I should feel like an Egyptian pharaoh,
But I never had all that splendour.
Mine was such a short life,
And then I was mummified for the Hereafter.
There was never anyone to wait on me,
To bring me delicacies or fan away the flies.
You could not imagine Liz Taylor
Wanting to play my part in a film.
But I want you to take a moment or two,
To imagine that your feet and hands
Are permanently covered in cracks and crevices.
And to imagine the constant burning pain.
And contemplate now, the virtual blindness
That comes from seeing – day in and day out –
The bright sun reflected from the brilliant white
Of salt, from horizon to horizon.
And breathing, such a natural thing!
But even breathing was slowly killing me.
Coughing, spitting, rasping breath and breathlessness
And when I died, they could not burn me.
Not properly, for the years of salt had seeped
Into my skin and as a final indignity,
Ensured that even death was not a true escape.
Sprinkle, sprinkle on your dish,
Shut your eyes and make a wish,
Up above the world so high,
If there’s a watcher in the sky,
Pray they somehow can arrange
For this indignity to change.
A couple of years ago I wrote about the extremely difficult conditions endured by Indian salt workers – and many others all over the world (the link is here should you care to read it) – which I don’t think have eased since then.
As you add salt to your meal today, think of them.