Aftermath of a departure


When you left, you took with you
my wardrobe

That, and the kitchen, and the vegetable garden
and the Gods in the room

Yesterday, I tripped on my saree
and ripped the edges of it. The 6 folds of cloth
tucked on my abdomen beneath the underskirt
came off and I stuffed it back in a hurry,
making it bulge out the rest of the day
Tie the skirt tight, tighter, I heard you say

I tried frying okras the way you did
It left a burning taste in my mouth, the taste
that reminded me of the year we went to Ooty
and had corn cob roasted on hot coal
You squeezed lemon on it to remove the bitterness of cinders,
a trick that might or might not work on my okras

I still take bath first thing in the morning,
but the Gods are always awake before me
I light the match stick
and extend my hands to the wick soaked in sesame oil,
The fan is turned off, the windows closed,
and I take care not to breathe
yet, somewhere on the way, the flame dies

And then there are the dents, two of  them
on our plush sofa. One where you sat, peeling potatoes,
watching mega-serials of bad women scheming against good ones,
and the other where I did, fiddling with my laptop
Now I sit on the hump between the two dents
hoping that eventually the gaps would fill

These days, after I cook my lunch, burned or not
I leave a handful of rice on the backyard verandah
for the crows that are waiting to pounce on it;
all but one, who watches me astutely from the lowest branch
of the mango tree that you planted the year I was born.

And I know that is you,
watching out for me, telling me you are near.

Vidya Panicker, a writer from Kerala, India has her poems, stories and translations published or upcoming in journals and magazines including The Feminist Review, Muse India, Himal South Asian, East Lit journal, Aberration Labyrinth, Spark journal, Bangalore Review, The Fem Magazine, Indian review, Indian Ruminations, Raed Leaf India, Brown girl magazine, Criterion journal, Femina fast fiction, Contemporary Literary Review of India, Indus Woman Writing,, and Reading hour magazine. Some of her work have been translated and published in other Indian languages as well.

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