On Chai

Finding home in a cup of tea

By Maleeha Saqib Latif (image courtesy of Maleeha Saqib Latif)

On Chai


The word reminds me of warmth
When it is cold and hard outside
On my worst days
The only thing I can look forward to
Is a good cup of chai
When I am bone tired
Exhausted, done with everything
Chai is my glimmer of hope

It's therapy for when my mind is haywire
Watching the leaves brew
Marveling as the steam rises
When I pour it in white, china cups
I feel my worries lock up
As I take in the aroma
Before even taking a sip
It’s my painkiller

It’s like a mistress I keep going back to
It’s a masseuse,
Unwinding the knots in my weary shoulders
A genie
That makes my headaches vanish

It’s a mother’s love
Her standing with a cup of karak
As soon as you cross the threshold of the house
It’s all our dads
Drinking it with their morning newspaper
It’s me and my friends
Laughing randomly while stuck on campus

It is my meals and my snacks
It’s the start to my day
And its end

To those who say
It is just a beverage
It is not
This love for chai
Has been passed down
From my ancestors
And simply cannot be acquired
It’s an emotion
It’s a tradition
It's culture
It’s a language

Linking people together
It’s a family sitting on a terrace
It’s two strangers on a first date
Sharing their day
At a restaurant
At a college cafeteria
At a dhaba on the roadside
It doesn’t care for titles or class
It simply connects

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