Poetry: Narangi by Kandala Singh

A meditation on a fruit that opens into defiance against the pressure to assimilate, this poem by Kandala Singh is unflinching both in its beauty and in its reverence for its speaker’s background and belonging.


I roll my eyes when you say orange
in your American accent.
It is not an orange, but a tiny globe

that peoples every winter
in my city. You reduce my narangi

childhood to thick English marmalade,
your tongue folding over winters

I spent picking minute
spheres from a garden in Delhi.

We would pile them up,
my mother and I, peel each one
painstakingly, tears running

as the sharp tang
hit our nostrils. The masala
on the pan, sizzling,

and that color
just before we popped
them in the pickle jar

—not saffron, not sunset,
but somewhere between

the valleys of Kashmir
and a Delhi winter afternoon.

I can taste it tonight, sharp
citrus retort on my tongue
as you tell me no big deal,

just revise the Hindi
words out of your poems. 

Listen. There are some things
you cannot taste.

Kandala Singh

Kandala Singh is a writer from New Delhi, currently in her second year at the MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Pittsburgh. Her poems appear in Rattle, Eclectica, SWWIM Every Day, Hindustan Times, Sweet: A Literary Confection, and Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English, among other places. She is the recipient of a Dietrich Fellowship from the University of Pittsburgh, and a 2023 Katherine Bakeless Contributor Award in Poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She reads poetry for Epiphany Magazine. You can find her chasing clouds, flowers & poems on Instagram @kandalasingh.

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