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Tuesday, April 02, 2024


by Tasneem Khan

It’s such a menial act. Mundane really. 
With a pestle nestled between my fingers, 
I fling a handful of peppercorns into a mortar.
They have no time to settle, no space to jostle; no air to breathe. 
Who cares? I proceed. 
To bash their heads in. 
Unceasingly. As I hear no sounds, other than the satisfying thwack of wood on stone. 
I pound pound pound 
till their insides are squeezed out of their skins.
And what is left is a fraction of what once was.

I think about them—the peppercorns, the pestle, and the powdery remains
as I glance at the newspaper. 
‘Gaza pounded,’ it says. 
Sometimes, journalists do get it right. 

Tasneem Khan is an elementary teacher and lives in Bengaluru, India.