Time For Introspection.


Good day,

Isn’t amazing the warmth of the dawn as the chill of the night fades.  Trotting down to the kitchen I make myself the warm cup of tea.  Actually, I am quite fussy be it my coffee, or my tea. There is something about that is magical.

People I realize are like tea you don’t know their strength until they are steeped in hot water. As for each cup of tea well… it’s an imaginary voyage, if you have company then it becomes an imagery voyage.

Before we go ahead let me introduce myself. You can choose me call me Virakshti my given name, and Palaka my family name. Ironically virakshti means care giver while palaka is the caretaker. My chosen profession makes me a bit of both.

I have my visitor with me, like most of the people who visit me, this visitor is sentenced herself to life imprisonment. The best way to deal people I realize is ask them,

“would you like a cup of tea?”

Most often the reply is “no, thank you, I’m really just fine”.

‘Are you sure I ask”

The reply is invariably, no, not really, I then say, well, “I’m brewing some for myself, any way so that would not really be a trouble.”

“if you insist, I’ll have half cup” is the response.

I then step into my tea station, that I have modified from an old bookrack, my visitors usually just move to the chair closest to the stove as the aroma of the English Breakfast Black tea from teabox begins to waft, my visitors relax, I think it is the comforting dense aroma of malt, honey and a hint of tobacco that lets them a view of what is holding them prisoned.

The sorrow of what is not happening in their lives. There was this woman who was lonely. She kept missing her friend who had moved to states 33yrs back, address forgotten  Karavaki (prisoner) talks of how they would walk to school, how they learnt to swim, their first crushes, the entire works but the whole story died 33yrs, back leaving Karavaki trapped there was no acknowledgement of the joy, the wonderous people that the past 33yrs had brought. People who stayed with her through thick and thin, sick and sin.

“karavaki in the next 10mnts can you make a list of people you who have made a difference in the last 33yrs?” I asked.

“What if I knew the person before that?”

“It does not count.” Believe me, as she sipped her tea and meditated, like I said the aroma allowed her to meditate, the list ran she got about 30 names. The next thing, choose 3 names, she did, I gave her flash card and glitter pens asking her to write to them, physical letters with gratitude. She did it, and then we walked to the post office and mailed the cards before she could change her mind.

A month later she began stepping out of her prison of loneliness.

The tea ritual has its place in our heart bringing an ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found?  Not in things which perish like everything else, its either fragmented, decayed of dying.  Neither is it small things that aspire to nothing. Yet… tea teaches us how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment. The aroma of the steeping tea, the comfort of the sip.  This particular Karavaki opens comfortably with the Assam tea, a CTC blend, with cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, clove and ginger. I wish I could knock the cardamom off, but well… our man is imprisoned by the careful grooming he got, like the pet cat whose claws are clipped, and fur is shampoo-ed out in the wild the cat can no longer survive, it has forgotten how to catch the mouse.

Over many Assam Teas he finally rewrote his script, letting his claws grow, letting them get dirty, the fur sometimes infected.

Like I said, each cup of tea is a voyage, and it is a liberator. Tea is not meant to be gulped, it is to be steeped and sipped. It allows us the moment of introspection and reflection. More importantly the moment of Gratitude.

Gratitude is the ability to experience life as gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.

One of my Karavaki’s who liberated himself from self-imprisonment went to states. He wrote a letter of gratitude, and then said, unlike in India, in America if someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don’t get any damned tea. I’ve learnt to say yes, yes to experiencing life as gift.

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