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Rooh Afza – Refresher of the Soul

The first column reads as a recipe for the popular South Asian drink Rooh Afza, which is also known as ‘Refresher of the Soul’. But collectively, the language stands as imperatives. Orders, which symbolise what was done to my ancestors and their cultures: anything desirable was pocketed and indulged in – the best put on display.

Image author’s own

Rooh Afza                                                                                    Refresher of the Soul

Boil 4 cups of water, 1kg of sugar and a teaspoon of citric acid

They pick and mix in a free-for-all

Remove any floating scum

Separated and torn from others

Add a teaspoon of: red food colouring, rose essence and cardamom essence

Taint us, change us, now what even is us?

For a palatable hue and flavour

Our raw state isn’t digestible.

Taste for any last minute adjustments

Names like ours shouldn’t be on their tongues

Sieve any remaining impurities

But their mouths drip with it, like syrup

Use immediately or store in an air-tight container

And they can’t get enough of the taste.

Serve chilled in glass jars.

Put on ice, to be gawked at in display.

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