It’s Monsoon, and I long for Yam
And Colocasia , and Sweet Potato
Ginger, Garlic , Onions, Tapioca Chips
All that stored energy from Mother Earth
I love the taste of earth upon my tongue
It makes me feel so rooted - a cure
For all the enervation Monsoon brings.
I wait like a lover for the tart and fibrous Sukul
The pale yellow but vigorous Goodbye Mango
That comes from Bhagalpur to say Au Revoir
When Langda and Dussehri are departing
And Maldah turns too plump and soft for me.
It’s Monsoon, and Black Pepper and Tomato Rasam
And the Kaaddha Tisane of Basil, Ginger and Black Pepper
Will rid me of the phlegmatic languor and vague aches and pains
That humidity brings with sudden fluctuations of ambient temperature.
How Earth and Nature speak to me, though I now live
In an urban apartment , never ceases to amaze me
And keeps me eternally grateful, eternally and joyfully in their debt!
Mother Earth and Grandmother Nature , you keep me safe
Rocked to comfort in the twin- twined hammock of your love
That finds ways to reach my very core
When I need you most, and fear the most
That I have lost my ties to both of you
And to my roots. Few things are so basic , so ubiquitous,
As food, and through food , as I prepare it and eat it,
You tell me that I can never lose you
For not only do I have my origin in you,
I am also being continuously renewed and rejuvenated
Nursed and nourished , healed and made whole, by you.
This is rooted love, and it’s forever.
*Note : What is TROPHIPOIESIS ? Well, borrowing words/ wordlets from the Ancient Greeks I’ve coined a term, ‘Trophipoiesis’ for Food Poetry. If you prefer the Latin Route, you have the choice of Cibum Carmen, Victus Verse, or Pabulum Poesis.
I am aware of the term ‘Food Porn’ and I dislike it intensely. Food Poetry can be earthy or ethereal, or anything in between or beyond these broad spectra, but is always essentially pure. It should not be robbed of its natural dignity through careless, coarsening, demeaning and misleading nomenclature. I created this coinage on 6/7/2022 because I love food and I love poetry and I often write poems about food or poems that mention food, and had been searching for a good name for this genre. This happened recently when Setu Bilingual Magazine invited writings about food for their Special June 2022 issue and I wrote about the classic Punjabi dish Sarson Da Saag which they have been kind enough to publish. I also wrote another piece of Trophipoiesis, which again Setu graciously included in the same issue of the magazine, which comes from my experience of experimenting with Japanese Poetic Forms, especially those related to Haiku. I hope you enjoyed my food-based poem, ‘Rootedness’, given above .
Amita Sarjit Ahluwalia is one of the various pen names used by Punjab-born, Patna-based retired Indian bureaucrat Amita Paul, who has of late begun to be recognized on various digital platforms for her original writings in different genres - in English, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi, and featured in various anthologies, journals, and online poetry writing forums. Her writings are imaginative, humane, socially relevant, ecologically sensitive and public- spirited, with an occasional flash of humour, at times trenchant, at times gentle and mellow.