“The Flavor of Culture” by Iman Ilias

I think it’s safe to say

Today wasn’t the best of days

I failed my Algebra test

And in Phys Ed I didn’t get to rest

Now finally I’m back home

Looking for some comfort

I search the fridge

Ah! There it is

My grandmother’s Chicken Karhai

A Pakistani curry made of chicken and delightful spices.

As I sit down to eat,

I am transported on a wondrous journey

The vibrant red color of the curry

Reminds me of the clothes women wear

At traditional Pakistani weddings

Red, yellow, blue, green

Striking patterns stitched with silver thread on them

I think of their long, dangling earrings

How they swing back and forth gracefully

As they dance and sing jovially

I savor the rich flavor of the chicken,

And I recall eating Biryani at the local mosque

And how the community there was in fact

Like the delicious rice itself

Both composite blends

Each grain a different color than another

And each person is too

The shape of every grain is distinct

And the backgrounds of all the people different

But both the rice and the community

Come together as one

To provide a wholesome and beautiful result

All those people who think Muslims are terrorists

Don’t know what Islam is really like

They don’t know who we truly are

We who embrace love and respect

Not who encourage violence and hatred

Who believe in family, and community, and strength of character

The texture of the warm, white, scrumptious Naan bread

That I eat with the curry

Evokes memories of the cozy blanket that family provides

In times of struggle

In times of failure,

My family tells me that failure is in fact not a bad thing

But that it offers many lessons of life

That I should learn from my mistakes

And learn what I should be wary of next time

Family will be the first ones

To pick you up when you fall

Family is the people who feel proudest of you

When you experience success

They’re the people who shape your values

And the way you look at life

As I finish the meal, I rise from the table

And my spirits rise as well

 

 

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