May 30, 2013

Out of place and context

Binjal, not eggplant.
I was shopping for dinner at the Indian grocery store last Saturday . The vivid greens of the corrugated bitter melons contrasted so sharply with the purple tones of smooth, sinuous eggplant, that it was like they were in a yelling match with each other. Or at me.
Stopped me in my tracks and demanded a pause in thought and a redirecting of attention. I unclenched my grocery list and paused the restless muttering  in my head. You know the one: a rushed mental inventory of the pantry to catch essentials that missed the list, how to time the cooking for dinner guests so I could play a bit in the afternoon too, did I have special 'kid' food for the 2 picky eaters in the under 10 demographic that night, 3 possible uses during the week for the pitas I just slipped into my basket, did i have to buy anything to support said pita plan? And so on.
Doris. I presume?
It was a relief for the chattering inside to cease, even if it came with a bit of a mental whiplash. Easier in the end, by far, to just look and maybe even, See. But something was out of place. Even in my gratefully dazzled state, mind blissfully adrift amidst the colors and textures, something niggled at me. It took a minute to realize what it was. The lost little snail. It was sliming an industrious path across its endless brinjal wastelands in complete ignorance of its context. What was it DOING there? Could an inch long creature even begin to grasp the scale of the world that had subsumed it? I marvelled at this dual incongruity of space and belonging when this amusing thought popped into my head: why am I so sure that the snail is out of place and context? Why shouldn't it be me instead? If I switched place with Doris (I had decided that's who she was), wouldn't the purple undulations stretching out to the horizons be my only reality? The harsh glare of far off lights, din of voices, clattering of carts - wouldn't those be so far removed as to not even feature in my snail-y view and purpose? 

In my kitchen, shortly thereafter, I retrieved a week old bag of onions to start on the eggplant curry for dinner. Not Doris's eggplant though. I had reluctantly turned her over to the authorities, visions of health code violations and the loss of my favorite Indian store flashing across my mind. I mean, look what all I get there while I'm shopping for cilantro and 'real' chillies. I imagine Doris is now tracking along the inside of a trash can, surrounded by glorious heaps of decaying vegetables that will sustain her for a long life yet.

Onions still?

Anyhow, peeking out of the hole I'd long ago ripped into the netted bag of onions was this. Did not ponder context or belonging this time.

Not much, anyway.

The fleshy greens were firm, sinuous things of beauty. There's no questioning a life force as graceful and natural as this. I worked with a couple of other onions that were a little behind these two in terms of realizing their potential.
Found the green onions a fertile planter befitting their grown-up status and a sunny window sill.

Keeping an eye on them.

And thinking of Doris.

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