A true friend.
Every morning, I awaken and saunter into my garden. Winter makes sure I feel his presence, and my arms go around me in response. The Harsingar tree is my favourite. All day and all night, there's a perpetual whiff of its fragrant white and orange flowers, that drop silently from the branches like snowflakes from the sky.
The garden dances each day. Seedlings making their slow progress skywards, flowers showing off their best party frocks, and trees singing in the cool breeze. And when the sun falls, they all bask - lazy and golden.
I await to see my Nasturtiums and Pansies. Their seeds were planted two weeks ago. There's a 'natural' suspense to it. The tomatoes in the back garden seem to be doing fine, while the melons have simply sprouted from the seeds in our homemade manure. This isn't even their season, yet they want to survive and shine.
I sit and watch the gossiping Babblers, hunting for tasty snacks in the grass; the occasional Hoopoe or Red-vented Bulbul; the flippity Sunbirds. They love the garden, I think even more than I do. It is their home, their feeding ground, their social hangout. A sip of water here, a peck at a wriggling worm there, and they're happy.
I watch them for myself. Because what it produces inside me is almost meditative. What a start to a day.
Almost every Delhi child from my generation would remember those pine cones we found scattered on mountain roads and meadows. Each one was unique and intriguing in its own way, resembling a tree. It often became a game to see who picked up the best ones (undamaged and near perfect in form) and how many.
Sadly, when it was time to go back to the burning plains, we were told strictly to leave behind most of our treasure. Whatever we did manage to sneak back home, we painted with poster paints and sparkle glitter. There they sat on the table or mantelpiece constantly reminding us of the beautiful hills they belonged to, the 'needly' trees they dropped from.
It is only in Kanatal that we found purple cones. Yes, purple. From a distance, they seemed so obviously purple. Almost like large black currant ice cream cones. When I returned to the lodge from my walk, I told dad about them. He wouldn't believe me! He had to see them to be convinced that I wasn't Alice in Wonderland. Those purple cones, we never painted them. Their uniqueness was their colour.
I can close my eyes right now and smell the mountains, the cones calling out to me to come pick them up again and give them a brief moment of stardom.
Maybe I'm a dreamer or a romantic or simply an incurable optimist. After being through the din and chaos of the world, there are times when there is silence. Inside. Time stops. Emotions cease to exist. And there is this fleeting moment of being alive in being still.
Two movies come to my mind. The first is 'The Karate Kid', more specifically that scene when Jackie Chan tells Jaden Smith, "Being still and doing nothing are two very different things."
The second is Kung Fu Panda 2, where the constantly bumbling Po lands up on the tough path of finding inner peace. In his case, he probably stumbles upon it, like a sudden realisation. Perhaps, I live in the same hope that it will dawn upon me someday, when I'm probably sitting on a park bench somewhere, or playing basketball or eating a dessert hungrily.
To be still. To be purely happy. To wish good for everybody. The search for anything other than this is insignificant, unworthy of the few days on Earth called life.