“Māmā de ài – 媽媽的愛” is a poem by teen activist, artist, and journalist Anya Thakur on family, diversity, embracing your culture and heritage, and a mother’s love.
Māmā de ài – 媽媽的愛
my birth was inside a kitchen on cold marble countertops, with silvery clusters of jasmine, heavy with evening perfume growing by the windows.
my mother rolled out rice flour thin enough to crisp and thick enough to withstand the world, and her eyes smiled down through crisscrossed lashes.
cleanly stamping it into circles and topping them with hot spoonfuls of stewed carrots and slivered cashews and mushrooms, shiny broth seeping into the dough as her warmth turnt to golden spices. dusted on kisses of chili powder and turmeric.
folded them into crescent moons with edges pinched and crimped shut, sheltered and safe until they would be baked in pans of hot oil and sizzle and snap as they formed a crunchy coating of armor.
with a core of sweet and spicy vegetables and whispered words and wishes, and a thick skin of her love cast in steel and armor, i was born.
to be served with dips of lemon and tall bottles of tangy soy sauce, and beside a window overlooking the world.
sitting out to infuse in the heavy perfume of the air, citrus bursts of oranges and pomegranate.
and to finally feel hands pick me up, rough and callused but with a peculiar gentleness and reverence or small and soft, chubby fists flying through the air excitedly, pinkish and sweat-soaked palms grabbing onto me.
they would lift me into the air, skim my round curves and crisped corners, and taste her love, a river of golden broth dribbling down their chin like egg yolks and small suns turnt to syrupy liquid as they lapped it up from their plate eagerly.
teeth tearing and biting into my flesh, and mouthfuls of my insides, intent on devouring me and grinding me to a savory stew followed by satiated gulps of water.
and as the last rays of light streamed through the window and irradiated their face, my mother’s love shining through them.
I, child of the world, was consumed by splashes of acid and burning juices, inside the warmth of a stranger’s belly.
like fire and lava spraying at me, leaping towards me, crawling and creeping along slippery insides to get to me.
and then i was caressed and cocooned in a white-hot haze of sleepiness and liquefied light stolen by wide eyes and fleshy pores.
droplets of oil still clinging to the plate, and my mother’s petal-soft lips were all that would remember for me now.
my birth was inside a kitchen, and I ascended to something golden and infinite yet utterly gone from the world inside a memory.