A GHAZAL OF MANGOES
Summertime, our kitchen counters spill with mangoes:
himsagar, hapus, chausa, langra, and other mangoes.
Ma and I, we ride on a rickshaw to Gariahat baazaar,
where vendors sell cratesful of plums, lichis, and mangoes.
Ma squeezes the fruits tenderly to learn if they are plump.
Her saree is block-printed with paisleys, upturned mangoes.
Later, I slip into my boyfriend’s flat. In his drawing room
hangs a silk painting: Nur Jahan in an orchard of mangoes.
He says he wants to end things, and my throat tightens
like I’ve swallowed hard, fibrous pits of ripe mangoes.
In Kyasapura, a farmer shields his eyes, surveys his trees.
He grows badami: Karnataka’s prized alphonso mangoes.
This year, the rain from the cyclone has ruined his yield.
His hopes shrivel up and drop off like blighted mangoes.
One Sunday, after Math class, my tutor offers me tea:
cha and sondesh—crumbled cheese and pureed mangoes.
He asks me to wait after the other pupils leave. He offers
me a long hug, says my breasts are firm like mangoes.
Bhavi, do you remember what Ma said? A woman gives
up a part of herself if she chooses to go where a man goes.
—from Poets Respond
December 27, 2022
Bhavika Sicka: “In Karnataka, the recent cyclone-induced rainfall resulted in fungal diseases to mango crops, shattering the dreams of farmers who were hoping for a good harvest this year. In another news, the headmaster of a school in Mandya, Karnataka, was taken into custody for sexually exploiting his female students.” (web)