Saturday, 14 September 2013

Chai Story (childhood)

My Maiden Sip of Tea-


The title may seem a little out of place to the readers as Maiden has more to do with games/sports, speech performance, etc. So, what has that humble and servile tea to do with 'Maiden'? Well...reading this first person account will surely make the readers empathize me.

The tea, served in that bone china cup and saucer in the tray to the guests, held one of the greatest mysteries to me in my childhood. Not only me but both of my brothers were puzzled also. The most fascinating thing with tea was the sound of its 'Chushki', that 'surrrrrr...' sound followed by that expression of relaxation of every muscle on the face. On the contrary, we were always made to drink milk with Protinex or an egg mixed in it in large tumblers which gave a nausea to me and I always sought for an opportunity to throw it into the drain or flush it off.

So, tea for us, was the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden. "Children must drink milk...it helps them grow tall...makes bones and teeth strong etc."...toppled up with the cherry of Krishna Kanhaiya's and Yashoda's story of hair growing thick and long by drinking milk. Well...the adults left us with no choice except to see them with vying eyes and wait eagerly at each birthday to find ourselves in their much coveted category.

We then, tried to please the cook by helping him in his work and letting us have a few sips of that ambrosia. But, the cook had more stories of the harms done by tea in his store to tell us "Tea is not good for little children...it makes your teeth black...it also makes your skin dark...only elders can have tea, etc. etc."

Finally, we reconciled with our destiny to wait for that opportune time to arrive. Days passed by swiftly but those hours of the arrival of the guests with tea being served to them seemed unusually long and impatient.
However, we kept on nurturing the hope in our little hearts and one day, luck smiled on me.

One fine Sunday, the servant, Shivlal being out on some important errand, my mother asked me to carry the tea-tray back to kitchen, to which I humbly obliged. I put the tray near the sink and found that a little tea was left in each cup. That golden brown content, I swear, seemed more tempting to me than a potion of opium to an opium addict. I wanted to taste that forbidden fruit but my conscience pricked my soul. I kept oscillating between the temptation and my conscience. Just then I heard the footsteps of someone approaching the kitchen and in a fraction of second the decision was made. I picked up one cup from the tray and tilted it to my lips "How sweet and savoury the flavour is!" I gulped the last drop of tea one by one from each of the four cups and wiped my lips with the back of my palm but was a little late in wiping off the evidence from the scene of crime. My younger brother had seen me wiping my face "You were drinking the left over tea...nah! I am going to tell mom."

The saddest part of this story of my maiden sip of tea is that I had to bribe my brother for keeping his mouth shut and thus had to part with my favourite scented eraser. And, with it vanished that sweet savoury flavour too.

Sometimes, I wonder about tea as the deciding factor for treating a growing child as grown-up adult and that urges me to add one more stanza in the poem "Am I a Child or an Adult" by Margaret Lawrence-

"Am I a child or an adult?
I am tall, I understand tea talk
But, Oh..!.
No, not a child now- it's not a glass of milk I love.
Its cherished position is taken.
Just because the protinex-eggs have lost their charm,
Does that mean that I am an adult?



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