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Desi American Drama

Ashvin was staring at the water in the pot as it was boiling, added the sugar first, black tea powder followed by cardamom, cloves, black pepper, coriander, fennel, star anise, cinnamon, and nutmeg that he crushed with the mortar and pestle that he brought from India when he first came to American.

He added whole milk and waited while the chai boiled.

'Ginger,' he said out loud.

Masala chai, without ginger, was a crime, his mother would always say, and he wasn't about to commit that forbidden act.

Ashvin hurried to the fridge, opened the crisper drawer, spotted the hand of ginger, snapped a finger from it, washed it, grated the ginger, and put it into the pot of boiling tea.

He needed to wait a little longer for the ginger to steep with the rest of its buddies in the pot.

The flavor of the ginger was essential.

Ashvin gazed at the pot of boiling tea with awe, thrust his face closer, and inhaled in the fragrance of the chai.

He knew it was time.

Ashvin switched off the heat, strained the tea into a mug; the remnant on the strainer went straight to the bin, and he smiled at his creation, satisfied.

He took the tea and samosa that he got from his favorite Indian restaurant and sat on the balcony.

The scenery wasn't spectacular, but his companion was.

Chai and samosas made an excellent afternoon snack.

Ashvin loved days like this, more like missed days like this, which was his life years before he met his wife, Laura.

Today was a window of opportunity, where he had the whole place for himself, which was rare; most of the time, his wife, would be the first one home, but she had a meeting.

Ashvin took a slurp of the hot masala chai, closed his eyes, and relished the spiciness, sweetness, spices, and milkiness that lingered on his tongue.

He couldn't remember when was the last time he had the pleasure to enjoy homemade tea in his house.

He took another sip and opened his eyes, grinned like a Cheshire cat.

Ashvin's hand reached toward the plate on the square wooden table, took the deep-fried cone-shaped pastry stuffed with potato, onion, peas, and lamb, crushed it with his teeth, and washed it down with hot tea.

Ashvin looked down at his jeans; the samosa crumble had stained them, but he didn't bother to brush it away; Ashvin let it sit on the lap while he ate another piece of samosa.

It was him, his beloved chai and samosa, in the late afternoon with no wife to lecture on his mannerism.

Before Ashvin got married, he would make his masala chai powder from scratch, a family recipe that he learned from his grandmother.

His house used to be filled with the smell of spices, something which reminded him of back home, his India, which he adored and missed.

Ashvin would dry roast the spices on low flame until it delivered a deep aroma, blend the spices, and store the tea masala powder in an airtight container.

He used the masala powder to make delicious chai, but it was something of the past; Laura hated the smell of the spices and was allergic to tea.

The smell was too strong, giving me a headache; she complained all the time, he ignored her at first, but after a series of disputes between them, he decided to give up his favorite thing in the world.

Ashvin checked the time; his wife would be back soon, he needed to get rid of the smell, and the best way was to grind some coffee.

He envied the good old days when he had the liberty to sit alone on his balcony and enjoyed his cup of hot milk tea without worrying about the smell of chai that loitered in the air.

It was more like a part of his life, a daily routine; Ashvin drank chai three times a day.

The first chai was in the morning before leaving for work, and the second was after work with his favorite samosa.

The last one was in the evening while watching the moon and the shining stars, or even without the moon or the glowing stars, with an empty dark sky; Ashvin was a happy man, unlike now, when even the moon and stars couldn't brighten his life.

Those were wonderful times, but Ashvin never saw it as a privilege; he even took those moments for granted, never knew something as simple as that could be snatched away from him.

He watched as the coffee dripped into the thermal carafe as he yearned for his old life.

The life before his wife, and he wanted it back.

Ashvin heard the front door unlock.

He was swift to pour the coffee into the mug, walk toward the living room.

'I'm home, and I've got a surprise for you.'

'Coffee,' he offered.

She gave a slight nod.

He knew she wouldn't decline an offer for that disgusting black liquid.

Sometimes he wondered how she drank it every day; bitter was the only taste that coffee offered, other than the bad breath that came with it.

Her coffee breath nauseated him.

Ashvin passed the mug to her with a vengeance in his heart.

'Thank you.' Laura gave him a broad smile.

He waited for her to take a sip, but she didn't.

Laura put the coffee mug on the table, opened the paper bag.

'I got you something.'

'What is it?'

'Try it.'

'What is it?'

'Come on, take a sip?'

Ashvin hoped it wasn't coffee; Laura had been trying to make him drink coffee for years now.

His eyes were on her while he swallowed the liquid protected by the paper cup, unrevealing its identity.

'Masala chai,' he said, shocked.

She beamed.

'I know I have been depriving you of tea, as today is your birthday. I thought I'd be nice.'

He took another gulp of the tea from the paper cup, not any better than the one he made, but it was good enough.

'Do you like it?'

'Thank you, it's fine.'

His eyes switched to the coffee on the table.

'Coffee,' he reminded her.

'Latter,' she said while she studied him.

She sat alone on the balcony and drank her coffee.

It was piping hot, no milk, no sweetener, no cream, no sugar, just how she liked it, black and bitter.

Laura was a coffee purist, and she would never dare to take her coffee any other way.

The sight of tea disgusted her; she could never understand her husband's addiction to it.

Laura wasn't allergic to tea, she pretended as if she was, and it was an excellent excuse to keep the tea away from their home.

She turned at looked at his lifeless body, and she hadn't decided yet what to do with it.

Laura had a few detailed options in her mind.

She had been thinking about a day like this for a long time and found the courage at last to execute her plan.

Poising his tea didn't require any physical or mental exertion.

It was easier than she thought.

She knew he could never turn down an offer for a chai; after all, it was his favorite drink which was also the cause of his death.

With his favorite milk tea, a little cyanide was what it took to terminate him.

Laura didn't kill Ashvin because he loved tea; she killed him because she realized her husband never loved her, was unbearable to live with, and needed his insurance money.

A smile graved on her face as she took another sip of her black sugarless coffee that he made for her.

'Do you believe they killed themselves?'

'It appeared to be so.'

'Why did she call for help after attempting suicide?'

'Change of mind realized she made a mistake.'

'Oh well, too bad, she didn't make it.'

'Two people died. What a tragedy.'

'Did they love each other so much that they chose to end it together?'

'I'm not sure. They wanted to be together even in death, I guess.'

'You guys want some coffee?'

'Is it hot?'

'No, but can use the microwave, and the coffee smells fantastic; a dash of milk and sugar will round it out to perfection.'

January 13, 2022 11:07

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2 comments

Alice Richardson
21:37 Jan 16, 2022

Great twist at the end. Never saw it coming.

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K.P. Rajalingam
23:27 Jan 19, 2022

Glad you enjoyed the twist. You're the first one to comment on my story. Appreciate it. All the best with your work.

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