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A Short Lived Romance

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By Ratna Manucha

The date was 30 May, 2022. It all started innocently enough. During the daily evening ritual of watering the plants, I saw three beautiful white buds curling down elegantly from one of the pots. They resembled the buds of a lotus, except these were upside down. It was love at first sight.

I remembered that almost two years ago, I had asked the gardener to plant a ‘Brahmakamal’ (The state flower of Uttarakhand). He had done the needful but, since then, this plant just seemed to be growing big, fleshy, oval leaves and nothing else. Honestly, I had lost interest. I would water it dutifully because the pot was there, amidst the other pots, but apart from a cursory glance, I did not give it much attention.

Maybe that’s why these three beautiful buds had evaded me, except for that fateful day. Was this the ‘Brahmakamal’, then? I got to work right away, my heart thudding in excitement. Took a couple of pictures from the phone and dashed them off to a friend, who I knew would have the correct answers.

“Yes,’ he replied, “It is the ‘Brahmakamal’ houseplant which blooms once a year at night. But you don’t have to lose sleep over it.”

Me? The one who would never lose her sleep over anything was all ready to lose her beauty sleep over this beauty!

I was smitten. Hook, line and sinker! Apparently, it bloomed any time after sunset…could be any time between 8 p.m. till midnight. Well, there was no way I was going to miss this!

I had a date! After dinner!

That evening, I try and take pictures with my phone and the iPad to see that there are no last minute glitches. Not being too savvy with the iPad, I balance a torchlight on the Ficus bush close by and I find that the photographs are perfect. The stage is set. The wait begins. The minutes tick by, turning into hours. Soon, it is midnight. My date remains elusive. Disappointed and feeling spurned, I turn in for the night.

31 May, 2022. I wake up all groggy in the morning. A feeling of being cheated washes over me. The day doesn’t seem very exciting, but I plough through it doggedly, hoping for the promise of something exciting later on in the night!

Come 9 p.m. and I am hovering around the plant, solicitiously checking to see if it is comfortable. Is the street light too bright? Should I place a sheet over one side to protect it from the bright light? In the end, I just let it be and settle down in my chair, with one eye on the plant. By 11 p.m., I am a little disgruntled. Nothing has moved. Not one petal. Nope. Nada. I don’t think it deserves my attention. Like a lover scorned, I turn away and hit the sack.

1 June, 2022. Morning. I check on the plant before breakfast, trying to find the missing piece of the puzzle. The buds look smaller. And then realisation hits me like a bolt from the blue. Maybe, just maybe, the buds had bloomed a few days before I saw them and now they were on their way out!

My romance was over even before it had begun. The shortest love story ever!

(Ratna Manucha is an author and educationist.)