A chaiwala's absences and silences
I have been gone I know. I have been gone a while. From the incessant servings of tea and from that cart of mine upon which sits my kettle and my stove and my hunched throne of wood and beaten tin. I have been gone a while and the coals have fallen cold and the tea now dry and turned a crumble of dust. And there’s nobody I can see where I used to be. It used to be a throng all day my cart across the street, and often a throng by twilight and night, because the throng wouldn’t have me gone, the throng would only have me there and my tea. And now I have been gone.
To another place. Gone like a tear, gone like a tear one night that dissolved in the darkness behind me and became a tear that could not be traced. I left no sign of where I went. Gone another place not altogether gone. And I said this past week a bit about what sent me away and why I went. Because of the noise and the clamour which I couldn’t any longer bear because there was just one voice and that one clamour. I am one of many noises and many clamours. I am one of a hum. It had ceased to hum. It had begun to hurt. Just that one noise and just that one clamour. One clamour is no clamour. A clamour needs another, a counter-clamour, and then it is that it begins to sound like a clamour.
I came away to silences. Not the one silence because one silence is no silence because it begins to repeat itself and then it makes a sound and ceases to be silence. One silence is no silence. I came away to many silences. Many silences that fall upon each other and shut each other up and keep everything silent.
I came away, raking a tear from my throne of wood and beaten tin on the cart, all the way to where I am, but I left no trace because it was by night I began to come away and the tear and all the marking dissolved into the darkness behind me. I chose my many silences, so many they have taken me in softened layers, one upon another seamless and yet sewn, one into another and around me. And so wrapped I am in warmth I wonder how, if ever, I will shake these layers off and begin to walk and mark another trail, another tear on earth, to come back to where I was the longest time. Or whether I may even ever want to do that. To return to that single noise and single clamour. And that single claim that TheChaiwala makes that he was a chaiwala and that is how he became TheChaiwala. I was a chaiwala. Oh once I was, and may yet be again. But TheChaiwala I never was or would ever want to be. Because, you see, I am also who they call Mahadeb, and even when gone I am forever there. Here. There. Every possible where. With wings that fly the lengths of time.
Where’s to go? Where’s to even go? Or even be? Where’s to even be. Every place is another from another place. You are one place and there’s another. You go another and that one place has turned another. It’s what it is with places and going. It’s you who turn a tear, between one place and another, a line, jagged or curled or even straight, between one place and another. That’s who you become: a mark like a tear, or even a cut, running whole between one place and another.
When you fly you scratch the sky. When you drive you burn the road. When you train you rip the rail. When you sail you chop the seas. When you walk you sound like going. Or you sound like arriving. And in between going and arriving and in between one place and another you mark a tear. An etch and another etch and then yet another. Etch. Etch. Etch. Until it begins to look like a sketch of all your journeying, and the beginnings and the ends get all so looped and jumbled, you cannot tell one from another. In that crawl of lines, zig and zag and up and down and this way and that and many different ways in many different shapes and times of day and dates fallen from the calendar like leaves of birch in Fall, there lies the flight of time to figure.