Fifth Cup Of Tea
Fifth Cup Of Tea12 mins 2.4K 12 mins 2.4K
Location – Dadar Railway Station
Date – 22nd December 2018
I had 5th cup of tea, as I waited for my train to Lonavala at Dadar railway station, Mumbai. It was scheduled to arrive at 9.30 PM but due to some technical challenges it had gotten delayed by 3 hours. “we are sorry for the inconvenience caused”, lifeless railway management announced as if they were really sorry.
To kill my time, I decided to buy one comic book. Book stall was at the other end of the platform. On my way to the book stall I realized I was not the only one who was bored while waiting for the train. There was one group of fancy trekkers, one giant Gujarati group which I assume must be a family with plenty of food, and one recently married couple who were quietly and romantically holding hot cup of tea in their hands. All of them were trying to kill time. After ten minutes of trail on the station platform, I finally arrived at the book stall. I quickly picked the last copy of Champak and started my journey to reach square one, gosh another ten minutes of exercise, damn you HR. Train arrived in after an hour and within 2 hours, I was on the platform of Lonavala Hill Station. As I stepped out of my air-conditioned coach, I sensed further drop in temperature. The howling wind made it even worse. I wore my overcoat and head scarf, but chills managed to reach to the surface of my skin.
I was there for ‘Back to basics’ training arranged by HR of my company. Employees were invited from different parts of the country. They had arranged one car for me only due to their sexist female friendly HR policy. Feminist inside me cringed a little bit but on brighter side I got a free ride at the ghostly hours.
“Richa Maidam? “an unknown skinny man asked me in his local accent. “oh yes.” I answered assuming he was my driver. I quietly followed him to the parking area. One white car was parked under a light pole. It had a flickering light bulb and on top of that it was located next to the graveyard. It was a perfect setup for Bollywood horror movie. It was creepy yet peaceful like people were sleeping there calmly and the sound of ignition of car might disturb their sleep.
Our car left for the training center. It was so chilled that I had to ask my driver to put the heater on. I was not happy about attending the HR meeting at the cost of Christmas holidays away from my home, compromising my big plans like to lay in bed and read the book ‘Sacred Games’before someone spills spoilers. Damn you HR!
Training went well and finally it ended after two days. It seemed HR was trying to compensate our holidays by adding Christmas flavor to the surroundings. We all needed some relaxation. To cheer us up HR had arranged one nice Christmas party later that evening after the end of our training sessions.
The party started at 7.30 PM. All the elder ones had already arrived even before the scheduled time whereas younger employees found solace outside the party at a local pub. I just wanted to eat and sleep so decided to stay back, have an early dinner and read the novel but distracting loud music at the party made reading difficult. I finally gave up on my reading plan, wore my black dress and arrived at the party. I made sure my presence was noticed by trainers and HR personnel to ensure so called ‘Active participation’.
After few casual talks and social drinking, I was off to grab my cup of tea and went to sit at nearby garden located next to the Valley. I was not interested to contribute in the clichéd discussions of who is going to win this election, and how saving through property in better than saving through stock markets, I didn’t have that kind of money to make a mark. I decided to make my peace with the isolated garden and black tea.
The garden was behind the classrooms, away from hostels which made it even a better place. It had a slide, swings and a tiny sand garden. It was not like any other lively garden, it was very shady and isolated. The humming sound of wind and cracking sound moving swing was making it even creepier.
It was a perfect set up to have my hot, steamy tea. I climbed the slide and sat on the top of it. All the things around me were super cold, the weather, the people and almost everything. That hot cup of tea was all I really needed at that point of time in my life. From the top of the slide parts of valley were visible to me. I could see the lights blinking from tiny houses of villages located at the base.
It was dark yet attractive, intimidating yet comforting.
As I was about to have my second sip, one random voice came right from behind. “Hey you dropped this.”
“Oh thanks.” I adjusted my dress. There was one nice, attractive man in his business formals.
“These earrings were really expensive. I Couldn’t afford to lose them. Thank you!”
“To be honest I saw you got the last mug of tea. Mind sharing? Dawn here from treasury team”
He casually jumped on the Merry go round.
“I would have shared it but it has my lipstick mark on it.” I slid down from side.
“Oh I can compromise the hygiene part for the tea right now. man its freezing here.” he took my mug without waiting further for my answer.
I was good at talking to strangers especially young and handsome men but he was my colleague so I decided to sit quietly on the slide. No body spoke for the next few minutes. Only sound we could hear was of howling wind from the valley which nicely got mixed with the cracking sound of my moving swing and the faded party music. I didn’t really mind his quiet company.
Ruby Woo, isn’t it?” he broke the silence with his loud guessing with even louder voice. “Very impressive. How do you know the exact shade of MAC lipstick?” I was surprised with the fact that this boy guessed my lipstick shade perfectly.
“It used to be on my priority shopping list while travelling by air. I was regular buyer of this lipstick”
"So your girlfriend used to wear it and now you guys broke up?” I asked trying to build up a story in my head.
“Call me momma’s boy but my mom uses it. It’s her favorite. Whenever I go on trips it is on my pick up list at the airport.” He said.
“Oh yeah. My mom used to use it too. Sorry for digging too much into your personal space.” I was embarrassed.
“So talking of moms, I remember my visit last visit to Lonavala, it was with my mom and sisters. Our hotel had exact same garden next to the valley. The best part is, it is still the same. Only difference is I am no more scared of dark. Enjoying the small, twinkling lights in the valley.” I tried to divert the topic.
“And your dad what about him? You didn’t mention him.” “Yeah I have father just not very fatherly enough. Sort of dysfunctional situation you see”
“Oh sorry to dig into ‘that’ section. “
“No, that’s alright, I think I have made my peace with it.”
“You were talking to that HR person in the party. Setting up for future transfer?”
“I would rather go into the woods and write a book “
“Oh you write? What genre?”
“Mostly supernatural things. “His eyes shined with curiosity. “Have you published any of your work?”
“Just one story. It was actually based on a real incident”.
“Tell me the story”
“Sure” I nodded.
“Not here, not like this. Wait” he left towards the party and came back with a thermal flask full of tea and snacks.
“We are changing the location miss. Follow me.”
I followed Dawn to the under construction building of our training center. All the watchmen were busy drinking providing us easy access to this building. There was absolutely no light inside the building.
“Let’s get on to the top floor of the building Richa” dawn whispered. We took the stairs. It was really dark and scary inside this building. Dawn took the lead and I was quietly following him.
Suddenly he stopped “Shh don’t move” he instructed. I saw two greenish eyes staring at our direction. And they kept coming closer. I was about to scream but somebody covered my mouth.
“He is a friend. Call him Dobby” Dawn whispered. I heard panting of a dog. I could feel his nose on my knee. It seemed he was sniffing me.
We finally reached the fourth and the topmost floor of that building. Soon we reached on the terrace of the building. which is located at the edge of the campus, next to valley. The valley looked even better. It was a full moon night, trees and houses from the valley were slightly visible to us now. I didn’t even realize I was holding Dawn’s hand until we reached the terrace. He poured us black tea. I grabbed the glass in my left hand. I was not willing to leave his hand and I think nor was he. We quietly sat on the side wall and were relaxing.
“So where are you located? which branch?”
“I have been located at Lonavala station since first week of this year. Do visit me sometime
Richa.” He said softly.
“Sure.” I said
“So when are you leaving for Bombay? “
“I have an early train tomorrow.”
“Aren’t you going to abuse travelling allowance by taking an Air conditioned cab?” He laughed
“No. I am more like a Train person.”
“Sounds good. So you stay with family?”
“Currently it’s just me and my Cat.”
“So you are more like a cat person?”
“No, I like animals in general. I found this cat trying to steal food from my house. She was very weak, so I fed her. She was around when I was going through the tough times. She has earned her position in my life” I said. Grip of his hands on mine was getting tighter.“This tea tastes different. Did you add old monk in it? It’s definitely smelling like old monk.” Icould feel the kick inside my brain and heaviness on my eyelids.
“Haha you are very good at guessing Alcohol Richa” he laughed. We emptied the flask. We could still hear Coldplay songs from the party downstairs. I realized I was now sleeping on his lap. The dog too was sleeping next to me. The song ‘Sky full of stars’ was sounding just perfect at that time. The alcohol was giving the bass effect to the music. I knew it will all end in sometime and we will be parting ways. Before it could happen, before the moment was gone, I decided to leave. “I think I should leave. Need to catch the train tomorrow.” I woke up.
“Of course Richa, it 1 AM. Allow me to accompany you on your way to dorm.” he asked to which I nodded in agreement. We were walking towards my room, quietly. Dawn and I had talked a lot but I could not have gathered enough courage to ask for his number. As soon as I reached inside my room on the second floor, I secretly looked at him from behind the curtains. I found him staring at my balcony window. He waited for few seconds with that stray dog, petted him and left towards the party. That night I tried to be normal. I changed into my red sweatshirt, applied night cream, and dug myself into my neck pillow to read Sacred Games but ended up thinking about him. I had mixed feelings, one part of me was happy that I met him whereas another part was screaming. I wanted him to be back with me, to ask recipe of old monk tea, to talk what else he loves apart from trekking, cooking and shopping for his mother. I wanted to know if he liked my story. However, I quickly managed to stop myself from overthinking as I had an early train to catch next day.
Next day morning, Harsh knocks on my door made me curse in the morning. It was my driver.
“I am here to pick you up madam for your 5.30 AM train. We need to leave soon”. He was sounding irritated by this early morning duty. I removed my eye mask to check my watch. It was almost 5 AM and I had to catch train at 5.30 AM.
“Rush Richa” I ordered myself and immediately got up, wore my pants and over coat and got onto the car within few seconds.
We reached station after 20 long minutes. My driver parked his car at the same place where he did on the first day. It was still freezing cold that morning. I was trying to locate a tea stall nearby. In that pitch black darkness one shiny white thing caught my attention. It was neatly placed on something like somebody wanted me to have a look at it. I was getting late but curiosity dragged me towards that broken, rusty gate. As soon as I realized the location one weird, unknown fear ran through my body. It was the same graveyard I saw on the first day. Honestly, being in the graveyard was not exactly scary but the fact that I was sitting on the grave of Dawn was. It had my tea glass with my lipstick marks on it. I couldn’t handle my overwhelming emotions and sat next to his grave. His name was of Mr. Dawn D’sa. It was not even a year since he had gone. I wanted to know more about him but I could only read this on tombstone.
In Loving Memory of Our Son
Died: January 2nd 2018
Age: 28 Years
Our Son, who read books, who loved truly and who slept listening to lullabies.
There were flowers on his grave, they looked fresh. It seems he had frequent visits from his mother. She surely missed him. Who wouldn’t miss him, he was one lovable chap. Honking of that car got me into the living world where I had to catch my train. I checked my phone, another train was an hour later, I decided to take that one. I gave a tip to my driver and thanked him for screwing his sleep on both the days. I guess that reduced the intensity of his hatred towards me. I came back and sat next to my boyfriend’s grave. I guess I could call him my boyfriend by now, a friend I truly adored, I enjoyed being with. We might have not shared the same room, but we were sharing the sun, the moon and the stars and for me that was enough. I took that mug, wrapped it in tissue paper and kept in my handbag. I took out the Mac Ruby woo from my make-up pouch, took out one fresh tissue paper to write,
‘I love you Mom. I miss you. – Dawn’
Location – Mumbai
On the same day
I came to my Mumbai flat, my cat welcomed me from the balcony. I had a feeling she could guess what I was feeling. I was not scared, there was no reason to be scared considering the fact that I was holding Dawn’s hand just few hours ago. I decided not to think further and just relax under hot shower. After shower, as I wrapped my towel around myself and came in front of the mirror, I saw a message written on it,
‘Thank you, LOVE!!! ‘