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Nishagandhi, Nee Ethra Dhanya

August 3, 2022 @ 9.37 pm

7 years! That’s how long I waited. Sometime over the years, it became more than just a flower. I started reading more meaning into it and its refusal to bloom. It became a symbol, a metaphor, an encrypted message… of a dream that would never be fulfilled, of unattainable hopes, and deep longings that would never be realized, of something even I didn’t recognize within me, of what would never be… it had become more than a flower. It had become an emotion. An emotion in search of words. In search of a name.

A couple years, I saw buds in my plant. But none of them made it. Meanwhile the plants of friends and neighbors bloomed. I was invited to ‘viewing parties’. People who had taken propagations from me had blooms in a matter of two years. And friends from India sent pictures of the 61 blooms in their yard under a swollen moon. I was truly gutted.

Seeing my emotional outpouring on FB, someone I didn’t even know personally, out of the goodness of her heart sent me a plant – with a bud. In a couple of days that the plant came home, a rabbit made an appetizer of the bud. Needless to say, I was devastated.

And this year, when I finally saw a healthy bud that looked like it would make it, I was afraid. Terrified. To go near it, to look at it, or even to think about it. I dared not take a single picture of the bud. I taught my mind to be casual about it. Not to rush to my plant first thing in the morning and check if the bud was still there. I tried to be quite cool about it. Detached, even. As I passed the plant everyday, I cast just a sideways glance that lingered no longer than a nanosecond. Just to make sure it was there and that I hadn’t been dreaming.

Well, it wasn’t a dream. And tonight she waits to unfurl. Slowly, seductively, lusciously, into the night and perfume the hot, humid, August air with her heady fragrance. And I wait with bated breath.

I still nurse this emotion in search of a name. And I know not what message I will find decoded in its velvet depths. I wait, for I know she blooms for me tonight.

Others can call her Brahmakamal and elevate her to spiritual heights. But to me, she will always be Nishagandhi, earthy, sensuous, mysterious, and holding the key to secret, unspoken desires.

Nishagandhi, nee ethra dhanya.


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