We were sitting under the shade of the tree in front of Hansa-ben’s tidy hut in her village of Fatepurah. She had made us a cup of tea in the traditional Indian way by boiling tea leaves with water, milk and sugar. She asked me if I would like her special Cha masala to which I readily agreed. The aroma of black tea leaves boiled with ground cloves and cardamom is irresistible.
The honorific title of ‘Ben’ or ‘elder sister’ given to Hansa is because the entire village regards her as such. She is a widow, and the eldest member of the Tamasha group. Her husband died a couple of years ago, a death that could have been avoided had there been a doctor or a qualified nurse close at hand.