Fish Eyes – by Michelle D’costa

by TBLM

For Mama

***

Mom and I talk in the kitchen only. I follow
her and say, in English, I miss the Arab
fisherman from Marina beach terribly
.

The joy in your eyes when he caught a fish
every Saturday was special
. She says
in Konkani. Dole pole. She points

at the fish eyes. I search for solidarity.
Stale. Should have gone early
to the market
, she sighs,

her finger still pointing. Never ever point.
It is rude
. She had warned. I silence
my upbringing and tell her about

my friend, in Konkani. Who was dumped
for being Mangy. Immediately I translate
it to English. She chops the head,

examines it closely. I have a feeling
she will not go ahead with cooking it.
To corroborate my story, I open Facebook

and point at a friend. Her story. I say.
Fiction works any day. I think.
Close that thing. Concentrate!

Why do you run away?
What is a girl without cooking?
When will you even try?

I can’t tell her the only problem is
the routine. She has painstakingly learnt
authentic Mangalorean.

Cutting onions for the curry, Mom tells me
she cried when I learnt the ABCD. Maybe
he knew it would work. Aun tuka mog karta

he confessed one day. The only words
in Konkani, he learnt to say. I cried
and got carried away. Maybe he knew

it would work. The way the fisherman knew
his shrimp. Second Saturday he was away,
then the next, the next and the next.

I waited, trying to recreate
the last time I saw him. He was…
struggling with a fish in his grip.

He was good, I could tell
from the size of his catch. Did he let go
when I wasn’t looking? He must have

moved on to something better.
Something lighter on the conscience.
The fish is ready. We sit to eat.

We don’t talk when we eat.
Chew your food well.
Beware. Bones!

The eyes are the tastiest but this.
Stale.
She says. Oh, you don’t eat eyes!
I put it in my mouth to prove her wrong.

I had given up eating eyes
at ten. The grey stuff, soft
and delicious, reminds me of

why I had stopped then.

***