Pickle & Salt by Sayali Patil


Art by LA Ring

My grandfather passed away on a dewy September morning;

About 17 years ago;

My grandmothers glass eyes still draw a picture of fright in front of me;

I remember as she sat silently for hours;

Cold , vulnerable;

As if she was robbed of her breath;

Since then she has sliced her life into two parts;

Before baba, after baba.

Yesterday as we sorted her cupboard;

Over hot chai;

I asked her about a saree;

" I think it was before baba" she says , like an unconditioned reflex , an involuntary knee jerk;

They don't teach you how to love like that anymore;

Love like this swallows dictionaries and renders meanings, meaningless;

It moves mountains and drowns rivers;

It spoons the hatred and vaults it.

My grandmother never went to school;

Even at 24 today, whenever I see her;

She presses a 500Rs note into my fist and asks me to buy something sweet for myself;

Last time she did that, she told me he taught her how to count money after they were married;

And to say words like "curd" and "rice";

Every year on his death anniversary;

She still cooks food for people;

With a metal rod holding the bones in her thighs;

And pressing the bleeding points of her psoriatic palms;

She keeps adding cards to her monument;

And remembers love;

Everyday;

In hushed muted tones;

In lemon pickles and measures of salt;

And in a way that stuns me the most;

Without even realising.


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