Undying love for tea
I don’t remember the first time I fell in love with you. That’s probably because I began to love you even before I begin to speak. It was fupu who first introduced us, do you remember? One day when ammu wasn’t looking, she snuck a spoonful of you in my mouth. That was the first day I ever kissed you. Fupu says I did not like you that day, my face turning sour as I tasted you; but before long, I was demanding ‘cha!’ without even bothering to learn to speak in full sentences. ‘Cha’ is a language on its own, after all. Ammu was scandalized in the beginning, but she soon accepted our relationship -- and it has been a torrid affair ever since.
You are always there for me when I need you -- whether it is to celebrate any small accomplishment or to reassure me during uncertain nights. Even during my loneliest times I find my little black pot standing proudly on the stove, acting as my Charon ready to carry my soul to you whenever I crave you. The act of washing and preparing it for a long day of hard work and relentless service has become a morning ritual. As I pour in fresh water and set it on the hot stove, waiting for it to simmer, I find my worries slowly ebbing away. A few more minutes till I get to court you again.
I don’t mind the waiting it requires to waken you. After all, love takes patience and effort. Every step is an act of courtship, a dance I perform that brings me closer to you. The warmth from the stove is like a reassuring hug. The soothing sound of a steady simmer seductively beckoning me to drop the seeds of love; two cardamoms and a spoonful of tea leaves. I watch in anticipation as they are swept away in a boiling hurricane. The small speckles bleed into the water, turning it an earthy red.
Your heady fragrance makes me intoxicated like a junkie getting her first high of the day. Plucking my favourite black mug off the shelf, I set the strainer on it and eagerly wait for you to blossom, for the exact moment I know you’ll be ready. I have been in a relationship with you long enough to understand your every mood, every hue, every whiff -- to know exactly when to stop. I watch you whirl around in a maelstrom, on the verge of spilling out.
I know you yearn for me too.
When the moment arrives, I grab the pot and pour you into the mug, watching with satisfaction as you cascade in through the delicate netting. Your scented steam caresses my face as you entice me with your seductive red tint.
Poising the can of evaporated milk over the mug, I drizzle it over your raw beauty.I watch the white plumes spreading out in a mini internal eruption as you finally reveal yourself to me. I scoop out a spoonful of sugar and gently stir it in, watching the colours blend. You gently spiral around, resembling the complexion of a newly wed ‘ujjol shemla’ bride, and my heart sings in joy. Finally, we meet again. And no matterhow many times I repeat the same dance, I will never get tired of it.
Whenever I can afford it, I adorn you with the most expensive crown to welcome you -- a sprinkle of saffron. You are a queen and deserve no less.
The first sip is always special. I leisurely press the mug against my lips to slowly take you in. Your rich creamy taste fills my mouth and warms me from within. You play a game of hide and seek, hiding your sharp tannins and spicy musk behind a translucent veil of sweetness, but giving me enough of a peek to tantalize me.
However, our rendezvous ends all too soon, and I sit there, spent, already missingyou. You’re intoxicating and I can never get enough of you.
So I wait again, for our next reunion.
I am writing this to you during one of our breaks as I miss you so. It has only been a couple of hours since I last saw you, but I think I can’t wait for you any longer. So I’ll stop writing and repeat the ritual for the 5th time today. See you soon my love; Charon awaits.
Your intoxicated lover