Sunday, 8 September 2013

Chai story

Chai at Simaria Ghat

                [Rajendra Bridge on Ganga (Bihar), in the holy month of Kartik]

She raised her eyes towards the sky. The storm had started gathering in with dark clouds and rising winds. The sun had already taken refugee behind the clouds. When they had arrived, the slanting rays of sun could be seen dancing on the small gentle waves of Ganga. But now the sky, overcast with dark clouds, seemed to be threatening their stay on the Ganga Ghat.

She tugged at his sleeve," Let's start before the storm sets in." and they rushed with heavy steps on the sand, in the direction of their car but it was too late. The high wind like the Sand Man, blocked their sight. They dropped the idea of driving back and took shelter in a make shift hut.

 The rain started falling in big drops which brought a slight chill into the air that late afternoon . A sweeping glance round the close confines of the hut brought relief to him. It was a make shift cloth shop/hut for the fair visitors in the pious month of Kartik. He took a look at her. She had wrapped the pallu of her saree round her frame. He bought a handloom gamchi from the shopkeeper and draped it round her shoulders. She felt the warmth of his love woven in the fabric of that gamchi. She closed her eyes in gratitude and then, opened to pay obeisance to Ganga, remembering the line oft quoted by her relatives" गंगा नहैले रहू कि  ऐसन दूल्हा पैलू ।"

The rain after a short heavy spell, had become a soft drizzle. So, they came out of the shelter and walked towards the samosa-jalebi and tea shop on the opposite side where the tempting smell of jalebies and samosas hung in the air.

The man/halwai beside the Chulha raked the smoldering coal to let the fire burn in full flame. He started taking out the hot, crispy jalebies from the big Kadhai on the chulha and turning them over in the sugar syrup. The sight of those sweet mouth watering jalebies was simply irresistible. The man dipped the tongs in the syrup and took out four golden brown jalebies from the kadhai and placed them in a dona before them. Till now she had hunched her back to combat the chill but the warmth of the chulha was so comforting that she relaxed her tensed body, stretched her back on the wooden chair and spread her legs. The glow of the charcoal shone on her face. She pulled her chair near to him and both of them sat there idly enjoying the hot jalebies and samosas alternatively. Meanwhile the man/halwai had placed the kettle on the chulha for the tea. The aroma of the cardamom and ginger along with the tea leaves boiling in the milk spread in the air. With rain stopped, the crowd started gathering in the shop. The man/halwai poured tea in the two glasses and handed over to them.

She sipped the sugar laced tea, “Ah, another delicacy…how sweet is life with this tea by my partner’s side!” The cool wind played with strands of her hair which she had left open to dry on her back. Outside the evening had set in and the twilight stars were out in the darkening sky to play hide and seek. The pilgrims had lighted the ‘diyas’ near the sacred Tulsi plant and the older women folk were busy in singing the sanjhout (evening prayer) while the younger women remained busy in preparing the supper. The children, after a long day out, building sand-castles or playing Hide and seek and other games on the sandy shore of Ganga, sat now impatiently round the hearth for the supper. For the whole day, their hunger had been on strike and now with full determination had come back to strike their stomach with repeated pangs. A few of them had even started dozing off near the warmth of the hearth. Their mothers, very tactfully, kept them awake by asking them to fetch a pail of water or to get the jars of salt and spices from inside the hut. Here was a life with simple charms and ground comforts.She tried to touch and feel their impalpable, carefree world but a thin invisible wall brought her back from there. She woke up to the soft touch of his hands on her tangled hair.

Quietness had descended on the atmosphere which looked so heart rendering and moving in the thin veil of fog and mist, brought by the rain.

  A few cots were placed outside the huts. She stole a coveted glance towards those stringed cots,” How cozy it would be to spend a night here at Ganga’s side in the open stretch of sandy bank with him at my side near the warmth of the hearth…” A sigh escaped her lips with the yawn. He said to her,” Someday…when our hair turns grey, we’ll come here to spend the whole month of Kartik…” She smiled at him lovingly and squeezed his hands in hers with dreams in her misty eyes like those twinkling stars in the sky.

She didn't know then that the dream would become just an another added page in the album of her life.
Yet the sweetness of the tea/chai, the crisp jalebies and the spicy samosas shared with him, still warms her heart and moistens her eyes.

Some dreams must better be seen with closed eyes to be forgotten at daybreak...

1 comment:

  1. This is really beautiful, mummy. Melancholic but has its charm, probably because one knows that things were left undone but just remembering them keeps it all going.