The Great Indian Kitchen

“this was the legacy of the great Indian kitchen, here, only stomachs were filled in the attempt to fill hearts

 

I could smell the spices floating through the verandah from the kitchen And hear the sizzle of meat being thrown into hot oil.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Is that why most woman toil days and nights in the kitchen , Trying to make all sorts of concoctions hoping to crawl into their husbands’ hearts? Is it worth it even if they have filled the wombs of other women when their wives scarmble to fill their stomachs?

I have seen my mother work around the kitchen like she was Ma Durga, with many hands roaming around trying to make that perfect Rajma. Is this why my mother never left the kitchen to crawl into abba’s heart which had been crammed with his love for food and anything besides ammi ? As years went by my father’s belly grew and my mother’s heart shrunk. Trying to crawl into abba’s heart, Ammi had crawled into the tiny kitchen for the rest of her life. But it didn’t matter for she could only reach his stomach, and I guess she was on the way to his heart when his stomach called for her again. But Ammi never gave up, she kept making new dishes hoping for a day, when he’ll look at her and invite her into his heart.

But the day never came. When I was bathing ammi’s lifeless body I noticed her hands were stained with haldi, Even after bathing her in milk she still smelled like jeera and rajma. Almost as if she was still trying to call out to abba, to look at her one last time and tell her that she’ll live in his heart.

Even when death took her away She was still trying, Trying to remind abba of rajma and haldi and jeera and her.

Maybe this was the legacy of the great Indian kitchen, here, only stomachs were filled in the attempt to fill hearts.

Hiba Ashraf

Hiba Ashraf

Spoken word poet from Kerala Read more of her poems here

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