COMFORT FOODS // My Mother’s Sweet Halwa — Sheena Hussain

Photo by Sheena Hussain


My Mother’s Sweet Halwa

The pots and pans of childhood stir me.
That boring fine grained sand, Semolina
sitting beside a cup of sugar, like lovers
they will unite and the waiting will soon
be over.  But for some time one will
have to endure the passionate heat, the
stir of my mother’s wooden spoon, “it’s
all in the stirring”, said she.
As she flips and tosses the mud-bath
getting browner, the smell of clarified
butter evaporates, roaming up bannisters
of our terraced place. The honour of
throwing in cardamom pods, coconut
shreds and sunny raisins is mine; the
water hisses at me like medusa’s head.
She continues stirring her thoughts, my
help goes a long way— I taste first, a
generous sprinkle of cinnamon, halwa
is served.


Sheena Hussain is a poet from Bradford, West Yorkshire.  Her route to poetry was a cancer diagnosis, she has since left a legal career and now writes poetry and essays.  Her debut collection “Memories of A Poet, My Road, My Recovery” was self-published in 2018.  She is the founder of a grassroots poetry competition for children called Poem:99.  Coming from a South Asian background, food was central to family life, her mother’s warm dessert, halwa, is a childhood memory she holds dear. Birth, marriage or death, a plate of halwa is sure to be served.  

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