A tea vendor poured tea in six small glasses in a manner that was evidence enough that he had been doing it for a long time. He looked like a person who would help the visitors find their way around, using his hands to show them the directions, a skill that is honed when someone has spent cold winters, shivering in the area, has drenched in its unseasonal rains and has perspired in its sweltering heat. He knew the local people, often greeting them as they told their stories. He lend them a patient ear when they wanted to vent out their workplace problems, being an advisor to them, when they needed help. He knew people by their eyes, smiles, voices, stories, names, and the amount of sugar they liked in their tea.
His life progressed like a clock. A glance up from his boiling tea and the world was a familiar story with a set of new actors. A swarm of cycle rickshaws eased their way through the mad rush of the road, a young couple blushed: red cheeks, gaudy clothes, and eyes that tried to escape the sight of any familiar face in the crowd, a papad hawker tried to overpower the voice of the other hawkers in a high pitched voice that evoked amusement, a scooter whirred, carrying four members of a family in it, a bunch of noisy school kids laughed on their way back home. Street dogs stood outside the chicken shop, setting sight on the bones like an eagle looming on its prey, ready to swoop down at just the right moment, a bunch of men stared at women at the bus stand; their intentions no different from the dogs.
The tea vendor knew them all. People changed, the story, like the taste of his tea, remained the same.
~Paritosh Anand | Edited by Aditi Dhasmana