Sunflower in my Garden

Few days ago, tending to a couple of plants I turned quite nostalgic.
On a different note, some of them have complained of the long sabbatical my blog has gone into. The timing couldn’t have been better to reproduce one of my favorite articles.

The train chugged lazily into the platform. It had been a strenuous journey during the peak of summer. It looked as if the locomotive in its serpentine charm was actually conspiring with the Sun-God. What else could you say when it arrived a good eight hours late? The journey proved to be a perfect foil to what could otherwise have been a perfect ending to the perfect summer holidays at our grandparents’ place.

Thankfully we were soon bundled off into the waiting car and were now heading home straight. Inside the somewhat cool interiors of the vehicle, I was safe from the wretched heat, but only after we reached home and saw my friends from the neighborhood, did I return to my usual self. Even in that tired and battered state, I gestured them to drop in at my place soon, so that I could show them all the purchases that I had made during the vacation. After a nice hot bath and cool glasses of lassi the elders settled down to unpack everything. By then, a couple of relatives also began to troop in while I was still waiting for my friends.

I decided to go and see for myself what was keeping them, when with a sudden gasp I remembered something! How in the world had I forgotten all about it? The heat was doing strange things to me, else how could I be so forgetful? With a great sense of urgency I dashed to the front porch, searching impatiently for it… and there it lay… the sunflower. Bathing in the evening sun in all its majestic splendour and waving daintily at me. Immediately, clutching my cheeks, my eyes shining with delight, and my mouth forming a perfect ‘O’, I squealed with ecstasy. I was enamored by its sight, to say the least, and I kept repeating to myself, “A sunflower in my garden…”

There wouldn’t be any sunflower without the sun. So the sun wasn’t so bad after all. Come to think of it, I had been cursing it heavily just a few hours ago.

While we were spending our vacation at our grandparents’ place, we received a letter from my mother announcing the arrival of the sunflower in our garden. Both my younger sister and I were in a hurry to see the sunflower but we had no intention of cutting short our vacation. But now when I was stroking it gently, I savored every bit of the occasion. I went a little nearer and, if I wasn’t mistaken, it actually smiled at me. Now my enthusiasm doubled. For one, I was in class IV (some big deal that!) and being a topper in my section, I was to be the class monitor. I imagined walking into the class and announcing with pride that there was a sunflower in my garden. After all, how many could boast of such a prized possession. For years, we had been leading a nomadic life, with our father’s transfer taking us to different places. But everywhere we went, there had to be a little patch of grass or at least a few pots in the balcony.

One of the earliest memories is of our balcony sporting an array of dahlias and roses in Delhi. When we moved to Gujarat, we had a garden ready even before we moved into our house for the simple reason that it was government quarters. There were tempting luscious guavas in the garden but before we got someone to pluck the fruits for us, the parrots would make a meal of them. So instead we satiated our appetites with creamy custard apples and tingling red berries. Occasionally, we even had some peacocks visiting us with whom we happily shared our berries. But soon it was time to leave our feathered friends and the garden.

This time it was Hyderabad, and my parents had to start right from scratch. They began by planting the humble money plant and some bougainvillaea and soon we had pretty roses, a banana plant and assorted vegetable plants like tomato, egg plant and ladies finger. The green thumb worked its magic and by the ensuing summer, the sunflower came to occupy the pride of the garden.

Although our interest in gardening was always kept alive, we never succeeded in having a sunflower again. Instead we were able to discover many other varieties of plants and each held its own charm. For instance, once we had an ajwain plant and we found a countryside recipe (discovered at a roadside joint while we were passing through a small village). The leaves dipped in gram flour batter is a delicious snack.

Flowers of all hues and variety began to bloom in our garden. Be it theparijata with its orange stalks or the sampangi giving forth its delicious fruity smell, the flowers would always take us to a different world. The saddest part would be when the time comes to move away from this city leaving behind us the small extension of our world that we have so lovingly created.

But that does not deter us; flowers and plants still continue to bloom amidst us. And it’s hard not to think of the sunflowers. It’s time we had them once again. So, maybe next summer!

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Admist funny world, funny people, a sunny spot.

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