Posted on July 15, 2011. Filed under: OFF -BEAT, PERSONAL |

It is now seven years that my parents and I moved to our ‘own’ house. Some open space was left for some flower bearing plants. My parents wanted a small garden not only to have the flowers for the daily Puja but also to spend some time doing a physical work.

Some plants were secured from their friends and some were procured from the market. They took pains to make the plants bear flowers and their joy knew no bounds when the flowers bloomed. Whenever they made plans for a journey, usually to visit my brother and sister, I was given stern instructions to water the plants. With the advent of the mobile phone, it was difficult to miss their queries on the health of the plants.  Being the eldest son, I had little option but to carry out the orders. Initially, I did not relish the idea but with the passage of time, it became a habit. Moreover, I felt the need for something that would improve my physical fitness.

But in the recent months, things have become a little ugly especially in the mornings. My parents have been extremely hurt over the theft of the flowers. My mother and father rise up early even if they take medications to sleep. They go out and sit in chairs to prevent flower theft. My mother is a diabetic and is advised to go for long walks but this could not take place due to the vigils. On occasions, they have even managed to see and talk to the person, usually, a female. The intruders have the gall to inform that the flowers are meant to appease god. One even questioned the attitude of my parents. The contention is simple-flowers are not meant for decorative purposes.

I am not in the habit of getting up early but on occasions that I have managed to rise up early and go out, there have been sights that made me uneasy. I saw a colleague of mine armed with a plastic bag on his morning walk. After exchanging pleasantries, I managed to pop the question. He replied nonchalantly that the bag was meant for flowers that would be offered at the Puja. In the college, I have a senior colleague who has this nasty habit of nipping in the buds the flowers. He is a deeply religious person and does not mind showing this to all in every way possible.The garden that provides the specimens to the Botany laboratory often is shorn of flowers thanks to this gentleman.It was only when some inspection team came to the college, that the flowers remained intact.
This has prompted my parents to pluck their ‘share’ of the flowers every afternoon. But this idea has also been rendered a failure. The flower stealers have made it a point to strike at the most vulnerable time that is, when my parents take their afternoon meal. For a good 30 minutes, the stealers have a field day. My neighbour, his wife and his mother all take turns to have their fair share.A couple of months ago my mother prepared the traditional Telugu mango pickle and a part of the process involves drying the cut mango pieces in the sun. While all of us were having an afternoon nap, someone came and alongwith the flowers took away about two dozen mango pieces.My brothers and sister who get their share of the pickle every year had to without it this year.All hell broke loose and this prompted my mother to proclaim an emergency and remove all the flower bearing plants. Now, there are few flowers in the garden.

The matter has become so serious that I talked about it with my colleagues in the college. Most of them have experiences that are similar to my parents’. Some of them have decided to skip their morning walks and guard the flowers, mostly in the company of their spouses.

There is one question though that rankles me. How are the gods going to be appeased with stolen flowers? That may be the reason why the prayers of most Indians (read Hindus) are not answered even as there are more than 30 crores of gods in the Hindu pantheon.


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