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Hand in hand for eternity

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dad's Diary 10 - Irate Flowers

With her sharp features she could look beautiful if she had access to brush and colors. But the vicissitudes of life had taken its toll. Her imploring eyes and embarrassed smile said it all as she proffered a barely three inches long string of jasmine flowers.

“How much?” Swati asked, slightly perplexed as to what to do with it. She anticipated Swati's mental query as she quoted the price rather brusquely, “Ten rupees; keep it on the dash board.” Women in India actually look for jasmine strings of considerable length to wrap around artistically created hair-buns. Swati paid as she boarded the car. She clutched the money in her hand, raised it to her forehead, and said a silent prayer to God obviously invoking the Almighty's blessings for a hassle-free sale of her bunch.

With her apologies for jasmine strings she receded to her vantage point to survey for prospective buyers with practiced eyes. She kept a wary eye at the rubbish dump near a decorated florists' outlet. A nondescript boy under ten was scouting the dump.

Posh Connaught Place in Delhi, India, appears more starry than the sky on a clear night. All the eyesores on the ground remain carpeted under an unceasing twilight, rapiers of rays of light thrusting in and out of pall of darkness with opening and closing of doors and windows; the impact is further enhanced by diffused street lights.

Omkar, Swati's husband, had taken us all to dine in a fashionable eatery in the area. Before leaving I buttonholed the restaurant usher with a flood of questions. He revealed that the ten year old was his mother's partner. He was waiting for the florists' shop to dump its unwanted stuff which he would forage for 'still alive' flowers including salvageable floral parts for his mother to create strings, and eke out a living.

The boy's duty included washing the salvaged flowers with drops of water beseeching 'saans lo, saans lo (breathe, breathe)'. Flowers responded to his nimble touch by remaining alive for a while more to deck up his mother's strings.

A few months earlier Kriti and her husband, Arijit, drove us to Ocean City, USA. During a stopover, Kriti and I noticed a middle-aged woman with disheveled hair walking slowly towards us. “I think she will ask for money,” Kriti surmised/mumbled. The woman headed straight towards us and said something inaudible. She seemed to have seen better days when she had brush and colors; but now stood in sharp contrast to the ambiance of the area.

A few seconds later, “I say I am hungry,” she rasped in the most authoritative tone as if we were responsible for that. Kriti offered her a 5-dollar bill. She took it and walked away without even a 'thank you.' There plainly was an attitudinal problem. She crossed the road to her vantage point, and crossed herself, thanking God.

Behind the wilted jasmine flowers and the irate scorn of a wilted woman, however, there was a lesson to learn. These were the shields to protect themselves against losing their self-respect. They just did not want to be called beggars, and covered their callings with the best of available resources.

On way back from Connaught Place, as this thought struck me, the smell of car interior freshener metamorphosed into jasmine fragrance. I took a deep breath, but felt a throbbing pang; did we cheat them by offering so paltry a charity for so lofty an ideal?       


BY TAPAS MUKHERJEE

28 comments:

  1. Awesome..and very touching..to make us think.

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  2. Lovely piece - self-respect is such a difficult thing to hang on to but people do try. I've seen it in those little boys selling magazines to drivers stopped at traffic lights.I love your last line because in the end what we give them is a mere band-aid, not a real solution.

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  3. karma met karma lovely story, @ tapas my friend i will post the mirror of of the your post on karma in the morning it is just about finished. i hope i has the right change this time. really like this post.

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  4. Self-respect, or loving ones self, seems to lead to a happier life I think. I enjoyed this post very much.

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  5. Irate Flowers - what a post! Your dad has a unique writing gift,one of depth and soul. Had I been the begger, I'd have thanked you as well as God!
    God does bless through people at times:)

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  6. Wow your dad has a way with words.
    So poignant ad beautiful
    Blessings
    Jessica

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  7. Whatever I wanted to say has already been said by all these wonderful people, but I just want to add one more comment...not many of us can feel these poor people's pain, my Shloka is one such human being, she says,' we must acknowledge them as this might be the only time in the day they feel alive'. Thank you for such a sentimental and sweet post Mitr and her awesome dad.

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  8. What an insightful,sensitive writing hats off to you Mr T.M.
    Thanks

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  9. As I have stated before the daughter does not fall far from the father. You both have a wonderful was of telling a story and seeing one where others would just look on, missing so much of life!! :)

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  10. @Alpana - thanks for coming by Sweets : ) @ Lavina - so true just a bandaid @Roy thanks for coming by - Dad is waiting and so am I @Mari - so true : ) @Debra - that is such a beautiful comment - thanks a ton hon @Jess - I am his biggest fan : ) @Shloka kind of reflects that sentiment just by her looks - thanks a ton for your comment Mitr @Priya - thanks! @Nirupam - thanks a ton! @Jim - you are the best - thank you very much!!

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  11. Uncle ji, I am not sure if there needs to be a story behind each smile, but there surely is a story behind each scorn. I often miss to see those stories in my own busy life, until I stop and read a post like this which helps me ground myself a little in the grand scheme of things happening around all of us...
    I am a beggar too for something or the other, (may not be for food)... hiding behind a shield of pride and self respect, yet so needy within like that little boy or that middle aged woman, that many of us see every day but ignore to meet... Thank you for your soul searching articles!!!

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  12. Yes I remember that day....I remember having this discussion with Dad too...it's so amazing that he can create such heart rending stories, from everyday events....lovely post!

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  13. @Wrentham - OK : ) @Debbie - thanks a ton! @Jim - no you are : ) @Sheba - we are all beggars for something or the other - you are the sweetest person alive though : ) @Swati - agree completely - he's like a magician : )

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  14. What a sensitive post. How we take for granted what we have in life, we are so engrossed in our own lives that we forget that there are so many around us who are so needy. This article is a reminder that we should be thankful for what we have and be kind to those who don't have it all. Thank you for sharing this with us Kriti.

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  15. Thanks for visiting Laura's Thoughts on Scripture! Your "Dad's Diary" series is wonderful!

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  16. @Rimly - thanks for coming by : ) Kinda reminds me of one of your posts - where in a stranger wanted to say something to you.... @Laura - thank you for coming by and commenting : )

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  17. Mr MUKHERJEE,

    You write so beautifully that I almost forget the gravity of the subject matter. It is very said indeed that someone has to lose their self respect and resort to begging.

    I would assume that she is homeless. I feel you did the right thing. There are many homeless that cannot be contained within a shelter or home. I learned this when I was trying to find a shelter for a lady some years back.

    What gets drives them to such despair is sometimes a long journey and not always fixable.

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  18. That is so true Dede - Reminds of a book called "the glass castle" It was awesome!

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  19. How wonderful. Blessings on your Dad and you.

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  20. Congratulations on winning the Versatile Blogger award. I won also, nominated by JP Brandano. What a nice accomplishment for us both! It's nice to have our work recognized by our fellow bloggers. You would have been my first choice had you not already been nominated. :D
    Regards, Mari

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  21. @Sonia - thanks a ton for coming by and for the wonderful words : ) @Mari -thanks a ton for such a wonderful comment - that feels great : )

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  22. this was lovely...you dad's description was raw, organic, stirring emotions in many.
    sukanya
    ps: for some reason i am not able to comment with my login

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  23. Even the homeless have pride. So much insight, so beautifully said. This is another gem.

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  24. Sukanya - you came - thanks a ton! @Sweepy - thanks a ton honey...

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