A young girl gives Santosh Bakaya her own mug of tea and happily picks up an ‘ordinary’ cup for herself. The warmth in her gesture makes the author forget the winter chill.
Winter seemed to be here! Everyone outside was in sweaters, shawls and jackets, but I was in my summer wear. The moment I saw them in warm clothes, I started feeling cold, and decided to dash inside to get a shawl. But something distracted me and I halted outside my door.
An old woman in a ghagra-choli was coming from my right and a pony-tailed girl in jeans, windcheater and sneakers was sprinting towards her from my left. The girl was running so fast that she collided with the woman, almost knocking her off the road.
“Sorry, sorry,” she was a picture of apologetic profusion.
I was afraid, the woman would give her a tongue- lashing, but she merely smiled, ruffled her hair and walked away but not before the girl had hugged her affectionately, again apologising, before sprinting off. I was seeing the woman for the first time, but had often seen the girl working out in a park some distance away.
On an impulse, I decided to go to the park, suddenly remembering that I had not gone there for a very long time. I was surprised at the canine welcome that I received at the very gates. The dogs of the park, literally threw themselves at my feet, greeting me with welcoming whelps. I would not have been surprised had they been standing there with marigold garlands in their front paws. Their happiness was reflected in every pore of their furry bodies. It was indeed so heart- warming a scene.
Many gypsy encampments had come up in front of the park and even there a new concrete structure was coming up. Half-clad children were roaming about with sleep in their eyes, and their mothers were hanging out clothes to dry. Were they not feeling cold?
There were many tea stalls all around the structure – and people were slurping tea, some pouring it in saucers, which they especially asked the vendors to provide them with, whilst some pouring the hot liquid straight from the miniscule cups into their throats.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the pony-tailed sprinter had also come there, she smiled broadly at me, and I smiled back.
While I headed back, I saw her talking to an elderly tea vendor, just in front of the park.
“Mere valey mug main chai dena mujhey (Give me tea in my mug),” she said. I noticed that there was a tinge of authority in her voice.
The tea vendor smiled a huge smile and from behind a carton, pulled out a huge mug, but definitely not as big as his smile. He smilingly poured tea into her mug and smiled in my direction too.
“Why don’t you join us, madam?” the girl said in impeccable English, beckoning me with a hearty smile. “This is our teashop, and here is your tea mug,” she said, handing me her mug.
“Papa, mujhey ordinary cup main de do chai (Papa, give me tea in an ordinary cup), she said to the tea vendor, while the tea vendor father looked on fondly at her, handing her a small cup with a huge smile and ruffled her hair. She grinned and took the ‘ordinary’ cup with a look that said, ‘this sure is my cup of tea’. I raised my mug at her. It was a ‘Cheers’ moment!
By the time I headed home, I was no longer feeling cold.
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