Zorawar or Zee is a photographer and digital content creator based in London with roots in the Punjab.
Nobody talks about the food at funerals. Let’s put the complexities of grieving aside for now, and think about food.
When I first left for Punjab last year, it was for a wedding - only a few months before I returned for the first of two funerals. And, weddings are when food apparently gets all the attention.
The truth is. Roti, dal and karela - the food I shared with both of my widowed grandmothers, the bites that seemed hard to swallow at first. The ritual of eating 3 times a day because ‘you have to’. The same food that my family has always eaten. In the city or in the village. In times of poverty and displacement or privilege. In times of grieving. That is the food I will never forget.
Eating with the women in my family would lend itself to unexpected healing, story-telling, laughter and moments of fullness. Sometimes sitting in a silent bedroom, carefully and slowly eating the beautiful things that we’ve eaten all our lives, in our daily lives, that were eaten even by my grandparents’ grandparents - would take someone in the room on a journey.
Staring through the hot air whilst meditatively chewing - someone would suddenly recall the way my grandpa studied under the dim glow of a streetlight to get his education and go on to one day buy land for his brothers to cultivate.
This is the food that I will never forget. It is the food that I will always be grateful for. The food that farmers eat, committing their existence to feeding others. The food that is at the centre of life, would provide comfort whilst we faced death.