[ultimate_heading main_heading=”The Tea-Seller by Soumyadeep Chatterjee – Issue.XIX : August 2016 ” main_heading_color=”#1e73be” sub_heading_color=”#8224e3″ spacer=”line_with_icon” spacer_position=”bottom” line_style=”dotted” line_height=”1″ line_color=”#1e73be” icon_type=”custom” icon_img=”id^48|url^http://ashvamegh.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Ashvamegh-ICO.jpg|caption^null|alt^Ashvamegh Journal Icon|title^Ashvamegh ICO|description^null” img_width=”48″ main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_font_size=”desktop:34px;” line_width=”3″ margin_design_tab_text=””]stories are born around you… look up and pen down![/ultimate_heading]

The tea-seller

Short story by Soumyadeep Chatterjee

Introduction to the Author:

Soumyadeep Chatterjee is a 3rd-year student of engineering from Kolkata, who has a passion for stories and films. He never had a lot of friends, so books were his companion from an early age. He inherited the habit of reading from his parents, and gradually the reading habit gave way to writing. He has particular interest in the genre of short stories. He believes the genre gives one the challenge of exploring the intricate and complicated human emotions while limiting the word-length, as also keeps the story open to multiple interpretations from the reader’s perspective.



“Are you looking for someone?”


“No, I was watching you. You look a bit anxious to me, which is the reason I asked, are you looking for someone?”

The old man, visibly agitated and anxious, dropped his lean figure painstakingly on the fragile-looking wooden bench, took out his napkin and wiped the sweat beads off his forehead. It being still pretty early in the morning, the folks had not yet gathered at the tea stall, otherwise finding a place would have been an uphill task. Raju made a fine kind of tea, and served it with a pinch of his professionally sugar-coated words, which made his tea-stall quite a packed house at the later hours of the day. Even now, there were a handful of joggers who were occupying the adjacent bench. Raju took a cup in his hand and approached the old man.

“You wouldn’t mind a cup of tea, would you?”

“Oh no, I must do some justice to my Bengali blood”

“Here. Careful, it’s still hot so hold it at the edges”

“Oh thank you. Ah, that is a fine tea young man. Now, what was it that you were asking?”

“That whether you were looking for someone”

“Actually, I am. There’s this boy, about 19 or 20 years of age, comes to play football in the field every day….haven’t seen him for the last couple of days, so I was getting a bit worried”

“He is related to you?”

“Oh no, not at all. In fact, I do not even know his name. I know him by face. We often met in the mornings. He lives in the lane near my house, so when he comes out to play, we often encounter each other. I have this habit of jogging, so….just like that he would wave at me and smile. Ah, he has a lovely smile! A very charming young lad not like any of his generation. We would often speak about the weather, the condition of the roads, about football….oh he sure loves that game!

Now, we met almost regularly but for the past 15 days, I haven’t met him even once. Kind of strange, don’t you think?”

“Oh he might be busy. They have all these exams nowadays….How does he look like?”

“Umm, he is tall. I mean, not very tall, but he is of appreciable height. Fair complexion, very curly hair, has got a small mole on his right cheek….have you seen someone like that?”

“Well. I wouldn’t remember even if I had. I sell tea. I meet so many people, sir. I cannot really recall all the faces that I see…”

“Hmm ok. Maybe I should ask one of those kids in the field. But their manners, oh! Like I said, I just don’t get this new generation. You know back in our times…..”

Raju had to leave him with his incomplete sentence. A new group of joggers had arrived and he had to make the tea, so he rushed towards his kettle.

As the water boiled, he kept looking at the old man, still seated there, hands in the pocket, gaze fixed on the field, hoping to find that one face, that one very familiar face. It has been 14 years, Raju thought, and this man is yet to accept the reality. Raju still remembered the disfigured face, the nightmarish scene still coming up right in front of his eyes. In fact, it was the mole on the right cheek and the curly hair which helped them in identifying the boy, as not much was left of him otherwise. Raju’s thoughts meandered through the alleys of memory. What could he do, he was just a tea-seller. His job was to make the water boil, pour in the right proportion of sugar and milk, and then add the tea leaves, thus making a fine beverage for his customers. His duty began and ended with that cup of tea. His customer would drink it, pay him, go off to his own work, and he would set in making the next cup. That was all. Yet, he had to do what he had to do. Because sometimes, life does not allow you to remain inconsequential, sometimes it endows upon you a greater responsibility, one from which you cannot run away…..

“And you were saying?”


“You were saying something….”

“About what? I can’t remember…”

“About your son”

“Oh yes. I remember. I was telling you about my son. He keeps telling me not to worry, that his job is just a bit risky and that….that it is like any other job. But a father gets worried all the same. So I said ‘You just come back’ and guess what, he is coming back. Today. By the way, what time is it?”

“It’s 7:45”

“Oh I am already late. I must go to the market as early as possible. My son just adores football, and today when he comes back, I am going to give him a brand new pair of shoes, as a gift for coming back. Oh but don’t tell anyone. I will surprise him”

“I am sure you will. Do come back tomorrow. I will be waiting anxiously to hear the rest of the story”

“I will. I definitely will…..”