The exact change

She looked through her coin box to find the exact change for the two cups of tea that they would be drinking. She liked giving the “chai wali aunty” exact change. Even aunty loved her for that reason. She was a great customer, no doubt but she always used to give the exact change. So aunty did not need to look through her moneybox ever. In fact, it helped aunty with her other customers too. She once thought of opening an account with aunty but then forgot about it.

There was one more reason aunty really liked her. She used to come for tea with a friend of hers and they were the happiest “couple” aunty had ever seen. They were always laughing, always giggling, always pulling each other’s leg, as if there was some sort of a competition. They used to come to her teashop every day, thrice a day or maybe sometimes even four. They even used to come at the same timings. Aunty often wondered if they had set some alarms for those tea sessions.

There was one thing aunty noted. They never stayed for more than ten minutes at a time. They came, had tea quickly and left immediately. But those were the best ten minutes of her day too. She loved these customers of hers. They made her laugh. They asked her about her day, where she came from and how much earnings did she make in a day. The other customers came there only for tea. These two came there for her and for each other.

These two were not always about fooling around and joking with each other. A few times, aunty even heard them having some serious discussions too. It was mostly the guy rendering some deep emotional talk to the girl. But then the guy was one of the best listeners that aunty had ever seen. Every time the girl opened her mouth to speak, the boy listened with all his attention focused at her. She seemed to be the most important person in the boy’s life. It seemed as if he could spend an entire lifetime listening to all that she had to say, laughing at her silly jokes, telling her his jokes and making her laugh and just being there for her, always.

This tea place did not even have any place to sit. Most people had their cups of tea either standing or leaning against someone’s bike or scooter. The guy used to bring his scooter along every time they came. You are wrong in case you thought that he used to make the girl sit on it. He would sometimes offer her the seat and sometimes not even bother. They were not the usual couple. They were friends first and then a couple. They were best friends and equal partners.

Having controlled all this while, aunty finally asked them if she was his girlfriend to which they both gave their heartiest laugh. Aunty was shocked to find out that day that they both were married… to two different people and they were very happy in their respective relationships. It was their unique chemistry that brought them together, and, of course, their love for tea too. They were both preparing for exams and used to take those tea breaks together, to keep each other charged up, to motivate each other and to of course enjoy that cup of hot ginger tea.

Then one day, the girl came alone. Aunty decided not to ask her anything. She leaned against a scooter, had her tea and left. Everything was exactly how it used to happen earlier. The only thing missing was the boy and the only thing different was that the girl gave extra money and asked aunty to keep a track so that she won’t need to bring money every day. The girl started coming alone after that every day. She would still talk to aunty, laugh but her eyes were empty. Her heart was empty. Words still came out of her mouth but they were hollow and had no meaning left. She still laughed but it was not real. Aunty asked about the boy but the girl never gave any satisfactory answer. She never found out where the boy went. Had she been imagining the boy all the time? She could not have. She had seen him in flesh and blood every day for the past one year. She could not have just imagined her.

Finally, the girl also stopped coming for tea. Aunty had no way to find out what happened to her. There were no more conversations, no more laughter and no more exact change money being given. Aunty still had some money left with her but she did not know how she would return it to the girl. She had no idea where the boy went and now the girl had also stopped coming. She did not even know their names or where they lived or where they studied. Aunty kept that money aside hoping to return it someday.

She still waits for them every day to return to her shop. She still sees them sometimes during the day but they do not stop when she calls out to them. She sees them laughing again, joking and fooling around with each other. She can even sometimes hear the change money jingling in the girl’s pocket but they don’t stop for tea anymore. They just disappear every day like they disappeared three years back.

This blog is a part of the Chai-a-thon blog train organized by “The Momsteins”.

I would like to thank Nisha Zaheer from for introducing me.

I would also recommend you to check out my fellow blogger, and friend Pradnya’s blog and read about her wonderful “tea memory”.

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Author: drpooja20

I am a doctor, a mother, trying to be and raise a decent human being and currently battling the voices in my head. No, I am not schizophrenic. I just have a lot going on in my head, trying to pen down all of it.

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