Today, napowrimo.net asked us to substitute a cultural aspect with… mangoes.
This is very interesting because we use mangoes for a variety of dishes and it was very fun to explore how mango could be substituted with so many different things. I had a lot of fun hopscotching down the memory lane as I wrote this poem. My entire family loves mangoes and maybe that helped me a little, too.
Happy reading and don’t miss out on the endnotes for more. Xx
It’s that time of the year again,
And I reminisce the times I actually loved summers,
The vacations, the bowls of ice cream,
And the occasional mango showers.
Take me back to that one summer day,
I spent New Year with my childhood friend and her family,
Her grandma bringing us several bowls
Filled with bittersweet mango pachdi—
Boiled, raw mango in a syrup of jaggery,
And in it, swimming, little, dry flowers of neem;
Grandma said it could help us brave
All the bittersweet tidings the year would bring,
That this bowl held everything our tongues could taste—
The sweetness of jaggery,
The sour raw mangoes,
The salt, added to taste,
The bitter flowers of neem,
All of them tied together nicely with a dash of chilli.
And in theory,
That taste couldn’t have worked,
It sounded too wrong to work,
But if you’d eaten a bowl of that mango pachdi,
You’d have known how
That one bowl held all the tastes of life—
How grandma was, indeed, right.
Ten new years later,
I still go back to that summer day,
Thinking about how many bittersweet bowls it has been since,
And all I ever recall
Is how I made it out, every time,
Maybe a little battered, but never broken within.
In truth, every bowl was different,
Some sweeter, some more sour,
Some bitter, some saltier,
And sometimes, the chilli overpowered—
We braved every single bowl since;
Perhaps there really was something in that pachdi,
That let us brave all our bittersweet tidings
And everything else that comes with the mango showers.
I look at the mangoes that sit in the crate,
Scent wafting through the living room amidst sweltering heat,
I look at what’s left of the last jar of mango pickle
That my grandmother ever left for me,
I look at the mango murabba hidden away,
Thinking of the first friend I ever made
And how his mother spread murabba on the rotis
She always gave us to snack on, on our playdates—
And I always think about all the different tastes,
All of them opening doors to different memories,
All of them infused with different kinds of love,
All of them a different bowl of pachdi;
Summers suddenly feel a lot more tolerable to me,
Well, there’s the heat, but there are bowls of ice cream,
There is also a lot less to do,
So I hopscotch down the lane of memory—
Reminiscing everything that once came with the summers
And how everything has changed so far,
But the one thing that has remained
Is the love that comes with a hundred bowls of mango
And the petrichor that comes with the mango showers.
~© Shubhangi Srinivasan.
Writing this poem was probably the easiest thing to me because there are so many memories that are somehow associated with mangoes, in my head. And it brought out emotions that I wouldn’t normally put into my poetry, but hey, poetry is all about bringing out emotions you didn’t even know you could express. This poem is very, very close to my heart, and I thoroughly loved writing it. I hope you enjoyed reading it, as well.
The Shubhster. Xx