The Bangle Sellers
Bangle sellers are we who bear
Our shining loads to the temple fair...
Who will buy these delicate, bright
Rainbow-tinted circles of light?
Lustrous tokens of radiant lives,
For happy daughters and happy wives.
Some are meet for a maiden's wrist,
Silver and blue as the mountain mist,
Some are flushed like the buds that dream
On the tranquil brow of a woodland stream,
Some are aglow with the bloom that cleaves
To the limpid glory of new born leaves
Some are like fields of sunlit corn,
Meet for a bride on her bridal morn,
Some, like the flame of her marriage fire,
Or, rich with the hue of her heart's desire,
Tinkling, luminous, tender, and clear,
Like her bridal laughter and bridal tear.
Some are purple and gold flecked grey
For she who has journeyed through life midway,
Whose hands have cherished, whose love has blest,
And cradled fair sons on her faithful breast,
And serves her household in fruitful pride,
And worships the gods at her husband's side.
- Sarojini Naidu
April 15, 1912
“Some are meet for a maiden's wrist…” I intone Sarojini Naidu’s poem “The Bangle Sellers” – almost in a Dervish trance.
“Tch-ssss!!” the bright-eyed girl taking in the poem in the front row, winces as if biting on grit while tucking into a most delicious morsel.
And I know exactly what has irked her. And I am glad she is piqued, very happy for her curiosity as I launch a discussion around what possible meanings of the word “meet” as a verb, noun and adjective.
“Ahhh – so the morning mountain-mist coloured bangles are appropriate for a young girl…” is the elicited import from this enrapt class.
I continue the chant.
“Some are aglow with the bloom that cleaves…” I syncopate the singsong.
“Notice how this word “cleave” carries a paradox, an incongruity, a contradiction, a secret…. it means both to join with, and to separate!
“ What words denote the youth of the girl donning green bangles? Very good!.... and what else?...”
We launch into a very meandering, rewarding discussion of figures of speech and rhyme scheme …and I am in my elements.
What is this inexplicable pull to this profession? I still marvel at how I took to teaching so instantly.
At that time I was not a “B.Ed” which was the hurdle requirement for teachers at the school. I had never taught in a school before. Why the selection panel had chosen me over hundreds of hopefuls nervously pacing the grounds and Victorian corridors of the Mumbai school, was a mystery to me.
But I realise now, that thrown into the deep end, I perhaps instinctively emulated my role models, my own teachers who I adored, to whom I owe my love for the word, the language, the literature…and the passion for teaching.
I followed my superiors for their erudition and experience. I operated with peers, grateful for their guidance, egged on by their envy, applauded by their accolades.
And I learnt each day from my class, my students, my kids… my impetuses.
In the same way as I continue to learn and discover the love and adulation of my students in Junie, who has been writing to me on Teachers’ Day unfailingly for years, wishing that the almighty blesses me with many more lucky students.
Or when I open my emails or FB inbox to receive a beautiful message from Abraham who had trawled the web for years looking for me so he could tell me how I unwittingly helped him successfully overcome a speech impediment…
Happy Teachers’ Day!
The minute I lay my eyes on this dish, I was reminded of Sarojini Naidu’s poem “The Bangle Sellers”. Do read the poem given at the beginning again to see what I mean!
2 large onions, chopped
2 tsp garlic cloves, minced
A few large round potatoes, peeled and sliced
Some zucchini, sliced
1-2 yellow squash, sliced
1-2 baby red peppers, des-seeded and sliced
1 large sweet potato- peeled and sliced
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Dried herbs- thyme, oregano, rosemary (whatever you like)
¾ cup Gruyere/mozzarella or any other melting cheese, grated
3-4 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 190 C.
Grease a baking dish with olive oil. In a pan sauté pan, heat about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions over medium-low heat or until translucent. It should take about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper and herbs and cook for another minute and remove from heat.
Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the oiled baking dish.
Layer the slices in alternating patterns on top of the onions. Make sure they fit snugly only in one layer.
Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and some dried herbs. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the slices.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Uncover the dish and sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Bake the vegetable tian for another 20 minutes or until browned.