China Grass Halwa, poetry by Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca at

China Grass Halwa

China Grass Halwa

written by: Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca


My home has square footage,
My aunt’s home in the city of my birth
Was neither square, nor had footage.
Narrow in length and no breadth
To speak of.

Small narrow bed
Kerosene stove
Precariously in one corner
A few clothes in trunks
Unlike my closet.
Pots and pans too
Just the bare stuff
In a tin trunk.
Husband, wife
And two children
No square footage,
So much love to go around
Nieces and friends welcome
Sit on each other’s laps
But please visit
There’s space for all.

The world’s best China Grass Halwa
Made on the kerosene stove
Left to set in a Thali,
Only the hands of love
Could delicately craft
The open plan kitchen
Of nobody’s desiring.

The miniscule home
Faced the synagogue,
The street crowd surging sans relief,
I wanted to be married
In that synagogue
But God
Had other plans.

The one-man balcony
Standing room for one
Or maybe fit another half-person
Bodies overlapping,
As long as you could see
The synagogue, it was home,
I wanted to break the glass
And hear the Mazel Tov
But God had other plans
In mind,
I would be a bride
Of another kind
A bride is a bride is a bride.

The dark common bathing room
Outside the flat
Bathed the children at four
In the morning
Conflicts with neighbors
Must be avoided at all costs
No crying if soap
Got into your eyes.

They left in droves
She went too
Took the family
A very few bundles
Of clothes and whatever,
Next year in
The Promised Land.

She told me she saw
Black, pitch black
When she got there,
We were all back home
In the light of togetherness.
She was going to have to make a home
Out of mere Promises.

What about the promise to me?
Who will make the China Grass Halwa now?
Whose lap to sit on?
Who will save me from mother when she
Became angry and impatient with me?
Talk on the telephone must suffice
Pour out the love and memories
Long distance
Create your own Promised Land.
Perhaps send the China Grass Halwa
By Amazon
Even if it’s a joke,
Our shared laughter stirs the Halwa memory.
She says she’ll send Merci chocolates
We get those here
I want only her Halwa.


*  Agar Agar commonly known as China grass in India is dried crispy vegetable gelatin used for making pudding, jelly and custards. … China grass is prepared quite simply by adding melted agar-agar mixture in boiled sweet milk then allowing it to set and then served after refrigerating.

**  Halwa is an Indian or Middle Eastern sweet

Latest posts by Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca (see all)