she knotted her greying hair
away, far away from the pool water
blue like oceans in travel brochures
without the bother of muddled wet
after the swim
she comes home
a bag of milk in tow for tea in the morning
forgotten about the knot up top
held down by a plastic clip
gnawing at her skull
forgotten another headache of life
hidden under a song on the radio
the promise of summer in open windows
and people fearless to come outside in fewer clothes
what is that song?
what is that thing gnawing away at my skull
this needs dealing with
no burying under the rug
where so many bodies lie unburied under dust
that gnawing clip – unclipped
and soft hair tumbles
and a thousand kisses
down her neck
Renuka Mendis, Toronto, April 20, 2016
At 8.40p.m. we had given up hope of getting in. The room was full and we had to hope some would leave.
Raha Javanfar is a jinn with her fiddle, quietly setting the house on fire. Fast.
Us lucky ones. An entirely happy, spellbound and bedazzled audience.
Say after me. Raha Javanfar.
People had been arriving since from before 8:00p.m. was what the chap at the door said and that the room was filled to capacity when I arrived to line up at 8:30p.m. While there were many yet lined up outside on Cameron Street hoping to get in with only minutes to show time; Zuze was right on time. Nine p.m. as promised. Sharp. The room was chock full with nary a space to stand. Warm. The music began like one coming upon a gushing beautiful river in the Iranian countryside of a Mohsen Makhmalbaf film but written in afrobeat and a good shot of funk.
According to the bill the songs were popular and folk melodies of Iran and Azerbaijan. Some set to a lovely waltz tempo and when Raha Javanfar with her violin reminding one of Esperanza Spalding opened her mouth to sing as the afrobeat grabbed the room she threw an invisible ball of flame, threw it into the crowd and lit the entire audience on fire. The expectations were real and in that first half second everyone knew instinctively that this was the real deal. Music that was poetry, the words of which many in the room did not understand but which touched each and everyone in it.
The first second most on their feet started to dance and Javanfar’s violin was straight out of a Tony Gatlif film. Gypsylike yet something more. Something urbane. Though warm and robust and insistent there was a depth of feeling to the music which was never overbearing. The crowd wanted more and Zuze went on giving. It was love at first sight on a two way street. All inhibitions put aside. Halfway through the concert it was evident a few had some joints going to supplement the beer and cocktails.
Waltzes and lullabies and more in great big strands. Beautiful coloured strands amassed and woven together morphing into a river which we’d never seen or heard of but had always known. No one feared anyone and the whole room was love for about an hour. No inhibitions. Just joy and the music as Zuze set the room on fire. Not a hot burning kind but a grand intimate familial human connection. People were kissing with joy, dancing, bobbing up and down just being in the music. It was so pure. I’ve been in many rooms where live music is played but never felt this sense of freedom and absolute sense of oneness with everyone around me.
I used to come close to it sometimes with certain musicians at WOMAD when it used to come to Harbourfront many many ages ago. But this was different and more original. Not from somewhere else but made right here in Toronto with Iran, Azerbaijan and its poetry threads weaving a tapestry of humanity. The whole front room of Cameron House was one last night. Freedom.
Renuka Mendis, Toronto, April 15, 2016
lilacs are the worst fuckers
just like little girls’ frocks
in organdy and mauve
so crisp so soft
robbing all intellect
the worst fuckers
weighing down branches
as you walk by
they never lie say their eyes
easily grabbed at, easily robbed
for table tops
and old horlicks jars
where guppies died
why bother then to even arrive
taking over the corner
not unlike little jack horner
fooling keats and yeats types
lilacs are the worst fuckers
Renuka Mendis, Toronto, April 5, 2016
When high acid melds with sweet it spells only one thing – naughty!
Ask me sweet, and I’ll tell you how.
Tamarind water* (just so tart not too tart).
Simple syrup to taste (to sweeten).
Few tablespoons of soaked kasa kasa or to taste (only for texture, like in bubble tea).
You may add a drop or three of Ceylon coconut Arrack to spike it up. Naughty, sweet and refreshing.
*Soak about a walnut sized lump of moist tamarind in a glass of water. They come in rectangular packs wrapped in plastic. Not the hard type but the soft and pliable. Ideally just plop the tamarind in a jar of water, cover and leave in fridge. It mellows over a few days which removes its sharp edges. This way in the summer it is an ideal drink to turn to, whenever you feel like one.
Shake jar. Let tamarind settle in bottom for about five to ten minutes. Carefully strain liquid into a glass/glasses but don’t go down to the dregs. Taste so it is just singing Tamarind; not punch in your face sour tamarind. It should be just pleasantly tart. If it is too tart and strong dilute with fresh water.
ආදරනීය මොලීනා වෙත:
ඊයෙ රෑ වේලපහින්ම නිදි වැටුනා ටිකක් ලෙඩ වගේ ගිය සුමානෙම. අනේ උදෙන්ම නැගිටුනා අක්කෙ. මේවා නිකන්ම හැදුනා අතෙන් හිතන්නෙවත් නැතුව ගෙදර මතක් වෙලා. කවුරුත් එහෙ නැතිවුනාට, අපි හිටපු තැන්වල දැන් ගස්වත් බල්ලොවත් නැතිවුනාට, මන්ද මෝඩ හිත තවම හිතන්නෙ ගෙදර තවම තියනව කියල. පිස්සු වැඩ නේද අක්කේ.
ඔයා මේ දවස්වල ඉන්න හරිය ශෝක් ඇති. එහෙත් රොටි ලුනුමිරිස් හදනවද… සමහර විට හිතෙනව ඔයා ඉන්න පැත්ත මෙහෙට වැඩිය ගෙදර වගේම වෙන්න ඇති කියල.
පෙබරවාරිය හරිම මූසලයි මෙහෙ. එන්නද යන්නද හිතෙන්නෙ නැහැ. බිල් නම් බිල්ලො වගේ වහිනවා අර ගඟට උඩින් ගිය කොක්කු වගේ.
ඔයා මේ දවස්වල ඉන්න හරිය ශෝක් ඇති. එහෙත් රොටි ලුනුමිරිස් හදනවද… සමහර විට හිතෙනව ඔයා ඉන්න පැත්ත මෙහෙට වැඩිය ගෙදර වගේම වෙන්න ඇති කියල. මම ආයෙත් ලියන්නම් මල් පිපෙන වාරය ආවොත් මෙහෙට.
පෙබරවාරි 27, 2016 – ටොරොන්ටෝ නුවර.