I know because I chronicle. Hurt is a place. Run your fingers on my C section scar and tell me what will you name it if not assertion? Ajji oiled and combed my hair for hours. She said that combing is kindness as though the small-teethed comb could catch and carry my worries, and not just lice. Call me prejudiced but the C words do not stick like sweat on my skin – choice, consent, calcium. I suffer from deficiencies of my own making. That’s how marriages work, you say. I cut the cabbage and cook it with an extra pinch of cumin. To not be idle is a fight against this constant tiredness in the dark corners. But there’s no peace even in my darkness. You will sex with me only after you turn off the room light. How much more darkness we need to hide from each other? You think of someone else, and I think of someone else in our touches. Think of cruelty and my mind montages your hands. That’s how our marriage works, I am sure, hung like a C: half-looped, sickle- shaped, always in search of a home to feel complete.
Amma is meticulous in division. She asks me to cut a hundred lemons into halves while she connects the electric citrus press juicer. The juice is then divided into halves again. Proportion is a mastery of weighing. Her half means half. Few peels will be preserved. She says she had read in a Kannada weekly women’s magazine that lemon peels can keep the stink away when kept in the refrigerator. You can’t give her the ‘when life throws lemons, make lemonade’ logic. She can squash your reasoning for a good life.
- One portion of the juice will be mixed with vinegar and stored in glass bottles until lemons become cheap as the null.
- The other will be mixed with sugar, kesar, and cardamom for prime summers.
She says I need to learn to ration when I pour the sugar. That’s the problem in my life. That division is what I must have known as a woman naturally. Cutting quadruples in emotions must come inherently, like how she slices coconut barfis. Division is simple: storing the everyday spices in the masala box and not allowing one to blend into another.
I just stir, stir, stir, waiting for the sugar to dissolve because what lives must blend for if not, then there’s no beauty of the madness.