Today I have a Shrub instead of a Tree but I am sure all of you will enjoy this plant!
The title has been the spoiler so no surprises about the identity.
Yes, these delicate flowers are of the Henna or Mehendi plant. Botanically called Lawsonia inermis, it belongs to the Lythraceae family (that is the family of Crape Myrtles). It is a native and evergreen species.
In my childhood days, I remember it was grown as a hedge plant – I was told that the leaves are bitter hence goats, cows stayed away. However neighbourhood girls always managed to pluck the leaves, grind them on stones and apply the paste on our hands. The red colour was sufficient attraction.. the design was simple – a circle in the centre of the palm and capping the ends of the fingers. There was no thought of making designs.
I do remember we used to put a dot on the forehead.. this is one part where Mehendi does not colour the skin.. the story was if the forehead skin took up the colour then that girl would be a Queen!
No… mine never did colour!
Over the years, this way of putting Mehendi has ended.. readymade Mehendi cones have replaced ground leaves and designs are elaborate.
I am not complaining.. I love the colour and the fragrance that Mehendi leaves on our hands!
Priya had been thrilled to take up the Salon offer. Four sittings for the price of two. An unbelievable deal. At twice a month, she need not look for deals for their upcoming 30th anniversary. She could confidently accept compliments like “you look as if you were married yesterday!”
Appearances had unknowingly become a priority… and she had given in.. As an active member of the Tea party, Cocktail, Kitty circuit; she felt as if she had to look young 24X7.
But of late, this was becoming too strenuous. Suddenly the fine lines needed extra effort to be hidden and the greys appeared faster. Fatigue was setting in. In her fight with Age, the latter seemed to have the upper hand.
Priya was tempted to stop these frequent Salon visits but lacked the will power.
And then, out of the blue, the Lockdown happened. Everything was shut. Salons. Gyms. No parties either.
That meant her wonderful Salon discount could not be used.
After a few weeks of hesitation, she gathered courage to look at her reflection.
The fine lines and greys did not laugh at her.
When she smiled, they smiled back at her.
Suddenly the mirror became her friend as did Aging.
Anita finished folding a tissue into a fan and kept on top of a pile which she had made today. Since there were no more tissues, she started pleating her bedsheet. Tiny folds, each fold precisely put over the one below it.
“They really should be giving me more paper and I can’t find my scissors either..I will tell the lady who brings my meals. Is she Laxmi? Or Parvati?
And why am I here..I want to go home ..”
Anita tried very hard but could not recollect where she was. They said this was her home, but somehow she felt herself a stranger here. Her mind seemed to be shrouded in a thick fog..anywhere she looked was a blank..not even a faint memory.
“Maybe I should ask the kind Man who comes to check on me daily. How does he know I like Mango ice-cream? And rose petals to make into a rangoli**. He seems to know everything about me.”
The doorbell rang and his voice reverberated in the house.
“Kashi ahes? I have brought karanji for you today Aai.”***
So saying he sat down to feed her.
* Aai means Mother in Marathi
**Rangoli are designs created on the floor usually as an auspicious sign.
*** How are you? I have brought Karanji for you today Mother.
Abhi’s cousin had sequinned shoes and Abhie longed to wear them, the only time , when she had envied anyone. Sensing her desire Ma had got her similar ones as a trophy for today’s task. Abhi smiled in anticipation and excitement. After 10 years on this earth, today she was taking her first steps in the Parallel Bars. She commanded her unwilling limbs supported with splints to move ahead one excruciating step at a time. It was tough going.
Abhi thought she would faint as her throat went dry even as the twinkling shoes at the far end beckoned her forwards. She could see herself in the biggest sequin and the shoes glowed golden from sunlight streaming in from the window.
Abhi was almost there… She could sense Ma and Varshadi- her therapist, cheering her on but their words were drowned by the thudding of her heart. Three steps more, two more and then suddenly she was enveloped in her Ma’s arms, both crying copiously as if their hearts would break. Abhi tried to wipe her mother’s tears, which seemed to be glittering brighter than any baubles.. So what if her limbs were not fully under her control and her speech not clear? Abhilasha was one of God’s own children and ‘special’ to everyone else.
The shoes were a perfect fit and Abhi admired her multiple reflections in them. She was tired but agreed instantaneously for another walk. Her life journey would be rockier than most others but she could do it, she would!
The Gulmohor (Delonix regia) of the Caesalpiniaceae family is a deciduous tree -which means it loses its foliage in the winter. Come summer it bursts into full red glory (sometimes orange).. but once it rains, the tree becomes a glorious green canopy.
Here are the images of the same tree in May and August! Nature has its own way of signalling seasons to the trees. Is it the temperature, position of the Sun, or something else?
Either way, trees dont need a calender .. infact, sometimes they indicate the upcoming season to us!
Last year we trekked up to the Tigers Nest, at Paro in Bhutan. It is an iconic monastry situated precariously at the very edge of a cliff at an altitude of around 10,200 feet. A visit to Bhutan is incomplete without trekking up to the Tigers Nest.
It is a demanding walk but the beautiful surroundings makes one forget time and effort. The walk is made richer as one can can spot amazing birds, butterflies enroute.
Here are a few glimpses … all images from my cell phone..
I hope you enjoyed this virtual trek with me! I would love to hear from you!
Meena sat desultorily in the Mall guarding the numerous bags that Anu, her daughter-in-law had deposited in her care along with the children. Anu was getting her nails done.
Music blaring from hidden speakers drowned out shrieks of her grandchildren playing in the Kids Zone. The Game Console shone with bright lights which made it the top attraction. A toy train chugged past, whistling ineffectively in its attempt to clear its path.
They had been here since the Mall opened and Meena’s knees were protesting. Her feet ached from the unbroken Walking Shoes. Was her Plantar Fascitis returning? Walking on these super smooth floors was not easy at her age.
She was nursing an expensive coffee that had more froth than brew. It was cold now and tasteless . Maybe she should have opted for good old Nimboo Pani instead..
Meena had never understood the attraction of spending time in a Mall.
Before her patience was tested, Anu returned, smiling from ear to ear.
“Thank you so much Maaji. I hope the kids did not trouble too much. Now its your turn. I have booked a special foot massage for you. All you have to do is relax, I will mind the bags and kids.”
So saying she escorted a happily surprised Meena into the Spa she had just exited.
I am joining Vinitha in her Fiction Monday series using the word prompt ‘bright’.