• Antara Basu


I never liked rousing to the confluence of cinnamon on oil.

Yet, Aai insisted on the incessant aroma.

But my kitchen always murmurs of basil.

And garlic.

Like the soft undertones of a Lorde song.

And I sway on my tiptoes, to music that Mona Lisa would strip to.

And Aai slept on, behind the walls.

And the basil carried me to Naples; I saunter along the bay.

Mediterranean waves eulogized Neapolitan pizzerias.

I never deciphered Aai’s obsession with cinnamon.

Yet, I could feel the scent in my childhood room,

Drowning in blue tapestries and lilac walls.

And whilst her hands twisted tresses into braids.

She told me, of Aaji’s imperial affliction.

And the way some days, Aaji’s hands smelled.

And Aai, needed to feel Aaji in the times she didn’t reek of alcohol.

And I remember crinkling my nose at the way my braids smelled, when she left.

Of Cinnamon.

I remember Aai and her stories of Aaji,

But Aai, forgets easily these days.

I can only watch as Alzheimer’s addles her brain,

The way Van Gogh’s Starry Night muddles blue.

And days after, as I lay down a stick of cinnamon

Besides the blue hydrangeas.

I don’t smell a thing.

I finally deciphered her obsession.

And an inexplicable love that I mistook for mania.

Tonight, my kitchen murmurs of cinnamon.

And I conduct its choir with oil.

And I braid my hair, loosely on the side.

Yet, I don’t crinkle my nose, but I inhale.

Inhale the beauty in aroma,

Of cinnamon.