My mother cooks curry in a sarong and shower cap.
My mother has both my daughters.
My mother is strong, caring, violent and beautiful.
My mother makes the best ice cream.
On lockdown I have been wearing all my sarongs.
Sarongs mean home, in so many ways. They are what I wear in the evenings in Sarawak, to have a beer with dad or a pre-dinner snack, sitting on the veranda. In London they are what I potter and cook in. Sarongs are my private space.
Home, mothering, food are ideas that (can) be linked and intertwined and get caught up with nostalgia and memory - especially within migrant communities where feeding is often the work of aunties, older sisters and mothers. Food is a way to build a sense of belonging in a new space; coating the air, your mouth, your memories in familiarity. But nostalgia can make static mothers and home, make identity singular.
“My mother cooks curry in a sarong” is a line from a play I wrote (for my Phd), from a story one of my performers told me (Catriona James).
There is so much in this one sentence:
Food as a permanent and physical presence, specifically meaningful as a migrant, where taking up space is challenged, and the smell of food is a way to other.
It is a moment of care, of wanting to step away from a cooking space. An identity outside of cooking for her family, of the scent of curry.
I also cook in my sarong.
I don’t want to be static or uncomplicated. I want my home of Sarawak to be present in my home of London – I want my sarongs to be seen.
Anna Sulan Masing is a London-based poet, writer and academic, she is mixed race, white New Zealander and Iban, an indigenous tribe in Sarawak. Her PhD looked at home, belonging and storytelling with food as the thread through it.
30 April, 2020: Erica Isomura
@ericahiroko makes a #dailyquarantinecomic and shares one of her earliest diary comics about going to the grocery store here. She is a queer writer from Vancouver, Canada on unceded Coast Salish territories.
30 April, 2020: Modi Deng
Dunedin, Aotearoa New Zealand
Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is
(to a painting by Colin McCahon, held in Te Puna Waiwhetū)
tomorrow I will dream,
spend hours on one gleam of sky and its sound
melt away the Otago night the
biscuity dark of its foreground
lay myself on a slate body of water
cold and curved, hollow and tailbone
all and while and remembering.
but before then I will
mix myself like so
smaller than a
leaf spine / smaller than space between
floorboards / smaller than sand
in black dripping
down into the linen of every day. and wait for a beam
to send me, onwards
Modi is a pianist who loves to write. She studied piano and English at Auckland University and is preparing to further her studies in London.
30 April, 2020: Minji Kim
minji is a sophomore at New York University studying Media, Culture, and Communications.
30 April, 2020: Fathima Zahra
I dreamt last night of flying jellyfish and the night before of boats in the air.
When I wake for suhoor, I’ve to remind myself to soften my movements, to not wake the neighbours up.
We fast & break our fast in the quiet of our house, like clockwork mice put in a doll house, we move in concentric circles.
I call my friends and they moan about a shared utopia of ramadan in Jeddah. We never found a masjid that didn’t laser beam my siblings out the taraweeh prayer, crawling, I don’t know of this utopia.
This much I miss - waking up to the quiet thuds heard across hallways, the sound of a family stretching awake in the sleepy blues of 4 am, spoons clanking against bowls, our building shares a yawn.
Sharing a bus ride with strangers to haram & feeling like I just stepped into the scene where they cast protective charms over Hogwarts, like not even the crows in the air could shit on us.
Our days pinwheel into each other, we swap saturday iftars in the masjid for Facetime & a meal in pixels.
Zahra is an Indian poet based in Essex. She is currently studying towards a Biomedical Sciences degree at Queen Mary University of London.
30 April, 2020: Monica Kam
New York, USA
Our furnace eyes shine in our skulls, each iris melts glass,
burns through sunshine. Our teeth gnaw at the sidewalks,
tongue to dirt and mouth alight. Jean sits at the desk,
photosynthesizing, brain heating. Classon Avenue is all bottles clinking,
r&b refrain down the block, I put my thing down flip it and reverse it
strangers talking into phones walk past, well there’s no way to know what…
We still the morning with our fingers, freeze the moment with the
day pouring in, move our bodies to the circadian beat,
ears blistering with the unh-tz unh-tz of read, stare-at-phone, eat,
repeat. We dust off our shoulders, kiss the cat once more.
Some other asshole made this bed, we lie in it but bitterly. We
begin to pupate. We stroke our bodies with the soft hand
of forgiveness, dig in our hard heels of despair. Each rib floats like
spires in the skyline, expansive. Small leaves begin to bud at our joints,
green and new, shedding fuzz and curling. Jean motions one branch
towards the door, trunks itching for a walk. We will crown our canopy
wide and shy, spread for strangers, each limb encrusted with spring air.
Every sidewalk crack creases into a grin as we slip-slide off curbs
and crosswalks, narrow streets screeching with longing for our soles.
kira wei-hsin jacobson is a taiwanese-american artist and poet previously based in taipei, currently based in brooklyn, soon to be based in san diego. ig: @kirazahara
30 April, 2020: Sheelalipi Sahana
Sheelalipi Sahana is an Indian writer, researcher and teacher, currently based in Hong Kong. She is interested in reading and writing stories by South Asian women who shone through their domestic spaces to public recognition. You can find her on Instagram: @begumati.zubaan
30 April, 2020: Amelia Cai
Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand
the last airplane in the sky
on sunday / the last airplane flies across the dusk / she’s at the bottom of the hill on the driveway when she hears it / glances upwards to find the source / her eyes accidentally snag on the lifestyle houses looming above instead / the radiant glow from their windows stare her down / she looks away / but her hate burns harder / she hates their kitchen islands / hates their leisurely-tended green gardens / hates that all they have to entertain is their boredom while she has to entertain her 妹妹 and 弟弟 (younger brother and sister) because 妈妈 (mum) has to work / she just wants some quiet for a moment / away from her home at the bottom of the hill / but her 4 year old 弟弟 pulls her sweater and says he’s hungry / she switches back on her smile and returns inside / leaving the last airplane in the sky
Amelia is living and studying all the way at the bottom of the world in Auckland, New Zealand. She was a full-time student, but is now a full-time dessert eater.
STAY HOME DIARY
an online archive of diary entries by Asian artists and writers, recording our lives from March to April 2020.