Tea

I wait for my tea. The tea guy pours some in a glass and hands it to the person on my right. Didn’t I come before him? He pours another one and hands it to the guy on my left. I definitely came before him. He starts making another batch. How many times he must have done this today? After an eternity, I get my tea. I sit in my usual spot, the left side of the steps, outside the restaurant.

It’s evening. The light in the sky has faded. The tea is hot and the glass is slippery. It is not filled to the brim. So I hold it tightly at the top. I fear it might break. I bring it close to my mouth. The flavours fill my nose. Blow a little so that the froth at the top moves to one end. I take the first sip. The sweetness is just right. The components are in perfect proportions.

People wait at the bus stop in front of me. Some are returning from work. They walk in formals with backpacks and tired looks. Metro rail construction is going in full swing. The crane operator is engrossed in his mobile as he is waiting for the signal to lower the concrete slab. A group of workers with yellow vests, hard hats and sweaty faces come stumbling. Confused, they try to figure out how to get the tokens for tea. The security guard’s whistle guides the motorists to park. He requests a person to move his vehicle as it is parked wrongly. Gets shouted at.

The guy inside the juice stall steals a sip of the watermelon juice below the counter. The waiters walk past me to get the juice to the customers who wait inside. A kid, who can barely walk, tries to climb the steps on all fours. Where did this kid come from? The mother comes running, picks the kid and goes away. A group of old men sip their tea at their usual spot. They seem to enjoy each other’s company. A couple sipping their tea, share an inside joke with each other and start laughing.

My tea is almost empty. Shawarma looks good. Should I eat it? Not today. I’ll have it tomorrow before tea. The bus conductor and driver have parked their bus and have come over for their evening tea. They joke around with the tea guy. All smiles. Cheerful faces. The barbeque fire crackles. The sparks rise and shine brightly against the dark sky. The chatter around me has increased. The place is full. Tea is empty. I continue to sit; a nobody amidst the crowd.

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