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Moments aren’t mere stacks of seconds,
Not mere chronicles of time’s accord.
They are a symphony of flavours,
A blend of meetha, khatta, teekha, and chatpata,
Transmogrifying into indelible memories.

A pivotal day in March, twenty-seventeen,
Clings to my throat like a tenacious morsel of laal mirch.
A keen agony punctures my throat,
Whenever her memory resurfaces.
It’s akin to ingesting a handful of laal mirch in one gulp.
I clutch my throat as tears well in my eyes.
The lingering shroud of ash-coloured mist
Coagulates within my veins,
As I grapple with recollections of my grandmother.
For she traversed into another realm,
Leaving an everlasting catch in my asthmatic lungs.

Some days are akin to fragrant tulsi,
Eliciting recollections of midweek rendezvous over chai,
With my first crush.
The masala chai in mitti ke kulhad,
On an autumn afternoon, at a roadside stall!
Those days felt like a harbinger of a wonderland.
His burgeoning warmth embraced me,
Shielding me from life’s conjunctural dilemmas,
As I revelled in the essence of existence,
With him at my side, on a kesar-sun bathed day.

Some days are teekha, like vibrant warheads*,
Prompting me to frolic and cavort,
Like my toddler,
They settle in my lap, demanding love and nurture.
I tend to their scraped knees
And patiently heed their bickering.
I lull them to slumber with a tender lori.
For I remain vigilant as the night slumbers,
Draped in a kaleidoscope of emotions,
Bestowing upon me an eloquent delight.

Some days are kadwa-meetha,
Like the amalgamation of methi and gur,
Eliciting memories of the day he dozed through
The entire screening of “La La Land,” exasperating me.
And then, at 3 a.m., he strummed “City of Stars”
On his guitar.
The day I rambled about some odd anecdote
From my childhood, sobbing,
Vanquished by the chaos of lunar tides,
He waxed poetic about the tiny mole
On my right cheek,
Teasing about how my eyes shut
When I smile.
We unearthed tranquillity 
in our embrace.

Days arrive, once more, once again — again, again...
Each taking me to pelagic wanderings.
Each taking me deep into myself.
Each revealing different parts of who I am!
Each dispersing a different flavour .

Meetha,
Khatta,
Teekha,
Chatpata.

(Mahua Sen is an author, poet, and translator from Hyderabad.)

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