Sunday, June 24, 2012

King Jack

I have been told once or twice that it is impossible to be ambivalent about jackfruit. I’ve come across people who shudder and blanch at the smell, but I unequivocally love it. I have even tried on a couple of occasions to use the seed – peeled, boiled, peeled, chopped and put into sambhar. What an amazing fruit it is! Such perfect packaging, its smell the very embodiment of tropical lushness… I wonder at its audacity in growing so high up on a tree. Surely something this enormous should grow along the ground?

I’ve confessed here and there that I’m a city girl with deep country love. Then you will understand how much it galls me to eat halasina hannu out of a packet thus. Five measly pieces sold for Rs 10. 

There are whole fruits available but it is impossible to convince my father to buy one. He baulks at carrying it home from the local market, for which he has my sympathies. Besides he jibs at the possible waste, which is nonsense. I would eat it, cook it, pickle it, worship it. Also he suspects (with good reason) that he’ll be lumped with the job of disembowelling it. Which, as anyone who has experience in these matters knows, is a very difficult business. The hands must be oiled; considerable muscle, skill and patience is needed.
What I need is a Man Friday. To cut up jackfruit, peel coconuts that have fallen in the garden and disappear conveniently the rest of the time.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Do you find that it tugs you just there?
The cavity below the ribs, a throbbing hole
Every evening as dusk falls and then, a few minutes after,
The azaan goes up.

Plaintive, my neighbourhood muezzin!
His voice soars and dips, and I soar and fall in sympathy.
A grief grips me sometimes, a sadness, a trembling –
Call it existential angst.

A few brief minutes and he trails away,
And I return, blindly, to my computer screen.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dhuan dhukhay mere murshid wala…

….jaan pholaan taan laal ni*

My heart was cleansed anew two or three days ago. It had gathered debris, a film of dust perhaps, or to borrow and stretch a metaphor: like a lit cigarette that has a thickness of ash still clinging. A small flick and the ash has fallen – the flame breathes and smoulders red again.

Earlier this week, I attended a lecture on Daag Dehlvi and the speaker quoted this evocative sher by Sauda, which appealed very much.

Aadam ka jism jab ki anaasir se mil banaa
Kuchh aag bach rahi thi so aashiq ka dil bana

आदम का जिस्म जब भी अनासिर से मिल बना
कुछ आग बच रही थी सो आशिक का दिल बना

When the five elements blended to form Adam’s body
A leftover flame went to making the lover’s heart.


*From Farid's Mae ni mai kinnu aakhan
[Trans. My Master’s fire spits and smoulders
Red hot, everywhere I blow]