They began their day with a cup of tea every morning. And they did it with great ceremony.
I remember seeing the servant set the table in the living room the night before. First, he’d place the table mats. Intricate floral designs usually adorned these. Hand-crocheted designs replaced these floral patterns on special occasions. The mats were followed by a few bottles of water. They would have been placed in the fridge sometime in the evening to be taken out post 10 pm. He usually remembered to place a coaster below each of the bottles. Ditto for the glasses. Two in number. They had to be “kaanch ke glass.” Steel just would not do. Post that, he’d place the cups and saucers with the remaining paraphernalia. Next to those, lay the tea cozy. Hand-embroidered, courtesy the grandmother. Ditto the afore-mentioned crochet patterns. The servant could only call it a day once all this was in place. And the grandfather was extremely particular about this.
His morning hours were exclusively devoted to my grandmother. She was his “madam,” pronounced maidam. This one word is probably the only term of endearment that was ever exchanged in their relationship.
The morning afforded them a few hours of intimacy, transporting them away from the banal hustle-bustle of an extended family. It was “their” time and I think my grandmother missed this most once my grandfather passed away. They’d catch up on each other’s lives, crib and rant to one another and speak of their children with pride. The grandfather would be relaxed, with the television and phone being far away from his mind.
Six in the morning, I’d be a sloppy mess rushing for college. But I’d see them poring over the newspapers together, discussing the day’s happenings and taking stock of their lives. Half-laughed words, unfinished sentences and cozy rhetoric, there was a sense of happiness and contentment beneath all that.
However late I was every morning, I always lingered a moment longer to soak in some of that bliss. How I wish I had bottled up some of it to savor on a rainy day!