poetry picks

Five poems for a hungry August

The sixth in a monthly series of selected poetry on different themes.

Daal & Rice

Rajiv Mohabir

jira, laung, sarso, hardi, nimak: ego cup kesab ghiu mein bhujke, ho gail chounke
Pap invoked the gods of journey in mantra, tie you belt ke wuk, as he crossed the sea. Stuffing
burlap with mustard and Amazonia-hued grains, both Ma and he landed to mop Lutheran shit.
One starving whiteout December their sons frozethen shattered; stopped eating yellow with bare fingers.
’E na get chounk, how ’e go stay broung? hear Ajitalk. When I moved to New York at 25, I bought
10 lbs. of daal and basmati and slept aloneon the floor during my first ice storm. To keep warm
I boiled pots of water, stewed lentils intotrue love, a complete protein – something whole.
Cumin, clove, mustard, turmeric, one cup of salt, fried all in butter is how you mix the spices.

(The poem first appeared in Prairie Schooner.)

Pickling Season

Anju Makhija

Every summer, we laze under the mango tree
discussing unpatented recipes. When raw mangoes
drop on our head, we pause
to appreciate nature’s bounty.
Then on to peeling, chopping, salting,
boiling, spicing, bottling...

Will the sorcery work?

By year’s end, we hope, when
the pungent brine matures to its prime.
The zing depends on turmeric balancing the tamarind,
the chili complementing the amchur,
and if the asafoetida poured in candle light
late one night works for pickles
as it seldom does for couples, apart
since the first pickling season.

The alchemy has rarely bewitched,
jaggery sours, vinegar sears the tongue.
To change the recipe we’ve tried
with old ladies’ advice,
but nature moves inexorably,
and life proceeds predictably

beneath the mango tree.

Storming In Tea-Cups

Meena Kandasamy
“a cup of tea is not a cup of tea. . .
when you make it at twilight,
just for him.”

call it a love potion.
liquid dreams.
scented desire.
wishes boiled to a blend.

three cinnamon pods
the dried darjeeling leaves
milk and pearl-white cream
simmering to a syrup to be filtered.

as you sweat in its vapours
and imagine how the tea tastes
against his lips his teeth his tongue
and the pale pink insides of his throat

as you stir in the sugar
and test a spoonful to see
if it stings and soothes and
stimulates the way you intended

as you pour it into his cup
with eyes mirroring supernovas and
study the desirable brown of the tea

an entire shade
that fits exactly
between the desert sand of your skin
and the date palm of his.

almost the colour
of your possible child.

Chicken Roast

Malay Roychoudhury

Puff your plume in anger and fight, cock, delight the owner of the knife
smear sting with pollen and flap your wings
As I said: Twist both arms and force them to stoop
roll the rug and come down the terrace
after fragmented sleep
Shoes and boots – rifles – whirring bullets – shrieks –

The aged undertrial in the next cell weeps
and wants to go home
Free berate me...Let me go...Let me go home...
On its egg in the throne the gallinule doses
asphyxiate in the dark.
Fight back, cock, die and fight, shout with the dumb.

Glass splinters on the tongue – breast muscles quiver
Fishes open their gills and enfog water.
Apiece of finger wrapped in pink paper
With eyes covered someone wails in the jailhouse
I can’t make out if it’s a man or a woman

Put the eyelash on your left palm –
and blow it away with your breath
Make the snake’s hood fan out in mist
The cobra’s abdomen shivers in the hiss of feminine urination
Deport to crematorium stuffing blood-oozing nose
with cottonwool

Shoes brickbats and torn trousers litter the streets

I smear my feet with waves picked up from stormy sea
They form the alphabet I drew on for letters

(Translated by the poet from the Bengali poem Murgir Roast)


Payal Talreja

This then is my history.

At the age of three
I discovered an appetite
for words.

I’d crunch them like candy
lick them like lollies
slurp them like soup
nibble them like nuts;
crunched, licked, slurped, nibbled
words assuaged hunger.

I’d roll them fat and juicy
on my salivating tongue.
Pucker my lips, on some.
Mouthed: chocolate. chalk.
Cheese, were equally tasty.

I hoarded my loot
avariciously, never sharing
poring secretly over
dictionaries; sorcerer’s
greedy apprentice.

Secretly slipping into my mouth
lush, silky sounds.
Over time, I found,
the more I devoured words
the more the words consumed me.

This selection is curated by Rohini Kejriwal. She also curates The Alipore Post, a daily newsletter stemming from a love of​ art, poetry, music, and all things beautiful.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The ordeal of choosing the right data pack for your connectivity needs

"Your data has been activated." <10 seconds later> "You have crossed your data limit."

The internet is an amazing space where you can watch a donkey playing football while simultaneously looking up whether the mole on your elbow is a symptom of a terminal diseases. It’s as busy as it’s big with at least 2.96 billion pages in the indexed web and over 40,000 Google search queries processed every second. If you have access to this vast expanse of information through your mobile, then you’re probably on something known as a data plan.

However, data plans or data packs are a lot like prescription pills. You need to go through a barrage of perplexing words to understand what they really do. Not to mention the call from the telecom company rattling on at 400 words per minute about a life-changing data pack which is as undecipherable as reading a doctor’s handwriting on the prescription. On top of it all, most data packs expect you to solve complex algorithms on permutations to figure out which one is the right one.

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

Even the most sophisticated and evolved beings of the digital era would agree that choosing a data pack is a lot like getting stuck on a seesaw, struggling to find the right balance between getting the most out of your data and not paying for more than you need. Running out of data is frustrating, but losing the data that you paid for but couldn’t use during a busy month is outright infuriating. Shouldn’t your unused data be rolled over to the next month?

You peruse the advice available online on how to go about choosing the right data pack, most of which talks about understanding your own data usage. Armed with wisdom, you escape to your mind palace, Sherlock style, and review your access to Wifi zones, the size of the websites you regularly visit, the number of emails you send and receive, even the number of cat videos you watch. You somehow manage to figure out your daily usage which you multiply by 30 and there it is. All you need to do now is find the appropriate data pack.

Promptly ignoring the above calculations, you fall for unlimited data plans with an “all you can eat” buffet style data offering. You immediately text a code to the telecom company to activate this portal to unlimited video calls, selfies, instastories, snapchats – sky is the limit. You tell all your friends and colleagues about the genius new plan you have and how you’ve been watching funny sloth videos on YouTube all day, well, because you CAN!

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

Alas, after a day of reign, you realise that your phone has run out of data. Anyone who has suffered the terms and conditions of unlimited data packs knows the importance of reading the fine print before committing yourself to one. Some plans place limits on video quality to 480p on mobile phones, some limit the speed after reaching a mark mentioned in the fine print. Is it too much to ask for a plan that lets us binge on our favourite shows on Amazon Prime, unconditionally?

You find yourself stuck in an endless loop of estimating your data usage, figuring out how you crossed your data limit and arguing with customer care about your sky-high phone bill. Exasperated, you somehow muster up the strength to do it all over again and decide to browse for more data packs. Regrettably, the website wont load on your mobile because of expired data.

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

Getting the right data plan shouldn’t be this complicated a decision. Instead of getting confused by the numerous offers, focus on your usage and guide yourself out of the maze by having a clear idea of what you want. And if all you want is to enjoy unlimited calls with friends and uninterrupted Snapchat, then you know exactly what to look for in a plan.

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

The Airtel Postpaid at Rs. 499 comes closest to a plan that is up front with its offerings, making it easy to choose exactly what you need. One of the best-selling Airtel Postpaid plans, the Rs. 499 pack offers 40 GB 3G/4G data that you can carry forward to the next bill cycle if unused. The pack also offers a one year subscription to Amazon Prime on the Airtel TV app.

So, next time, don’t let your frustration get the better of you. Click here to find a plan that’s right for you.

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel and not by the Scroll editorial team.