Thank you, Amma,
for buying me a mortar and pestle
when we went shopping one day,
soon after my marriage.
Among my vivid childhood memories
are watching you pound
that mixture of rice and skinned black gram,
on a large granite mortar
placed on the floor of our house in Calcutta.
How you would be at it for hours!
how the sound of the pestle
scraping against the mortar
dissolved into the sound
of the clanky Khaitan ceiling fan
that would never run fast enough
to dry those beads of sweat
running down your forehead.
Only, I was too young
to understand back then
that you were grinding grief.
© Vidya Venkat (2020)