We would quite often visit the vendor outside college for a cheap and refreshing cup of tea. There’s something about the street, some secret ingredient they add, or probably just the feel of the glass, that makes the ten rupee sips a highlight of your day.
We’d sit on a low table and chat, while the chai wala would pour out the kadak drink and come to serve it to us. It tasted of everything around us – the road, the typical Indian traffic and the silly tree that had seen our college being built but told no stories.
The first time we went, we started conversing, trying to read each other. She told me that she believed musicians today were to us children what poets were in the 16th century. How there was always this one song which described the saddest thing about your life, at the moment, whether it be losing a lover or unrequited love. Yet, how most of the creators of the more beautiful art would isolate themselves, and why. How there were some who reached out to millions but failed to inspire themselves. She spoke for an hour, on something which meant so much to her, because apart from the kadak chai, art was something that helped her.
I kept an empty glass on my side, and it touched something. There, I noticed, lay a tiny girl, probably the chai walas daughter, trying to find the most comfortable position to sleep on the creaky wooden table. She turned to her side, this position would block most of the sun because it was partially covered by the silly tree, then closed her eyes and smiled.
One spoke how music helped her on her low days, as the other dreamt of the day when she had got two rotis for dinner.
One would save money to buy a poster of her favorite artist, and the other for a packet of namkeen.
I paid the chai wala twenty rupees for my cup, and we left because we had a lecture to attend.