Beads of sweat poured down her face,
As she sat there totally immersed,
In the art of making pickles,
Raw mangoes cut into tiny pieces,
And her ever careful eyes choosing the right spices,
Like a magician she sat there casting spells.
A sudden hot wind blew in through the window,
The curtains fluttered and I could hear my ancestors whisper,
A glow surrounded her, My mother.
A few days ago she came running into my room,
The lap of her saree wet with salty tears,
Her kajal slightly smudged,
My heart felt heavy when I saw her.
The picture she showed me was familiar and unfamiliar,
The place radiated my childhood memories,
But my ancestral house was gone,
Rubbles lay where once happiness resided,
The mango tree was gone too…The rings of life on it ceased to grow.
A yellow stain took over her creamy fingers,
Turmeric was to be blamed,
A bitter-sweet smell…The innocent laughter of children,
And suddenly I was back to my ancestral home again.
Summer breeze blew through the streets,
Soft grass tickled our bare feet,
Me and my cousins jumped into the river,
The birds were chirping somewhere near.
Plucked mangoes from our dear tree,
The ripe ones were to be eaten…The raw ones were pickles to be,
Clattering plates and glasses mixed with carefree laughter,
The night sky was full of stars,
While Grandma sang us a lullaby,
A rhythmic soft pat on my head….
Grandpa told us stories of his time,
In the same house in the same room,
Our ancestors had once lived their lives.
My mother danced to an old music,
The "cham-cham" sound of her anklets,
filled the home with unimaginable joy,
A certain warmness in our ancestral home,
Where maa learned the Art of making pickles.
She shrieked and I woke up from my dream,
She cut her fingers slightly,
Warm red blood slided down her hands,
A bitter-sweet smell mixed with blood,
I ran towards my maa,
My Grandpa had become my past,
Our ancestral home turned into dust,
Was everything really gone now?
She wiped her wound and looked at me,
"Go and keep the pickles in the sun."
I saw the mango seeds and lost my senses,
Held one in hand and went to the garden,
Buried it and watered it,
Maa walked over to me and smiled,
"It won't grow into a tree dummy",
It will, I smiled, it will.
Some things are always left behind…
Like the Art of Making Pickles.