By Mehnaz Lamia Paan (Betel Leaf) can be eaten by itself or with other delicacies. Supari, Jordah, Misti. My mother picked up the habit from her mother who died with Paan in her mouth; a habit that I never picked up.
My mother, who is older than my country, fled two wars and had an arranged marriage as a teenager. My mother, who never got to attend school but taught me how to read and write, sold all her possessions to send me abroad to live freely, as a woman. My mother, who always has to ask for permission when visiting her family was never allowed to wear red lipstick; I used to watch her get beaten everyday. My mother, who always looked so pretty in a saree and oiled my hair every weekend with cumin oil will give everyone her recipes and duas, whom I bear no resemblance to. My mother, timid and humble, will smile at you with betel tinted teeth. She will chew it till it bleeds red like henna I never learnt how to apply. She almost died from cancer when I was 7. She never missed a prayer. The sole cook for the entire family, she doesn’t remember her birthday but made sure I always felt loved on mine. The distance grows wider everyday.
Yesterday I passed by an ethnic store selling paan I spat out it out before the green could turn to red. Everything around me reminds me of her But nothing can bring her back.