Winter semester: a tea-maker’s recipe

I’ll just lay it out there.

Imagine a cup of tea. It is made with not much expertise, but with enough care to retain the identity of the quintessential Bengali elixir in small earthen cups. It is supposed to go through a screening that would further expose it to the likes of high-end Makaibari breed and Kashmiri qahwa.

You have a month and a half till the screening. You feel your elixir needs a few more ingredients to be more prepared. As the days disintegrate like tea-moist biscuits, your methods of preparation degrade in quality. You resort to tea bags.

Then, the screenings begin. We need to accept that there is nothing more we can add to the quality of our tea. But, we need to do something. We need to fill up the emptiness of inevitability with our illusions.

So, we hoist the tea bags into and out of our cups.

At first, the added flavour adds a certain tanginess to the taste. Then, as the days roll on, it punctures the flavour. Then, finally, somewhere in the middle of the long screening session, the flavour dies. The subject ends, but the experiment does not want to stop.

That is the only way I can describe college exam season.

College eats up almost the entirety of the build-up to winter. Because the season feels beautiful, the excitement borrows from Puja season in quantity and from the poetry of the Romantic Era in quality. This is why my parents and I take off for a vacation the moment winter break begins. We do it to avenge a prolonged period of suffering.

Okay, I lied. We do it because my father and I are mad travellers. Anyway, there has not been one Christmas in the last decade that we have spent in Calcutta.


In four more days, we take off for our eternal muse, North Bengal, where we have built a house. That is the only parallel of matrimony I can and wish to draw. We don’t just romance the hills, the jungles and the wild roads anymore; we live there.

Since I won’t be spending Christmas here, I am trying to gather as much of an essence of the city at winter as I can. In truth, winter fell with all its glory the day my examinations ended (ha ha, last batch of Physics practicals, if you’re reading it).

Since the heart of the Christmas rush is commercially in Park Street, Atreyee and I had a wonderful time strolling past the numerous stalls of Asian junk food set up on the footpaths. We whiled away time at one very expensive coffee shop before daylight dimmed, and the lights of the street came on.

All through examination season, what rushed to drape a cold piece of cloth over my feverish tension was Saintbrush. Saintbrush is a page that sells art and poetry at the price of calmed hearts. We were previously called PinkFeet, JourneyMan and the Trenchant Rambler. As most indie film storylines go, JourneyMan went to tour the rugged climb of reality and professional living. St. Axis joined us, and we became a girls-only team of creators. I will take a teensy moment to shout to the world that the way we mirror one another is a kind of harmony not many are blessed with.

By Reya Ahmed, illustrator, Saintbrush

The end of the exam season marks the beginning of a new flush. From sad, bourgeoisie teacups on kitchen sills, we go back to tea gardens. By second year, we start to study more and care less. Thursday will mark the beginning of yet another flush, as we board the train.

So, what I have left of this harvest season is four days. You might think – if you follow my posts at all, that is – that this piece has very less direction. I apologize, albeit only a little, if you wondered for the tiniest instant what this post was about.

Well, this is one of those times when I used my blog as a personal journal, before I kick off with the travel posts again.

Since it is past midnight, here’s a light summery shoutout to everybody who are reading this at the wee hours of the night. Happy winter to all.





2 Comments Add yours

  1. reyaahmed says:

    So happy to contribute in a small way to this wonderful post! ❤ Beautifully written, as always.


    1. You are appreciated, Rey. 🙂


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