Finally, the lift door opens. A minute ago, I was hurtling down into the bowels of the earth. It seemed like an endless journey, until unexpectedly the lift stopped with a jerk and the doors opened.
My eyes took in the joyous scenario in a sweep, before entering the pre Diwali ‘santhe’ (fair). I was welcomed by a sea of sparkling lights, illuminating the entire place. Rows of makeshift stalls showcasing wares greeted me. The fair was bustling with life and contagious laughter. On the look out for diyas to light up homes or gifts to light up spirits…. nobody would return without picking a ‘piece de resistance’ catering to his/her taste and wallet.
One such stall that caught my eye, had an elderly Japanese lady selling Kyusu tea pots. The allure of an array of tea pots displayed neatly was difficult to resist. The ‘contraption’, unique in it’s design, was unlike any other I had seen.
When a burnt red clay pot enticed me, the lady, adept at selling, was beside me. She coaxed me saying, ‘You have very good taste Madam. Green tea brewed in this pot has many health benefits. The mineral rich clay used in it’s crafting, adds a special flavor’.
Lifting the lid, she pointed to the porcelain strainer inside and continued, ‘You can steep it with other tea flavors and ginger to create a brew to your liking’. She turned the pot over to show me the word ‘masala’ (spice) inscribed at the bottom. The word etched on the base of each pot was different.
‘One of these pots holds a genie. You could be the lucky winner. It is a festive offer. The genie, would be a boon, guaranteed to drive away your blues.’ I paid for the pot I had set my eyes on. While leaving, the lady remarked, ‘repeat the word engraved, three times and destiny willing a genie might appear. Good luck and Happy Diwali’.
I couldn’t wait to reach home, delicately place the pot on the table and say the magic word…..masala, masala, masala, I chanted three times.
Not a flicker, all hopes receeding, I almost put it away dejectedly, when a stray fume made it’s way out of the spout. Slowly but surely the fume took shape of a woman dressed in a long mirrored skirt and choli (blouse). She bowed, ‘ Ma Ji (madam), your wish is my command’, her voice trailed……
Her sweet voice waiting for orders, changed to a hoarse one close to my ear, ‘Darling, it’s past seven, can I get a cup of tea? Use the Japanese pot Anita gifted you. The aroma is awesome.’ I sat up groggily rubbing my eyes.
The dirty dishes in the kitchen sink brought me back to the here and now. A spanking clean house without lifting a finger…..a dream that could have lasted longer. As Rajeev sipped his morning tea, he remarked, ‘ Neha, you did enjoy watching the movie “Mirch Masala” (chillie spice) last night. The feminist in you ignited, I heard you whispering ‘masala, masala, masala…..’