Silk rustled as young girls ran by
Jasmine buds crushed by impatient feet
yet serving their purpose
a fragrance fresh to match the green
of the hundreds of stacked banana leaves
washed and waiting.
Rows and rows of school benches
converted into dining tables
Mustached males in hitched up ‘mundus’
wiping the leaves, filling tall steel glasses
with steamy hot, karingali water.
All the gold hidden in the Godrej nooks
now hung out in blatant display in the glinting sun
matching the gilt-edged white sea of set sarees
Yet all that glittered was not gold then
Kanchipuram reds, Benarasi greens and Pochampalli blues
proclaimed a day off for the kitchen queens.
Songs of the spring, of flowers, of happy times
of good, of the forgotten land,
blared from loudspeakers
evoking nostalgia for unseen things.
The hall with a fascinating array of footwear
on the steps outside
frayed edges, threads of sarees caught, high platforms
polka dotted baby shoes, pink Cinderella heels
now I know why they fascinated
though I never wanted to own any.
Thousands of petals formed a floral dream
but it saddened me always
having seen them bloom under Dad’s care.
knowing that the broom was just behind the door.
The feast began and ended
Predictable in content, fulfilling the comfort cravings
of men probably because it reminded them
of a time when they were only sons
And of the women because it was one of the rare times
they could eat something not cooked by them.
I remember the speed with which parippu was followed by
sambar, then payasams of two varieties, brown and white
then the yellow pulisserry and the cool sambharam.
Then they sat out in the lawns
in the shades of the mango trees, the office
re -entering the conversations
while the kids formed gangs based on gender
I sat on the low wall behind the community hall
Watching the cows, the dogs and a naked kid
rummaging through the torn banana leaves
©Reena Prasad 28th Aug 2012