By Farheen Sahban
Perhaps happiness loves grief too much
And therefore it retires to make room for grief at the dining table
Just like my mother who eats only after my father’s appetite is full
While baba’s plate has leftover pieces of misogyny
Maa considers it quite holy to eat the scraps from his plate
Out of fealty.
Her palms smell of adherence and tolerance on most days
She takes it only for the scent of commitment
The other day she burnt her hands while making korma
Later, that night my father complained about the mutton being half-raw.
You could almost trace the twinge that she felt right then
Yet, she promised to be careful next time.
Perhaps grief burnt her tongue the night she was born
And that is why it often expresses itself in drowning silence
Just like my mother who although has tongue but not words to proclaim
And so her grief like jaggery dissolves in her taste buds, only it tastes like blood.
My mother is now a museum of roses
Ever since she was married, she has been burying her dreams to satisfy appa’s demand
For every wish that she sacrifices, she is honoured with a pair of roses
So much so that she now mistakes rose for sacrifices
She is allergic to them all.
My mother is Parvati and Durga in disguise often Kali in all its glory
She is a country, a city within a country, home to forsaken
A muse, an art, an artist
A daughter, a wife, and a mother
She is everything just not her.
Farheen Sahban is a student of Literature at Aligarh Muslim University. Poetry speaks to her; for her when people don’t. She believes that artists, through their art, can bring much needed change.