published: (updated: )
by Harshvardhan J. Pandit
The shovel slipped from his hands as he stood up and admired his work. He smiled, slowly at first, as beads of sweat lined up on his face and fell down to water the soil. The ground was not dry, but not too wet either. It was moist, at just the right temperature. The carnival of plants all around him glowed full of life. Bushes, shrubs, and even a bonsai, The flowers danced as the air circulating around carried their sweet scent and filled his senses with an enchanting fragrance. Everywhere he looked, a different shade of color greeted his eyes. And like every time, the thought crossed his mind – a rainbow would be shy looking at all these wonderful colors. It was a magnificent garden. And it was all his creation, the result of his tireless work and passion. He had lived and breathed to create and be in this magical place. He crouched down and picked up the shovel, getting back to whatever he had been doing all along…
He hurried along the way, each step threatening to break into a run. His left foot met a stone and stopped, causing him to stumble and fall down. Curses spewing forth from his lips, he searched the ground with angry eyes. The stone he had stumbled on had no business being there. He grabbed the stone with both hands, picked it up, and threw it away from the road. Shaking the dirt off his hands, he almost started walking again when he saw the small hole where the stone had been. Something curiously colorful glimmered there. His heart leaped at the thought of finding a gemstone. He hurriedly picked up the object and laid it flat on his hand. It was a seed, the likes of which he had never seen before. He felt the texture on its skin almost impulsively. There were a myriad of colors on the surface, some he had never seen in nature, and others that had no name because they didn’t exist. As he observed the shape and texture, he concluded that it was definitely a seed, though he had no idea what it was or where it came from. He carefully placed it in his pocket, patted it twice, and resumed walking.
As soon as he reached his home, he ran into the garden, the seed held in his clenched fist. He dug up a patch at the center, and gently placed the seed in the warmth of the earth. He covered it and sprinkled a light shower to help it grow. He had no idea what kind of plant it was, or what conditions it needed to grow. But some powerful intuition told him that the plant would definitely grow and be the glory of his garden. He knew he would wait, he was patient with plants.
Every time he came into the garden, his eyes roved at that spot trying to find signs of a new life. But every time he ended up being disappointed, his heart would thunder with the excitement of what would grow there. And so he ended up waiting for a long time as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months. His excitement had quelled into hope. His hope had turned into despair, and then to frustration. But his intuition still held him.
One fine morning he walked into his garden, his mind fresh from sleep and stopped at the center where the ground was no longer bare. A tiny shoot had forced itself out of the earth, and was basking in the sun. He started to sit down, and ended up falling down on his hunches to get a better look. The shoot was of a deep blue color so rich, that it was hypnotizing. The morning turned into noon as he stared at its tiny blue leaves. He was enamored with wonder at what would happen as the plant would grow.
He started spending an increasing amount of time each day observing the plant, its rich blue color distinguishing its vividness from its green sistren, for all plants were female, givers of life. His observations turned into an obsession as the plant grew slowly and steadily. It sprout leaves in all hues of red, green and blue, their resulting effluence reminding him of magic. He would touch the leaves, feeling their rich, silken smooth texture with the tips of his fingers. He was so smitten with the plant that he forgot the existence of a world beyond his garden.
He started spending his days sitting by the plant, watching the light reflect and roll off its leaves in a million colors. His caresses grew increasingly intimate, in a manner that became sickening. The world shrunk further as his eyes only sought the the plant he dreamed about, the existence of others been long forgotten. The other plants grew weary with time. They were tired and impatient from his lack of attention. Most had given up and were dying.
The flowers lost their colors, the petals fading and crumbling in a black death. The soil itself began losing its life as the plants withered and died. And while death rolled about everywhere, his eyes could only see the one plant that still had his love and his attention.
He ignored the cacophony of rotten death that lay all around. He failed to realize that it was his life’s work, now destroyed. His mind was slipping away from reality, somewhere beyond the comprehensions of this world. He was obsessed with the magic of the plant, how its leaves would appear to change their color. And every morning he would wake up with the same thought of what color would the plant be that day. And then he would rush from his bed to the garden, to spend the rest of the day watching the sun rise and fall on the thousand leaves, each twinkling in a different hue.
Once when was rushing in to the garden, his mind full of eagerness towards watching the plant, he stepped on a dried stick and it crackled and broke under his foot. He gasped and jumped back, immediately afraid of having stepped on his beloved plant in his absent-mindedness. When he saw the broken stick, he failed to understand how it came to be there. How such a piece of death had landed under his feet. And so when he picked it up and looked around, he felt the dance of death all around him extend its rotten hands and tie up his insides with a horrifying pain.
He threw the stick and ran back to his bed. Stuffing his face on the pillow, he let the warm tears flow out of his soul. He cried that day like there was no tomorrow. He cried all through the night, right until the first ray of sunshine awakened him like it had never before. Then he simply walked to the devil’s plant in his garden, picking up a shovel on his way…
He stood up to give his aching back some rest. He had changed the soil and had put some seeds in. Taking a look around, he saw the barren earth and knew that the plants he dearly loved were long gone. There was no color around him, no life to cheer him. He no longer spent hours in that garden. The people who knew him sensed his withdrawal, but were too distant to reach him. He came in to water the soil, but never once did he tend the garden like he did in the old days. The spring had bought with it some tiny shoots of grass and weeds, denizens that could not be permitted to live in his garden. The soil around them would need to upturned and cleaned. He was searching for these unwanted guests when his eyes stopped at a young sapling, barely a few days old. The young folds of its leaves were slowly unfurling, proclaiming the victory of life and its perseverance. For some vague reason he could not fathom, he had a sudden desire to ensure its survival. The thought brought a smile to his face as he picked up the shovel lying on the ground…