That intangible fragrance of tea leaves withering in gigantic troughs always left me nostalgic.  Having spent all of my childhood days on the periphery of a large tea factory, this particular aroma cushioned my days in warmth, security and a sense of belonging. It was always a fresh, clean, vibrant, grassy, vegetal and earthy air that we breathed. The large troughs had immense big industrial fans at one end and by late evenings when the trough were filled with freshly harvested green leaves from the estates, the fans were turned on full blast. The whirring sound was loud to the ears and normal decibel of conversation was raised a notch higher. The blast of air which cooled the leaves would easily reach our humble settlements. In the intense heat of Assam’s summer nights, the breeze from the fans brought much needed cool relief and many story telling sessions extended far into the night under starlit skies. Life with its certain quirks and turns deposited me far away from these idyllic settings. Confused and cut off from all things familiar, the child in me adapted soon while dreams and stories merged somewhere at the back of the mind. Several years passed before I found myself trotting back home. Down the same road which seemed to have shrunk, it was that familiar  magical  fragrance of fresh withered tea  leaves which struck me like a well aimed punch to the gut as I dissolved into the arms of my waiting  Ma.  Things have come a long way since then and I am fortunate to be breathing the same aroma of freshly harvested tea leaves being withered to the exact texture so that a perfect cup of golden brew can be relished somewhere beyond.  Someone rightly said tea embraces and connects anyone who wants to be connected.

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