Eating Guavas Outside Taj Mahal

The heavy drunken aroma
of fresh guavas
is too sweet for me to bear.

Instead, I drink its nectar
not as liquid-pulp
but as raw unsmooth fruit.

I bite its light-green rough skin
the way I used to
approach a sugarcane stalk

as a child
crunching every fibre
to extract their juice.

There are memories—
memories attached to food
and their consumption.

There are memories
about the rituals of intake—
how certain foods

are allowed or disallowed
depending on God’s stance
and their place

in the lofty hierarchies
they create.
How misplaced these stations

are—God, Emperor, Man
all mistaken—proud errors
of selfhood, status, and ego.

Even under prayer’s veil,
there is something about
eating guavas with unwashed

hands, tasting its taste before
masala, lemon and rock-salt
turn them into sprightly salad—

seed’s bone-crack intentions
slip, cloaked—
buried before they fruit.

by Sudeep Sen.

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