Tuesday, August 12, 2008

when plants die

Strange. I didn't think I would feel this devastated when the recent cyclonic weather in Mumbai destroyed two of my favourite plants.... took them away. One was a delicate bamboo that i had nurtured over four years. It was my favourite. Why? Because it was so undemanding... it never sulked, nor did it ask for any special treatment. Quite unlike my frangipani, which was moody, even downright rude! It had flowered just once.... and most grudgingly. I had greeted the fragrant blossoms with whoops of delight.And showed them off to indifferent visitors like they were my grand children. That was it. Perhaps embarrassed by all the attention, the frangipani had withdrawn into a sullen refusal to produce more blooms. Despite the petulance, I loved its graceful branches and bright green leaves. I even loved its bare phases when the branches resembled amputated limbs.Now that's gone , too. The cruel fury of monsoon winds blew both these beauties away. And suddenly I was left with the abandoned ferns that had stubbornly stayed on. I stare at them and feel nothing. I continue to mourn the ones that have gone. I wonder whether they will miss me as much as I am missing them.
People can be divided into Plant Persons and Non-plant persons. You now know which category I fit into.The best plants are the ones that someone presents you. Someone who understands.And it's always interesting to see which plant that person picks. My friend Punita , who runs a charming art gallery called Hacienda, always knows. The loveliest plants in my small collection have come from her. I don't know how to break the news that the two I lost were also given by her. She may have forgotten. But I haven't. For, to gift a plant, is to gift life. It is a responsibility. And an honour. I feel like I have let Punita down. I hope she forgives me...


*Aham* said...

There are 2 of my experiences that I want to share with you...

I had a minature ficus (banyan) tree. I spoke to her every day... (when no one was looking). she was growing so I thought that its wice for me to give her more space. So I decided to plant her on my way to school. One day when I came home, I found the pot broken and the plant lying down. The stem was broken, and the roots scattered. I tried replanting her. But she died.


When I was around 7 years old, I still clearly remember, I used to sit in the window pane of my balcony and observe closely the branch of a tree that protruded into our balcony. I thought trees could speak, and the tree wanted to tell me something. But I couldn’t understand. I used to observe the tree daily. One evening, as I sat on the window pane, I could see no branch. The tree was axed. I could just see a small portion of the bark of the tree. I ran down and reached close to the tree. There was a white liquid on the tree. “The tree is crying”, I told my mom.

Thanks to these inspiring moments.. I am a graduate in botany.

And you would not remember. A decade back, You had come to Khalsa college, Matunga to judge an event. That was the first year that I, a student, then, had kicked off the idea of gifting saplings with a note "Gifting you a life". You were the first person to be given the sapling.(And That was my first performance on stage, with you as the judge)

Kris Bass said...

I think I can safely say that I'm a no-plant man. But, I have nothing against them.

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Awww that's bad.I love plants,they are green friends who can never be envious!

Anonymous said...

M'am De',

I am not quite sure about the emotions evoked out of plants and non-plant persons.

I can only share what I had to do and follow to maintain a Tulsi Plant.

For all obvious reasons most of us keep one Tulsi plant in the best found corner of our homes. I too have and maintained as long as I remember.

There's a catch that it had to be replaced for thousand different reasons each time it dried or didnt survive.

Blame the freelance mali, the soil, the breed, the sun, and all such reasons what the house maid's gossips.

While all this kept happening my wife acquired a Tulsi plant for its herbal qualities for my chronic cold. As we used more and more leaves in tea preparation this plant grew more and more. It became stable while the other tulsi kept on giving their way.

One fine day for a special reason I decided to keep a pot and a plant outside our Flat door. My instincts forced me to keep a Tulsi Plant not realising it wont get enough sunlight and the neighbours objections and the house maid's gossip enough for it to survive.

M'am the plant (Tulsi) wont survive more than a day or two. Each time the reason was new and obvious. Every two days we had to start looking for a new Tulsi Plant.

After about a month and after all sorts of challenges of negative energy and logic reaching my ears, my trouble shooting instincts took charge of the situation.

I called my freelance mali and paid him an advance to buy seven pots of tulsi plant and replace each day with another.

The trick worked but about after a while . The plants still keep drying but now the one outside my Flat door remains Fresh all the time.

I subscribe to your theory partially as I identify my never to give up attitude and survive the worst odds.

Vinod Agarwal - Tips on How to survive TULSI

Rambunctious WhipperSnapper said...

.."The cruel fury of monsoon winds ........ I am missing them."

Why do I feel that this is a metaphor for the comments on your last post?

Ok ... kidding :P ....

flygye12 said...

plant person here

*raises left hand*

but what to do when u come home on leave to find the lovely Bonsai(s) u had created when u were a boy have wilted due to cruel neglect of ur non-plant parents :(

Arjun said...

my father and grandfather.. they're like men with green thumbs.... me.. I tried for a bit and then gave up!

But yes - I'm an animal person... so the feeling of losing someone / something that was dear to you after watching it grow... it is terrible

Al Walling said...

uhmm.. i'm a non-plant person... but i'm all for greenpeace.
loved this blog. i'm so gonna make my mom read it. she's a plant person.

Prasan said...

Thats very similar to how i felt when I returned home from aborad and realized that the July26th deluge had destroyed my beloved Tulsi plant....

But I can't really blame anyone for it...can I?? :)

Anonymous said...

Your Post here reminds me of a Barbara McClintock quote: "I know my corn plants intimately, and I find it a great pleasure to know them.”
Totally resonate with the loss you feel about the bamboo and the franjipani(i prefer to call it the temple tree, thanks to geoffery bawa!)..and also that the bare tree is graceful too. Me a plant person, and strangely not an animal person!
And if you may find it curious,
A Varanda do Frangipani" by Mia Couto might be a good read at this stage..it represents the shedding of tree's flowers as passage of time and all else that follows..i wasnt gifted a plant ever except for on facebook:-), but happened to be gifted that book..long ago...

sanjuayyar said...

oh plants and trees are as essential as water and air. no amount of technology can even match up to an iota of the green cover, oxygen and shade they provide. i have a superstition. a big one actually. i live in rented premises and after every year or two when i shift to a new residence i make sure that my apartment compound has palm trees. might sound downright stupid, but yes, i believe that brings me good luck. and of course, i have the kadi patta plant among other saplings at home. the kadi patta, more so, for it comes quite handy while cooking, which is another big hobby of mine.

Maddy said...

I could understand your feeling. I was long ago Plant-person,not anymore because of the same feelings you have expressed.

Auh!! What a senti person you are!!

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