how do you connect to roots when you've bloomed away from home? you bury yourself in the soil that your ancestors danced on. you drown in the waters their spirits wade in. you allow the fragments of your being to weep. to water. to grow. again. at home.
We are a displaced people. There are more of us living off of an island we can barely call home, than there are those living in and on it. We've drowned in the same waters that we wade in. We've burned on the same sand that we build sandcastles on. Our mother tongue and our mothers' tongues have been yanked out and replaced with silence. We are a displaced people.
What our ancestors called kari has been anglicized to curry. Milagu thaneer to Mulligatawny. Kanji to congee. And so on, and so forth. But what cannot be anglicized is our relationship with food. We see feeding others as an act of human service. It is a privilege to both feed, and be fed. We sit on the floor- the closest we can get to the Earth that gifts us all we want and need. We eat off of banana leaves, and our plates become meals for the livestock that carry us through. We wash our hands clean of dirt, and the residue of the years of genocide we somehow survive before every meal and use clean fingers from our right hand to eat. From carefully picking out ingredients, to a deliberate choice of herbs and spices to be roasted, every single aspect of the preparation and consumption of our food is intentional. It is our love language. And it is the world's privilege to bear witness to how we love.
Janu & Nivetha
Photography by Nivetha. All images based out of Tamil Eelam.
Prose & Image Curation by Janu.