Wednesday, November 22

A Sestina on Teacups, Marathons, and Overdone Cultural Clashes

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The Breakfast Club resolved to meet every Sunday morning.
During their allotted time and in their allotted space they would discuss the news:
Troubling dreams, sabzi recipes, fashion, and what their children
Weren’t doing with their lives. Tapping their teacups
With the soft part of the spoon, clicking their tongues,
And nodding concernedly, they would tuck their saris around themselves for the rerun

Of the fifty-year old Indian woman’s harsh reality. All the club members would run
Behind her, simpering at her hysterics and aware of the nuances of mourning.
They would catch each tear with outstretched hands and spooned tongues.
The Sunday news was passed around ritually, but it was never new.
Each story was a retelling of the same; old tears, yellowing teacups.
The porcelain cracked silently with each sighing spoon tap for the children.

The children had no idea what they were doing. None at all. These new-age children.
Without a backwards glance, they dropped their culture and ran
After this ungrazi, gordaa idea. It wasn’t theirs to forget, the teacups
Broke subtly, just as Sundays were God’s made morning.
Each dismissed pooja and every blond girlfriend brought home stabbed anew
The Indian mother’s wound of a heart. The forgotten mother tongues

And the preponderance of short skirts made them fear how tongues
Would wag at the next club meeting. They shook their heads at their children –
If they had no culture, they had no anchor. The members remembered their newborns.
And I often imagined my mother’s mouth running
In circles about how I no longer take time in the morning
To do breathing exercises, enjoy my food, or think of God, as she refills teacups.

I am not invited to these meetings. I only put away the teacups
After. I rinse off the brown lipstick and try not to think about the quick tongues
That lapped up my mother’s chai and crocodile tears each Sunday morning.
I wonder if every generation was the same — the mother’s cried because of the children
And the children tried to live despite the sadness. Were they always running,
Since the beginning? I’ve heard this story before, I’m sure. Not newfangled.

My mother was from before all this, from old New Delhi,
And she was carried to the new world in marriage. She only brought the teacups
Her mother gave her. She left with tears, but I wonder if she was also on the run.
She brought her idols and ideals with her, but did tongues
Lash in her absence? Did they berate her for her soon-to-be children?
They would grow up with out paranthas for breakfast every morning.

So, did she run too, from her mother? Was she unable to renew
The cycle? The breakfast club meets every Sunday morning, and they sip from teacups,
Wagging their tongues, remembering their own mothers, and shaking their heads for their children.

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