Every day, Naina patiently waited for her father to come home from a long day of work.
Despite the fact her tummy would be rumbling, she would still wait so that everyone would eat a family dinner together. Mom and Naina would quickly heat the dinner and lay the table while Dad would wash his hands and change into his comfy pair of pyjamas.
During dinner, the chatty banter would go on as everyone spoke about their day and their plan for the following day. After eating a scrumptious dinner lovingly prepared by Mom, Dad would look at Naina and smile benevolently. Her father’s smile said it all as she would smile back with a sparkle in her eyes and ask, ‘Dad, do you want a cup of tea?’
Dad nodded his head, raising his eyebrows in the air and said with a grin on his face, ‘Yes darling, but you have to make the cup of tea.’
It was only once in a blue moon; Dad told his wife to make a cup of tea. It’s not that he never liked it, but there was just something unique about Naina’s cup of tea. It gave one a feeling of fulfilment and satisfaction after the first sip.
Soon enough, Naina got married and started a new chapter in her life. Although she lived in the same city as her parents, she missed them tremendously. Every night she would call her mother to find out how things were going for her parents.
‘Mom, does dad still drink tea after dinner?’ Naina questioned curiously.
‘No dear, he’s very grumpy after dinner,’ replied Mom rolling her eyes. ‘I ask him if I should make him a cuppa, but he bluntly refuses.’
‘So, make a cup of tea,’ said Naina.
‘Well, I did,’ Mom explained. ‘But he didn’t seem too pleased.’
There was a long pause of silence between the two.
‘Now?’ questioned Naina hesitantly.
‘Now what?’ Replied Mom. ‘There’s not much I can do about it. He better get used to it.’
As time went by, Naina settled in with her in-laws. Shifting from a nuclear family to a joint family was a bit overwhelming, but she somehow managed to fit in. One evening, Naina made a cup of tea for her mother-in-law. They both sat down at the dining table as Naina poured the tea from the kettle, placed it in front of her, and said, ‘I hope you like it, Mummy.’
Mummy took a sip and let out a long sigh. ‘It’s perfect’, she said with a huge smile.
Naina smiled. Deep down, she was dancing a jig. Getting a compliment from Mummy was a big thing.
Every weekend, there was a lot of excitement as close relatives came by to visit.
‘Naina beta’, Mummy called out. ‘Please make us some tea.’
Naina would nod her and head to the kitchen to prepare her special cup of tea.
Mamiji followed Naina to the kitchen and stood next to the stove, carefully watching over Naina as she prepared ten cups of tea.
‘Mamiji, you, please have a seat,’ said Naina politely. ‘I’ll get the tray outside.’
‘No, no. It’s alright’, insisted Mamiji.
Naina felt a bit uncomfortable having her standing on her head and asked Mamiji again, but she bluntly refused.
‘I’ve heard so much about your tea, and I want to see how you make it’, Mamiji said sheepishly.
Naina stood there stunned. ‘People talk about my cup of tea?’ she thought to herself and said, ‘I make tea like everyone else makes tea’, she chucked. ‘There is no special ingredient’.
Finally, Naina walked out of the kitchen with a tray of cups and a large kettle of tea.
Everyone gathered around the table in the drawing-room and poured themselves a cup of tea. The family munched on Matthis, namkeen and hot-hot pakodas. As the chatty banter went on, Mamaji interrupted, ‘Naina. The tea is perfect. This is how I like my tea’.
Naina smiled benevolently as her eyes wandered the room, and she looked at Mamiji. Naina’s smile vanished as Mamiji rolled her eyes. Poor Naina sheepishly smiled back and changed the subject.
The following day, Naina woke up from an afternoon nap. She headed towards the kitchen to get herself a glass of water. Naina found Daddy pulling Mummy’s leg in the drawing-room. He never missed an opportunity to crack a joke. Daddy’s eyes lit up when he saw Naina walk by. ‘Beta, ek cup chai bana do’, he said with a sweet smile.
‘I’ll make the tea’, said Mummy as she got up from the sofa.
‘No, no’, said Daddy and tugged her back down. ‘Naina will make the tea.’
Naina lovingly made three cups of tea and placed the tray on the dining table. There was silence amongst them as they kept munching on baked biscuits.
‘I hope the tea is, ok?’ Questioned Naina cautiously.
‘Yes, yes, Mummy replied, smiling.
‘You’ve not made tea for Rohit?’ Questioned Daddy.
‘No, Daddy. Husband dear doesn’t much care for my cup of tea,’ replied Naina with a giggle.
‘Oh! Really? Why?’ He questioned, looking a bit puzzled. ‘Who cannot like Naina’s cup of tea?’ He thought to himself as he took another sip.
As time went by, Naina’s tea became more popular. One day one of the relatives asked her, ‘Naina, what’s your secret?’
‘Nothing. I just say I’m going to make the best tea before I start making tea. And it turns out to be alright’, said Naina smiling.
But every time Naina made a cup of tea, the first person that used to come to her mind was her dad.
Eventually, her Dad gave in and finally got used to his wife’s cup of tea. But every time Naina would visit and stay over for a couple of days, Dad would smile at her benevolently after dinner. Naina would smile back and ask, ‘Dad, do you want a cup of tea?’
And the answer would always be yes!