The average

Beth’s mom made cashew cheese

Alisa shared her buckwheat cookies

Laundry’s done, fresh, and folded

Toilet’s sparkling, no drop astray

All the way to the store at night

Getting glue for that project’s due

Still pulling out a casserole for dinner

Serving up mango pie, special desert

Party platter with organic wine

Home-baked goodies for the kiddies

Celebrating the dog’s birthday

Giving mighty thanks to all in life

Mom of the month gave some tips

Quick oats, meal prep, health videos


Everyone’s a multi-tasking queen

Those yoga women the talk of town

And I eat ice cream from the tub

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Woman at work

It was a lonely little corner
she’d taken it up as her own
crouching low, perched on edge
on a tall-backed cushion chair
as if she’d forgotten for good
how good it was sitting back
intensely black her eyes
as a bird atop a peeling birch
darting from stitch to stitch
as though following a fish
unperturbed by them rustling
winter winds wailing without
cozy and carefree she snuggled
swiftly shifting her grip instead
keeping up steady progress
lips parting in occasional smile
chuckling at jokes only she saw
much like the readers around
cherishing the magic that unfurled
the old woman knitted in the library

Coming back to you

Like a raging alcoholic I’ve come back to you.
maybe it’s a mistake, yes. But,
I thought, just this once
if I try one more time
perhaps you will give me what I so yearn
never give up they told me
when I was young and immature
skipping around school in a swirling skirt
dream all you can and you’ll be great
oh, what bull shit, throw it in a crate
some might say it’s not the right thing
not for me, and not for you
but I’ve come back for you
like a helplessly scared child
following her mother’s heels
despite being cast away
ignored and wanted no more
you were all I could think of
on every great stage I went
people think I’ve moved on
to higher places, shinier things
I’ve got a studio in New York city
grand deluxe with a double-sized bed
It’s more than I need, of course
but isn’t even half of what I wanted
I’ve got wardrobes filled with sequins
studded dresses, party skirts, and smarty pants
everything to make anyone happy
alas, anyone but me
I know we’re no longer the same
but, oh, how much it’d mean
to hold you in my arms, cradle your spine,
to read you through mine eyes,
sitting in the porch, wine by the side
glasses over my eyes, and a pencil in my hand
let’s do this, my dear first draft
it’s time you come out of the cupboard

Rider

He paused at the sidewalk
letting passers by pass
he’d play by the rules
wait for the signals
though no van was in sight
one foot on the ground
another fiddling the pedal
just a few seconds more
assuring himself he stood
the system took its time
before it gave the green
and off he went a sailing
though dedicated pathway
for those pedallers as he
he rode by crooked trees
old, bent, and dying to die
their barks stripped bare
their roots gone barren
recalling as he flew past
plush, browning blooms
from a month or two afore
vanished in a slice of time
not even shadows remained
yet unstopping on he went
seeking his ultimate destination
going through a mangled maze
waving at the greying florist
settled beside a fading future
smiling at her dimpled smile
what great love for life she had!
the town centre came by next
and he barely squeezed through
high-heeled boots, long leather jackets
classy wristwatches and poor diets
oof—coming to a screeching halt
catching his breath at another signal
so much was going on all around
buying and selling and exchanging
trading, wading, and sneaking about
puffing, blowing, messing it all up
for each their own way of living
and he rode on through his

Alternative reality

“I’ll have a flat white with an extra shot and almond milk, please.”

For most of us, that’s just another coffee order. A custom drink unlike the regular rather milky beverage.

However, until recently, that was more than a luxury for me. Before I moved to Australia, I took my coffee black or with home-made oat milk, which I wasn’t a huge fan of anyway. I’m vegan, and so my only option back in India was to go black or go home. I didn’t mind much, because I’ve always felt that functional coffee should be strong, sugarless, and black.

Still, it would’ve been nice to blend a splash of almond milk in my coffee.

Sure, I could still get it off one of those niche supermarkets that almost no one goes to, where they stock about two or three cartons of alternative milk every six months. The reason—almond milk is an imported good. And so, naturally it was far too expensive for my lifestyle. It remained a rare and pricey trinket I could observe from a distance, without ever a hope of possession.

Coffee shops stood no chance of offering it.

Does that sound pathetic?

Because it is.

Now though, I have three cartons of almond milk in my pantry. Yes, it costs little more than regular milk, but it’s still abundant and accessible. That’s first-world privilege.

We don’t often realise that even the most negligible aspects of our everyday life is such a big deal for the rest of the world. Coming from the rest of the world, I am stunned at the level of eschewal in society. Of course, I don’t expect people to worship the alternative milk aisle, but instead, I realise I’ve become more grateful than I thought I could be. It’s a strange side of my character I didn’t know I had—a side that’s so conscious and appreciative of the little things in life.

But let’s talk about something more important.

A child from an average household in a developing country wouldn’t need or want alternative milk.

I didn’t until I went vegan. Although I didn’t grow up vegetarian, my family thrived on vegetable nutrition at least 6 days of the week. Sundays were special—lamb days. Or chicken. Or eating out. You get the idea. 

But, milk was the beverage staple, just as rice was for meals. It was a habit I grew into as I got older, because that’s the way we’ve always done things. No questions asked. It also helps that most Indian foods are largely plant-based. Alternatives weren’t part of the culture, and so weren’t an available option anywhere.

Someone once told me that health-conscious dietary practices are first-world problems. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised it’s true. A family that survives on gruel twice a day wouldn’t bargain or complain about not getting almond milk. Any milk is blessing. 

And when you’re growing up in such an environment, you don’t always know or listen to your body. You’ll just shrug off the bloat from gluten and the gas from milk as just another bad day. Because you’ve never experienced gluten-free, vegan, or raw food habits.

Lack of awareness leads to lack of wants. Which may seem like a good idea, but it also leads to unhealthy practices and lifestyles. Which is the disappointing reality in many of our so-called under-developed countries.