Saturday, August 4, 2012

Tiger lilies

There is something statutory about spider lilies in University gardens. When it rains, they all come out, like grandiose spider armies, their pollen dust very flagrant, their leaves huge and glossy, their white petals very austere and transparent and completely beguiling. When I was small, about five years old, we had rows of these lilies in our garden in Jamia, and I was a little scared of them. There was something extraterrestrial about them, reminding me of the spiders of which I was so frightened of. But they stood there, asking to be admired. Now in JNU, I find them in all the gardens, even in my own. My gardener came and planted them without my permission, and I watched aghast as he dug them into the soil in the summer, and now, hey presto, it's raining and the flowers have all bloomed. The candy striped lilies which I truly love with their spice fragrance have bloomed too, and I am waiting for the yellow crocus.

I associate my childhood with these ordinary flowers. a lot of my posts will be about my father, for the plain reason that I spent huge amounts of time with him. He was an excellent gardener, and excelled in growing things which are easy to grow, like jasmines, and wild Indian rose  - the desi gulab as it is popularly called. And ofcourse there were guava trees, we woke up on hot summer mornings with the delicate fragrance of the guava flower over our heads. Our charpais would be pushed out of sight from  the garden, bedding rolled and put away, and the table fan disconnected, baths had. breakfasts swallowed with hot tea, and tomato sandwhiches hastily packed for school, and we would be at the bus-stop ready for school. This was circa 1968. Just like charpais which were reknit (because they sagged),every summer by wandering artisans, new mosquito nets would be got from  Chandni Chowk.
Even today, when I wake up every morning and step out into the garden, it is so amazingly cool. And that's how summer mornings in Delhi always were. In the evening, when we went to sleep the stars would be plastered across the sky, there would be dust storms occasionally which forced us to roll our bedding and run inside the house, and in the morning, there would be the constant presence of Venus before the sun rose.

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