Early Summer in Bihar

When the new earthen pot was bought to cool drinking water
And roasted gram flour was placed in glass bottles
To be mixed with water and salt and cumin powder
Lemon juice and coriander leaves for a cooling drink
Or just moistened to form a dough- like paste
seasoned with salt and cumin and finely chopped onions
And green chillies to be eaten with a raw mango chutney
Or even salted raw mango slices reddened with red chilli powder
( O the tanginess of it ! )
And when the elders took fistfuls of cool water from the new mud pot
And sprinkled in on the heads of the youngsters
To cool down their hot- headedness and to remind them
To respect their elders and betters and traditional wisdom
And to keep hot tempers in check and ward off heat stroke
As the dusty Lu winds scorched the parched landscape all around
And the mighty Ganga shrank into a group of this meandering streams
Amid the rough grasses and scrub springing up in its sandy bed
We knew that the North Indian Summer had truly arrived
For the Joorh- Sheetal Head Cooling Festival was here
And so were new mangoes, while the Koel sang her heart out
And cool cotton garments in white or pastel shades
Were donned by all. It’s wedding season now
With the wheat harvest home and the rice sowing still to begin
But the farmer has to keep an eye on his fields
So that too many weeds don’t spring up
And nobody encroaches upon his low mud boundaries.
Then again , cool green cucumbers and kakdis,
Saffron fleshed musk melons and red fleshed watermelons
Fibrous wood apples and dishes of courgettes
Aubergines, okra, and all kinds of gourds and cucurbits
And nourishing leaves of red and green amaranth
And flourishing mint and basil are in plenty
To give him and everyone else all the nourishment
And strength they need to fight the tropical heat
And the enervation that comes with it.
The wait for the Monsoon begins .

( ASA )

3 thoughts on “Early Summer in Bihar

  1. hema ravi

    What a vivid description of the mouth watering stuff, the garments et al.
    I travelled along with you, and now am soaking in the first spell of rain…

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