Fictional curry

The Tea Couple

“Few animals make a living the way I do. I stand outside my balcony, seeing my small world begin and end everyday right in front of my eyes,” Srinath reasoned with his wife Shradha, who constantly grumbled about his inactivity.
The couple had been living on the third floor of the D’Cunha Mansion for 35 years.
Srinath, a 68-year-old retired Army official spent most of his time in his balcony staring blankly at the society compound. His excitement tripled when he saw young children from D’Cunha come down to play.
He’d ask them to play games and offer to keep score. Srinath loved badminton and volley, so in order to get the children play his favourite sport he would also announce a prize for the winning team. The winning participants would be showered with candies, biscuits and Swiss chocolates that his son would send for him from the U.K. This, however, did not go well with Shradha.
Forty years ago, the couple had married amid strong resistance from the family. Shradha was a Marwari from Rajasthan and six-years-older than Srinath, a Tamilian from a family of academicians. Srinath was only eighteen and was pursuing an engineering degree in Bombay when he met Shradha, his classmate and best friend Shrimanker’s sister. She would teasingly call him Sri.
Little did Shradha know that the tea serving business at Shrimanker’s study table where Sri came to study daily would soon evolve into love?
They were young and passionate about their feelings. All they had to do was run because blessings from family were next to impossible.
Forty years later, Sri was still playing the runaway groom while Shradha at 74, saw old age catching up really soon. “You should stop wasting your time and money on those children?” she would say. “You get up at 7 am and directly go to the balcony with a pen and paper, anxiously waiting to keep score, whereas, the kids only come at 5 in the evening. Spend some time with me instead,” Shradha protested.
However, he found solace in earth. The brown of the compound soothed his unoccupied mind. Everyday as he saw Shradha leave to buy vegetables from the market, he would scream from the balcony, “Buy four packets of Parle G biscuits and if possible get few Melody chocolates too.” Shradha was tired and fed up. Her only son Dinesh lived continents away and even Shrimanker, had stopped frequenting her place because he found it difficult to walk up the building stairs.
One day, agitated with her husband’s worrisome behaviour, Shradha, while serving tea to him in the balcony, asked, “When will you die Sri? I’ve had enough of you” He looked at her and smiled, “Whenever you say dear? I have always listened to you.” Adding, “You wanted me to run, I did, you wanted me to marry you, I did, now, if you want me to die, I will.”
Shradha, laughed saying, “It is not that easy…trust me.” Sri who was eating his breakfast, a bowl of upama while rocking on his balcony chair, simply said, “You have a bad memory, Shradu.”
Shradha did not understand, however, feeling guilty of having asked him such a question, she let it all run down as a joke.
That evening Srinath did not stand outside to watch the kids play. The children played half-heartedly, throwing occasional glances at the balcony, expecting Srinath Uncle to shower them with goodies. As it grew darker, their hopes for sweeteners also melted away and the dust laden compound grew silent again.
Srinath had decided to be with his wife that day. The old couple spent hours together on bed reminiscing their early days of married life, their struggle for acceptance by family, Srinath’s sudden decision to join the Army and the last of his successes in the Bangladesh war of 1971. “It all seems like yesterday, I miss those times, I miss the real you. That strong Sri who would give me everything I wanted without second thoughts,” Shradha whispered in his ear. Srinath smiled again saying, “I am still the same man…see I am spending so much time with you now, I won’t deny you anything.” Then, he shared a secret that he had locked within himself for years. “You know… you make amazing tea, it has magic. I still cannot forget that ginger tea you would make for Shrimankar and me when I used to come to collect notes. Your tea and your wishes go hand in hand,” he said sheepishly like a 16-year-old who was revealing his first crush.
Shradha blushed. Probably, he had finally realised how badly she wanted him now. I have finally got my Sri back…she thought. They had spent the whole day just lying beside each other, not knowing how time had flied.
The next day, when Shradha got up, she wasn’t surprised when she did not find him on bed. Seeing him lie asleep on the rocking chair again…she felt disappointed and moved to the kitchen to make him the ginger tea he spoke about the last night.
Unfortunately, his lips never moved to sip it again. She tried waking him up but failed. Her senses went dry when she realised that Sri had only obliged to her request. She brushed on her memory…that she had forgotten and…
Your tea and your wishes go hand in hand…is all that she could remember.
It was over a cup of tea that she had told him that she wanted to marry him. It was over tea that she had asked him if he was ready to run away with her and it was over tea that she asked him when he would die. He couldn’t have possibly refused…

Epilogue

A month after Srinath’s death, Shradha Rajan rocked in the same chair, sipping a cup of tea. A pen and paper, a packet of biscuits and melody chocolates lay beside the tea kettle. Now, she keeps score…

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Speculative History

DON’T BUILD INDIA ON SPECULATIONS


Every time we Indians create history, the world shifts their eye-view towards us. Sometimes, even before we make history we win adulation. For instance, A.R. Rahman’s recent win at the Golden Globe’s for the background score in Danny Boyle’s film Slumdog Millionaire has only led to rumors on “Rahman to be first-Indian to win an Oscar.” I call this “speculative history…” a history that is written even before it occurs. It is interesting to learn how we Indians live on speculations. We predict our tomorrow and if our predictions don’t hit the right key, we also evade it as soon as possible. A week back, my cousin laughed at me while I was watching the Jaago Re campaign online. (Jaago Re campaign is an attempt to get the youth apply for election cards so that they can vote in the forthcoming elections.) I asked why and he confidently said…our vote won’t make a difference. Well…there goes another speculation. Honestly, I have learnt few lessons the hard way and one of the greatest I have learnt is to keep no room for speculation because it is just another approach to being lax. A speculation is like a coil…the harder you press (more the speculation) the greater will be the force with which it will recoil. Media reports revealed how the 26/11 terror attacks could have been avoided if not for the lax attitude of the government towards coastal security…again government speculation of such Intelligence reports being fake proved fatal. As the country is on the brim of another Republic Day celebration, it is our duty as youth to push for greater accountability in governance. If we ourselves live speculative lives how can we look forward? The Republic Day is the celebration of the birthday of India’s Bible, “Our Constitution.” The Constitution comprises the rights we enjoy, our fundamental duties and obligations as citizens of the Nation. If we don’t abide by it and consider its guidelines as a constitutional joke, we are in a way committing a sin against the National Order. If you go to think about it, just like the Catholic Bible our Constitution helps make better and civilized citizens…but unfortunately we never take it seriously.
Interestingly, a recent media report highlights an effort by Fight Back— a Mumbai based movement in this direction. The movement which has registered 50-schools in India will get students read the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution during the Republic Day celebrations. Its important for us to go-ahead and take the plunge…so while we love networking on Facebook, Hi5, Orkut, it would do no harm to at least read about campaigns like Jaago Re and Fight-back. Even if our effort makes a small difference…we can proudly say we tried. So log on to
www.jaagore.com or www.fight-back.net and see how you can help.The Republic Day is not just another National holiday it is about making a difference. Don’t ponder and speculate and you will find the answer to everything including world peace…. Happy Republic and World Peace Day!!! Jai Ho… as Rahman put it in his award winning composition.
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