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Inspired By Nature

By: Falguni Mukherjee

'Inspired By Nature' was created in January 2004. Written during a difficult phase of my life, the harsh scorching summer would soon come to dwell on my dusty town called Anand in the western Indian state of Gujarat. Stranded on the threshold of another cruel summer, unknown forebodings stormed my mind trying to destabilize my sanity.

July 2003 to February 2004

As I aged, my thoughts were beginning to lose relationship with my actions. The disharmony between these two was leaving me with no peace. Life was becoming so predictable and mundane.

Outside the heat and dust and the barren earth was gradually eating into my soul. My family needed some respite from these harsh natural barbs and constant exposure to concrete. We needed to protect ourselves with some sort of shade and a dash of color.

Winter is a brief and mild affair in this place. One lazy Sunday morning I just went out of the house to warm myself, with my back towards the sun, facing the house. And there it stood beside the grilled gate, six and half feet tall in its full youth - beckoning and smiling at me.

It had in a sudden spurt of growth, after a good monsoon, been branching wildly, trying to pass a few branches through the grill, posing like a traffic signal-person. Its small green foliage was bliss to my sight. It had adorned itself with at least fifty tiny vermilion bells that swayed softly in the mild winter breeze. It looked so strong and sturdy despite occasional mottled leaves. I began to like its resilience and power of immunity. Suddenly, I felt an immense sense of pride. My whole being was flushed with a radiance of joy.

I am a parent to a daughter and I hope that one-day she would grow up into a nice human being. However, nurturing this plant was different.

Earlier, I had swung between hope and despair trying to keep it alive. Sometimes I would wonder whether it would survive the extremes of heat, those street dogs that preferred to sit on the cool watered spot where the sapling was planted, the hunger of the flock of sheep of the gypsies as they trouped by or the possibility of being uprooted by uncaring street urchins or jealous neighbors. This effort had tested my perseverance, faith and belief in myself.

The plant today has become a simple source of my joy and happiness. I talk to it in silence and touch its leaves gently. Doing so I feel happy and strongly believe it feels happy too, convinced that I have been able to establish a bridge of communication between us. I look at its base from where it has emerged from the earth. I remind me ' Hey! The kid needs to be hoed and weeded there'.

Through this plant I came to learn more about the intricacies of nature. I learned why the leaves were becoming mottled. Aphids had infested it, but it had resident protector friends as well - the larvae of the Chrysoperlaspecies. The Chrysoperla larvae are predators of the aphids. I saw the larvae eating up the aphids, thereby regulating the damage to the plant and maintaining the ecological balance of species in nature. The Chrysoperla larvae are fascinating - like knights in reconnaissance, in their medieval suits of armory, the crawling rippling silver sheen gleaming under the sun.

I am inspired and excited by this natural knowledge. One day it might help me design brochures for the fabric and garment industry, titled 'Fabric design inspired by nature'.

Life teaches you a lot of lessons, but I am beginning to believe that nature teaches you the best and the most. Earlier, I could never think, that it was possible to derive such intense joy and inspiration from these simple creatures of nature our Maker has gifted us. Thank you Hibiscus, you will always be my dear child and my best teacher and remain in my heart forever.

The Hibiscus now has also got friends. On the left flank, the Rhododendron - a January to February bloomer with ornamental maroon and red inflorescence, at a handshaking distance with the Hibiscus and on its right the perennial yellow papery-feathery Bougainvillea, all of them, guarding the frontage of our house, coloring our lives with happiness and joy.

June 2004 in retrospect:

After having imparted bliss to my soul, exactly six months later, the Hibiscus withered and died slowly in front of my eyes.

It was acutely painful to see it go the way it did, as I could do nothing about it. Much later, I discovered that it had succumbed to the onslaught unleashed by a mighty termite colony located around its succulent roots. Perhaps it was born only to teach me to be happy.

So, I will not grieve at its loss. It taught me to bear the loss and had enhanced the strength of my mind.

I wish it would be born again in another form, silently teaching us to love and believe in ourselves.

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