I left home early to come to office. It had started raining and the morning sounds of my neighborhood shimmered with the rhythm of the rain. I walked up the small lane behind my house that joins the main road. There’s a pond on one side where buffalos bathe later in the day when the sun’s out. There are a few huts that house loud, cheerful children. One of them usually runs up and down my lane swinging a key chain in the air. Maybe his parents have told him that it’s a kite and it’ll fly someday if he keeps running with it. Just as I believed that the more up-market restaurants bred their own chicken- poultry that had four legs. That would explain why a plate of tandoori chicken in Sea Rock had four pieces, and one in Great Punjab had two.
I think of this lane as an excitable child. The leaves that flit about the road, the red mud that cakes the stones, the wet pebbles that tessellate the ground – they’re filled with such young urgency. They all have so much to say. Their language is yet garbled, and they make funny faces when they talk, but they’re adorable. When you walk on it, you want to ferret fantasies and stories and young dreams and foibles. Suddenly, they light up, tug your shirt sleeve, and make you listen.
At the end of the lane, where the main road begins, there’s a shrubbery. It’s an evangelical piece of work with the most angelic flowers. There’s one bunch of flowers that’s a clear cyan with white tendrils floating on it. It looks so beautiful, as if someone had held this flower over a Caribbean sea and let it absorb the colors and the sea spray. Next to this friendly bunch, nestled in regal poise, are some kind of startling purple peonies. Their petals feel like velvet. They’re rich and luxurious – the lining of a jewelry box. I want to place a tiny white pearl in the hollow of each petal and have it as a centre piece at my wedding reception.
I come closer to stroke them, and get a strange, eye-lid closing scent. I spend a few precious moments taking it in, the fragrance of this lush, floral opium.
A couple of girls stop by as well. Both are pretty and look like spring. I can imagine someone painting their profiles in a summer dusk. They approach the flowers a little hesitantly and feel them. Then, the taller girl smells one and asks her friend to sniff it. They giggle. The taller one is just about to pluck the flower, when her friend stops her and says, ‘Let it be.’
We move along. They walk ahead of me, chatting about the scent of what they’ve just touched. Then, they turn and get into the school for the blind.
It’s a lovely day, when we stop to smell the flowers.