Thursday, September 16, 2010

The first bud

"Just living is not enough... One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."
~ Hans Christian Andersen
I spotted the first bud on my baby orchid plant today. There it was sitting pretty with a magenta pout amidst its family of older blossoms, who had walked out of the store with me. And since this is my first orchid, this wee bit o' bud made me really happy, very much childlike. I had often wished to buy one but something or the other would come up in the way. It must have been the geraniums. Their plump pink and scarlet clusters would always lead me astray. Wherever I have lived, however the climate, I've always had a geranium. It has been a bit like carrying ones own weather around!

When it comes to plants, I can be quite fussy till I have read and reread the instructions that come with the pots and sometimes even after that I'm not happy. I hunt down every little detail about them in Wikipedia, just to make sure nothing goes wrong in their nurturing. I have never been so thrilled about my flowers except the time when I was the proud owner of a potted lavender in Seattle. Lavender has a special place in my heart - be it the colour, the fragrance or the flower. I would sit by it every evening with a book and would have my own little sessions of aromatherapy in the patio, lost in its balmy fragrance. It was a hard time, watching the frost get it and eventually its death during the first snow of that year. All that remains is a handful of the dry blossoms carefully preserved in a little silk pouch. Sigh!

This season it's going to be just the good old sturdy chrysanthemum. Or as the Americans call them, the 'mums'. No one else can put up such a brave show in front of the harsh north American winter. Thank god for their stoicism, for in spite of the chill and the snow outside there will be colour, warmth and a kindling hope inside.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Of birthdays

I remember how I used to draw little glitter stars every year on the 2nd of September in my diary when I was young and happily dumb in the ways of the world. It's strange how fast, and with what vengeance the years creep ahead and very often it's with a jerk of strong emotions we realize that things have actually changed. I got my father's first email birthday wish today and needless to say, it felt 'capital'. I love the fact that in spite of the infinite miles we can communicate in more than one way. Although his mail has the natural eloquence that is expected of a retired professor of English, every time I read it I somehow stop at this one line --"Every year this day, I remember the night you were born and the subsequent birthdays we observed together." It has been more than four hours since I got his mail and I am still not able to shake off the nostalgia.

Birthday is the most awaited of all days in a child's calender and I was no different. I remember this day when Ma would prepare a grand feast for my friends in the evening and how after all the hullabaloo was over we would watch a movie that was rented especially for the occasion. A certain uncle who is a close family friend and also happens to be one of my father's oldest students would take my picture for what he called a 'memory photo'. This was an unfailing ritual for him every year and I reveled in the moment all decked up in my birthday finery. After all I was his beloved Sir's 'little girl'.

All this feels like a long lost era now. In the meanwhile this little girl grew up into a rebellious brat and now has a little world of her own. Where did those days go? Sure there are the ever faithful memories, and a trunkful of them I have, to revisit these happy days. But they don't help every time, they are not the real deal. Sometimes I wonder why do we have to grow up at all? Because then we grow out of certain moulds and fall into some less cherished ones. Here I am, a woman of 27, going on 28 arranging and rearranging the clutter of emotions inside my helpless head. Still, the one thought rules -- Why do we have to grow up?!

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