Tea is as basic as air to us north Indians, we all love it, we need it and we want it. It’s a part of our culture and upbringing. We can live without food for a day or two but without tea, it is impossible. It is so ingrained in our system that some of us wake up in the morning to the sound of ‘Chai tayyar hai’ instead of alarm. In fact, most of us switch off our hard-working, dedicated alarm and happily return to our slumber promising ourselves to wake up after 5 minutes, then we postponed it by another 5 minutes and then we bargain with our laziness for another 5 minutes. If it wasn’t for tea, we would never make it to colleges or offices on time.
If you happen to be living or visiting B – 111, during 1997 – 2000, tea could have been a very crafty affair for the residents were 5 chirpy, lively, naughty and lazy girls. The ring master of the circus was my father, who more often would gang up with us instead of against us. My mother is a very kind and gentle lady, she finds it very difficult to plot against anybody or even to let anybody suffer. Even a light joke on a person appears injustice to her. So more often without revealing much she would just drop in a hint of what was happening around.
It was a lovely October morning and one my cousin, Divya was sleeping way past her bed time. October back then used to be very different from what we experience now. It was cold, pleasant and clean since there was time for fog to set in. It was a usual morning, tea for everybody was made at the same time since we all had to rush to college.
Tea for Divya was also made and kept next to her bedside. She was too cozy in the bed to wake up even for tea, so she kept sleeping, ignoring numerous wake up shout outs. So papa being who he was, drank her tea and kept an empty cup on the side table next to her bed. She woke up half an hour later to an empty cup, completely perplexed because everything was like any other day just the tea-cup was empty. When she enquired about the empty tea cup, with a straight face, we all made her believe that she had woken up and had her tea and slept again. That day she went to the college without tea and rest of her day went by wondering if she really had that tea in the morning.
For me tea was just routine, something I needed to drink twice a day. I till date don’t fancy it much. So, one day while tea was made for everybody else they forgot to make it for me. I was out of home for some work and was to return during tea time. While planning tea, I was completely forgotten by the young ladies of the house. As I returned back and was climbing up the stairs, Shrads, my sister, heard my footsteps and realised that they had forgotten to make tea for me. Now, nobody wanted to work in that house, we were masters in quick fixing any job. They had finished with their tea and one or two sips were left in each cup. So, very wisely they collected all the left overs in a cup and offered the tea to me as you would make an offer to a queen with all humility and respect. Me being me, didn’t suspect anything fishy and drank it up without giving it a second thought. It was a well guarded secret till my mother revealed it to me the next day and everybody had a good laugh at me, while I sulked. I was the one who had left over tea which would have landed in the basin otherwise and I was the one who was made butt of the joke.
On a different occasion, one of my dear friend came visiting me. It doesn’t rain cats and dog often in Delhi but that day it was raining heavily and he came on the bike all the way from Pashim Vihar. He was drenched till his bones when he reached our house. He rang the bell and five of us opened the door.
He rang the door bell and he was welcomed and greeted right there on the door by all the 5 lovely ladies. Poor guy had driven in the rain for over 40 km and was drenched and cold. He was my dear friend so he had to be given special treatment, thus they were all very gentle and kind to him. One of them offered to iron his shirt to dry it. Another one offered to make tea for him since she was very concerned about him catching cold. Magically, the tea appeared within a minute. In all the household, across the world tea is made and served fresh but not in B-111. Here, one of my darling sister makes her tea and refrigerate it, she heats it and consumes it as and when required. Saves a lot of her time. That day, it was offered to my friend. He sat on the sofa without his shirt and in his wet pants with a towel on his shoulder, water dripping from his hair, sipping the tea which was made at least 6 hours before. If it tasted horrible, he never complained.
So, you see, nobody was spared in our house whether it was my sister, cousin, friend or me. We were all at equal risk of being the joke of the day.
It will be fun to have you guys home but you should be ready for anything when you are visiting us in B -111 because the girls there are as naughty and crazy as ever!