On Monday I come home to the smell of
gragoh; Nanny is drying prawn paste
by the kitchen window. It smells fishy in the
back bathroom. Like period blood.
Tuesday the entire house smells
like salted fish. Nanny is frying sambal belacan,
the smell of the Straits flooding,
crusting the cabinets with salt and grime.
Wednesday smells like something has
died. Our heads crossed with ash.
Nanny asks what's my sacrifice this Lent
as she beheads a chicken for Curry Devil.
Thursday's supper is bread and Ribena.
Nanny cleans out the sotong.
Father James washes the altar boys'
feet, among other things.
By Good Friday all smells have died.
I eat a hot cross bun and drag my soles to
church to kiss a statue
of the Lord's bloody feet.
Easter Sunday; Sambal Sotong in the fridge.
Belacan in jars. The longer you keep the Devil,
the tastier it is. I enter the kitchen.
Nanny's already there
like Mary Magdalene weeping
at the tomb.
I smell the sea again.
It has risen.
By Arin Alycia FongQLRS Vol. 17 No. 4 Oct 2018