grains
with our fingers, we scoop narrow paths in the sahel
hazed with the harmattan; we share the smells
of school mornings, both our mothers’ kitchens,
we are told not to be wasteful with food
we don’t think to apply the lesson to childhood.

Linked to Poetics @ dVerse where everyone is talking about food


  1. oh man, love chicken livers....and one makes them like my mom either...mmmm...great last line as all goes so fast....and good friends become harder to find...smiles.

    1. It does go fast indeed...thanks for reading..

  2. love that closure...ah what a beautiful childhood snapshot...and love how the food is so much more than just food..brought back some memories as well

    1. food shared with good friends doubles the taste...and there's nothing like childhood food...thanks for a brilliant prompt and for the feedback..much appreciated

  3. Just love the way you worked all different kinds of food into your poem of childhood. Truly, so many early memories are about food, aren't they? And the ending pulled the whole poem together!

    1. the care with which our mothers prepare and serve food, nothing like that experienced again in this life...thank you for your comment

  4. Lovely capture of the preparation and sharing of the meal ~ The details of the 3rd and 4th stanza made me hungry for rice and chicken now ~

    1. Thank you for the feedback...this prompt made me feel hungry too! :)

  5. paratha or chapatis? "flat bread" --- how ironically flat.
    Ahhh how I lusted to hear the Bengali/Hindi words for "Aunt" and "daughters" -- for they only whispered in the kitchen.
    Chachi/Mami, beti!
    Heck even even Chana (चना) begged to have her flavor revealed!
    I hope to see future poems that let readers join the language feast that you savor daily.
    Thanks for the hamattan link -- and, embarrassedly, though I did not really know the "sahel" and its relation to the Sahara. Fun.

    The lesson -- to not waste childhood -- even the childhood left in us now -- precious! Thanx -- fun poem.

    1. Thanks ..glad you found it fun to read.

      Paratha (paw-ro-ta in Bengali) is fried, so I don't know whether it would qualify as bread? Chapati is rooti, and chana is chhola in Bengali.

      The word for daughter is the same as girl - kanya (kon-na) in formal Bengali, and meye (may-yay) in colloquial. Chachi is used in some parts of Bengal, and also Kaki or Kakima to denote the wife of a paternal uncle younger than the father. The latter is probably more widely used in West Bengal, the former in Bangladesh, but that's just my impression without any backup research.


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