"The dreaded rasam was an oily and watery lentil soup.
Prema's mother served it with a big fat spoon in a glass for a greedy scoop.
It was for Prema to drink and sing and wink
and blink and think about happy things.
It was gravy designed to make little Prema clever.
Oh...but she liked being a nutter.
But then Prema's mother would tell her father
And that made her stutter and stammer and mutter
Oh what a tiresome bother
And the size of that spoon.
A spoon that looked like a loony balloon.
A spoon that needed a diet very soon.
Prema choked and spluttered and blinked and winked
over her dreaded enemy:
the oily slippery rasam.
Then she chewed on fried pappadom to finish her lunch.
A pappadom that looked like a round yellow moon
with zits on its face with which to bite and munch.
The make believe zits were tiny bubbles
that huddled together like children in the dark.
They appeared like magic if you fried
a pappadom in oil that was put to the boil.
Prema studied them thoughtfully.
She thought they were afraid of a storm.
Or afraid of her class teacher who made her write,
"I will not forget my PE shorts" 20 times.
Or afraid of the ghost that was ready to catch
naughty children in the school toilet.
Prema's mother would also make tapioca balls for tea.
They looked like little spaceships,
all ready for a dip
into Prema's fatty, jelly-belly.
"Got you, got you," shouted Prema
with a big wide grin as she chewed and
crushed each terrified bubble
or should I say, zit, on her precious pappadom.
Prema then ate her sticky rice
that she shaped into nice round balls
and threw into her mouth
like a football hitting on a goalpost.
Goal 1, Goal 2, Goal 3, she shouted with merriment.
She liked the idea of a World Cup fever.
Where her brothers and father would all gather
around the television and scream and shout.
What a jolly Divali party.
"Prema.is that the way to eat your food?
If you choke, you will die,
I have no money to take you to the doctor.
"We are not rich people."
Prema would answer in a very small Pretend-To-Be-Scared voice
as she ate her food a little too fast..
I say, pretend, because Prema loved her loud I-Like-To-Be-Bad voice
with which to show off in class.
And now you could hear the boom of a noise.
Cough, cough, cough,
Splutter, splutter, splutter,
Spit, spit, spit,
Vormit, vormit, vormit,
When you're growing up, some things you just don't have a choice about.
And I guess even when you're a grown-up
Because if you listen carefully, you can hear Prema's mother
all the way in the kitchen.
She gives a big loud sigh!
Oh my naughty children, she says and shakes her head from right to left
and left to right with a cry.
She bangs her forehead and looks up to the sky.
Troubled from a puzzle and in vain,
she says again and again,
"Oh my naughty naughty children...."