Of Cabbages and Kings

November 13, 2006

Filed under: Fiction — Chinmayi @ 4:37 pm

He brews tea at least thirty times in a day. His face is lined like mountains are lined, with an ancient, uneven beauty. He always wears that thin uncertain-brown shirt, which is fraying at places. It clings to his bony frame, bones that look like they have braved hailstorms and droughts, and will brave them again if the need should arise. His eyes are kind but sad, his smile wavers between irony and wistfulness. His words are slow, as are his movements – not because they cannot rush, but because they seem to know that there is time, time for everything.  

And slowly, he pours dirt brown tea out of a kettle that looks like it was dug up out of the earth. He stirs golden and green snacks that float in angry spluttering oil. And he listens patiently to all the voices that float around. The deep, the gentle, the coarse, the sweet, the cajoling, the hectoring, the impatient, the distant, the pleading. They crowd around him in his little reed shack, around the kerosene lamp and kettle and furious bubbling oil. Their colours and voice whirl around him, washing across, spinning, retreating and splashing back. And somehow, he remains static, dry – as though he were painted there. In his own rhythm and colours, in his own island, smiling gently back at the waves that rush against him.



  1. i love this.

    by the way – he’s in gokarna…now – or at least he was two months ago and i’m pretty sure he’s still there…not making tea (of course not!)

    Comment by william — May 30, 2007 @ 4:36 pm

  2. Thanks. His name is Shankar. You can find him at a roadside shack about forty kilometres off Secuderabad, in the Ranga Reddy district (seriously).

    Comment by Contrary Mary — May 31, 2007 @ 5:13 pm

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