The Teashop Owner- A Story

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Everyone should acknowledge this fact that there are some characters in every person’s life who behave more surprisingly and amusingly than any other fictional character which someone may think of.

I and my childhood friend Mr. Khan used to meet often in the evening and together we would go for a walk in the market and if any of us met with the bike we used to go on a long drive. We used to sit down on the railing of a river bridge and would talk for hours about various things. And if we weren’t in the mood to go there, we would go to a particular teashop that was our favorite. It was favorite because that Chaiwala was a great tea-maker and besides his shop had an air of solitude; no hustle and bustle, no crowd. It was because of the location and also because of the inquisitive personality of that Chaiwala. Even today we perceived the same atmosphere. Yeah, I went there today and I thought I should write about it, because Mr. Khan made such a comment after we paid and started to go, it made me to laugh my head off.

Let’s assume the name of the teashop owner was Mr. T. It was, I think, in 2009 when I went to that shop for the first time. Besides Tea, he sold Namkeen ( a salty savory dish ), Chaat ( a spicy dish that is consumed much in India ), Cold-drinks and Water bottles. On the first day, we just ordered Tea and sat down on the bench and started talking. After a while, Mr. T came to me and asked very politely, taking his mouth to my ear almost, ” Sir, Would you like to have cold-drinks or water first? And what would you like with tea, Namkeen or Chat?” At first, I was amazed, I looked in to his eyes then I saw Mr. Khan, he was also surprised and then after this reaction, I said, “We will let you know if we need something else. Make tea first and fast.” He went after nodding. I said to Mr. Khan, ” He is certainly not from this town. Look, there’s no child worker at this shop and it is cleaner than others and most importantly look at his way of talking. My heart says he is certainly not from our town…” I was saying all that and then suddenly a boy of eight or nine came out from the back door. He didn’t look like a worker as he was in neat clothes and then he spoke, “Papa, how much salt should I add in that thing?”. Wow! The whole family is in the business. Right then, I turned to Mr. T and asked,
” Where are you from? You’re certainly not of this place.”

“You’re right sir, I am from Deoria district.”

“Oh! Why had you come to this place that is more backward than your district?”

And he told me his story-

“Sir, I worked in a cooperative institution that went bankrupt because of the corruptions of chairman and the men of authority. I, too, had to face the charges of misappropriation. I had no other chance, so I fled secretly after selling my home and lands.”

“Ah! And now you have to sell Chat and Tea for making ends meet.”

“Well, I am not a bit shy in doing any business. It’s a respectable thing, I think.”

“Yeah, it is.”

He served us tea. We sipped and talked. It was really great.

On the second day, he felt more comfortable with his new customers and asked about us a few introductory questions as what we do, where we live and what we teach etc. After that, he started to tell us about his family. He had a wife and two children- a girl and a boy. We had seen the boy. I told him that we teach highschool classes. I taught then highschool Maths and Mr. Khan, Science. I had not much command on English then. I was learning English. Mr. T always behaved very nicely. He often talked about his children like what they did in school, why a teacher beat them or why his girl couldn’t get good marks in Maths and Physics etc. And so, it became a routine that whenever we went his children were ready with some problems. We solved often and counseled what to do. Mr. T would often ask us about our opinion as what his girl should choose after highschool or what subjects his boy should learn carefully for getting a job. We often told and helped them. We were professionals, not some random fancy guys like Socrates or Aristotle who donate the knowledge on streets or teashops. But we never minded that. The tea was good there, and we were tea-addicts. Besides, he often gives us Namkeen after roasting it again. Wow!!.

Then I went to another city to teach. Mr. Khan went Lucknow to complete his B.Ed. (Bachelor of Education), but whenever we came home we often went there for sipping the tea.

Now, if we talk about today, Mr. T has made good progress. His daughter has completed her post graduation, but still unmarried and jobless and his boy is doing some diploma in Computers, but not in job yet. Mr. T has opened another shop of general store beside the teashop. He takes care of the general store while his son sells Chat and Tea now and goes college for giving exams only, never for classes. I guess they must have got some other tea-addicted teachers like us.

When we went today, the same thing came before us. How to get a job for his girl? What are the scopes of Arts and Crafts? Would it be good if she does beautician course or fashion designing? He asked about his boy as what’s the scope of computer diploma? What’s the difference between COPA ( Computer Operator and Programming Assistant) and Data Entry Operator?

One thing that must be said that we always paid him, never ate on credit , never asked for discounts and he never gave us anything complementary. Nonetheless, we never slightly thought about it, we always helped, but today when I started the bike and went ahead, Mr. Khan said,

” Just imagine Ravi if we were paid for those counsels, we might have earned more than one lakh rupees till now…”

“Hahahahahaha!!!”

An education without price is not always wasted.

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