Anushka Anastasia Solomon
Born in 1963, a Hindu in Malaysia, Anushka Anastasia Solomon left for the United States as a teenager to study journalism. She returned to Malaysia with a B.A (Creative Writing/Education), envisioning change of the race and religion based Malaysian system of Education. Her poem, “13 Ways of Looking at Malaysia” inspired by Wallace Stevens, which appears in Asia Literary Review Autumn 2008, articulates that vision. The Malaysian government, then and now, frowns upon her ideas. In 1998, due to intolerable family violence and persecution after her mother’s premature death, Anushka, her husband, Ben Solomon, and son David Marshall converted to Christianity, fled Malaysia and immigrated to the United States.
The author of two poetry chapbooks, Please, God, Don’t Let Me Write Like A Woman, (Finishing Line Press, 2007) and The Hindu and The Punk, (Pudding House Press 2009), Anushka’s work is featured by Amnesty International at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Scotland, 2007, 2008 and 2009. She lives in beautiful Evergreen, Colorado. (www.atthewindow.us)
Recipe for Success –Slumdog Millionaire
I buy the Bollywood look in Wal-Mart
Gold hoop earrings with yellow beads
$1.50 marked down from 5 US Dollars
Decorate my years shrivel the sari to a
A skirt I buy at Forever 21
$10.00 marked down from more than that
With my skin the color of cinnamon bark
I dress up for a lark. I make naan and
Have An American friend photograph
Me by the Yellow Barn
The lentils are
Cooking slowly, I will add some spinach
And prepare to garnish the dish with some
Dried red chillies
That will crackle in my frying pan
And on your tongue, I will hum a Hindi
Song and you will never know
I do not know how to live
In a slum.
Cooking A South Indian Curry From Memory
I slice tender red beef, the cold silver blade
Of the knife creating an everglade
Collide worlds in a colander
Demarcate the days on the calendar
Take a cutting from the past
It is not my intention to aghast
Those who consider the cow holy
I just want to cook a curry boldly
Listen. Here in America,
They tell me– the poet – that the onion
an apple and the potato
all have the same taste.
That the differences in flavor
Are caused by their smell.
Listen. Here they prove
Science, Surveys, Studies.
I can’t argue with their facts.
I don’t. The facts mount this
case from Malaysia
And ride it, like a show horse,
around and around until I am
ground into the spices
bleeding the truth in my marrow bones
for William Butler Yeats
and this South Indian Curry I am cooking from
memory because I am
To prove the onion, an apple
and the potato the same
They say – pinch your nose
Take a bite.
They will all taste sweet.
Booze, women and writing.
All the same.
I remember my Hindu father swinging a bag
Of goat’s intestines
For my mother to cook, she ran water
In the sink
Obediently washing the insides of a goat
Wrinkling her nose in distaste
Listen. Charles Bu-cow- ski wrote a poem
About a Mexican girl
Who washed his private part
With a rag
Contemporary American men’s poetry
is that sultry
the Buddhist monks who conducted
Bu-cow-ski’s funeral rites
must set their sights a tad higher
for women. Our gravestones
ought to read: “Don’t Try”
The more things change
The more women I find
On the streets – like loose change.
They, like all things, stay the same.
Or am I cooking this up from memory
Mixing it up with chicory
Using it to pound a point in
Like ginger and garlic
In a medley of flavors
For a variety of favors
Like the Thai and Indonesian women
With splayed toes
Who for a few bhat or rupiah
Rub the stress off the backs
Of the missionaries selling Jesus
Vying for a chance to stand
Beside Bill Gates? Accolades.
I ought to go back to cooking the
South Indian curry from memory.
Don’t use beef. The cow is holy.
Use chicken. Hold your nose.
And all the horses in Colorado.
It would be a good idea to hold
Your tongue as well, my belle.
Show some cleavage at Christmas.
And don’t joke about mangoes.
Or tell them that wearing a sari
And exposing the navel is asking
to get raped. Save the juicy parts
for when the Guests go away.
..unless they stay.
Then you can tell them the recipe.
How you stand poised on the edge of the precipice
Cooking South Indian curry from memory
Listening for some inner harmony
Orange and purple bougainvillea
Climbing over the balcony like all
The idealized Tamil lovers
Of the silver screen
Your love of all things
like the bougainvillia
Bunga kertas, paper flowers
Your nail polish, the new indigo blue of the sky.