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Our African Grandmother

written by: Vineetha Mekkoth


This teacup of mine, I like
It’s black with a red inside
I love to pour my tea and watch the steam rise
Black and red is a beautiful combination
But actually it reminds me of
Those pictures I saw in Sputnik magazines long ago
You remember them, don’t you?
Nair uncle had a stash of them
I loved to leaf through those glossy pages
I loved to see the apple-cheeked Russian girls
Their figure hugging black and white dresses with floral embroidery
And Russians are not just one type
Cossacks, Armenians, Tatars and so many others
Like us Indians. Isn’t that how the entire world is?
Different people, different animals and birds, different trees, different geography
Yet how we hate what is different
We strive for uniformity
A herd mentality
So you say my religion should rule
My colour is supreme
My caste is the best
My roots are Aryan
Aryans are the best
I wonder who gave you the goddamn right to decide that!
If all of humanity sprang from one African mother
Your black low caste neighbour had an ancestor
Who drank milk from her pendulous breasts
And so did you.
We are all bonded by blood and milk ties
I’m not arguing to get close to your superiority
Which I believe to be just another of your prejudices
Prejudice – a prejudgment that often springs out of ignorance
As a woman I know I am capable of thinking this
While you with all your education and exposure to the world
Are still driven by fear and your herd mentality
Purity of bloodline?
Whenever I hear that I think of the African ancestor
I sprang from her and so did all of you
Read somewhere that the XY chromosome is actually the XX that lost a piece
Have you heard of the lion-man statue found at Stadel cave, Germany?
Sculpted 32000 years ago
What did that sculptor see?
What did he believe in?
We Hindus have the legend of Narasimha, the avatar of Vishnu
The lion man again
The connection?
I have only one thing to say
Remember your African ancestor
Get on with living
And drink your tea.

Vineetha Mekkoth

Vineetha Mekkoth

Vineetha Mekkoth is a poet, writer, translator and editor. She lives with her family in Calicut, Kerala. She is working as Assistant State Tax Officer in the Kerala State GST Department. She has been translating for the Kerala Sahitya Academy since 2014 and has also contributed articles for the Malayalam Literary Survey, a quarterly brought out by the academy. She has published poems in various anthologies and ezines. She is co-editor of ‘A Dangerous predicament and other snippets: The Great Balancing Act in Indian Families’ and also co-editor and participating poet of the anthology ‘Umbilical Chords: An Anthology on Parents Remembered’. Her short stories have been published online in Readomania, the journal Langlit and in the collection ‘Silhouette I & II and other Short Stories’. Her debut poetry collection ‘Ashtavakra and Other Poems’ was published in 2017 and is available on Amazon. Her book finds mention in the Highly Recommended list of The International Prime Poetry Festival 2019.
Vineetha Mekkoth

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