Poetry at Threads: Cookery


words | aamna haq


Learning to cook is part of growing up. The way it is taught is a crucial way for a family to connect; it fosters a better relationship. Although the conscious act of cooking has no clear connotation, the setting and demeanor in which it is done elucidates quite a lot about gender roles and so-called familial duties.


I scrape at my mother’s fingers

flakes of flour drift in the air

She’s been cooking


Her fingers are powerful

As she kneads her frustrations

into the dough of the roti


That she makes with

meticulous proportions

of oil, salt and water


She rolls her dough

into perfect circles

With glorious rounded edges


That I still cannot emulate

Even after all my years

Under her tutelage


At twelve years old

She ripped me from the pages

Of my Harry Potter story


And dragged me to the kitchen

Just woken up

and still in my pajamas


She taught me how to make a roti

It was dry, crisp, boxy, and burnt;

I failed


Again, she said and I did it again

Swallowing her criticisms

And suppressing my anger


At having to do the menial work.

It did not occur to me that my mother

Would also feel this irritation


Of having to cook

For a home

Of ungrateful fools


While nursing her knees and her back

And dirtying her hands

So that we would not go hungry


Her efforts are easily disregarded

As she places the food on the table

And it is gone within a few moments


A stark contrast to the time

She spent hunched over,

Begging her body to give her strength


I take it all for granted

Her labor and her effort

And her sacrifices




My mother’s back

And her knees

And her resolve


Took a hit one day

She lay on the floor


My brothers and I

Waiting in the car

Key in the ignition


For the next few days

She spent her time

In a white gown


While my father

Attempted to feed us

He tried.


His roti was worse than mine

Charred at the edges

Brittle and too thin


I remember joking with him

And he laughed it off

After all, this wasn’t his job




Over time

I was able to perfect

The art


My father has

Improved - slightly.

Not really


My mother

Subdues her pain

And carries on