‘Pickle Jars not Peacemakers’ by Daya Bhat

Two white jars with mustard skirting, mouths shut in muslin layers

mounted on either sides of her slender waist carved out of butter

Her arms around their necks she climbs to the terrace-

the aroma still fresh on her fingers of the seasoning inside the jars-

while its sizzle slithers down to the bottom.

Her loose braid oscillates to her climbing rhythm

Mogra strand doubly folded sways

far left to far right until she has climbed fifteen steps

Her eyes scan for the sunniest spot

And while the jars and the cut mangoes

marinated in salt and spices take in the sun

she sits in a 2’ x 2’ dancing shadow off the far off lone neem tree

fanning the summer heat with the end of the tamarind hued pallu

of her turmeric yellow sari

Squinting her kajal eyes at the twelve o’ clock sun

and at the unseen brown and green kutroo

camouflaged by the bark and leaves of the neem

she nurses her tired feet. The cracks in her heels

some stubborn, run up to the silver anklets, some kindly healing.

She throws a careless glance.

Her eyes now scan her arms, half a dozen green glass bangles

dotted with gold, on either wrists. She pushes them back

one cracked bangle on the right pinches her skin

She throws a careless glance

She hears her ma-in-law call, Shaarooo   Shaarooo

She throws a careless glance.

She sits, who knows how long? And then he appears at the fence

his image bounces up and down amidst the waves of heat.

She alights, two steps at a time a pickle jar on her slender waist

carved out of butter. She ladles freshly pickled cut mangoes

beside fluffy rotis and a scoop of butter and hides behind the door,

he calls his Ma‘can I have some buttermilk Ma?’

he catches her kohl rimmed eyes through the narrow slit in the door

A day old war doesn’t seem to end.

She throws a careless glance and they slide into quietude.


Poet’s Bio: Daya Bhat has published her poetry collection ‘A maiden of 29’ with the Writers Workshop (India). New Asian Writing has previously published her poem ‘Undercurrent’. Her short fiction has featured in the New Asian Writing 2014 anthology, The Bangalore Review and most recently in eFiction India. Her English translation of Ravindra Bhat’s Moorane kivi, is to be published soon. Her prior occupations are related to teaching and computer software. Her other interests are painting and blogging. She lives in Bangalore, India.

Illustration by Alan Van Every (Featured image on the front page)

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