A ‘Sestina’ is a complex French verse form, usually unrhymed, consisting of six stanzas of six lines each and a three-line envoy. The end words of the first stanza are repeated in a different order as end words in each of the subsequent five stanzas; the closing envoy contains all six words, two per line, placed in the middle and at the end of the three lines. Here’s presenting a sestina on everyone’s popular love – chai!
She wakes up groggy, the tap water quietly goes tip-tip
And she wishes he’d put the good ol’ cup of tea
‘Softly on the table by the bed and she’d take a refreshing sip
Just right as usual, not too hot, not too sweet, not too weak’, this chai
‘Not too strong, not too much milk, and not a drop spilled in the saucer
A most amazing cove, Jeeves’. And there even be a Marie biscuit!
But what a pity! What a pity! There is no Marie biscuit
Or Jeeves or even the elusive cuppa; get up and start following Papa’s tip
Put half water, half milk in the teapot; reserve 1 spoon tea, 1 spoon sugar in the saucer
Drop it in when it comes to a boil, wait for the blush to appear in your tea
You will know when it is perfect, your toasty, misty, tasty chai
A perfect start to a perfect day commences from the first sip
Instantly, a million thoughts enter the mind, clamoring themselves for a sip
But wait, before the tsunami starts, I need to dip my biscuit
And sink deliciously into the comfort and clarity of my chai
Sweetness and a slight bitterness envelop the taste buds all the way to the tongue’s tip
I contemplate how to fix my TV remote and solve world hunger in the same sip of tea
The thoughts spill fast, as my tea spills of its own accord on the saucer
No rush though, this is Sunday morning, hence the little light blue cup ‘n saucer
Is the first friend I talk to; followed by more friends, more calls, more texts, and a sip
Chatting with mom, with books, with paintings and my bes-tea,
While we all exchange musings on our current, favorite rusk or biscuit
Did you grate or pound or candy your ginger, what’s your secret tip?
Is it poha or pakodas with your kadak adrak ki chai?
The discussions get animated, we have our veins coursing with chai
Each jittery and excited, talking, laughing, the cup clinking back onto the saucer
Giggles galore, gossiping wide-eyed, the little finger joining in too – with its frolicking fingertip
But before we know it, we are at the end, it is time for the last sip
Time for the dregs and the last bit at the bottom of soggy biscuit
What a pity, what a pity, our hearts sing as one for more tea!
‘Hell, it is well known, hath no fury like a woman, who wants her tea
and can’t get it’. A 5 am trek to the Hawaii Starbucks for tea latte ‘urf’ chai
Is perfectly normal, along with madeleines in lieu of a Marie biscuit
Or flitting off to a friend’s for milk like a furtive flying saucer
Something, anything, to satiate the need for the next sip
I am a tea lover, nay, an addict! I proclaim with a hat tip
An ode to tea is now complete, I can’t however, fit this ‘saucer’
In this ravishing rhyme for my beloved chai, and the super slurpy sip.
Tip-tip, tip-tip, all I can do is drown myself in tea like a biscuit.
-by Palak Verma
Palak Verma is daughter of Prem Kumar Verma, a Petroleum Engineering Alumnus of IIT(ISM). She is a Data Analyst and lives in Atlanta. On weekends (after her chai) she likes to go on nature walks, write, paint and vibe to her favorite Spotify playlist.