“Plants too have life ” Mrs. Anderson, the Biology teacher finished the lesson and smiled at all the children. The class were doing Plant And Animal Kingdom and the chapter was pretty interesting. The class in fact felt sad it got over.
“But what is the proof that plants have life?” Rihanna asked herself. She could understand all that about how plants prepare food, how they shrivel when we do not water them. She had even seen her granddad singing to plants and seeing them dance in joy. In fact whenever she used to see plants dancing, she used to feel they had come alive. There was something so intriguing about plants that she continued to think that they were man’s best friends.
Years passed and Rihanna reached India on an exchange programme. She was surprised to see everyone here so culture oriented and involved in a lot of social celebrations. One such celebration was a “pooja” people had held to invoke rain. Rihanna had found it very intriguing. Invoking rain? Whatever that meant. She got to know that Nature was worshipped in India as the Mother. She was mother for all living things, plants including.
But how would we know plants have feelings? How ? This is one question that never failed to intrigue Rihanna and she used to look longingly at the tree as if she would get a reply from the huge branches and leaves. Gradually she developed a fondness for the tree in her backyard. A huge mango tree at that. Mangoes, were special in India, but she had brought a sapling along and had grown one in her backyard. As she drove up the driveway, the tree was right in the centre and she had to turn around to park the car. Soon, this became a favourite of all those who passed through and very soon, children used to go through Rihanna’s backyard as she had also built a small sparrow’s house on top.
Every morning, she used to wake up and look at the children playing under the tree, she used to wave goodbye to them and get back to her chores. One morning, similarly she stood in the balcony looking at the children and waved at them. Just sometime back some elder children had passed by. Then Mr. Smith’s car went by, then old Joe came to wash Jenny’s car. There was so much happening all around and the morning seemed perfect. And then she heard a crash. First a crackling sound…She felt why firecrackers in autumn? And then a crash and a boom!
She rushed to the balcony for she had just then bid goodbye to the children. And there right below, lay one huge branch of a tree sprawled its full glory all gone and dead. Jenny’s car had taken a bashing for the branch fell on the beautiful sedan damaging it beyond recognition. It had rained all night and the branch gave way. The children!
Rihanna rushed down, only to see the children turning the corner much ahead of the tree. The tree had fallen, but it did not harm anyone, but the car. She shuddered to think what would have happened if the tree had fallen a second ago, when the children were playing or when the washermen were washing. But the tree did not do that.
The tree knew when to fall and how. The tree had common sense. Rihanna slowly uttered the words ” The tree has feelings…The tree has life. ………………………….
All plants have life ….!!!!
Rihanna had got her answer to her 20 year question.
As they waited for the last drop of rain to end, they held each other’s hands and walked down the lane under the umbrella. Mrs and Mr. Patterson were on their way back home after getting a loaf of bread from the local grocer. Tipple town was a small town in this part of the world and the Patterson’s were more than content living here and looked forward every Saturday for the arrival of their son, Richard.
Richard a night’s journey away used to visit them, every second Saturday and used to fill their dreary life with lot of activity and busy routine. Today was one more such a Friday when they were looking forward to Richard the next morning.
“Will he come tomorrow?” asked Mrs. Patterson as they hobbled down the cobblestoned path up to their small rickety house.
“I know not, Annie,” said Mr. Patterson “maybe he will. And you do not have to worry if he does not come this week. Do you have to make all those cookies and stuff that you make always. Let him come and you can prepare all that and more for him.”
Annie always used to make all that Richard liked whenever he came down. She used to stuff his bags with all the goodies she cooked and bid him a goodbye with a heavy heart each time he visited.
Richard was an engineer and lived in Yale town nearby around a night’s journey away. He was settled there with his roommate and was quite at peace with his life there. Young, handsome and a perfect gentleman, he had his own life and his own fantasies to run after.
Though he wished to get back home every weekend there were many things that used to press him down at Yale town. This weekend too as miles away his parents were waiting for him, Richard had a date with Natalie and he could not miss it.
Earlier down the years, Natalie had taken him out and expressed her desire to go steady with him, butt he had refused. Today as she offered him yet another date, he could not refuse, but it was at the expense of not meeting his parents. He did feel guilty but youth took over parents this time.
Last weekend he had gone on a night trail with his friends. His parents had waited for him even then. Richard was a little guilty he was not able to call them regularly as he used to get busy with his own work. His friend Rihanna often used to chide him for missing to call his parents. She used to tell him that he had to call them everyday.
Today as he rushed to be on time for the date with Natalie, the phone rang. Richard was out of the house and he had his other phone with him. He did not bother to pick it up as he was getting late for his date.
Natalie had booked a nice cozy corner for them in the best hotel in town. Natalie loved to dress up for eating and she expected Richard to be well dressed too. She was quite particular about the way you dress and present yourself.
Richard made sure he was well groomed for he was a little conscious when it came to Natalie. Rihanna used to tell him not to give Natalie so much attention. But Richard was grownup now and he did not like Rihanna dictating terms to him.
The evening went off very well and Richard came back home after dropping Natalie in her house. As he entered home, he switched on the answering machine…and went to have a shower. AS he was getting into the shower, he heard his mother’s frail voice…Richard, we are waiting for you. Today as we were coming back from the grocer’s shop, he fell down and has sprained his back”
Richard felt a wave of guilt and he replayed the events of the evening and wished he had not been so selfish. He realized that this was the phone call he chose not to answer some time back in the evening.
“ Tonight, I am really going to give a huge piece of my mind to them,” muttered Reynold to himself as he drove up the path leading to his house.
“It is today or never,” he said to himself with a tone of finality. Reynold lived with his friend Roche in an apartment in New York. He had it rented from Mrs. and Mr. Baltimore, who were living in New Jersey. As Reynold walked from the garage to his apartment, he reviewed the events of the past few days.
Everything was working fine and things seemed to just click the right way for Reynold. A perfect job, a perfect life, a perfect passion with photography, and a comfortable house on rent. Even though, Reynold’s earlier roommates Neville and Bill had moved out, Reynold was quite happy that he had his old-time friend Roche to live with him, so that they could share the rent of 675$ a month. Everything was smooth sailing with Sarah and Kate adding to the excitement and fun in their weekend outings.
In fact Reynold’s parents were with him just a fortnight back, and had spent a long weekend with him , and in spite of all the bickering and grumbling that his mom did, for having messed up the whole place, Reynold was happy they could come over. Just last month , they had all met up, all friends from the University and it was so much fun. Over bottles of beer, and loads of fun, they had rewound and played repeatedly all the videos they had taken during their Masters in the University. What fun it was.!
And then doomsday arrived in the form of the owners of the house coming from New Jersey to stay for a couple of days. Reynolds’ mind was in a tizzy. He did not know if he had to accept or decline. Roche, was as usual more bothered about what to cook for the next day, so Reynold asked his mentor and friend Rihanna . Rihanna was of the opinion that since the apartment belonged to them, the elderly had the right to come and stay over and it was only a matter of two days, so it would not bother him much.
The elderly couple came, as Reynold had no choice but to accept as , even before he could tell them anything, they had landed a day before they said they would. Reynolds was a drop dead cultured gentleman, and much as he had his own biases within him, he never expressed it on the outside.
“Welcome Sir, “ he said with a warm smile and Roche , a sleepy Roche got up , crinkled his eyes and looked up and saw the couple and went back to sleep. Reynold brought in their luggage, made them comfortable, and gave them a cup of tea brought from India.
“Oh we do not have tea, you see, we have only coffee and that too decaf. Do you have it?” Reynolds did not have decaf and all he could say was a humble sorry and mumbled something about getting it the next day. He went towards his room when he was stopped by Mr. Baltimore. “ How is this stool here in the middle of the room , when I had kept it in side the bedroom?” he enquired peering through his steel-rimmed glasses.
Reynolds used to paint in a canvas, a habit he had picked from Bill, his earlier roommate. He used the stool to keep the colors. Reynolds apologized and kept the stool inside the bedroom. It was quite dark, and with the couple assuring that they would fix their dinner, Reynold went to sleep.
The sound of a whistle woke him up in the wee hours of next morning. Reynold checked his watch. “Five in the morning? What is this sound?” . He went across to the living room, and stopped on his tracks. There in the center of the room , the couple were sitting and taking in a deep breath with a lot of noise and then breathing out. Reynold watched them for some time and after five minutes when they opened their eyes,
“Yoga” Mr. Baltimore said, slowly, “We learnt it in India.” Reynolds had never seen a noisier yoga. He said a “Hmm” and continued with his work. As he set the electric kettle on, for some coffee, “oh no no no “ came Mr. Baltimore from behind. “ OH no no” . Do not start it now. For we like to boil water in the saucepan and make our coffee fresh. Reynolds just wanted to tell him, that he was making for himself and that he could, but declined looking at the determined look on the old man’s face.
A day passed like a comedy of errors, with both the elderly breathing down Reynold’s neck, and Roche adding to the confusion by being over dependent on him for everything. All in all, Reynold decided it was only for two days, so it was fine.
“ So , shall I come home and we work on it together?” enquired Susan, Reynold’s colleague in office. They were coming back from a presentation and had to submit it the next day. Susan, married to Smith, was Reynolds’ confidante in office , and understood Reynolds’s latest problem of not being able to call anyone home because of the elderly. It was almost a week since they had come now. The couple of days had got extended to a week.
Reynolds accepted Susan’s proposal and decided to work at home on the presentation. As they entered the house, there was lot of din and noise. “Whatever is that?” asked Susan. Reynolds opened the door only to see , many elderly sitting in the living room and all of them singing in chorus. “
“We are practicing for our weekly elderly choir at the church this weekend. Do come with us this weekend.”
“Oh no!” Reynolds thought and got exasperated that now they would not be able to work in peace. The door to his room did not have a proper latch and would not close properly. He gave it up and decided against it. Susan and Reynolds had dinner outside and Reynolds on his way back, poured out all his frustration and exasperating moments to Rihanna. He told her how they used his soap, as they could not find theirs, how they broke his jug in which he kept water, and bought one for themselves but never replaced one for him. He went on to say, how they harped on how dirty the apartment was, and how they kept it squeaky clean. He could not fathom how their son could this to him, and make him go through all the mess. It was really an outpour and he could only go on and on ,and he went on to say about Roche who bothered him to no end. Rihanna gave a patient hearing, did not say anything, and suddenly heard the phone clicking to shut on the other end.
Coming to the present, Reynolds was seething with fury, and had decided that enough was enough, it was a fortnight now, he was paying the rent ,and they were using the apartment, he had to pay their bills, and they had not consideration for his inconvenience, and so Reynolds’ just decided he had to give it to them this time, today, this moment. He was all set, he had rehearsed the dialogues , what he was going to tell them and how. He had decided he was going to tell them to get out of the house.
He turned the key to the door, and got in and said” Mrs. and Mr. Baltimore, enough is enough. I have suffered enough, I would like you to leave the house. “ He was met with silence. He continued. “You do not have to be mum on this alright. I know your ways by now. Smart Alecs. What do you think you are doing? I pay the bills and you stay on? Don’t I need my privacy? Don’t I need a life? Just get out of the apartment and give me a life, I say.”.
Still silence. Reynolds went hollering into the bedroom and there he saw, the two elderly on the floor, still and not moving, with the man’s hands towards the side table, as if reaching out to the bottle of pills Richard took the bottle, it read “ Bronchiodilator.”