There are very few people who don’t enjoy their piping hot cup of tea for their morning caffeine kick. Regardless of the type, tea comes from different tea gardens across the globe. But have you ever stopped for a moment to wonder about the tea farmers who toil away their lives to ensure that we don’t miss out on our daily cup of chai? Here is a glimpse into the life of a farmer whose hard work is in every sip of tea.
As I walk through the picturesque tea gardens on my way to work, I am struck by the beauty the land holds. Would it not be a pleasure to the eyes to work in these gardens? When I first joined, I often spent hours daydreaming about the lands and the secrets these fields hold. Farther into the distance, I spot the women I work with, already diligently working their way through the leaves.
Today, I am juggling multiple jobs at once. Only 18 months old, my child is strapped onto my front with the fading brown cover I plan to replace soon. I would be filling at least two baskets today. There has been a big order, and I might have to work overtime today. But my employer was kind enough to let me bring my child to work and offered me pay for my extra efforts as well.
People always ask me if my back aches with the weight of the two baskets. But I enjoy my work. The weight on my back makes me feel independent, for I am earning my own wage, and the late afternoon sun embraces me in its sweet rays. My brand new kurta, a gift from my husband for the new year, flutters in the slight wind that passes through the fields.
As I absentmindedly make my way through the bushes, my reverie is broken suddenly by my baby squirming. Looks like she has woken up from her nap. I quickly pat her back and sit down against one of the many trees on the field, admiring the setting sun, and the warmth my child brings to my bosom.
Tomorrow, I have to visit the doctor. Every month, all the women in the field are taken for regular checkups to the nearest hospital. Although it is just two hours away, we enjoy this temporary break from our everyday lives. I can hear someone calling my name in the distance and realise that dusk has already arrived and the bustling fields have become silent once again. The birds have all gone back to their nests, and it is now time for me to return home. I hurry back to put the rice on the stove, for my family.
With the advent of technology, traditional tea gardens are slowly losing momentum, degrading to just a tourist spot. As the community of tea farming becomes continuously smaller, it is time that we step up to protect and honour them. So the next time you are enjoying the rain with your warm cup of tea, do not forget the hard work of the hands that pluck the leaves of your tea.