I had dozens of marigold flowers in my hand, a garland of it actually. What lovers did to a rose, I did to the pretty orange flower. “He loves me, he loves me not,” I uttered, plucking out the petals one by one at first and then bunches of it together until all that was left in my hand was the green stub filled with white broken fragments of the petal base. I ended at “He loves me.” I thought of picking another flower. Instead, I closed my eyes.
When he was in pain, I felt the pangs. He ran against the odds, but I felt breathless. I would be worried about him, but his first words would be “How are you?”. No one said it would be easy, but being by his side made it all so. “Was this love?” I asked of the marigolds. They wouldn’t say.
As I sweat in the Bangalore heat, while doing absolutely nothing apart from just breathing, which you would all acknowledge is a very crucial, and from what I know the most important factor for our existence, I think back of the vacation I recently took. And promised a second post on.
In my mind, as I say the word, Valparai, I close my eyes to be welcomed to memories of our four wheeler rushing through the short winding roads through hills, while green stems and young branches fell out of line by the side of the road, swaying to greet us. We are rushing past them, honking at each hairpin bend, serpent turns, waking us out of the slumber of hill travel every now and then, fascinated by the depths which greeted us to our right and the heights which beckoned us to our left.
I see a kaleidoscope of butterflies pass us, yellow this one. My reflexes are too slow to brandish the phone camera for a shot of them. I simply close my eyes to capture the moment. Sometimes, I wish I had a pensieve to keep these memories untouched. But in its absence, National Geographic will have to do. The Sun, which at the base of the hills was unforgiving, seemed to be playing hide and seek with us as we travelled upwards closer. The clouds ran helter skelter, giving us a peak a boo of the scorch every now and then. It was almost lunch hour when we reached the outskirts of Valparai and unbelievable as it may sound, or read, there was rain, just like Google weather had predicted! Bless technology and the genius minds that worked behind it.
Valparai is so untouched by commercialization, that it was difficult to find a place to stay. We ended up finding a place that seemed like it had been vacated after its occupants had packed bags and moved to the city for better earnings. They offered us a single room for ten people when actually advertising as a home stay! I wondered how the others would react for I was already prepared for a little adventure. Standing at the crossroads of the little town, I sighed audibly with relief when I looked up at the three storeyed building, catching the occupants of the top floor room, my friends, look out at the tea estates as far as the horizon permit, with enthusiasm and unwavering excitement.
The evening that we spent there has to be my most memorable in quite a while. Walking through tea estates, and (this time) long winding roads, with no vehicles to honk at us, no bikes to rush past us, no traffic at all, paradise was not even on my wishlist then. We sang as the sun set, clicked photographs of trees that formed patterns different to each of our eyes, posed by the side of the road wanting to post pictures online but never doing so, because we knew words would fail to describe the serenity we felt then. And we also didn’t want to lose those minutes buried in the phone. That says a lot about the place, doesn’t it? We saw people though. Some smiled at us knowingly, others gave us a pass, ignoring us as a brief little intrusion in their small town. A shopkeeper asked us our religion, offering a temple, mosque or a church to visit around accordingly. He chatted with us for over five minutes, but did not once try to sell his wares to us. So much for calling it a small town.
Often, things don’t make sense. Why does the Sun rise every day to set? Why do the flowers bloom only to be plucked by mischievous little bratty hands or to be offered at the feet of stone idols of the same Gods who created them in the very first place? Why are examinations more valued than the lives of those hundreds of young who succumb under their pressure? Why is a job position much greater than a friendship you’ve nurtured for years? Why is the money more important than the ailing parents you’ve left behind? Why is it selfish to love oneself and idiotic to love others (either ways, I’m slandered)? Why do we run after fame when oblivion is all that destiny can give us? Why is immortality a boon when you know all others around you will die? Oh and why we do we bake those immaculately beautiful and fabulous personalized cakes only to dismantle and eat them within a day or two?
I’ve diverted enough from what I really want to say out loud (or in this case, write).
Why do I hate loving you?
Often, things don’t make sense. And this is just the beginning of it.
She awoke to the Tyndall effect the rays from the nearest star made in her small room. She could see the dust particles dancing around each other. She wondered how much of it was cosmic. She smiled.
On her way to work, she bought more than a couple of roses from the young boy at the crossing. The water drops shone like precious stones on the petals. She smiled.
She typed out the report she was to submit. As her fingers moved across the keyboard, the clicks rhythmically buzzed in her ears. She thought of the electrons zigzagging through the silicon jungle within her laptop. She smiled.
She passed by a temple in the evening. She had never ventured into one. Yet, the smell of the incense sticks was her favourite. She smiled.
She popped corn kernels for a late night movie. The oil simmered and the kernels flowered with the pop, clonking against the lid. She smiled.
Recently, I went to an undisclosed location (the mystery is alluring) where we can safely say that birds and flowers can be found in abundance among other things (and it was no bird park. Duh.).
I have never fully appreciated the patience exuded by photographers who click bird pictures. Until I tried to capture their shots, of course! Birds are such elusive creatures! It seems as if they know that the shutter is going to close in on them and they just have to ruin the frame! So while my friend went on trying to capture birds, I stuck to the flowers. Well, for one they’re colourful and many. And secondly, THEY DON’T RUIN THE SHOT BY FLYING AWAY!!
Which reminds me that I have a bird shot from an earlier trip! Well, technically not so much because these birds don’t really fly away. But. Yeah. Whatever.
The old man had been unwell for more than a couple of days now. The fever wasn’t breaking. He wasn’t worried about himself though. He was worried about his garden. He’d newly planted Canna Lilies in them. They were Madam’s favourite. He would have instructed his helper how to care for them well but the helper was on leave. Either ways, he wasn’t too keen on his helper’s work.
This evening, he’d tried walking out to the garden but he barely managed to reach the door of his own room. The doctor had been called. He prescribed some medicines and assured it wasn’t anything to worry about. The old man chided the cook, “I told you so.”
It hadn’t rained for a week now. It was unusually hot. If it didn’t rain soon, his garden would start wilting. In a long time, he wished his helper was here. Or at least the rains were. Either wish seemed far from being realized.
His son was around the same age as his helper. Every time he saw his helper, it reminded him of his son; a reminder that wasn’t happy or heart-stopping, a reminder that was melancholic and heartbreaking. His son was a charm with plants, but didn’t see the charm in them. “I want to do something bigger,” he used to say.
But the old man didn’t know anything bigger. Sure enough, there were bigger businesses he knew about, like the one Sir and Madam were doing. But at the end of the day, even they would come and admire his work. “What was bigger then?”, he thought. Even after his son had started working in another city, he stayed back with Sir and Madam. They loved his work and he used to love working for them. They’d given him a place to stay in their servants quarters.
After the doctor left, he tried sitting up to look at what he could of his gardens. It was dim now post dusk and his feeble eyes didn’t help either. He spent his evening alternately watching the blades of the fan rotate and dozing.
Night fell early and in spite of having slept almost all day, he slept like a log through the night too. He awoke well after the Sun had risen. He was rolling in sweat and blankets. The fever had broken. He turned towards the window and there were drops of water clinging onto the grills of the window.
Hopeful, he went up to the window. It wasn’t an easy walk but far less painful than yesterday. Indeed, they were water droplets. As he stood in the pool of water below his window, his eyes saw moist and glistening grass outside his window. The flowers were gleaming and waving at him in the morning breeze. He was ecstatic. The God loved His work too!