A Glass of Green Tea – A Poetic Narrative

A glass of green tea is a beautiful thing.

Greatly unappreciated – subsumed by the old, mashed up, fermented teas sold in these overly bright-coloured commercial shops that line my city;

A city that often makes one lose their identities;

I miss the young shoots standing upward in thrice filtered water;

Elegantly dancing as if in a well-rehearsed synchronized swimming routine;

Tender, slightly bitter – the memories of those lost days;

I can’t remember the year, but the tea was of that same age;

Hand-picked by a distant relative, shared in limited supply in carefully curated tin cans;

Gifted to me as a I returned back as a stranger to the town that carried my ancestral name;

The warmth of the glass, the hot steam fogging my glasses, liquid burning the roof of my mouth;

I remembered being surrounded by those who were supposedly my family;

Those I only met that day, previously unseen and foreign to my existence;

What brings two people together or a group from across oceans?;

To this table of dishes even more plentiful than the seats surrounding it;

The taste of stinky tofu fried, with simultaneous stench and savour;

Pickled vegetables from the months of painful potted preparation;

The meat fry, a tradition, for this time of year now the basis of a dish stewed and steamed;

The fish a staple, a bottle of local brand beer accompanying the lighter fluid, rice wine;

All around me kids, babies, a community, our town, my family;

Communal tables, low stools, barely inches up off the ground;

Fireworks the distance sounds, stray dogs, and motorbikes

Not colour but contour, roads surrounded by dikes.

I am not from here but part of me from a past was;

Now the product of fading five-second memories;

…..

Fast forward years later, what seems like a lifetime ago;

I had to go to work today, unlike Green Day – I was not on a holiday;

I see a lot of people who remind me of the cousins I feasted with;

Perhaps everybody is going for some sort of a feast tonight or at least have a bite of something that reminds them of who they are;

But they aren’t sharing their planned menus nor extending their invites. This seems like just a regular rainy day;

We all left our separate ways, barely even greeting each other in our own mother tongue;

I am at a table of four but today there’s only three;

Today I sit with a tea bag, lacking flavour. I ran out of the good stuff – it’s back to the bulk;

The tap water started out an unearthly nuclear green. But it has now been watered down by cup three;

I would be drinking a beer if anybody cared to ganbei;

I’m wondering why my culture has been watered down over time.

I’m wondering why I don’t have anyone to talk about this with;

I dream of that tea, that flavour, that depth;

Whether in another world I would be surrounded by elders;

By a heated coal fire, sharing stories of days past and ambitions for tomorrow;

Today I barely keep up with news present;

They fill our minds with our supposed backward practices;

They tell us we’re infectious and that we don’t belong in nice homes;

We walk zombie-like through these white corridors at work;

Pompous posturing in this supposed post-everything world;

For breakfast I had bland coffee and a bag of candy;

I can’t pretend this shit is all good and dandy;

When it’s through other people’s misdoings, that they shelf me and brand me;

Turned from fresh leaves into ground sand, into ground up orange pekoe;

An unnatural colour tainted like when vanilla hits your chai;

Perhaps I will return one day to the tea fields;

So I can pick the shoots myself and dance once again;

 

 

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