When my uncle—my mother’s brother—brings
a Yaashica camera, we all get dressed.
He calls each child to the porch, makes us
pose—leaning against the column, the way
he had seen in films. My mother ties
a blue satin ribbon in my hair, makes me wear
the white starched frock with frills, but refuses
to change her turmeric stained sari,
its edges frayed—her daily kitchen wear.
Nor does she comb her hair or wash her face.
Even when my father asks her to. When he
is done with us on the porch, she invites her
brother to the kitchen, and points out
the pot of curdled milk, the skins of onions
on the sink, rotten cabbage leaves.
Thinking this is nothing but art, my uncle clicks.
One after another. My mother breaks the stalks of
the green chilies, throws them into the sizzling
My uncle sneezes.
My mother sprinkles spices on the oil—coriander,
cumin, mustard seeds, red chili pepper paste.
My uncle sneezes again--
his sister laughs.
My uncle packs his camera, wraps
the lens in well-worn towels, and leaves.
Never to bring it back to our home again.
N A N D I N I D H A R
Nandini Dhar is the author of two poetry books: Historians of Redundant Moments (Agape Editions 2016) and Jitakshara (Aainanagar Prakashani 2016). She is also the author of a chapbook Lullabies Are Barbed Wire Nations (Two of Cups Press 2014).
Nandini divides her time between her hometown Kolkata and Sonipat, Haryana, where she is an Associate Professor of English at OP Jindal Global University.