For the last six years, we’ve stuck to a morning ritual. We began our day by enjoying a mug of freshly brewed ginger masala tea. Every day we woke up around the same time and settled on our beloved couch with our cup of tea. We sat mostly in silence, eyes on our own handheld devices. The silence was broken periodically by the slow slurp (or surrrr as we say in Konkani) that accompanies the act of drinking hot liquids. The whole ritual took thirty minutes to an hour. Once the tea was reduced to thin remnants at the bottom of the mug, we went about getting ready for the day.
Somewhere during the final trimester of my pregnancy, this ritual suffered. Partly because I had to give up drinking tea due to severe heartburn. And partly because on most nights I would lay wide awake, tossing and turning, struggling to fall asleep. I would finally fall asleep in the wee hours of the morning and wake up only after 9AM like a teenager.
Once the baby came home, our lives diverged. We rarely got a chance to be together. One watched the baby while the other ate dinner. One showered while the other watched the baby. And so on. Mornings began with tending to a hungry baby and so, drinking freshly brewed tea was impossible. On rare occasions, I would find a tiny window of time to heat some tea in the microwave, only to run and attend to the baby after a couple of sips. The tea would then get cold on the kitchen counter. I would warm it in the microwave again, and this process would repeat throughout the day. Slowly I started gulping down cold tea. Eventually, I gave up drinking tea altogether.
I’ve never been addicted to or even dependent on caffeine. If my husband is out of town, I forgo this cup of tea altogether. This ritual is, for me, more about enjoying the mornings in the quiet company of my husband than about the tea itself. Over the years, however, I’ve begun to enjoy (even crave) the taste of my husband’s tea.
This morning the stars aligned in our favor. We both wanted to get one extra hour of sleep. Instead, we slipped downstairs to the kitchen to brew some tea. A lot of things have changed since we last enjoyed this ritual. The ottoman that we normally rest our legs on has moved to make space for a growing baby. A baby swing is in its place. On the ottoman there is a teething toy and a baby nail cutter. The magazines and devices that used to lay there have found another home. TV remotes are collecting dust from lack of use. Toys lay strewn on the floor. Once the tea was ready, we sat on our couch in silence, mugs in our hands. Phones kept aside because this rare occasion needed our full attention. We wanted to soak in the soft early morning light, appreciate the silence around us and appreciate each others company.
An hour later the audio monitor crackled and sputtered. Our little one had woken up. Our short travel back in time had come to an end. I don’t know when the stars will align for us to enjoy this ritual again. Until then I will be waking up to the stirrings of a four-month-old. I will watch his face burst into a big smile as he sees me and recognition dawns on his face, watch him move his hands and legs in excitement, waiting to be picked up. And then cuddle and feed him until he falls asleep on my lap.
Old rituals are making way for new ones.