I come to this tea stall daily with my office colleagues. It is 6 am in the morning and the winter morning is still dark and grey. A thin guy in his late forties is brewing the tea in an aluminium poker. A stout female, little younger than and probably his wife him is chatting with one of our office security guard. Yes, it is the same place where everyone can take tea. During the day we are sophisticated people and consider having anything roadside below are demeanour. But at this hour, there is nothing available in the cafeteria and to evade our sleep in the night shift, we have to rely on this roadside tea. At least in this manner we are able to realize that we are no different from this security guard or that lady who has to start as a daily wages worker at a nearby construction site. As I catch the wafting fragrance of hot boiling tea with ginger and cardamom, I feel warmth filling inside me which makes me more relaxed. Apparently this 5 Rs tea tastes much better than our cafeteria’s 15 Rs plain tea which is just a sugary mixture of heated milk and more water or even better than the 50 Rs Café tea with tea brew and whitener served with additional service tax.
I wonder about the guy in front of. Since decades, this person is just making tea and selling it outside of many offices. He starts at a new place after he is dragged out because the roads need to be widened or the building authorities suddenly become concerned about the beautification of Building’s vicinity. He never waiver’s and finds a new building and new set of people to server tea. But I still wonder, why this guy is not ambitious. In simple words why this guy is not like us. We try to switch jobs, always searching for places with better pay packages. Always fighting for appraisals and promotions. Always calculating the percentage increase in our gross salary. Then, why this person is doing his job without any appraisal, or bonuses or paid leaves? I probably already know the answer. He would simply say, he is not like us and his job provides for his family. I further ask him, how much he earns, the job would barely provide him the food. He says he has six children. His wife is working as a daily wages labourer in the construction site. The building would take at least ten more months to complete. With her daily take home, they are able to get their ration. He was a farmer earlier but due to dependency on irrigation his harvest failed and he came to city instead. So he sold half of his land and married off two daughter and one son. With the earning from this tea stall we are managing the school fees of my two younger sons. I want them to join government job later. Then I we would get educated daughter-in-laws which would make our family proud in front of our village. I then ask him “What about your youngest child?” She is already helping her mom in household work. The people at construction site do not allow her to work here as she is not fourteen yet. “How old is she?” I become curious. The answer is surprising and shocking, the child is barely ten. “In three four years I’ll sell the remaining part of my land and marry her off to a good family.” He adds with a toothed grin.
I look at him in disbelief, barely able to gulp the sweet, tasty, nice smelling tea.