Do Chai

Do Chai

9 mins

I didn’t know what to do with these words now. I never felt I would ask myself this question but it just came out today, unconsciously maybe, but it did. “Am I not capable of at least one good thing?” I know, what a dramatic question. But I can’t help it. And before you even start judging me, let me tell you there is a reason behind it.

Rejection. Something that’s really hard to accept and really easy to keep worrying about. That is exactly what is happening with me lately. Right now, I am sitting here with them - my rejected words - and I can’t do anything but curse myself for doing something nobody ever thought I would do, including myself. I am a writer. I write for magazines and stuff. Am I doing something that I love? Yes, for sure. I love writing. That’s the only reason I chose it in the first place; leaving everything, literally everything else. I wasn’t sure from a ‘too wealthy to be believed’ family, but yes, I did have my very own plane right from the age of 13. I don’t want to get into my past though because that just makes me regret my choice; the choice of my career, my whole life. And I for sure don’t want that regret taking over my mind. It makes me want to go back to all the fancy, fake, frustrating luxuries I have been getting since childhood.

Has it ever happened to you that you are so busy in your own thoughts that you don’t notice anything at all that is going around you? That is what generally happens with me but I guess today I am not so busy as I am always. Plus, today is a really bad day so maybe this is also a part of it.

“Hey man! Can a person not enjoy some time alone with himself in this city? I just hate Mumbai and it’s only because of people like you.” I frowned at this young man who sat beside me tapping his feet in a particular rhythm. Not tapping actually, stamping on my foot. The super-hot sun rays with this guy were definitely adding to my discomfort.

He took off his headphones and says with a smile, “Sorry Bhai, I didn’t do it on purpose.

I gave him a cold look like I was too heartless to accept his genuine apology. Sometimes anger does change your nature in such a way that you yourself cannot figure out that change.

“Not that it’s any of my business, but please don’t curse this city because of me.”

“Why? Is there anything nice about this city for what I should praise it instead of cursing?”

“Sure, there is. But let’s go and get some tea first. Talking with a friend with tea’s company is the best feeling ever. Have you ever experienced it? If no, let me show you how amazing it feels.”

We went to a tapir nearby. In those two minutes of walk, both of us were silent but my head wasn’t. I was thinking, “Why am I even following this guy? Is this a waste of time for me right now? Am I even to trust this guy? What if he is a mugger or something! But even if he is, what can he possibly take away from me? My rejected words? They surely aren’t of any help; unless he wants to show them to someone else and get rejected himself.” Till my head busted with all of these thoughts, we were sitting on a bench and this young guy was ordering tea for us.

“Do chai, cutting.”

“So,” he started with a cheerful smile on his overly cheerful face, “Tell me, what’s the problem with you dude?”

“Don’t you think we must start with our names?”

“Not really. I don’t think there is any need to know the name of a person if you are only going to talk with him over a cup of hot tea. Plus, you know, what’s in a name? I am sure you read Shakespeare, don’t you?”

I could see how easily he was able to change the topic, so quickly. Even more quickly than some people change their opinions. “Okay then. So, you wanted to know my problem, right? Well, my problem is this city - Mumbai.”

“Oh, well that’s a pretty big problem, mister. Because according to my knowledge, Mumbai is about 600 How can you have such a huge problem?” He laughed on his own stupid joke. I hate such people; although I used to be one of them before.

“Do you find my problem, my misery amusing? Because if yes, I don’t have any time for such nonsense.”

“MISERY! Let’s not use such big, dangerous words here. We are really lucky to have this cup of tea you know? So, I think we don’t even have the idea of what misery is like.” He stopped for a moment and said, “Was it too much of philosophy? I am sorry if it was. I get a bit carried away sometimes.” His eyes suddenly shifted towards the papers in my hands. “What are those papers? Something I might be interested in?”

“Nothing of your concern. Just say what you want to say and let’s finish this off as quickly as possible. I really don’t have time.”

“Hmm…time huh? That is the only thing in which God actually followed the rule of equality, I guess. You also have 24 hours I also have 24 hours. Do you see that lady in an office outfit over there? She also has 24 hours. And that beggar by the side of that footpath, he also has 24 hours. Time is equal for all. Although spending time differs a lot.”

I had started thinking that he is older than me or something like that. Just listening to his words made me feel like he was a smart, understanding fellow. But I wasn’t going to fall for anything now. I had understood that people are never so smart that they can answer each and every question of my life. “Can you stop talking about these big-big things please?”

“Oh sorry. I get carried away sometimes. What, did I already tell that to you? Anyways, show those papers to me. I am not going to reject them like others. I am not an expert in this field.”

I was shocked. I mean sure my expressions were obvious enough to tell that I wasn’t happy and that I had problems but how did he figure it out exactly? “How did you know about the rejection?”

“Oh, that…well, it is one of my god-gifted qualities. Nothing supernatural though.”

“And what is that quality?”

“It is common sense. Most of the people on our earth lack common sense. See, half of the young population of Mumbai sits with their interview files or something else in their hand and have the same expressions that you had on your face today.”

“And still you say this city is great? This city is full of rejection, aloofness, and nothing but sorrow?”

“Yes, I do. Because I don’t describe this city that way.”

I knew, now a totally ‘out of the world’ thought was going to be put in front of me by this guy and that I will be totally blown away by that. “What is the way in which you would like to describe Mumbai?”

“Life. Are there rejections in life? Yes. Are there sorrows? Yes. Is there some alone time away from the world? Yes. But don’t you think while answering these stupid questions we miss out on some of our good time. For example, right now you are just wasting your time thinking about this stupid rejection.”

“Stupid? Do you even know this is the eleventh time I have been rejected this month? I don’t even want to count my earlier rejections. How can you say something like that without even knowing my full story?”

“Just like you are cursing Mumbai without even exploring it.”

“What is there to explore?”

“You are a writer, right? The only thing you need to do other than writing is exploring. If you won’t explore, how will you sketch things out in your work? Go, travel around the city in search of stories. Slowly and gradually you will come to know that in every nook and corner of this city there are hidden, beautiful stories. You see them, you write to them and bam! You are done with the writing thing.”

He started to go through my papers while sipping his tea. His face surely didn’t completely look like the publishers’ but it was quite close to theirs.

After he was done with his examination, he said, “No wonder they rejected this. Hmm… you are exploring for sure. But don’t you think you are exploring way too much on the darker side of the world?”

“But that is what I want to do. Dark is what all this world is about. You are now blaming my writing style which you are not allowed to.”

“It is really great that you want people to know about the darkness. I totally agree with you. The night definitely has its own beauty, but the day is what we always wait for, right? If you want to show an endless night, it will never work. Reading this story will take that publisher in trauma. How will he approve your story in such a bad condition?”

“So, you want me to give people fake hopes? Something we never see in real life.”

“No. I want you to give them a problem with a solution.”

“Okay. I will try to do that. But is the story bad as well?”

“No, it is not. It is pretty good. It’s just that it is not yet entirely complete. It is like you describing heavy rain but forgetting to mention the clear sky with a beautiful rainbow after it.”

Wow! I am a writer and so out of words right now!

“Thanks a lot.” This was all I could say.

“Was that all? I didn’t think you would buy this so quickly. You don’t look like that at all, but I think you are really easy going.”

“We aren’t that good friend that you are now labeling me. Anyways, seriously thank you. This will really help me.”

“Glad I could help man.”

I started to search in my bag for a paper or something. I wanted to give this guy my number and I wanted him to be my ‘philosophical’ friend. I guess I label others too.

When I took out my card which I had in the deepest corner of my bag, I looked up to see that guy was no more in front of me. His cup of tea was empty and below that was a chit. It read,

‘Bas paise bhar de yaar.’

I smiled. I guess this is how I was going to explore for my new story, unplanned. Because that is what will give me something rare, like this chit.

I gave the money to the owner, thanked him for the best tea I had ever drunk, put the chit in my pocket and set out for my further journey. I just walked, with the sun rays falling on me, but this time making me feel new.

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