- Vol. 06
- Chapter 07
The room smelled like chai.
Of course it smelled like chai.
For she had spent the days and months that followed partition stumbling through ruins, collecting every last teapot or matli she could find. Why, she could not say. She collected them in the same way some people collect coins or stamps. A memento, she supposed. A tiny snapshot of a large time.
From the outside, it was laughable. How boring. How odd. Why do you collect these clay pots?
And it was true — she knew that much; from the outside, the pots were mundane. They showed nothing but dirt and a question as to whether she still retained her marbles.
But she also knew, that when you opened the matli’s and teapots — that was where the magic was held.
For inside each pot, of long discarded chai, was a story. A story of the owners who had once brewed and sipped a concoction of leaves and spices. At first, the stories were not easy to see, but as she looked closer she could seek them out in colours and crevices.
Perhaps the inner walls of one pot would be stained a little yellow. A sign that its long gone owners were able to afford the delicate and fragrant luxury of saffron.
Maybe another would have no yellow, but instead, have its inner walls steeped in a dusty grey-brown. A sign that maybe they could not afford the spices, and instead filled their matli with more tea than anything else.
Some, of course, were perfectly average. Neither yellow with wealth, nor muddy with squalor, but instead a pleasant sort of brown. A brown that smelt of mediocrity. Of a normal middle-class life — enough to afford spices, but not enough for gold.
And in one way or another, it seemed as though the pots embodied and contained the lives that they had once witnessed. Just like the matli’s, these lives were fragile. They could chip or crack, and no amount of money could change the fact that when brutal hands crushed the pots, dividing them into two, their walls would shatter.
Fragments would scatter and crumble, and what was once whole would lay broken, nothing but remnants of what it used to be.
The broken ones, she always put back together. They often took her years to repair, as broken things often do. But it was with her knowledge and skill that she was able to put them back together, stronger than they had been before.