Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Withered blooms

How green is my garden!


Our gardener and I share a love-hate relationship. I love seasonal flowers and he hates them. He thinks of flowers as pests and keeps wondering what earthly use are they. If he could have his way he’d transform our little garden into a vegetable patch. “You can eat fresh vegetables everyday!” is his standing argument, for which he has encroached a third of the area and planted his utter favorites – gourds, methi and spinach.

No amount of persuasion with this ‘maali baba’ works, so I usually pitch in myself, while he watches with a disdainful sneer. My experiments always start with sowing the seeds, waiting patiently for a month for the plants to sprout, losing patience and invariably ending with a shamefaced visit to the nursery for plants ready to bloom. Despite the fiascos which happen every year with monotonous regularity I haven’t lost faith in myself- one day I’ll grow, and not buy, my seasonal flowers.
And a month ago I found the big polythene bag bulging with seeds. They were not labeled but I was sure that they were the same I had painstakingly collected last year. I rushed with it to the garden- getting our all-in-one office boy to strew them in the characteristically empty flower- bed was a matter of minutes. And then the wait began.

This year it looked like my persistence was about to be paid off. Tiny, bright green plants sprouted and soon covered the barren flower-bed. Excited I emptied a bucketful of fertilizer and was rewarded with a fresh burst of growth which threatened to choke the bed. Getting to thinning down the plants, I carefully plucked plants by handfuls and replanted them in all the flower-pots and remaining flower beds. Still there was a surplus and working on the ‘do unto your neighbors ….’ principle, I distributed it freely to neighbours, advising them sagely to plant not more than four plants per pot.
“What is it?” one of the ladies asked, eyeing the tender green plants.
“Oh, flowers…,” I said with a superior smile, these people knew so little about plants, “multicolored flowered, they’ll bloom in March!”
“They look familiar, you know…” she said a bit doubtfully. I couldn’t help laughing, “Oh, they do, but don’t worry they’re those lovely flowers…”

I rediscovered the joys of nurturing- watering the plants diligently, swatting away our pet when he tried to eat the labours of love and everywhere in our garden I could see the pearls of my hard-work.

But something was missing. The one thing I do know about flowering plants is that they start budding when the weather turns warm. And mine were just going on sprouting more and more leaves. Maybe they would bloom late, I told myself and sprinkled some more fertilizer in the hope that it’d hasten flowering. They became positively luxuriant but still no budding.
And then, the other night it suddenly struck me, how come we had such a huge packet of seeds? Our measly buys from the nursery yielded hardly a spoonful, so where had that big polythene come from?
The next morning I surreptitiously compared the leaves of Baba’s spinach patch and my plants- they looked distressingly, alarmingly similar. I bit of tiny pieces of both- they tasted exactly the same!

I brought out the offending polythene bag and held it under Baba’s nose, “Which seeds are these?” I asked him, half-sure of his answer myself.
He took out a handful, peered carefully and put it back, “Spinach” he said happily, ”Keep it safely, we’ll use it next year,” he beamed more broadly, “this year you’ve done a very good thing by filling all those silly flower-beds and pots with spinach….”

Did I wait to hear more? I did not.
I was on my way on the oft-beaten track to the nursery.
And the neighbors are yet to know the truth.

A small voice: Celebrating Myself!

A small voice: Celebrating Myself!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Celebrating Myself!

Celebrating Myself!

Wow and thanks for giving me this opportunity to actually get around to think whether I am celebration-worthy! And Lo! What do I find? I am! Like so many of us ‘unsung heroines’ out there; like every lady with gumption out there!

The problem with us unassuming types  is the ‘Oh, no, it’s nothing’ syndrome, no matter how good we are, how tough and fruitful our journey has been, we brush it off with ‘oh everybody does that’. Yes, they do and we do and that’s why we ought to feel pride in our achievements – however small they are. Our humility, I can assure you, has only one outcome- being taken for granted and rightly so, if we can’t appreciate ourselves, why in the world anybody else would?

So, the title got me thinking- furrowed brows and all! Have I really done, as in, done anything stupendous? What is it about me that I can celebrate? Is there anything at all? Does being my mother’s only support in her last days count as important? Is raising a fabulous kid an achievement? Is holding a family together worthy of an award? Could I or would I give any credit to myself for becoming and being the person I am? Has my journey from a gawky girl to a self-possessed forty-something (you’ll never know forty-what!) been as simple as it looks?
Noooooo!!! NOT AT ALL!

I think, the fact that everything about me is a lesson in DIY- Do-it-yourself, is cause enough to celebrate. From choosing to study Literature when everybody around me was hollering ‘MBBS’!, to finding my soul-mate, to sticking to being a full-time mom and leaving a lucrative job against popular wisdom, to finding my passion for writing (you had guessed it, hadn’t you?) , to getting over rejection slips and plodding on till I got it right and published…..the list is long….I did do them all!
Add to that, that I was a novice at everything, being a wife, mother, teacher and writer and didn’t have the benefit of ‘mentors’, not even a Ma-in-law to teach me the basics of home- management!

And I learnt it all one tough step after another by myself! And I think I have proved myself in every field. Well- my hubby has survived 26 years of me, sonny is a source of pride and joy, students have been tremendously successful and more than anything, have become friends to me and lastly, kind editors are publishing my work- if that doesn’t entail a full-blast celebration- what does? Bring on the roses and tulips (glasses, I mean, but naturally!)
On a less boastful note, I take pride in saying that people who matter to me and vice-versa can always and I do mean, always, count upon me for love, support, sympathy and yes, hard-knocks when they’re needed. In a world that is increasingly becoming all about facades, with me, you get what you see – no pretensions, I personally feel, it must be so exhausting to pretend to be what you’re not. And I am proud, very proud of the fact hat I belong to the endangered species of those who never need to pretend; who have the courage to be always themsleves.
There have been many contributors in creating the person I am- the direct and the indirect influences; some taught me what to do and some, what not to..….both equally important.

And I think that means bottoms up for them all and yet another celebration!