Thursday, 9 July 2015

Nice Flowers

Some days come by for a reason. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

I know the man is looking at me as I approach him on the sidewalk. Growing up in India one develops a sense for such things, I can’t explain how. And I know what he is looking at…

But first lets go back an hour in time.

Walking like a man
Hitting like a hammer
She's a juvenile scam.
Never was a quitter.
Tasty like a raindrop. 
She's got the look.                 

Early in the morning, at the exact moment I step into the grocery store these words from (She’s Got) The Look by Roxette ring out and it’s #TBT (Throwback Thursday). I am back in High School. (This not so remarkable song except for the memory it triggers, was a chart topper in 1989, much played when MTV entered India in the early 90’s, it was MTV and not MTV India then.)

This song was my cue to walk (the ramp). So it all came back in a flash: vivacious girls, baffled teachers, and the boys…well, they were like footnotes: sometimes important, most of the time, just around. We were so busy dashing away in our two-wheelers exploring the depths and limits of freedom, that everything else was secondary. With a curiosity like ours, the mind was a bee, exploring this idea and then that, but never pausing–the final, inevitable pause was far, far away.

Now when I see those girls of summer on facebook even the idea of summer vanishes in a poof. I am sure they have happy, even fulfilling lives. Yet what an unimaginably long break from curiosity they seem to be on. But at that moment when that song played, and I was transported back in time, it was impossible not to smile remembering the same faces that these days fill me with disquiet.

Now as I am walking back home I see the man watching me. I had noticed him and his workmate on my way to the store. They are trimming the low-spreading junipers around the parking lot. It is a very humid day, a day that ordinarily gives rise to such lassitude that all sense of goodwill melts away. But I know this is not that kind of day. For it is a day of coincidences, and rare associations.

As I almost pass him by, the man looks right at me and as I had expected says, “Nice flowers.”

You see this is the second time in two weeks that this has happened with me. It is a small thing, but as I walk back from the grocery store, carrying a bunch of common, local flowers, I cease to be just me. I become a part of an association: perhaps a memory, perhaps a feeling in someone else’s life. A young woman last Thursday crossed the street to come up to say ‘Nice flowers’ and this man drenched in sweat, wiping his brow, now stops and looks up to say, 'Nice flowers'.

Remember that character, from that novel by Milan Kundera who plans to hold a blue cornflower in front of her face as she walks down the street to protect herself from the ugliness of urbanisation. Well, I am sort of like that character, though I don't carry flowers to shield myself. 

But the flowers I carry open a little space in someone else’s heart and mind. And those things lodged deep within that seemed forgotten come up for air in a rush. All transgressions are forgiven; all lapses become what they are, momentary. So we end up smiling and saying, ‘have a nice day.’

The only intrinsic part about meaning is that it comes from within us.

Some days come by for a reason. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.  

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