• Dental Hygiene is Very Important

    Manjiri Indurkar

    August 21, 2017


    Jim Dine, 'Teeth”, 1961/ Image Courtesy: metmuseum.org



    Baba once told me about a man 
    who he was friends with in the 80s.
    He lost all his teeth, Baba said,
    in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. 
    They just fell, 
    the minute gas entered his room 
    through a half open window.
    Just like that, all his teeth, anywhere between 28 and 32,
    Were on the floor
    , Aai kept repeating in disbelief. 

    My flatmate once fell face down 
    and chipped his front tooth
    because there was someone at the door.
    My Baba has a half broken tooth too
    A mad buffalo hit him from behind 
    and he also fell face down.
    Now, I don’t remember him 
    from the time 
    when his teeth were whole 

    Aaji who brushed her teeth 
    behind locked doors 
    had fake teeth Baba got made on discount.
    Each morning she locked the bathroom 
    removed her teeth, and scrubbed them clean 
    before wearing them on. 
    The one time she forgot to lock the door 
    I walked in and witnessed the purging;
    I have to admit, she looked cute toothless.

    A lot of my nightmares are teeth centered 
    The man who I kicked hard at his funeral 
    had tobacco stained teeth
    I dream that he offers me a chocolate
    and says I should be late, before eating it.
    For a seven year old I am clever, 
    I know he means the Hindi word late
    How could I not be a writer? 
    I get puns like no one else.  

    I often dream of his teeth touching 
    My milk teeth, 
    and they fall, all at the same time. 
    Like the uncle who lost his teeth in Bhopal 
    I lose mine on the first floor of my friend’s house.
    The tragedy keeps repeating itself

    My teeth have grown back 
    but they have yellow stains 
    my dentist blames the chlorine in our water, 
    he recommends a toothpaste
    nine out of ten dentists are sure to recommend. 
    But here’s the thing:
    what Aaji was purging that day was an unwanted sighting 
    and yes, she really did look cute toothless.




    Manjiri Indurkar is a poet and writer who hails from a small Indian town called Jabalpur. She is one of the founders and editors of the literary magazine AntiSerious.

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