I’m nothing unusual really, just a little cup in the hands of a young nomad woman. She has six other cups just like me. I don’t even have a handle and I am not very big at all. A finjaan is what I’m called, and I hold coffee for my owner five times a day.
The young nomad woman sets the other cups and me on a little metal tray.
She sets the tray on the dirt beside her little charcoal stove and begins to fan the coals with one hand while shaking a metal cup of coffee beans over the heat with the other.
The beans begin to smoke and the aroma fills the round dome-shaped tent of the nomad woman. Laughter fills the room; deep chuckles and throaty voices of old men. They are reclining on blankets and mats in the tent as they wait for their coffee to be served. The man with the big grin and missing teeth is the young nomad woman’s husband. He is old, but he is kind. She has borne him a child already, so he is very proud of her. Her tiny baby boy is sleeping in a bundle on her back. She has tied him there and he is quiet and peaceful.
The nomad woman puts the coffee beans in a thick wooden cylinder and pounds them with a heavy metal rod.
She pounds the beans, along with a large piece of ginger, then coaxes the grounds into the long thin spout of her gourd-shaped clay coffee pot. She pours water in and sets the pot on the coals. The drops of water that escaped down the sides of the pot now sizzle on the fire.
When the coffee bubbles, she knows it is almost ready. She removes the pot before the dark froth bubbles up the long spout and spills out onto the coals. She sets the round clay pot on a ring made of reeds that keeps it sitting upright while the coffee grounds settle to the bottom. She picks up something that looks like a wad of crumpled string. It is really a tangled ball of camel tail hairs. She has crafted them into a filter that is stuffed into the spout of the clay pot. The camel hair keeps the coffee grounds and ginger threads from pouring out with the coffee.
Not much coffee will be poured into me, however, because the young nomad woman has already filled me and the other cups more than half-way with sugar. She holds the clay pot of coffee high over the tray and begins to pour the dark liquid in a thin stream, like a black ribbon, into each of us until we are filled to the rim with the steamy beverage.
And now, it is time to serve the men in the tent. The young nomad woman lifts the tray with me and the other cups of coffee. She offers us to the men. Dark leathery fingers reach toward us as the old men lean forward and take us by our rims. The boiling liquid will not burn them. Many years of holding hot coffee have calloused their skin.
The conversation wanes and is replaced with the satisfied sounds of approval, as the men sip the coffee and feel the strong flavor of ginger burning their throats when they swallow.
“Te’uum buun!” They say to the young nomad woman. She smiles shyly and looks down at the ground.
This is her life. She knows nothing of the outside world. She is simple. She builds her tent, she milks her camel, and she makes coffee five times a day for her husband and his friends. She has her lot and she does it well. Her cup is full.
I am like her. I am nothing unusual really, just a little cup in the hands of a young nomad woman. She has six other cups just like me. I don’t even have a handle and I’m not very big at all. But five times a day I make my owner’s guests happy. Five times a day my cup is full.
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