I am younger, and my mother slides a jar of achar down the table. See, ma, and she calls me ma the way a bird trills each time it looks into a mirror, there’s this story about a princess. She loved her father as much as she loved salt, but he wasn’t happy with that. So she fed him a dish, saltless, to prove her point. Look at the achar, and I nod, that jarful is a cup of salted water and oil away from being rot. She traces the mango on the label. It needs that salt to preserve and enrich. I do not know what enrich means yet but I understand. Good things need love like good food needs salt. Years later I remember this day. She doesn’t pick up the phone but I leave a voicemail: Ma, and I call her ma the way a flower butters the earth with its bloom, I love you like salt.

        

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE