The Plant

By Himabanta Dutta

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The sharp ring of the alarm woke Sayak.  There was no hurry to finish any task, as firstly he did not have any companion and secondly the day was a Sunday. Feeling fresh after a good night’s sleep, he took up his spectacles from the table. Admiring himself in front of a mirror he saw that there was no grey strand in his hairs. With a dimpled smile he spoke to himself “I don’t think I look as old as I think myself to be………”

Sipping his tea lazily, and munching the toast, he carelessly picked the newspaper towards him. ‘Newspapers nowadays have the same kind of news’, he thought with irritation. Scanning the newspaper, a small news at the bottom of the third page caught his attention. It stated the death of the famous goldsmith Aditya Karmakar due to massive heart attack. The family seems to have confirmed that the goldsmith was suffering from depression for quite some time.

The name Aditya seemed very familiar. Going hard down the memory lane, he realized that Aditya was the same person who was his classmate and used to be one among his good friends. They had parted after their ‘Higher Secondary Examination’ and after that each got busy with his own life.

Though they did not meet one another for twenty years, Sayak had seen Aditya several times in television giving interview. From these Sayak got to know that Aditya now lives in a palatial building, in a posh area in Kolkata, which he built clearing a haunted house which had almost turned into a jungle. There Aditya had planted a number of beautiful plants on the terrace, thereby giving a proof of his love for trees. This is one passion which Sayak shared with his friend – and this made him take up Botany as a subject for higher studies.

Coming back to the present, Sayak thought, it becomes his obligation as a friend to stand by Aditya’s family during this tough time. No sooner did the thought come to his mind than he reached his friend’s house. Giving a brief introduction about himself, when he was let in by Aditya’s wife, he saw few policemen conducting an enquiry. 

Sayak asked softly, “How did this tragedy happen?”

Aditya’s wife replied “Since few days the goldsmith was behaving strangely. He was unable to eat or talk properly, and one could see a deterioration in his health. This continued for a few days and finally this morning ……………”

The police inspector took Aditya’s mobile, laptop, few documents as they were necessary for the investigation. Skimming through the diary pages ………………………

10.06.2018 – Bought an indoor plant three days ago. Beautiful plant with light pink flowers and small round leaves. At night the mild fragrance of the flowers is very refreshing.

12.06.2018 – Had a strange dream tonight. Was it a dream or reality? A tree seemed to call my name in melodious voice.

14.06.2018 – The roots of the plants had spread out and seemed to embrace me with their soft hands – just like lovers do to each other.

18.06.2018 – What is it that is tormenting me? The plants of the school yard which I had rooted out because they came in the way of my play? Or the coconut and beetle nut tree which were jabbed and rooted out to build my Palatial home? The plants had to be killed for my pleasure! What was their fault that I treated them thus?

21.06.2018 – Feeling guilty! Every night the seem to embrace me as they have so much to tell. They seem to enter my body gradually and suck out all my blood!

22.06.2018 – The plant with pink flowers have grown. The flowers are no more the soft pink, but DEEP BLOOD RED – as if oozing out FRESH BLOOD!

24.06.2018 – Every day the plant, rather all the plants try to talk with me. All seem to burst out in anger. They want everything back! ALL THAT THEY HAVE GIVEN ME ALL MY LIFE! THEY WANT TO SUCK OUT FROM ME ALL THAT THEY HAVE GIVEN ME – ALL- ALL!

What have I given them in return? DESTRUCTION? PAIN?

O how my guilt engulfs me!

The inspector closed the dairy. “What do you make out of it Bhabesh”?

“O Sir, just the gibberish blabber of a mad man. Plants embracing? Talking? HA! HA! HA!

“Is it so? Or the pinch of conscious…………?”

Aditya Karmakar’s mobile did not reveal anything special. Only the snapshots of the plant with pink flowers – FLOWERS which have turned BLOOD RED! The plant which has DOUBLED in just a fortnight.

The post mortem report said that the goldsmith died due to a massive heart attack or heart failure – NOTHING ABNORMAL. But what did not surface is the reduction or loss of Red Blood Cells  which are the oxygen carriers for the whole body. If the oxygen does not reach each part of the body heart failure is inevitable!

Two years later …………………

The evening was beautiful amidst the setting sun, chirping of the returning birds and noise of children playing. Looking out at the alley one could see that there stood a man in a push cart carrying various kinds of plants -marigold, guava, indoor plants and of course the one with soft pink flowers with round leaves ………….

“Hey brother! How much do your plants cost?” called a gentleman.

“Please choose which one you want among all” replied the plant seller.

“The one with soft pink color and round leaves? what is its name?”

Looking from behind black framed spectacles the plant seller answered “Do plants have different names? They all are PLANTS. You may name them anything. You may even give it your own name – as I have named this plant ADITYA!

Sayak travels between OLD AGE AND YOUTH …………….again and again.

(P.S. A PLANT, A LIFE! It sprouts hope for humanity! It provides the life sustaining oxygen! But what do we give in return? DEATH? One day they may take back all they have given us …………. Through someone……………………..)

By Himabanta Dutta

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