I picked up a packet of Besan Bhujia in the grocery store.
“Vegetable oil and palm oil used,” the packet said.
“Palm oil? Very smart!
Why not just stab your heart?”
I threw the Bhujiya packet back to it’s domicile
And moved on to the dairy aisle
Grabbing a package of double-toned milk from the pile.
“Are you a baby?
Aren’t you too old for this?”
The milk hissed.
“You don’t have enzymes to digest this.
Look at the plastic I’m in!
Think of all the PVC leaching in.”
I walked ahead
And picked up a packet of coconut milk instead.
“I’m not really milk,” the packet whispered.
“Slip the leash, shake it loose
I’m just fruit juice.”
“Nice breasts,” cackled the packaged chicken breasts
As I leaned over the meat freezer chests
I was unimpressed.
Next I looked at the packet of chicken wings, which asked,
“Have you got a cold or flu?
Because I’m injected with loads of antibiotics to spew
And they might help you.”
I walked on.
“What are you doing?” asked a pack of Samosas. “Get away from me, don’t you know I am too high on sodium and saturated fat? It will give you stomach flatulence.”
My cart started wobbling.
And I ran through the remaining grocery store aisles waffling
I heard a scream, sharp in my ears, squabbling.
From an expired packet of Naan Bread and a Roti sphere
Came a shrill, timid jeer
“Hello, is anyone there?
What is the year?”
“With the sugar packed in jams and jellies
And the over-processed flour cookies
It will be a quick trip to diabetesville,”
Said the packet of Chakali.
There was a political and socioeconomic debate going on in the tea aisle.
“Just think of the workers!” screamed the Darjeeling tea bag. “The workers are exploited, but you just enjoy your milky tea.”
I didn’t linger
And ran to the produce aisle hither and thither.
I’m in the race, who cares to finish?
I reached out for a bundle of shiny spinach.
It was quiet, but it gave a little twitch.
So I picked it up with a cheer
And held it to my ear.
“Some-sometimes, I was sprinkled with composted human waste — ‘black gold’, they said — I grew up in the field, with the stink I couldn’t conceal.”
I put the spinach back on the shelf.
I looked at my cart. So far there was just a packet of chips and biscuits. I also put them back.
“Wise choice,” they both whispered
“We think we’ve been here for more than two years.
Check out the storeroom at the back — the rats and cockroaches cheer!”
From now on, I’m cooking. The Lord is my witness.
Out of the store I trundled
As my stomach grumbled.
“I still have a few packs of instant noodles at home,” I mumbled.
Before hitting the boiling water, the noodles screamed a flashy grin,
But at least it was in Mandarin.
Author’s Note: Ever since I have started grocery shopping, I face this dilemma in the grocery store—what to buy and what to leave. The package description makes me cringe. The roti and naan packages are always either expired or so close to expiring. Meat, eggs and milk are never very fresh. Snack items are made with artery-clogging palm oil or other trans fats. I keep wandering from aisle to aisle to make up my mind to make the right choice. With the development of technology in the food industry processed food items have increased, and fresh food items are disappearing. This is my humble approach to express my confusion and irony in a grocery store, I hope readers could relate to.
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