Fried Bread and Mango Juice

1 May 2018

(for my grandmother, Suraj Ba)

My father bought mangoes
(a dozen or so)
and we carried them home
in a gunny sack
filled with the dark
orange smell of ripeness –
my five year old mouth watered
as my father slapped the sack
down in front of my mother.
Her face did not change at the
sight of the fruit (now a bit sticky
and blackened in places,
sap seeping slowly through
small splits in the tender skins)
these were not the mangoes
she expected,
firm and smooth – ready to eat
in neat, sweet slices –
Yet her eyelids did not flicker
at this messy offering
and I watched as she
washed the sack carefully,
peeled each soft fruit
and rubbed the yellow flesh
on harsh hessian
till her knuckles grew red and raw
and the thick juice flowed
like a honeyed miracle –
enough to fill a pitcher and then some more –
And after that she rolled dough
into silky discs, slipped them
into sizzling oil
and lifted out puris
small, golden balloons…

I have had eight decades of eating
and now my dry mouth tastes nothing –
but in the stillness of my dreams…
I feast like a child
on fried bread and mango juice…

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