Teaching a Colonialist How to Eat Indian Food

don’t be polite
just dig in,
show your admiration by diving headfirst into the plate
if you’ve eaten properly
your tummy rolls will interfere–
when you bend forward
swirl your oily fingers;
you can later rub it on your body
yes, we are bronze because we bathe in these oils.
smack your lips
ask for more pickle
drown the contents with a glass of lassi
we don’t think burping is rude
it’s our mother tongue,
mother for ‘maa ke haath ka khana’
and the tongue that burns
with the cinnamon and cumin
and kashmiri laal mirch
from our secret spice boxes
not so well hidden
because we didn’t burp loud enough before
nineteen forty seven
we should have, I think
we wouldn’t have these napkin rings
that reminds me of the noose
and of Shaheed Diwas
but never mind that,
now pick up the second serving
with your fingers and let the rasa trickle down till your wrist
let your tongue follow that tamarind line
let the haldi stain you golden from the inside
it will heal you
break off the edges of the roti
into smaller pieces
that will not be bigger than parts of our forefathers inheritance
divided till it turned to dust
to be buried with their ashes
on divided lands and rivers
where we grew what is on your plate
so yes, we eat with our hands
because to touch our food is to touch our soil
and to touch our soil is
what we have bled for
your hands may get dirty,
but at least they aren’t bloody.
would you care for some mango?

Vani Ghai is a third year medical student who has authored a poetry book called Honey in A Marmalade Jar.

Featured image credit: Ashwini Chaudhary/Unsplash