The summer humidity was tension made tangible
as I begged you not to go into
the kitchen.

When I was a child,
I used to watch you cook
You sat by the tiny grill making satay
skin sticky from sweat, back hunched over
while the party went on in the living room
Your cooking gathered warmth gathered family gathered love

When I was a teenager,
you made snacks for me to eat on the way home from school
You made toast with kaya
You made curry puffs and kueh lapis
You cut mangoes
You cut papaya

You never told me you loved me
and yet you did, so many times
with the kitchen

And that summer day, 
     the kitchen
I begged you
     the kitchen
knees on the floor
    the kitchen
voice wailing between sobs
     the kitchen
not to go into
     the kitchen

where you wanted to take a knife
and cut yourself open
like the papayas you used to prepare for me.



Did eating your own cooking not fill you
with the same magnitude of love
that filled me?