Tea for two tuesday by Preeti Shenoy - 3


I had assumed that the third prompt would be in continuation to the first two parts but it is not so. I have the choice to continue with what I had written earlier or write something different ...

The prompt for third Tuesday is a quote :

There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea. ~Bernard-Paul Heroux

Here we go - 

[Audio of the post]

It was raining heavily. Tarun was standing at the bus stop, his clothes soaking wet. He was tired and wanted to go home as soon as possible and take the much required rest. But, the public transport was trying his patience. He could have taken the cab but none was seen on the road. The cab drivers were on strike. Bad day. It had been a bad day so far. He could not meet the deadlines he had set for himself. He could not finish the job on time and that was very frustrating. In addition to that, he felt he was failing as a father. His ten year daughter had expectations from him which he could not fulfill. His wife, being the kind and understanding person that she was, tried her best to keep the family together. But he knew, even she had her limitations. He could feel it, feel his temper rising. He was tempted to hit someone. Take out all his frustration. Never before had he felt so helpless. He looked around trying to change his mood. People like him trying to get back home. Some children playing in the rain. A couple of street dogs taking shelter under a temporarily constructed shed. That is when he saw her sitting with her knees held tightly close to her chest. She was shivering. A few steps away from where she was sitting, a young man had set up a tea stall and a few people were gathered around the stall taking shelter and drinking the tea at the same time. An attempt to keep themselves warm. He decided to buy himself a cup of tea. Ignoring the heavy rains he walked out from under the shelter of the bus stand. He was already soaking wet and he did not care anymore. 

He walked to the tea stall and ordered two cups of tea. The climate was becoming chillier due to the rains and the moment he held the cup in his hand he took a sip. He walked towards the girl with the cups in his hand. Almost at the same time the girl looked up at him. Her gaze worried and cautious. He held out a cup towards her
"Take this" he said to the girl.
Instead of taking the tea from his hand the girl looked past him. Tarun turned around to look in the direction the girl was looking and found the man at the tea stall staring back at them. 
"Give me two more cups of tea" Tarun shouted from where he was standing and the man became busy again. 
"Take this" he repeated and the girl took the cup from his hand and even before Tarun could take another sip from his cup, she gulped down the entire tea from her cup and looked towards the stall again.
What Tarun found strange was the look in the girl's eyes when she looked towards the stall. He knew there was a story waiting for him. He wanted to hear the story. Not because he wanted to spend time till the bus came or the rain stopped but he wanted to hear the story because his instinct told him he was meant to hear it out.
"Do you know him?" Tarun asked.
The girl stared at him. A strange expression on her face.
"Tum jaanti ho uss aadmi ko?*" Tarun asked again
"Baba hai mere**" the girl replied and smiled.

Tarun shifted his gaze towards the man who was now walking towards them with two cups in his hand. The moment he reached them Tarun asked, "Beti hai tumhari***?"
"Haan****" the man replied holding the cups towards Tarun. "Bees rupaye hue"***** he added.
Tarun sat on the road, next to the girl. Keeping his cup aside he took the other two cups from the man's hand and paid him. He had so many questions for the man but without waiting to say a word or allowing a word to be said, the man walked back to the stall.

Tarun handed another cup of tea to the girl which she took immediately. The worried and cautious gaze was now gone. The girl smiled. "Thank you" she said and smiled again.
"Tumhara naam kya hai? Tum yahan kyun baithi ho aisi zor ki baarish mein#?"
"Aur kahan jaaun? Baba ke saath aana padta hai##"
"Ghar par bhi to ruk sakti ho?###"
The girl looked towards the stall once again. The man was busy with his customers. 

As if unveiling a part of her life, the girl started talking. Told him how her mother had left them because they were poor. Her father was a hard working man and tried  his best to keep her happy. He brought her with him because he did not trust their neighbors. And, at the end of the day before closing the stall, how-much-ever tired he was he always made it a point to drink a cup of tea with her saying that it made him feel relaxed. As per what the girl said, all the worries of her Baba spiraled away from him in the steam of the tea and what mattered to him was the time he spent with his little girl.
That is when Tarun realized - There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea. 

Tarun looked at the man. Saw the father in him. Saw a glimpse of himself. Without realizing, Tarun had begun comparing himself to the man. Hard working. Caring for his daughter. But, there was a huge difference, Tarun realized.
He looked at the girl and smiled. "Thank you" he said.
The girl looked at him and smiled. He saw the understanding look in the girl's eyes. It seemed she was mature beyond her age.
"Aisa pata chalta hai ke aapke kandhe ka badaa bojh halka hua hai+" the girl said and smiled.
"Haan****" Tarun said and slipped a 50 rupee note in the girl's hand. 
The girl shook her head and returned the money to Tarun. She got up.Tarun realized that he had offended the little girl. She had appreciated it when Tarun had given her tea, had liked his company. Money was not what she wanted.
"Sorry" Tarun said and got up to go. He stood for a minute, waiting for the girl to turn and look back at him. For some unknown reason, it was necessary for the little girl to forgive him. She turned around.
"Aap ek bahut acche baba bann sakte ho++" the girl said before walking back to her father.




And - Tarun knew what he had to do.





Translations:


* Do you know that man?   ** He is my father   *** Is she your daughter?        **** Yes    ***** That would be twenty rupees
# What is your name? Why are you sitting here in heavy rains?  
## Where else can I go? I have to come here with my dad 
### You can even stay back at home?
+ It seems as if a heavy burden is lifted off your shoulders
++ You can be a real good father

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