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Tulsi

(image sourced from Corbis)


It was 8 am only but I was late- the same old story of a poor soul trapped in a corporate world. While I was climbing the stairs to the metro station with a dazed face, something sparkled in my eyes. It was a mix of vibrant colours against the plain pastel wall of the station. An octogenarian lady wearing a bright silk saree and a lot of trinkets was trying to do something with her trembling hands. I could see a long steel needle sparkling in the morning sun. She was making a garland using red, yellow and pink flowers. They looked beautiful, only if I could buy them and decorate my puja place I was wondering.

It was 8 pm and I was climbing down the stairs of metro station while still on concall with clients. I found my old friend again with her basket still full of flowers. While there was chaos going on the other side of the phone, there was a complete calm on the lady’s face. Only her eyes were speaking- they were curiously looking at every passer by trying to judge whether it would be her next customer. With each person totally ignoring her existence, her face drooped a little but she was supporting it with her petite hands. By the time I hung up I did not realize I was almost home. For some reason I felt guilty that those curious eyes followed me too and like everyone else I also could not appreciate her perseverance.

I was compelled to walk back but when I reached there I noticed the crowd- policemen and local vendor chit chatting over politics, corporate slaves walking back with their heavy laptop bags, pretty ladies ready to go to parties. Suddenly the feeling of disturbing this equilibrium scared me. The old lady sitting in the middle of all the hustles seemed to be so lonely that by going near to her I would draw everyone’s attention. I loitered around her place pretending to be on phone and casually looking at all the stuff on sale.

She probably sensed that there is another gleam of hope. She sprayed some more water on the flowers. I bent a little and took a closer look at the flowers. The flowers that appeared heavenly in the morning were turning into a shrivelling and stinking mass. My old woman could see the twitch in my body and her happy smile was converted into an apologetic one. She picked up a garland of pink flowers that were relatively fresh and held it to me pointing at my neatly tied hair bun. I could see through her nervous intentions but she was no cunning sales person. She gave and started winding up. I desperately wanted to help and so I pointed towards a garland made up of tulsi leaves. She happily wrapped it and gave it to me. Purposefully I handed her a 100 rupees note instead of a tenner and rushed away signalling that I am in too much hurry to wait. She probably understood. Her triumph of selling stale flowers was belittled by the charity done by me and I was already regretting it.


I looked at the tulsi leaves and remembered home. Though dried up the leaves were still smelling sweet unlike the stinking flowers. Suddenly the old tulsi of night appeared to be more valuable than the young flowers of morning. I placed them in my puja space satisfied that they have served the purpose. That evening, I smiled after many days.

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