Masala

Masala

By Aditi Marshan ’23. Art by Natcha Sophonpanich ’20.

You tell me you think this curry has masala in it. Or maybe you tell everyone
and just look at me as you say masala. 
You tell me its because the curry is yellow 
and I don’t know how to tell you that masala isn’t always yellow. 
I don’t know how to tell you
masala isn’t anything really, masala can be anything really, masala’s got everything really.

You point to the spices and ask me if I know their names. 
In English, you add. 
Or maybe I just hear that in your voice.
Like my voice breaking with mirchi tears isn’t clear enough, like tongues that are on fire aren’t real tongues at all.

You say – call me out if I’m ever being racist, you guys, I know I’m not a pee-oh-see.
But how do I tell you you’ve got the colours all wrong? 
How do I explain the greens and reds, the haldi and the adrak, 
how do I roll these words off my tongue when you’ve tied it in place with your chai tea, your chicken tikka masala, your naan bread, your look at me, look at me eat this masala naan bread chai tea latte, look at me barge into your country and steal your spices and kill your people and your language and your home so I can ask
if this curry has masala in it.