Tuesday, 26 November 2013

that which made me what I am now

This long piece is one of the poems written (and edited) by a participant in our project in Oldham which ties reminiscence to everyday objects, for the project Making Memories. This particular poem is paired with a tavitho, which is rather like a fish slice and is used for frying. The poem is centred around a favourite arthur+martha subject: food and the eating thereof. 

that which made me what I am now

born Mombasa, then
trouble in Kenya, father concerned
six years old went back to India
studied in India 'til 21, BA in English and Sanskrit
dad thought “Daughters should stand on their feet.”
proud, self-confident
that which made me what I am now
but before that

when I was eight, older sister teaching:
“This is how you make chappati,
you roll it and you roast it, easy.”
We rolled all mis-shapes, couldn't show it to sister:
“We can't show this chappati!”
So we put ghee on and ate it
- did five or six like this, dipped in ghee.
Ate our mistakes, delicious!
By the time I was ten, could make perfect chappatis
made chappatis everyday, all my life
with my eyes closed
but my BA is English and Sanskrit.

For pudding, puranpurri
a little chappati stuffed with sweet lentils
lentils in sugar and lots of ghee, I love it
I cook the best
very old, old, old-
fashioned food, passed from memory
and fill it with
(you know, puran means stuffing?)
lentils, sugar, cardamon, little bit saffron
a little ball of ghee – ah, puranpurri
  taste and memory

of long ago times, farm people working hard
sweat out the ghee
work the fields and house, hard hands
milk cows, churn yoghurt, sweeping hard
round tava pan for the chappati
to flip it, a slice we call tavitho

Father saying, “We are going to England.”
Excitement, disappointment
of leaving friends, families
sadness to say goodbye
to say goodbye
people give you a feast
family and friend, sweet dish, savoury
the feast at one house, at many
“Maybe this is the last feast we are having together.”
Puranpurri pudding
that which made me
a little chapatti stuffed with
I love it.

Surajata Agravat
October 2013

Hindu Temple, Oldham

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