Betel Leaves and Areca Nuts


You get the peppery betel leaves
And the areca nuts, a seemingly innocuous practice
Embellished with slaked lime, and the mouth
Instantly turns to crimson tides
Of churning color and in that bloody red paste
And a seemingly strange practice of chewing a biological brew
Lies a tradition of tea pluckers and rubber tappers
Of a folk-mainstay of slicing an areca nut
With a giraya (scissors), and wrapping in betel leaf
To smart the mouth with narcotic fire

After all, what can a woman with a few hundred rupees do
But to fade out to a cheap stimulant
For areca-powered lips are anecdote-spindles
Preserving folktales, reverberating legends
As they sit around a bowl of areca nuts and betel leaves
Sharing stories, laughing out in banter and droll
Grating the nuts with areca-nut scissors
Slipping through miserly cracks of reality
Ushering in a virtual blackout

And in this nepenthes of nut and leaf
You find the springs of Lethe
Seeping through mental tributaries
Injecting a dose of oblivion – to a tattooed mind
Painted of reality ink