Poems | Poornima Laxmeshwar

    Chronicles of an obligatory cook

You were a man of procedures
To win your heart I had to unravel the enigma
of flavours that made you, of jackfruit curry that
could linger on your fingertips, of fried bhindis
that could appeal your appetite
of vegetables alone as they stood unforbidden
I had to undo my years at hostel
where all I ever learnt was
how to make Maggi
And the only lesson I drew from it was
it never happens in two minutes

You are a man of precision
Can tell a burnt mustard from a finely roasted one
twitch the nose at the smell of a single clove
of garlic in a bowl of dal, know the sweetness of the
Payasam by the mere fragrance of it
As I deal with the leftovers
convince them to taste good
every noon while you eat away your lunch I pack
in the morning

Amma was worried
she knew I didn’t know the art of making
Idlis tender as jasmine and Dosas crisp as Appa’s opinion
on gold shopping, so she wasn’t sure about how to praise
my cooking skill the first time you visited us to see me
So she smiled and smiled some more
until we were left alone to discuss other priorities
Her only relief that evening was
that we didn’t talk about herbs and spices
but instead spoke about careers and long-term life plans

Jowar rotis are the toughest if you ever ask me
They need knack, love and stamina in equal proportions
No, don’t get ideas
You knead the flour in hot water, on and on
Wait for it to be mushy like a romantic Bollywood duet
Then you spread it on the floor and go thap-thap-thap
in between you shouldn’t forget to rotate it
and again thap-thap-thap till it looks
like a parched moon, you pick it gently
as your lover’s letter while the tawa stares at you
with the worldly sarcasm

But you must like cooking they insist

At the dining table you throw a list
of observations and feedback that sounds like a
title of a spoken word piece
Ten ways to improvise your cooking skill
While I collect them with caution
store it in the Bharani, ajji gifted
awaiting the pickles and your words
to marinate, settle quietly
with time

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