When the frigid breeze cuts into my skin
Creeps past countless layers of wool
Then I grumble to Amma
Where are the mangoes, I say
When will summer come around.
Once the pavement starts to sizzle, I say to Amma
Let the humble mangai make an appearance
And the toothless subzi-wala beckon,
I’ll be the first in line
I’ll bring them back for you, Amma
We’ll slice them up
Dip them in lethal salt and chilli
And feast, sweating in the verandah
Just like you must have, a tiny speck
At Marina Beach.
Then when the fat juicy safedas come
I’ll bring back a kilo or two
I’ll have no less than four a day, Amma
One as shake, one in kootan
Two that drip down
My arm, stain my shirt as I
Bite into ecstasy.
When will the geyser become dormant, Amma
When can I peel off these layers
And dash off in search
Of the newest breed in season
Piled high, golden and proud, or royal and green
Glinting in the brilliant sun, or lit by LPG lamps
And if we catch Dad in a good mood
He’ll amble off with his faded cloth bag
And bring back a cold brick
To have with our post-dinner alphonso.
Alas, Amma, when the pavement began to sizzle
I was busy sitting in an air-conditioned cage
When you brought the mangai
And waited for me in the verandah
I had but half a piece before
Dashing off, careful not to spill chilli
On my spotless blue suit.
The kootan cooled under the fan
And I ate, distracted
By machines and their buzzing and humming.
The ecstasy turned sour, craving my attention
Its sweet rotting flesh destined for the garbage bag, as I,
Unmoved by the changing days, the falling rain, the waning sun
Flitted from one epicurean farrago to the next.
Alas, Amma, when did the summer pass me by
I can feel the stirrings
Of the frigid December breeze.
Tell me, Amma
Where are the mangoes, when will summer come around.