Force field

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“The first day of the New Year!” exclaims Bins, leaping out of bed and slamming on the overhead light. “Come on — we must make resolutions!” But the sun’s not risen and neither have I. “You go ahead,” I mumble, with the pillow over my face to defend myself against wakefulness. “I’m still watching the end-credits of last year’s dreams.”

“Pooh! You don’t scare me!” says Bins, snatching the pillow away. “My first resolution is to force you to wake up early EVERY DAY.” I snatch the pillow back, snarling, “—in which case, MY first resolution is to resist everything you do to so-called IMPROVE me!” Needless to say, however, I am now awake. And grumpy. It’s barely six o’clock. Outside, the sky has not yet shaken off its nightclothes. My warm toes shrink from the cold interior of my slippers.

“Second resolution: to force you to make tea every morning with a smile!” says Bins, grinning like The Joker. Nothing thrills him more than to torture me when I am not yet fully armed with consciousness. “But I DO make tea every morning...” I protest.

Strictly speaking, this is not true. Bins makes himself the first couple of glasses and then, when I wake up, I make some more. We’re major tea drinkers, Bins and I. We use one of those infuser-strainers that fit over the tops of mugs (or, as in our case, glasses), into which the tea leaves are placed and boiling water poured through.

“But you don’t smile while you’re doing it,” says Bins. “That flavours the tea with bad temper. Then when we drink the tea, our chakras start spinning counter-clockwise.” I am now in the kitchen, boiling water. “Chakras!” I snort. “Don’t tell me we’re becoming mystical in our old age?” “Third resolution: to force you to become more mystical in your old age…” says Bins, as he ducks to avoid the thunderbolt I fling in his direction. “What’s with all this FORCING!” I exclaim. “Why must all YOUR resolutions involve ME?”

“If I tell you, you will not smile,” says Bins. “And since you are making the tea, it could have terrible consequences for the rest of the year.” “Oh go on, tell me anyway,” I say, as I wash out the old tea-leaves from the infuser and throw in a teaspoon of fresh dry ones. “No, no, no,” says Bins steepling his eyebrows to give himself what he thinks is a pious expression. “The first tea of the New Year is the Tea of Power. If it is good, the whole year will be fragrant and energetic. If it is bad…” and he gives a Gallic shrug “…the year will be full of stinks and weasels.”

So of course, I begin to smile. “Weasels?!” I say, as the kettle whistles and the water boils. “Why weasels, specifically?” I pour the water through the tea. “Why not?” asks Bins. “Good point,” I say, as the tea-scented steam rises up from our glasses. I add a drop of milk.

Bins raises his glass. “May the Force be with you,” he says, winking. “And with you,” I grin, as we clink glasses.

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column

Last episode: Purple Haze

Next episode: Hands on

Published on January 01, 2016

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