We Have Guests for Dinner Tonight

The China was brought down by the youngest child of the house
heels raised – toes pressed on a murha, slowing
down his breathing to avoid even the slight chance of
breaking this special-occasion dinnerware;
Bai takes even more care to not drop any in the kitchen sink, her red and white bangles clinking slower than usual against the rush of foamy tap water.

The daughters of the house fish out unstained table mats
dust dry crisp rice grains and stray bhujia from the table
check if Bai has put the spoons next to the kheer bowls,
if the plates are facedown exactly at the centre of the mats.

Mother blows on a steel spoon with red curry, sweat trickling from her hairline
And dropping onto her red nightie exactly when she drops the curry on her left palm
expertly brings out her tongue to taste the salt
reaches for the ceramic bottle of white even before the spicy red reaches her stomach
pinches salt out and into the bubbling curry
Almost instantly moves to the next pot, stirs with a wooden ladle
Almost instantly moves to the next pot, stirs with a steel spatula.

The guests praise the aroma, hot curry and rice on their plates
Kheer, milky and plump in their bowls
Father asks them to begin eating, mother and daughters take turns serving
The youngest child sits next to his father, licking curry off his fingers,
Father passes a glass, the water shaking like a sea-storm,
finishes a mouthful, entertains the guests by starting a conversation about a new policy
for raising the age of marriage for girls.

Zephyr Hussain Pegu (she/her) is an aspiring writer who finds it exciting to use the mundane as her muse. Her instagram handle is @zephyr_________ .

Featured image: Pixabay