April 06, 2009

Kitchen Rules for Supper

        The gardener must drink
        from a different cup.
        The servant must eat
        from a different plate.
        The bullock-cart man
        cannot enter the house.
        Why God did you make them

Man in a veshti
thundu slung over,
barefoot on a cool earth floor,
sambaranee wafts
as the ghee sounds a sizzle.

        The gardener must drink
        The servant must eat

He stoops to light
oil lamps, flickering wicks,
flaming coal stove,
the dhall curry simmers,
chappatis on gridle.

        The bullock-cart man
        The man in the veshti 

Freshly made tairu
slightly sweet salted,
ever-silver serving bowls,
sprinkles of chopped herbs
table laid ready with leaves.

        Why God did you make
        them different?

The guests will arrive.
He’ll wash their sore feet.
Perhaps this will be
his last supper.

Perhaps for this meal
we’ll remember.

(c) Charlene Rajendran 1999

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