A Tale of Round Rotis

Ever since I was growing up
I was told just how important it was
to cook round roti.
Perfectly shaped
soft, round rotis.

I hated them
for their supposed
‘perfectness’, in a world
full of people
far from perfect
who would judge a woman’s worth
by her ability to make ’round rotis’.

I hated them
for what they put
countless women through
with women slogging in the kitchen
kneading, rolling dough
making, unmaking, remaking
to escape from being judged.
All for that ever desirable
perfectly shaped round roti.

No I don’t like them ’round’.
I like them Tedhi-Medhi.
Thank you!
Far from what’s regarded
‘perfect’, I know.
But at least, this way, they resemble
our lives.
The lives of women.
Lives which are
far from perfect.
These imperfect, unsuitable rotis, then
are much more realistic, after all,
don’t you think?

• First appeared in Indiana Voice Journal and then reprinted in Kyoto Journal

Author’s note:
I dedicate this poem to the memory of Aniqa, a 13-year-old girl in Pakistan, who was recently killed by her father with the aid of her brother after she failed to make a round roti.

Prerna Bakshi is a writer, scholar and translator of Indian origin, presently based in Macao. Her work has previously been published in over three dozen journals, newspapers, and magazines, most recently in Silver Birch Press, Wilderness House Literary Review, Kabul Press, Misfit Magazine, Peril magazine: Asian-Australian Arts & Culture and Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature. Her full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, is forthcoming from Les Éditions du Zaporogue (Denmark) later this year. She tweets at @bprerna