Saturday, 25 May 2013

Teatime Tales .........





       (As promised I come back with the first tale) ........

*     Try telling your wife that the best cup of tea you ever had in your
       life was prepared not by her but by somebody else. Most likely,
       thereafter, you would end up brewing your own daily tea. But there
       are moments in everyone’s life when one has a cup of tea, outside
       home, whose taste lingers on forever. I’m the fortunate one to have
       had such tea, not once but on three occasions and at three different
       places, separated by hundreds of miles. Their taste is still so fresh
       in my mind, in my heart. And I wish to share this with you.

First Tea

Phura, a village in south Mizoram, India wore a deserted look at that
pre-noon hour. Lazy grunts from pigs and shouts from children in the
football field gave some semblance of civilisation and brought a faint
smile on my face. Tired of walking for the last two hours in the humid 
weather, I couldn’t manage a better emotion and like my friends needed
hot tea badly. As we entered the village, I saw a man emerge out of the
hut. 
       I called for him. He looked at us. To our delight, he started walking
in our direction and upon reaching us; he shook hands warmly with us all
and then started talking in English. During our brief conversation I learnt 
that he was a policeman stationed in the local police station. It came as a
huge relief for us, because none of us knew the local Mara dialect. 
       As we walked further, my subordinates moved to another area for
privacy as they never felt comfortable with me, though I had no qualms
of them having tea with me. The privacy was necessitated because of  
difference in our socio-economic backgrounds. So, I with my interpreter
moved inside the nearest teashop, which, in fact, was an annexe of the
bamboo house. Finding the shop empty, he called for the owner. I 
looked in the backyard and found a teenage girl, in blue skirt and red
top, tending her kitchen garden. 
       She put down the trowel and stood up. Perhaps she had heard a 
male voice call for him. Inside, she washed her hands thoroughly and
wiped them off the hankie and picked up the kettle from the stand.
The small open kitchen was neatly laid out. “The most men and
women are out on the jhums. Only old folks and children are here,”
she informed me as if she was expecting me to ask that. 
       “What bring you to this far-off place,” she asked. The interpreter 
translated it promptly. 
       “We are here to do the census,” was my laboured reply. 
       She nodded and returned to the hearth. In the meanwhile we both 
men discussed about the life of folks in that remote part of the county. 
       “Your tea, Kapu,” her sweet voice cut our conversation short. 
       I picked up the mug and instantly began to sip tea. As the first sip
trickled down the stomach, my whole body became fully awake.
Perhaps some local herb had made that tea taste so unique.
Subsequent sips were elixir. When I had had my last sip, I felt that I
had woken up from a deep slumber. 
       We finished tea. She picked up white china mugs and went back 
to the kitchen. Raising my right butt a few inches off the chair I searched
for my purse and fished out a ten-rupee note, and called her to pay. 
       Giving me a stare of mock annoyance, she spoke, “Not from you. 
You're a guest today.” 
       The policeman put his hand on mine.
       I insisted, “You would lose a lot of business if you treat me a guest, 
because I'll come here every morning for tea.” 
       “Hey, you're guest only for the first cup. From tomorrow onwards 
I'll charge,” she said, smiling. 
       I was speechless. It would be futile to force her to accept the 
money; I thought and replaced the wallet into the pocket. A moment later
I was up on my feet ready to leave when I heard her inquire, “Haven't 
you forgotten something?”
      “What?” I asked in surprise.
      “To say thanks,” she said, with a mischievous grin.
      “Oh, I'm so sorry. Thank you so much for the refreshing tea. And 
God bless you.”
      It was one tea, the taste of which would remain embedded in my
heart forever. And how could I forget that lovely girl and her innocent
smile, which light up my heart even today when I think of her and tea.

                                    *           *         *
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