Coffee or Tea?

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Source: httpswww.chowhound.comblog-media201608header2-bellahousewares.png

Disclaimer: Completely fictional.

“Did you pack your-”

“Yes, I did.”

“But you didn’t even let me complete my sentence!”

I sighed. “Fine, I’m sorry. What did you want me to pack?” I asked.

“Never mind. You know all anyway.”

“Mom!”

She left the room then. I rolled my eyes and sighed again.

A strange lack of emotion, a blankness engulfed me. My actions felt mechanical.

“Tea?” she called from the kitchen.

“Coffee?” I answered a question with a question.

“We are out of coffee.”

Silence.

I looked at the door of my bedroom. I hadn’t lived in the house for years. The room hadn’t changed much. It was still a sort of a shrine to me. The perfect daughter of the house – who never really was on her best behavior with her Mother.

I knew she would cry at the truth of her own statement. I knew I had to be her strength in these times. And yet, there I was, exhausted at the thought of having to keep it together, leaving, to get away. It had been a very trying month at home. I had not thought I would be coming back home to this but one can only accept the fate presented.

My Mother and I never had the “confidant” relationship. That was always my Father and me. I loved my Mom, certainly. Her pain was my pain; if she had something to say, I’d always listen. I was always proud of her, like she was of me. But I was more like my Dad. Even though practicality and strength were my forte, two main attributes I could ascribe to my Father and Mother, respectively, the practicality came across strongly and stole the limelight.

I walked into the kitchen to see her strain the tea. I could see the fresh batch of tears glistening on her cheek. I shut my eyes momentarily, overcame the strong urge to cry myself and said, “I’ll speak to Uncle and make all the arrangements to get you to America for a while. I think that will make for a good change.”

“No.”

“What?”

“No!”

“Mom, please.”

“No. You have just begun working and me coming there will add to your expenses and come in your way. It won’t help both of us.”

“I can’t leave you here, alone.”

“I’ll stay at your Grandmother’s and I’ll be fine. I need company. I need the kids. You’ll continue being a ghost and me, more of a burden than I already am.”

“Mom, will you stop it? I never said anything like that! I don’t know why you keep calling yourself a burden!”

“This is the only world I know and you know how I fear change. America will be way too daunting for me. You know that! Why do you want to subject me to it without..without..”

And she began crying again.

“You know it is difficult for me, too,” I whispered. “I need you to get over everything, the same way I know you need me.”

“And to stay apart is the right way to do that, my dear.”

I was always like my Father. I had never seen strength overpower practicality. But I knew those words required a lot more strength than sense.

We looked at each other. Two sets of chocolate brown eyes staring into the depths of each other. And I felt a lot like my Mother suddenly.

“He loved the perfect combination of bitter and sweet – his coffee, you know? Piping hot,” she said and smiled.

“I like it just bitter.”

“Yeah, well, you were never sweet,” she said and chuckled.

“Mom!” I said and rolled my eyes.

She took her cup of tea and left the kitchen to sit in the living room. The television formed a slight murmur, dimming the ticking clock. Time had passed, as it always does.

My eyes scanned the platform. I picked up another cup and poured tea into it. I took my cup and went to join her.

There were always two coffee drinkers at home. There always remained two coffee drinkers, even after I left home. Perhaps no coffee was the moment of truth, of acceptance. Perhaps, that is the beginning of change, of moving on. Her way of bidding a Bittersweet goodbye. My way of helping her through it.

                                                                                                     Dhwani Hariharan

P.S. Yes, two days in a row! Wow, I do miss writing! Happy brewing, happy reading! 🙂

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