The cardamom tea

It was 5am. Nalini woke up from the faint noises of the siren, indicating an emergency was taking place at the moment.

She hadn’t been able to sleep well the past couple of days.

A text message from Madhvi, her younger sister had kept her awake. “Mom’s relapsing, Nal. At least now leave it?”

The text had angered, saddened and made Nalini feel helpless. She wanted to hold on to the grudge forever. Hating her mom helped her live. The anger helped her remain tough in front of the world. The thought of forgiving her and letting it all go was uncomfortable.

“BRB,” Nalini had replied. She didn’t want to deal with this right now.

Unable to get back to sleep, she decided to stop struggling. She got up, wore her specs, her white slippers, straightened her shorts and headed to the kitchen to make herself some cardamom tea. She couldn’t help smile looking outside the window. In few hours, chaos would begin. It had gotten cooler and the mornings shorter. The rising sun, honking trucks, giggling children, frustrated pedestrians, and cranky drivers. Living alone had its perks. But on days when you truly felt lonely, sounds of the city did help. It reminded you that you’re alive and so are people around you, with you.

Picking up her freshly brewed hot tea, she went back and sat on her bed, tucking her legs inside her grey duvet while sitting straight with a tiny pillow to support her back.

The first few sips of the tea helped to calm her down. Outside, the sky was showing off its tangerine palettes. Very soon, the world would wake up. She looked at the calendar app on her phone and smiled.

Meet Aunt Rose and her dog in park: 9am

Brunch with David: 12:30–2:00pm

Spa date with Megan: 3pm

Drinks with Anjali and husband: 7pm

It was going to be a fun Saturday. Her excitement was interrupted with a text notification.

“So what have you decided? Are you coming? Let’s talk?” Madhvi was 4 years younger, but a decade more mature for her age. And a lot more perseverant.

Suddenly the tea didn’t taste that good and the sounds of the rushing cars began to annoy her. This city is so loud and so annoying, I can’t get any peace. Should move to the suburbs, she sulked.

Tossing the phone on the side, she picked up her novel and continued reading from where she had left the evening before. Ironically, the book was about this girl who had left the house and cut ties with her family because no one believed her that it was Uncle who had crept in that night. Her mom, whom she had loved and trusted so dearly, didn’t side her. Nalini could relate to this girl and the more she read, the more she wanted to save this girl in the book.

With her restlessness increasing, she kept the book on the side and took out her diary. It was a white glossy book with the image of a unicorn and a cow lying on glitter green grass, telling each other secrets. The diary was gifted by her late father when she was seven. It had a lock and key. “Write whatever you want here, darling. This is your world.” Nailini had lost the key to the lock and though she lived alone, she made sure to keep the book back into her safe spot each time she took it out. No one could ever get hold of this book, she had promised herself.

Nalini began writing profusely, holding her diary a witness to her darkest and deepest thoughts. As she continued, her eyes began to blur. Heavy drops of tears ran across her cheeks and onto the pages, eager to reach the end of their destiny. But Nalini continued writing, occasionally sliding her specs on her forehead and wiping her tears from her soft palms.

Why did she do this? Mom was my everything. How could she do this? I will never forgive her. I don’t care if she’s relapsing. I don’t care.

At this point, Nailini broke into sobs and had to stop writing. She hugged herself tight, digging her head between her knees, and curled into a ball and cried. The stale fragrance from her body from last night distracted her for a second. I need a new perfume, she thought and went back to crying.

A few minutes later, gathering herself, she reached for her phone and started searching for quotes on forgiveness and acceptance. Nothing was helping. What a waste of time, she sulked again. Maybe she should speak with her therapist, she thought. It had been a while.

By now, the city was in full swing. Distracted by the sounds, she looked over at her bedside clock. It was 8am. Shit, I’m supposed to meet Aunt Rose in an hour and I promised her I’ll bake her some fresh cookies. Aunt Rose was her favorite person in the neighborhood and she loved her dog. Often they would meet in the nearby park and go for a walk, discussing life, sex, men, education, peace and politics. Maybe I could confide in her and see what she thinks? Nalini pondered.

“Nal! Would you freaking reply?!” Madhvi’s new text appeared on her phone again.

Tilting her head up in the sky and taking a deep sigh, Nalini opened her messages and replied, “I’ll let you know soon. BRB.”

Rolling her eyes and feeling a sense of fondness towards her sister, she smiled and tossed her phone on the bed and rushed to the kitchen to prepare for another round of cardamom tea and cookies for her walk.




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Deepti Mansukhani

Deepti Mansukhani

Talkative. Creative. Quiet. Blank. Repeat. UX designer by day, Netflix and doodles by midnight. Formerly an event producer. Join the writing journey with me.