purple-brown crispy wisps of
dried onion peel
float like clouds of cotton candy
in my wet kitchen sink
my cheeks, wet with pungent
acrid tears accompanying
the sweetest of agonies
experienced by men only
when chopping onions
tamarind is sour on my
refreshed, nicotine-free taste buds
lemon juice is a tad different
from the sourness of limes
the bitter of bitter gourd
compared to the sharp bitter
of tiny red chilies, hotter than
the dry summer sun
in jaisalmer, or kalahari
eyes burn with flames
of fumes from mustard oil –
lamenting olive oil smiles in revenge
from its untouched bottle on the birch shelf.
respectfully attired housewives,
also newly conscious of their nation’s
have forgotten the art of traditional bargain.
all discounts are a “deserving” demand
in gleaming supermarkets
overflowing with fresh produce
from the corner vegetable shop uncle.
i dexterously slay ladies fingers – okra for the cultured –
and turn them into bruised knuckles
slimy with the ladies’ sticky juice
i relish seasoning the severed limbs with turmeric
red chilli and curry powders,
shove in some green peppers for flavor.
to stop wife from nagging,
throw two cloves in the mess
together with chopped mass
of previously fear-inspiring onions
i fry everything on a blast of flames.
so high is the heat
so blue the burner
that in mere minutes
ladies fingers’ are reduced
to a much unladylike form
fearsome onions, peppers and chilies
are just a finger lick away from salvation.
monsieur poirot, you are not summoned
to solve this mystery
for i know for sure
how they get done away
- in typical north Indian style -
by licks and smacks.