With Cream, or Without?

[Listen to Asha read this story]

On one side of an endless merry debate were those who took tea with milk and coffee with cream. On the other side were those who took them without. Swamiji and I were steadfastly with; Jyotish and others were equally steadfastly without. There was much merriment as each side tried to prove the spiritual superiority of its own choice.

One day there was no cream or milk in the house. It was time for tea, the nearest market then was twenty miles away, there was no choice: all of us had to go without. I was sitting quite near Swamiji, and with a great show of reluctance, we lifted our cups at the same time and took a sip of tea without.

It was delicious! I could see Swamiji felt the same. “Say nothing,” he whispered urgently, with a surreptitious smile. “Think of the implications!” With my eyes I assured Swamiji, “I’ll never reveal the secret, not even if they torture me!”

The apex of absurdity was reached, however, a few weeks before the wedding of Jyotish and Devi. It was an ideal match. Swamiji gave them his heartfelt blessings; the whole community was delighted. Jyotish and a few others had come to Swamiji's house for a meeting. As the meeting ended, Swamiji lapsed into silence. He sat staring at the floor, as if trying to decide whether or not to speak. Then, with a deep sigh, he looked sadly at Jyotish.

“I don’t see how this marriage can work out,” he said. “How can Devi be happy with you? You’ll never be able to say to her, “You’re the cream in my coffee”!

Swamiji didn’t speak this line, however, he sang it. He went on to finish the verse from the 1920s popular song:

You’re the cream in my coffee.
You’re the salt in my stew.
You will always be my necessity,
I'd be lost without you.

We were laughing so hard we could hardly hear him. We asked him to sing it again, and he gladly obliged.

with Jyotish and Devi

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