Mortar and pestle


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,

soaked overnight,

on a large granite mortar

placed on the floor of our house in Calcutta.


How you would be at it for hours!


I recall

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)

Published by Vidya Venkat

Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at SOAS, London. Formerly, journalist at The Hindu, Chennai.

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