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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13 thoughts on “The Tea Couple

  1. Seb-Seth says:

    What a nice way to express how we tend to take the ones we love for granted and when they are gone we realize how much we loved them. There love was deep but with the years, they were on the surface I guess.Great story Jane ! I loved it !Keep doing some !Seb

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