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 Rice with Tea
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Posted on 07-09-11 5:21 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Tea with Rice

The loser will make tea. I was playing cards with myself. Rather than going straight to the kitchen and preparing tea, I was into serious deliberation of who will make it. As always lazy me would love to sleep ten more minutes at least 4-5 times before crazy me would get energized and start cursing myself. I shuffled the cards and dealt the game of flush. First I looked at my cards and smiled, without speaking it loud, just in case 'I' would hear. Technically, I had to go to the other side and look at the other set of cards, but I just didn't feel like going to the other side. 'I' looked at the cards and smiled again. Now both I were trying not to remember the other set of cards and were betting. I won't tell which 'I' lost the game, but I'll tell you that this real 'I' had to go and make the tea.

The fight was not over.

'Since we didn't specifically say what kind of tea had to be made when we played the game, I am going to put a tea bag in a cup full of water and microwave it for a minute.'

'Are you freaking kidding me? I want that Taj Mahal tea with plenty of milk.' 'Oh Shit! There is no milk. I exempt you from going out and getting milk now. You can make black tea.'

The black tea was ready. I opened the fridge. There was a bowl of leftover rice, some green chilies, and four lemons. 'Motherstalker.'

I poured the tea in a big glass. Then I put some rice in the tea. Stirred it and started eating.

Both 'I' said in unison 'Rohan sir.'

************************************************************************************************************************************************

'Mom, I am really hungry.'

'I got your favorite cream donut. You can have one and leave the other two for your brother and sister.'

'Mom, I have tooth pain. I don't want to eat cream donut.'

'OK, then just drink tea.'

'Mom, didn't I say I am very hungry? I want plain donut.' She gave me two Rupees.

Rather than going to the corner shop, I went directly to Rohan's home. Rohan’s family had moved to Kathmandu from a remote village in Sindhupalchok . Both of his parents and his sister, who was just five years older than him, worked in Karma Carpet Factory. They had rented a small room from Naresh uncle. The house was traditional brick-tiled house. Until last year, both Naresh and suresh uncle used to live in that house. Right half from the imaginary line in the middle was Naresh uncle's part, the other half was occupied by Suresh uncle's family .With two kitchens it was two different functional families. Naresh uncle was a teacher in Bindheswori Madhyamik Vidhyalaya.Suresh uncle was a Subba in 'Malpot karyalaya'. He had 'saved' some money from his job. After two months of their mom's passing, Suresh uncle demolished his part and built a 'Pakki ghar' right next to the old house, without leaving an inch. Once a beautiful house, it  looked ghastly after the makeover. It starkly demonstrated two different worlds. 

Rohan's mom was cleaning the floor outside. 'Aunty, is Rohan up?'

'Yes, he is. You can go in.'

Rohan was sitting on his bed and drinking 'Fikka Chiya.' His sister asked if I would drink tea as well. 'Sure'. She poured the tea into the big out-of-shape steel glass and gave it to me.  The kitchen was on the right corner of the room. Nearby there was Rohan and his sister's bed. It was anything but bed- a tattered mattress and a filthy quilt without a case. In left corner there was his parents' bedroom, separated from the kitchen and 'living room' by a curtain. There was hardly any empty space in that room- kerosene stove, bamboo-made utensil rack, tin trunks, black & white TV draped in embroidery, and a little space for the mighty God who, I believe, uneasily dwelt with Rohan's family. The room had a strange smell. It was a mixture of old woods that lined the ceiling, carpet stubs, spices, incense, and the proud owners of that rented room. I had always known that place as Rohan's home. It looked and smelled to me as his home.

Rohan scrapped some leftover rice from the night before and put it in his tea. I was looking at him without missing a single stroke. He stirred the rice evenly with a spoon and scooped a spoon full of tea-rice. He blew it several times to take off some heat and put it in his mouth.

'What are you looking at?' He paused for a while. 'Khanchau?'

I nodded.

He grabbed another spoon and scrapped the last remaining leftovers of leftovers rice and put it in my glass. Not really knowing what to do, I did exactly what he had done a minute ago, as if missing a step would be akin to blasphemy of tea-rice eating. It was much more delicious than my favorite cream donut.

Rohan wore his blazer coat to go out in the cold. Since the start of the winter season, he had invariably been wearing it. The blazer had a monogram of Crystal English Boarding School. The sleeves were long and reached five inches below his back. He had told me Suresh uncle's son Jagdish had given him after his graduation from high school. He reached to the key of the trunk and opened it. Lo and Behold! There were several plastic bags full of marbles. Sweet assorted marbles!

Rohan was very good at marble. I was mediocre at the best. However, it never stopped me from playing. In fact, all the kids from the neighborhood gathered in the chowk and partake in Guchha fest all day long. Kids took break only to go home and have food, or their parents would drag them home by their ears.

I gave him two rupees. Neither was I hungry nor I had tooth pain. I had no marbles of my own. Rohan counted forty marbles from the bag and gave it to me. If I had gone to the shop, I would have gotten just eight marbles for a rupee. Separately from the pack, there was one black marble, which was a little bit larger than others. Rohan used that one as a special marble to hit others during the play. He always used just one marble until it cracked open. I could not resist from asking him that marble, as I truly believed his winning games was totally because of it.

'Rohan, will you give me that black one for these five marbles.'

He was silent for a while. He picked his 'dhampung', held it dearly and gave it to me without saying anything. He declined to take back other five marbles. Dhampung was a regular marble, but it was priceless to him. I was very ecstatic getting his special one. I could clearly see myself winning games having gotten the magic wand from the Sorcerer himself.

It was cold outside. I dug into my pocket and took out the Butterfly cream. I applied it on my hand. Rohan looked at me. I looked at his hand. His hands had cracks from the cold and dust.

'Lagauchas?'  My preferred second person pronoun to him was 'Ta', but he used to call me 'timi'. I had always asked him to call me 'ta' too, but he couldn't switch or simply hesitated. He was my best friend. I was never able to connect to my cousins. To me, Rohan was a sailor of an adventure ship.

Before going to the chowk, we stopped at the shop. He forked out two rupees and asked for two popsicles. It was too early for anything cold, but I didn't say no when he offered me. I knew Rohan liked Popsicle a lot. I was about to return that Popsicle and ask for Pustakaris but didn't do it. My small brain could comprehend Rohan's generosity and how much he cherished our friendship. I doubt I would have done the same. Thinking of that cold Popsicle spreads warmth inside me. Rohan was magnanimous.

In the chowk, several kids had already started playing. There were four groups playing different marble games. Rohan and I joined two kids who were playing 'Bijul.' The game is simple- everyone contributes a number of marbles (we normally put 3 marbles), which are placed in a small circle without touching one another, and in the middle is the queen. You can take any marble if you push it outside of the circle without your own marble inside the circle or any of the marbles touched remain inside the circle. If it happens, you contribute one more to the circle. The game continues until the queen is taken out. In your second turn, if you push any marble, the subsequent turn is yours until you miss it or you violate the rule. If you hit the queen out of circle, you can keep all the marbles. Once the queen is taken out, other participants try to hit the marble that took the queen out. If you hit it, the prize will be yours. 

I went first. Dhampung didn't do any good to me. Then it was Suren's turn. Suren mildly spit on his hand, rubbed it, and put some dust. It was his ritual. He didn't do any good either. Rohan couldn't pick any marbles too. Then came another kid, whose name I don't remember now, stroke two marbles and kept with him. The second time I was able to take three marbles. I kissed Dhampung. In total I gained two more marbles in that game. Rohan and Suren lost all three. The other kid took the queen out and won the rest.

We played another four rounds of game. Rohan had found his groove with his new water colored marble. I knew I had lost exactly one marble. I used to count after every game. Suddenly I felt someone pulling my ear. I turned back. It was my uncle Robin. He slapped me. I looked at him quizzically.

He blurted out, ‘how many times do I have to tell you not to play marbles with these khates?'

 I was still staring at him. The other kids slumped in their own position and pretended not to hear what uncle Robin said. I had to go home. They resumed playing.

After the winter was over, I had to go to my boarding school. Naresh uncle built a four roomed cemented house. The carpet industry suffered a big setback after Europe and America suspended Nepali carpet import due to prevalent child labor in carpet industries. Sadist Fate loves to play dice with poor people.As if Rohan's family had no financial problem, this new job loss of both of his parents, and his sister threw them to another realm of penury. Later on my mom told me that they went back to their village.

************************************************************************************************************************************************

Every time I eat tea with rice, I stretch my imagination to build up Rohan's story after he left Kathmandu.  I imagine him being in a new character. He has already become social worker, pilot, engineer, athlete, doctor, singer, farmer etc. Generally, I see him growing successful. If I ever happen to see him ruin his life, I automatically abort that imagination. I always thought he was precocious.

Last edited: 09-Jul-11 10:25 PM

 
Posted on 07-09-11 6:03 PM     [Snapshot: 33]     Reply [Subscribe]
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Interesting and nostalgic! Friendship with people like Rohan were plentiful in my childhood during my break from the boarding school.

Btw, we still play a round of cards to deliberate on who makes the Nepali Tea. I usually only agree to games that I am better at. If I lose, I will make the tea and coerce others to play another round of game to deliberate on who does the dishes. My sink is full of 'em.

 
Posted on 07-10-11 11:22 AM     [Snapshot: 353]     Reply [Subscribe]
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Pulsar_beat,

Indeed it's very nostalgic. Reminiscing childhood memories always refreshes me. I am sure we all did have our version of Rohan.

There is one more trick when losing to your friends while  deciding through cardswho makes tea . If I lose a game and asked to do it, I say 'what? It's a best of five game.'  If still I can't beat them I groggily go and make the tea. Again, like you said there will be a guaranteed next round to decide dish washing. 


 
Posted on 07-10-11 11:47 AM     [Snapshot: 371]     Reply [Subscribe]
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How can people write so beautifully? I salute the creativity. I feel so jealous; where does creativity come from?

 
Posted on 07-10-11 10:42 PM     [Snapshot: 562]     Reply [Subscribe]
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Nice Read BB!!!! We all do have some childhood friends whom we adore a lot and endure in our mind forever :)

 
Posted on 07-11-11 1:34 AM     [Snapshot: 628]     Reply [Subscribe]
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Thanks Jhapaliketo. I am truly humbled by your statement. I was just trying to channelize my thoughts into words.

Thank you Love Life. I wish I could relive my childhood again. Selfless people are rare and to have them in your life is rarer.

 
Posted on 07-21-11 8:46 PM     [Snapshot: 908]     Reply [Subscribe]
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 Kudos for such a beautiful story. You just proved the ubiquitous rule of the game of creative writing which states that its not about what you write but how you write something that makes all the difference! You are really articulate, from what I can tell reading this story.

 
Posted on 12-12-13 3:21 PM     [Snapshot: 1972]     Reply [Subscribe]
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I fell in love with this small nostalgic piece .... just thought ..more ppl need to read this memoir and revisit their memory of their ROHAN....... absolutely loved it.... 

- thaha chaena 

 


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