Farming and cultivation have always been there in the family. My great grandfather, a landlord, ran a tight ship with the storehouse overflowing with grains and pulses. I grew up listening to stories about the beautiful roses that granddad cultivated in this big old home at Pimpri, Pune where he and his family were stationed back then.
Dad seemed to be just as enamoured of gardening, planting all sorts of flowers and administering to their needs with great care. Hardly any surprise then that his firstborn, namely I, took to gardening with the same kind of zeal. Having just shifted to Bengaluru from Chennai, I invited dad home knowing he would enjoy the garden that was shaping up bit by bit. Subsequent surgeries had left him frail, but that did not stop him from wandering about in the garden, watering the plants and dispensing advice about how best to bring them up. Egged on by his enthusiasm, I went and got a few more plants, one of which was sprouting bright yellow flowers.
One day, viewing the garden, he said that there seemed to be no flowers around when I pointed to the latter in which the yellow blooms were still intact. Suddenly, two days later, I noticed that the plant had wilted and I shifted it to a shady spot. Around the same time, dad developed a lung infection and was hospitalised. There in the garden, the said plant did not fare any better in the shade. I dug into the compost bin and spread some of its contents over the plant.
The next day, as if by magic, it looked fresh and dewy and I congratulated myself for my quick thinking. There in the hospital, dad was making a recovery and we got him home, only for him to be taken back to the hospital two days later. The plant, in the meantime, began to look wilted. I watered it religiously, willing it to come back to its bright persona.
Dad was back at home after a short time in the hospital. But this time, he did not survive the ordeal and passed away two days later. The next day, the plant was dry, withered and dead as a dodo. It was only fitting that for this nature-loving person, the plant had acted as an omen. May be like one of the characters in O Henry’s short story, if I could have engineered saving a little branch or two, the cosmos itself might have felt honour bound to keep my dad from dying.