One morning many winters ago, I decided to take a walk along a narrow path on a hilltop far away from home. It was cold, but the sun that had just begun to colour everything golden was endearing enough for me to walk up to the edge of the hill briskly. As I sat there, I noticed a five-petaled flower.
A lot of grass surrounded the flower. The green spread across the hill only provided a spotlight to its pale violet grace. Something about the flower felt like home, and so, like any oddball who’s out to watch the sunrise by himself would do, I started talking to it.
In about an hour or so, I told it things I had never said out loud. The flower stood there; still violet, still graceful. It didn’t judge, and nor did it interrupt. We spent a few hours there on the edge of the hill, basking in the sun. I took a liking to the flower. I decided I’ll visit it sometime later when I am ready and then, take it home.
Some summers later, I visited the same edge. I saw the flower. Phew. I gasped – half in awe, half in relief. It had now become a brighter colour than the pale violet I saw in winter. It was a bolder, brighter violet now, and this change only made it more visible amidst the widespread green all around.
As I began to walk toward it, I noticed another oddball like me, albeit older, approach the edge of the hill. I stopped and watched only to see that he too mumbled something to the flower. Something in the way he sat with it made me believe he’d known it for a long time. Perhaps, the flower wasn’t mine to have, I wondered.
I walked away; I walked home. Eventually, I forgot about the flower, and of that morning, and of the things I shared with the flower.
On a pouring monsoon evening, I found myself on the same path. It looked different but still felt familiar. I saw the flower, its violet colour shining on the dull grey of the sky and the clouds. I had forgotten how comforting just looking at the flower used to feel. When I saw it, after all that time, something stirred in me.
So, I ran to the flower. I dug around the flower carefully enough. I put its roots along with the soil stuck in them in a small bag, as safely as I could. Then, I put the flower in a pouch, and I set out for home.
The weather worsened on the way back.
In my efforts to make sure the flower doesn’t get damaged, I held it as close to myself as I could, and I ran to safety. When I stopped to look at it, I realised I had suffocated the flower, and that its petals now had lines etched into them. It broke my heart. I had only intended to keep it safe.
I tried planting the flower in my garden as water poured over the both of us. The flower stood there. I smiled. You’re alright now, I mumbled. The weather cleared after a few days.
The flower became my best friend. I’d sit by the garden, and I’d tell it things I’d never say out loud every day, often with a cup of coffee in my hands. A few weeks went by but with the weeks, so did the flower’s bright violet colour. I didn’t notice it at first. Then, it started becoming paler, until it began to fade.
Something was wrong. The flower didn’t take to the soil. So, I tried enriching the ground with the best fertilisers and materials I could find. The flower chimed for a few days. I was relieved.
Then, it started fading again.
I understood what I had to do for what good was the flower if it lost its colour. So, I went back to the edge of the hill yet again on another winter morning, and I planted it where it belonged.
I sat on the nearby bench by myself as I sipped some coffee. It was a cold morning. The sun had come out, but it wasn’t as golden as it had once been. It bothered me a bit, but I let that thought leave as I saw the oddball from that summer day walk up to the edge, his head hung down in disappointment.
A few steps toward the edge made him jump in awe. The flower had come back. The man, still older than me, sat there quickly – almost slipping. He’s an odd one, I thought. Then, I realised I had a similar relationship with the flower. I sat on the bench for a while, as I saw that the man didn’t budge.
In fact, for a little while, I believe the flower had become brighter too.
Perhaps, it belongs here, I thought. I finished my coffee and took a hard look at the flower. I went back home afterwards. It was a long journey, but I had learned to make it alone over the years.
One monsoon, I had to move to the town near the hill to work. So, I did. The melancholy tones of the sky made me think of the old flower and its contrasting vivid violet. I walked up to the edge. The flower was still there. I started visiting the hill regularly.
I’d often sit by the flower, water it, and then tell it things about myself which I’d never say out loud. The flower beamed with the brightest violet I had ever seen. The other companion never came. I would’ve liked to meet the oddball under different circumstances, but for now, I couldn’t bring myself to be fond of him.
I didn’t pay much heed to his absence. The flower was there; I was there. It was good enough.
Countless evenings later, I finally had to leave the hill and the flower. As I left, I took one hard look at the flower again. I think it shuddered, but maybe it was the wind or my head. I didn’t worry about the flower anymore.
Through the years, I learned that the flower only needed to grow on its own and that neither the oddball who had always been around nor I had any ownership of it. As long as we’d let it grow on its own, the flower would remain its bright violet and maybe become even more beautiful.
It was a simple lesson, but one that revealed itself only after a series of journeys, and accidents along the way. The trips tired me out, and so I don’t travel anymore.
All of this was a long time ago though. I live far away now, and I am tired from years of making those arduous journeys. I still plan to visit the flower someday, and I’m sure it will be its bright violet when I do.
Perhaps, I’ll get that cottage beside the edge of the hill someday. I’d be near the flower then. I’d love that. I believe the flower will love it too.