Over a bowl, we share
our stories of the fruit.
I sing a song from Jait Re Jait
about a dhol played under a tree.
She sticks her tongue out
wanting it to emerge purple
like Neema's from her story book.
A cautious bite, a clean roll
and a seed spat out,
leave terrains on my agile tongue
that I stick out to entice her.
Unconvinced, she decides
to lick a jamun, only for its colour.
The astringent bites her tongue.
She runs behind me, wanting
to cleave my frozen ruts,
plough through tightened textures,
waving a pink comb for relief.
Jamun – Java plum
Jait Re Jait is a 1977 Indian Marathi language film directed by Dr. Jabbar Patel whose story revolves around a tribe named Thakar
Dhol - drum
In the colony park, my toddler
breaks out into a wild dance
celebrating the wind
that sways the huge trees all around her.
Just when the evening storm is settling in
I egg her home, running behind her
screaming "Slow, slow!"
with my jhola full of groceries
as she speeds up in her pink scooter.
This is my shield
that I create to fight a world
that has become so gory
I cannot understand it anymore.
I need help today
for I have knelt down
hung my head in shame.
She makes me get up and dance with her,
we blow raspberries at each other,
create bubbles with our saliva,
birth marks become burp marks.
We hunt for muddy puddles
where three different bow-wows
and diaper-wearing snakes made caca.
She makes me
forget a little.
She is not my Horcrux,
she is what my Patronus is made of.
jhola – cloth bag
She punches my eye blue,
a toe nail, storing clotted blood
remains black for months
after she drops a heavy vessel on it.
The reflex to strike back
that I never tamed
and always gave back to the world,
I now withhold with caution.
Count, breathe, seethe.
She doesn't know it hurts,
sees me in pain and hugs me
still confused about what she did,
it is always a game for her.
Yet, when all hell breaks loose
for the umpteenth time
after I have, in a low sincere voice
tried to explain, she still refuses to listen.
The physical force of her body
flailing limbs land hurtful kicks
punches make my arms give way.
I bite my lower lip,
make big eyes, hold her arm
and place a carefully weighed
whack on her behind
with a third of the force
I feel inside.
Rage boils over, a moment
of regained control sears holes
in me and in her
that may take a lifetime to heal.
Pooja Ugrani is an architect by education, a teacher by profession, a poet by whim and an artist by choice. Some of her works have been published by the The Punch Magazine, Cafe Dissensus Everyday, Mom Egg Review and Hākārā, a bilingual journal of creative expression. She was invited to read at the Bangalore Poetry Festival 2019 and by the Champaca bookstore at the Bangalore International Center on the occasion of International Womens' Day in March 2020. She writes from personal experience and memory about the small everyday things in life that intrigue and engage her.