A Tale of Turmeric

“Each spice has a special day to it. For turmeric it is Sunday, when light drips fat and butter-colored into the bins to be soaked up glowing, when you pray  for love and luck.”
― Chitra Banerjee DivakaruniThe Mistress of Spices

My husband’s great uncle is a gentle, jovial, elderly gentleman. He speaks in a happy, booming tone of voice and likes to laugh. He is also hard of hearing. He lives in Lahore with younger family, and servants. Nevertheless, he is quite independent.

Outside their house is a small patio. On a table lies newspapers with the spice, tumeric. The maid informed me that the uncle likes to come outside and take care of his turmeric. He lays out the root on the newspaper to dry. Then after a few days he opens it and lets it dry again. Turmeric is known for its golden color. It also has health benefits and before a wedding, Pakistani brides will make a paste with it and other ingredients to give their skin a golden glow.

I wish I had a good photo of this gentleman, but I don’t. When I wanted to take a photo of him, he was drinking his chai and was talking happily with the swirls of chai steam floating around him. I did not want to ruin the conversational moment by taking out my camera, so took a picture with my mind. What I do have though, is a picture of the turmeric that he diligently tends to. I love the color of this bold, unapologetic spice that so often stains fingers, clothes, and pots from cooking spicy Pakistani food. I like how the spice is placed on newspaper, adding a new unspoken message to the words behind it.

I like how this uncle, even in old age, has something that keeps him busy, turmeric that he tends to. Whether we’re old or young, we too need to tend to our turmeric, whatever that may be.


  1. Love, Love, LOVE this post! You reminded me so much of all that is sacred and simple in our daily rituals and how spice is such an integral part of Pakistani life…Thank you for the luminous, saturated pictures–they made my heart sing. I would hang those on my wall proudly. With gratitude, Mahwish

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