Short Story: Ginger ChaiThis is my first attempt for writing a love story, which I am really bad at. Mani Padma (from Ginger Chai) challenged me to write a love story a few days ago, it is not a real great read, but a little feeble attempt to take a taste in this genre. Please give your honest opinion…
Sid. *fingers crossed*
Breathe in. Breathe out. Damm, this is so easy when you are not tensed. Why is this clerk talking so much time.My name is Shailaja, 30, single and employed, in short a perfect girl for the aunties, mammies to constantly remind me that my days are waning out, that I have to find someone before it is impossible for them to. It is not that I don’t want to get married, but I should get some proper match, isn’t it? All they show me is either short, tall, long nose, meaning some imperfection in some way or the other.
‘Will you hurry up?’ I asked the clerk. My finger nails were tapping the counter in excitement.
I am not at all hopeless romantic and I am definitely not going to kiss a frog and wait for him to become prince charming.
‘Did you get it?’ I ask the personals counter, anxiety increasing, breathe in, breathe out. I have a panic disorder, i get panic attack when I am tensed and excited.Obviously you have joined this story in the middle, this is definitely not the end, I won’t let this be the end. The story began six months ago. This story began on the streets on Andheri with me running behind the bus,
Breathe in. Breathe out.
‘Madam, this is a personal record of a person, we need an approval for it, please wait,’ the clerk replies. Why are these clerks so dumb? I wonder.
‘Stop,’ I shouted at the bus as I chased it but it did not stop. The buses in Mumbai follow strict protocol more than the army.
That day my bus to Prabhadevi was missed and I could not wait for another hour for other bus so I climbed the bus to Mahim instead. My grand plan was to take a taxi till Prabhadevi from Mahim. I was a recent fine arts graduate and was currently in a intensive mode of job hunt. After many tries, I managed to get one job interview with a magazine in Prabhadevi, this was my first job interview after sitting six months at home.
The bus was full with only a seat next to a man. He was in his thirties, baby-faced and a little fat man, he smiled as I sat down next to him.
Sitting in the bus, I started getting nervous as panic built in me. The excitement chasing the bus must have triggered it somewhere on the inside.
‘Are you ok?’ the man asked.
‘I…’ I replied breathing hard, ‘I am fine…just exhausted.’ Men are such perverts.
‘Today is your interview, I think,’ he asked smiling.
‘Yes,’ I answered, my breathe becoming normal, gosh how to avoid it.
‘You are nervous uh?’ he asked quietly.
‘Yes I am, what is your problem?’ I asked rather rudely.
‘Just this,’ he smiled again and replied calmly, ‘You are clenching my hand with your fist since last fifteen minutes.’
‘Oh, I am so sorry,’ this is embarrassing.
‘Hi, I am Moncy,’ he said, ‘and you are…?’
After the formal introductions the ice was broken and I realize he was not all the guy I pictured him to be. He was jolly, sweet and chubby like a large teddy bear… wait I did not say that.
After twenty minutes Moncy wished me luck and we separated our ways and I reached my interview.
At every step of your life, universe is planning something, you never know who you bump into at the next corner.
‘Madam,’ the clerk called out holding the receiver in his hand, ‘What is your name?'Shailaja…’ I nearly screamed
'Acha,’ and he continued on phone.
As I was walking past the market in Andheri after few days, I met Moncy sitting at the chai-house on the street.
‘Hey Hi,’ I said, ‘Surprised to see you here.’
‘I live here on west,’ he said, ‘You should try this Ginger chai, its very nice.’
‘No,’ I replied, ‘I don’t drink tea.’
‘Have some cream roll,’ he offered me. He offered one cream roll to me and started dipping the other one in his ginger chai.
‘So how did the interview go?’ he asked.
‘Bad, very bad,’ I replied, ‘I fainted in middle of the interview. They did not select me.’
‘You should try the breathing exercise you know to ease your panic,’ he suggested, ‘breathe in, breathe out.’
He did the exercise and gazed at me, I realized after few seconds he wanted me to do it. I did.
‘Practice it, so you are back to job hunt?’ he asked.
‘Yes,’ I shrugged.
‘You know, there is a place vacant in our office for a professional blogger,’ he said, ‘why don’t you try there?’
Writer. Blogger. What the hell, I need a job.
‘What is the mans name?’ the clerk asked still holding the receiver.The next day I went to his office for an interview and luckily had no panic attacks. The company was a small advertising agency which dealt with all sorts of advertising, primarily on the internet. It was as if destiny, I was easily selected into the job and I started working with Moncy.
‘Moncy, his flight was today.’
Moncy had a boyish charm and was famous in his office as ‘Golu-molu.’ The Chotu who brought tea for us at regular interval always used to give a special chai to him, ‘Yeh lo saab aapki aadrak ki chai.’(Take your ginger tea)
The office was cheerful and was fun working with, my panic attacks where less. Me and Moncy used to share a taxi while going home, in the morning he used to wait for me at the bus stop and we were having great fun together.
We discussed on many topics ranging from marriage, world peace, sex, movies those forty minutes in whole day were full of argument between us.
One day while early in the morning he offered me free treat of his ginger Chai.
‘What is so special in ginger chai?’ I asked him.
‘I like all kinds of chai, but I prefer a simple, clean Ginger Chai, with no spices. The ginger and warm milk in the chai both help reduce the effects of caffeine. What this chai does is cleanse and strengthen your digestive system,’ he explained raising his cup.
I had never laughed so much in my life before. I remember him sitting there on the bench of the chai-shop dipping cream roll in his tea, early in the morning. He used to wait for me there.
‘Haanji madam,’ the clerk said, ‘He is going today at around eleven, this is his flight information,’ he handed me the paper, ‘Are you his relative?’He always used to tease me on my passion of Hindi films. Specially, DDLJ, like who doesn’t like DDLJ?
‘No time for it,’ I dashed out of the office and raced on the street, ‘Taxi’ I screamed on top of my voice.
‘Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport,’ I told him hiring his cab, ‘If you make it fast, I will give me more twenty.’
Eleven, means he must already there at the airport.
‘The movie is about life, the way both people fight odds to be with each other - and how they do win everyone with respect,’ I explained him, ‘I will always wait for my Raj,’ I told him.
‘But the movie is really bad,’ he said, ‘I mean who travels such a long distance just to convince parents?’
‘My friend- went to Canada - to just convince my uncle - to let him marry his girlfriend and they've been married three years now,’ I argued.
‘I cannot believe,’ he said with a smirk.
‘I don’t want you to..’ I stormed out of the room.
‘There are no happy endings in love stories in real life…’ he shouted behind me.
Our life was perfect like tom and jerry, best friends and even worst enemies.
Everything was normal and fine in our life when…
‘Madam, western express way toh jam hai,’ the taxi driver replied, explaining that there is traffic jam on western expressway.He became by best friend in last six months, he was funny, charming and yet cutely fat. He used to send morning good morning emails, funny jokes all day long. We used to go for lunch together.
‘Kahi aur se le lo,’ I replied telling him to take somewhere else.
‘Woh lamba jayega, paisa badega, meter se,’ he honestly explained that the rent will be more for the longer route.
That night we had to work late on a US project which he was leading. He very sweetly dropped me off at home. That night a not at all good surprise, my mother was visiting me. The moment she saw him, she started drilling me with questions, who is he? what does he do? is he good? does he earn? grrr mom.
She lectured me on how I should get married soon and if I do not like the people she showed I should find someone myself. The lecture went on for the next hour. Mom.
‘Madam airport agaya,’ the taxi driver had magically transported me sooner than I expected. I still had some more time to catch up with him without his flight leaving.Breathe in. Breathe out. My foot. My mom had pestered me a lot on the topic on marriage, in the morning I was chatting with few friends in the cafeteria about it,
I ran out of cab, in anxiety I forgot to pay the cab driver who chased me, he caught with me immediately,
‘I …. I…’ I couldn’t talk now, the tension was building, I paid his money and ran inside. Hullo where do we get the entrance, damm these security checks.
Apparently my story was coming in an end completely Hindi film style, I was running towards the airport to stop someone, was he my lover? was he my friend? this thing we have to sort out…I have to sort it out,
‘Madam, you cannot cross the partition if you have no boarding pass,’ the guard replied politely stopping me with a gun on his back.
‘I…’ my breathing was becoming heavier, just then I saw him walking towards the boarding point, my breath was heavy, I was panting and a sudden panic seized me, I had to call him… ‘Mo…Mon…’ I panted, breathing hard and I do not know if I managed to shout his name or no, a final blackout and I was knocked out. Darkness fell before my eyes.
‘But why do you have to worry ya?’ asked Sudhir, ‘You already have one.’
‘One?’ I asked, ‘Who?’
‘Arey Golu Molu,’ he laughed, ‘Its not official yet, but everybody knows.’
‘Madowat,’ I replied, ‘I never saw him as a boyfriend. He is not exactly a prince charming is he? he is so fat and clumsy…totally not my type’ now in the whole world, I say millions of things per day, but, Moncy had to stand behind me just when I said the line, I jerked my neck with a guilty feeling in my mind. He said nothing and went to order his Ginger Chai.
I went after him, but he was quiet the whole day. In fact he did spoke very less for next three days and one day he did not come to office. I never got a chance to apologize to him or even talk to him.
He kept avoiding me.
When I inquired I realized, he was being sent to US for project for a year. I felt real bad, I did not know his house, so I was inquiring with the personal departments of our office. I learned that he was already moving to US today, so I had to run all across streets of Mumbai to talk to him at the airport… just at the last moment…I had a panic attack which is the reason I am here… oh wait, I am here? Has he left?
I suddenly open my eyes, ‘Where am I?’ hoping it did not sound too filmy.Shit, so close, so close. He was there, I saw him… if only I could…
‘Take some rest madam,’ the doctor said, ‘You had a panic attack. You are weak.’
‘So, what exactly were you trying to do?’ Moncy’s voice surprised me, I jerked my head and saw him sitting on the stool dipping a cream roll in ginger chai, ‘Trying some Hindi film ending stunt?’P.s. The excellent image downloaded from the internet. Special thanks to Vidhu for explaining me DDLJ, I never understood it yet. Also thank you Neha for correcting the mistakes about Mumbai city.
‘You? You missed the flight?’ I ask.
‘Apparently I did yes, I was just curious why where you chasing me?’ he asked me, ‘They serve good ginger chai here also…’
Exactly, why did I chase him around half the city? Why did I race here? Was this it? Was this kuch kuch hota hai? Damm, it sounded so easy in the film, what is it?
‘Well…,’ I tried to justify, but nothing came to my mind, damm, is this love? ‘I dunno.’
‘You chased around half the city for a fat and clumsy man, who is not even your type of prince charming?’ he asked laughing.
‘I think…’ well, how hard can it be?
‘Don’t answer…’ he smiled and held my hand, ‘I think we have to rethink over our relationship. You need rest and you need time.’
‘I…I…’ damm, where is my grammar?
‘Would you like to come with me?’ he asked, ‘You know sometimes… for ginger chai?’
P.P.s DDLJ is Dilwale Dulaniya Le Jayenge, a hindi romantic comedy half Indian girls are crazy about.