It’s true. Love happens when you least expect it.
Tea has been a staple in my house. Instant tea, that is. I never really gave it much thought and I did buy it occasionally. It was either that or soda (which I tried to avoid) when eating out. But being laden with sugar and other additives, I also tried to lessen my consumption of it.
Then there was that popular bagged tea that was well…tea…without the sweeteners or flavors. A few other bags came my way too but nothing special enough to get me to take a closer look. For years, it was like that. Then coffee shops started sprouting up everywhere like mushrooms…and because more than a cup of coffee gave me a headache, I chose tea sometimes.
The warmth of the cup as the jasmine scent filled my senses…brought a certain calmness. And I found it delightful to just sit and sip while relaxing in a cafe or at home. Thus began my acquaintance with tea.
We would pass each other by at times. But those were few and far between. I was too engrossed with this and that to notice. Or maybe he just had not yet filled enough of my world. Or I his. I have always been like this – whenever someone important steps into my life, my attention is elsewhere and I would later regret not having given it enough time from the start.
So gently did tea enter, that I hardly noticed. It didn’t grab me at all. It was just – there. Simple, unassuming: it blended in so well that I didn’t see the treasure in my midst. No need to cry over spilled milk, or the negligence of missing the chance to pour it on that bag of black tea while it was immersed in hot water. It appears that God allowed me to see its beauty at just the right time. ^^
Moving from my little provincial city with it’s little coffee shops to the big city rich with opportunities to interact with different cultures opened the door to love at first sip. I did not even recognize him at first, for he possessed unique scent and an equally complex flavor. Rich. And no wonder, to the extraordinary loose black leaves was added a plethora of spices each commanding its own share of your affections. Not to mention the sugar that was not simply added but also caramelized with all the flavors. And finally, the fresh milk which was also warmed with everything else. Even the way it was poured into my waiting mug was special. But of course, I had no idea about any of that then. I even called him by a name not his own, to the indignation of my friend who introduced him to me. So great was our mutual friend’s love for him. But he was so understanding. Like he knew my heart would always be his.
It would have been uncharacteristic of me to have taken him seriously even though I knew how good he was. And besides, I knew he was way out of my reach. As expected, we again passed each other at times. But this time, I was a bit more excited whenever he would stop to greet me. I wished that it happened more…but he was busy..and so was I. Eventually, another friend of ours helped me to spend more time with him. And I learned how he gets to be so beautiful. And I was able to spend more time with him, just the two of us. Still, I took it all for granted. He was always there.
Over time, I got to know him better and was able to bring out the best in him, just as he always made me feel better just by being around. I guess there is a merit in taking things slow. Yes, God’s timing is perfect after all.
Through all that, I still found that it took some effort to have him around and so we never really hung out too often. I did not understand others who would finish several cups in a single day. For me, tea was a treat, not an everyday thing. It did take a sufficient amount of time to prepare chai from scratch. And chai was the only kind of tea in my world then. And that was how an acquaintance became my friend.
—- end of Part 1 —–