A lover of simple things and simple gestures as I have always been, I rub my eyes idly as I open them to celebrate the wee hours of the morning. An unusual air of serenity surrounds me each morning when I manage to wake up before the sun rises. The tiny alarm clock on my table confirms that it’s six. Half an hour of walking around the beautiful lake nearby leads me to my favourite destination – the tea shop.
Those were the days when life was as simple as it should have been. I had just left my previous company. There were another two weeks left for me to go home, which, in turn, meant another week free of the worries of packing my clothes and selling the furniture. I decided those days would be completely mine – days of my very own life dedicated to solely the one true owner of it.
I would walk for half an hour or cycle for a few minutes each morning. I would sit on my favourite seat in the park, hum songs that heal my soul, and dance to the tunes of those songs in my head which need no time to lift my spirits up. I would then go to the tea-shop, order a cup of “crisp tea” as I called it, being entirely unaware how a cup of tea can literally be crispy. I would observe the various people who would sit at the stall to chat, or to hurriedly finish their breakfasts to get back to work, or to simple ogle at the legs of the only female customer sitting there – me. I would later pick a book, my choice during those days was the Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar translated by Jerry Pinto, lie flat on my stomach on my comfortable bed and read it till it takes me to places only my poems can take. Home-delivered pizza or pasta would later be complimented with a walk around the area in the evening, followed by a cup of coffee at a coffee shop famous for its cold coffee dressed with tiny chocolate blocks. Nights were spent watching some season of Friends and again reading or writing. For me, those were my Utopian days – days when I had no worries about the future, about the past or about any materialistic demands other than food and my favourite cup of tea.
One of those days was the day when my cup of tea had a story to tell. I find myself at the tea shop, the very shop that never keeps me waiting, serving me the best cup of tea I can get while being in Mumbai, within a minute of my appearance near the vendor.
The vendor is not a person who would talk a lot or entertain questions; I don’t even know his name. But my almost-daily visits to his road-side shop had certainly built a bridge that’d make him serve me one cup of tea without I having to ask for it.
He hands me the glass tumbler that held the magical tea that would awaken my cells and keep me energized and happy for the day. I pick the glass and sit on the low walls around the shop, just like all those men who don’t want to keep standing do.
I take a sip of the elixir; I take a pause to admire the taste and another to admire its effect on my moods. My lips stretch a little longer to form a smile; my mind believes today’s going to be a good day. The tea has the perfect amount of sugar in it – it’s neither too sweet, nor too bitter. A gentle breeze blows at exactly the moment the Universe wants it to. I put the tumbler beside me on the wall I sat on. I close my eyes and I feel the breeze while the taste of the sip of tea spellbinds my tongue that gently touches my palate to feel the goodness.
A second elapses, my phone rings, I pull it out of one of the pockets of my jeans, and in the process, hit the tumbler. The tumbler falls on the street and breaks into a couple of pieces, the elixir it contained now flows out of it, in four different directions.
I feel more sorry than embarrassed, I ask for a piece of cloth to mend the mess I made. The tea vendor quietly brings a piece of dirty cloth and stops the elixir from flowing any longer. The cloth absorbs the elixir and falls inside a trash can from the hands of the vendor.
I look at the trash can with sorry eyes for the tea that has been wasted. The vendor brings another cup of tea for me. “It’s okay, ma’am,” he says, “this cup is on me.”