I met my better half when my life wasn’t half better and or even had half the realisation of what I was supposed to achieve in life. She took the biggest risk of her life choosing me, as I had no fixed income, was freelancing and wasn’t even remotely ‘settled’, as her parents would have liked. The only thing fixed about my life was an extended morning tea/newspaper session with friends, then tea again to kick-start the thinking session about work, one more cup to initiate work and more such sessions throughout the day until midnight or even until early morning. Having done my fine arts from MSU, the tea culture was deeply embedded in me. Being nothing short of a compulsive tea addict, when I learnt that my wife-to-be had never tasted tea in her life and had no clue whatsoever of how to make it, I was left aghast and terrified.
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In Gujarat, tea is pronounced as ‘cha’ which if you pronounce with an added h becomes ‘chah’ meaning desire, love, etc. How perfect! And the Hindi phrase jahan chah hai wahan raah hai which means ‘when there is a will (read TEA instead) there is a way’ truly got justified after our marriage, as she learnt the tricks of making the perfect tea for me. The real story begins just after my love of life mastered her art of tea making.
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I was so happy to have the perfect cup of tea every day, including the variants that I demanded depending upon my mood and the season: tulsi tea, masala tea, ginger tea, kadakwali chai, light tea, ragda chai (thicker, with more milk), etc.
When it wasn’t perfect or the tea was completely screwed up, I never used to bother, but then I started noticing a pattern of how and when it used to happen, slowly realising it was not mere accident. It reflected her mood, and it was I who was being targeted.
It scared the hell out of me. I’d ask her instantly every time it went wrong, “What have I done wrong, meri jaan, this time? Did I forget something, did I stare at some beautiful lady, which I wasn’t supposed to do?” Was it that I forgot to compliment her on her new earrings? Or, worst of all, did she read some message in my WhatsApp? The list is endless, but thank God, at least I have a system to check what’s brewing in my wife’s head just by tasting the tea. Most husbands don’t have the same luxury.