In a dark store room,
my grandmother pours salt
into ceramic urns in which lie
round, unripe and green.
She waits for them to
shrivel and burst,
to add spices, one after another —
chilly, turmeric, asafoetida.
In ten days, the pickle will be ready
to fly with me, non-stop,
for eighteen hours to New York,
far from the heat of summers that
weigh down mangoes.
I think of a time when my grandmother
will have left us forever.
Will this ritual be lost–
or will I remember them
like middle-school science,
forgotten, but never unlearnt.
Ardra Manasi is a poet and a development practitioner. Her poems have been featured in
journals and anthologies in US, UK and India, including the Sahitya Akademi, Modern Literature,
Parentheses Journal, Silk and Smoke, The Palm Leaf, Narrow Road, Bengaluru Review, and
elsewhere. In 2020, her poems were part of an international online exhibition ‘IGNITE – From
Within the Confines,’ which brought together artists and poets to reflect on the COVID-19
pandemic. She works for the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers
University and lives in New York City.