Rajyashri Goody

Rajyashri Goody

Creative Responses: Recipes For Resistance

Rajyashri Goody

Recipes adapted from Vijeta Kumar’s ‘The Nose, My Grandmother, Our Beef’ [which can be viewed in Recipes For Resistance Publication]

Your Nose

Discover a rotting 

fish-like smell in your house. 

Try to figure out the source.

Buy all kinds of disinfectants,

fragrant oils,

incense sticks.

Enlist your overworked,

pregnant wife

to clean every corner of the house.

Begin to feel guilty 

about the omelet you had eaten

months ago. 

This might be revenge.

This might definitely

be the work of your ancestors,

punishing you

for one egg. 

Remind yourself 

that you had taken care

to remove your sacred thread

before eating it,

showered with cold water

for seven mornings after.  

Do you have to live with this

god-awful smell forever now?

The smell is alive.

It senses your movements.

It knows when you are 

most awake in your sleep

and attacks your nostrils

in a way that makes you want

to avoid food completely. 

Begin to hallucinate

a nose that walks,

sometimes jogs,

in front of your house every evening.

Forget the smell.

Chase your nose

as it slips under the cot.

See the culprit.

A gleaming

butchered corpse

of your wife’s

cod liver capsule. 

Your Grandmother

Store Marie biscuits

in your blouse.

Store other things in there too – 

coins, cups, plates, oranges, chips, 

and silverware.

When your grandchildren are hungry

put your hand in

and out comes all the food.

When your son brings home meat,

cover your nose with your palm,

run to your bed,

mutter prayers.

Remember the Brahmin priest

who had caught your hand

and poked it while chanting mantras.

It was then that you

learnt upper caste ways of living 

to become respectable

and vegetarian

and survive 

with dignity. 

Don’t let your illusion 

with vegetarianism

bother you much

when you steal  

your son’s whiskey

and down it all

in one shot.

Your Beef

Bring your children up

in a house that tries

to erase caste. 

Give them names

that do not reveal their untouchability.

Send them to english-medium schools

to study. 

They might pass as upper-caste. 

They might try.  

While on vacation at a mountain resort

in North India, 

your 18 year old daughter

might reveal that she eats beef. 

Tell her to leave your house. 

She might say ‘ok’.

Leap at her.

Your wife might pull you back

and escort you out of the restaurant.   

Does this mean that you will go back 

to being untouchable? 

What right does your daughter have

to take you back to a place

that you fought to escape from?

Later that day,

put your hands 

on your daughter’s shoulder.

Walk with her.

Stand by a bridge

overlooking a valley.

Tell her she can eat

whatever she wants to.

Tell her you will not force her.

‘Just eat it outside, not at home, ok?’