For the family lunch on 25th December I thought I’d get some flowers to put in the vase on the mantle piece. This was a special day since all the children with their families were going to be there with dad. Except mum.
Mum slipped away on 20th December, but not before she instructed us that come what way the show must go on. So she selected the menu and had a word with the cook who specialized in Goan dishes. This 25,th 10 years on, we remembered her again. She used to love flowers. So I picked up 3 stalks of chrysanthemums, white, yellow and blue to represent the 3 families who were gathered together. (Later I realized they were not really chrysanthemums but a sprig of flowers which seemed wild in their abandon.)
Mum also used to like bougainvillea. The blaze of colour which often perimetered a courtyard or garden used to often elicit a breathless remark of admiration. Crotons were her favourite. These flowerless plants demanded all her attention, but their presence with their splotches of bronze, ensured a sedate outlook on life. These were the simple joys of nature that used to thrill her heart. Like getting up early in the morning and listening to the chirping of the birds.
Flowers are gentle reminders of the presence of a person. Earlier I used to adorn her grave with carnations – white, but now they seem too lush to stitch up the grief.
There was also a funeral on 25th December – of a 2-year old infant. Her name was Angel Merry. Perhaps the parents knew she was going to be an angel soon. Sometime ago a young couple had a child which had a rare lung condition. They knew Gabriel was going to die. After a wait which might have been excruciating for the parents, one more little angel fluttered into heaven. Who ordains the time we live on this earth?
As the year draws to a close, it is indeed dying away into history. However some memories never die. No matter how many years roll by.
Flowers help us come to terms with the inevitable. Personally, I love the sprightly lilies, but each stalk retails at Rs. 50. You don’t see too many hollyhocks these days. Like the sparrows they seem to have all disappeared. Poinsettias, though often dwarfed, look vibrant and vigorous. But they seldom last long.
I used to have pots of Jasmine (mogra) just outside the window of my barsati in Delhi. The sweet fragrance was almost like the presence of a person in my solitary existence.
Every morning, in the garden outside my window, a gent comes along and plucks all the radiant hibiscus from the only plant there is – ostensibly to offer it for prayer. On a previous occasion I have hollered at his wife to spare some on the verdant bush so the people around too may beautify their lives through the day. So far it has fallen on deaf ears.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 28 December 2014. Pix of Alda Mendonca and Alex Mendonca, with Kevin and Brian. c1965