Writing by Sia Gupta
Tick tick tick it went- ancient, as the fire sputtered and ignited with a click.
Beyond the window, the sky was sheathed in muted gray clouds, and the downpour swelled the ground. The air had a strong scent of loamy soil, and in the front yard, leaves pocketed the drops like gold. Inside the kitchen, it was comfortable and warm- remnants of the heater. The only sounds were that of the muffled rain and the crackling of the stove, and as I extended my arm for a metal pot- clutching the rusty handle- I observed as the water from the thin tap drip dripped and filled it.
I placed it over the fire and cupped it with a lid, although insurgent vapors made their way out from underneath. Reaching into the cupboard lined with faded green paper and stuffed with spices, herbs, teas, olive oil, tins, and glass bottles, I grabbed a brown paper packet. The little packet crinkled and crackled as it opened, like the fracture of a sugar coating. Its label peeled off rebelliously at the sides. The smell of whiskey and warm ambrosial coconut employed the space. As the water bubbled to a boil, I removed the lid dripping with condensation and tapped the brown packet on the edge, propelling the tea leaves forward. They fanned out and settled themselves in the steaming liquid and I placed the lid back on. As I lowered the heat and watched the tea simmer beneath the glass, I rested my hands on the counter and pushed my weight forward onto my toes, placing my head on the vent cover above. My head was quiet and my breath was level. Making tea was rewarding, yet a tedious process, on a Monday. Few circumstances could imitate the feeling of waking up early Saturday morning in the safety of your home to make something for yourself. There was no critique, no responsibilities or deadlines, and no strain to keep up a conversation. Each assignment was a job for the future or a reflection on the past.
My chest felt light with relief. And as I stared down at the metamorphosis of colors, I turned off the stove and brought out a ceramic cup. Cautiously I raised the pot and poured in the tea, then added milk and sugar. I held the cup carefully with both hands, running them over the intricate patterns lined with red, blue, and gold paint. Then, I went to open the main door to visit the weather. The pattering rain suddenly became clear; the sound on the roof, concrete, and puddles formed a layered melody. I took in a breath of the cold, fresh, earthy aroma. As a breeze ruffled my hair, I could hear the distant sounds of chimes that hung off the roof, tinkling with the wind.
Walking to the edge, I held one hand out to feel the driblets. And just for a moment, a magic claimed me. I desired to step out into the rain and join the outdoors, like a guardian of my home, and as each cold drop streaked my arm I knew there was reasoning behind my existence. My problems abruptly softened as I marveled at the grandeur of the known universe. I wanted to be bold like a knight, and leap into puddles and laugh with unbounded joy. Then came another gust of wind, and with it, the sound of chimes.
I was right at the heart.
But in an instant, I was dropped back to materiality and the feeling withdrew to a small crevice in my heart. I blinked, recalled my hand, and once again cupped the tea to pilfer its warmth. Taking one long, infinite breath, I stepped back into the house and shut the grand wooden door, separating myself again from the earth.