Between the two of them, they often had these moments, when they compared themselves to their parents. At 30, her mother had two children. At 40, his father had helped his younger brother set his household up. His mother could make upma at 6 AM so everyone could have a hot breakfast. His father saved enough money to send them to the best schools in the city. So they settled on small compromises. In some way, trying to be like their parents, without quite becoming them.
On a bus journey back from his parents’ place, he comments on how lovely filter coffee is, and how they really must stop drinking the awful Red Label tea. In his eyes, she sees a deep yearning for the comfort filter coffee promises. The swirl of froth lifting anxieties, and a minor advancement in contentment. They buy a steel filter set, and have an argument about the exact proportion of chicory and coffee powder. Their argument oozes love and nostalgia, as they evoke the ghosts of grandparents, the edicts of great aunts and throw in some knowledge of basic chemistry.
They are full of love and caffeine for a week. Their days start with hot water trickling through coffee powder. Their evenings uplifted. How banal making tea from tea bags seemed. How utterly bereft of spousal affections.
And then, the tensions begin to buid. One day, he complains that the coffee smells burnt, another day it’s too watery. She blames the milk, he blames her lack of committment to good coffee. Perhaps the precision and time it takes is too much. Too much to demand from a person who doesn’t care that much about filter coffee, but is swayed by what a perfect brew brings out in their beloved. They fought. His heart nearly broke.
When she asked him why he didn’t just make it himself, perhaps he couldn’t quite tell her that he wished to experience, for five minutes everyday, what his father did.
And thus she hatches her plan. In a hidden cupboard, she stocks up on instant coffee. Easy to make, and consistently inferior. She pretends she makes fresh filter coffee everyday. He drinks it gladly, imagining himself as a man who in thirty years will sit in a rocking chair, clutching the very same tumbler. Sometimes in the middle of a fight over something else, she wants to break it to him – that he is a poser, he doesn’t really know the difference between filter and instant. But doesn’t.
He is grateful for the love and devotion it takes to make the filter coffee. When friends visit, he hands them their cups, extolling its virtues over instant coffee, and how he has to come to appreciate its fine aroma, its firm body and wholesome creaminess.
Thus it was. She saved time, and spent a bit more money. His heart didn’t break, and his tongue never really knew the difference.
PS – I can’t remember the last time I wrote a fiction fragment. If anything, I have maatuponnu to thank. Reading her little piece of fiction today, another story entered the mind. And since I haven’t written in a long time, be kind..