So I bought a plant from Ikea a couple of months ago. Quite a big step considering that I have managed to kill almost every plant that found its way under my shadow! That is the reason why I have never tried to go to nurseries to buy plants and the only plants I have wished for are cactii and succulents.
But this plant was different. It wasn’t super pretty. Long, slender, grass like leaves with a red lining. The label said that I need to let the soil dry out and water very sparingly, instructions very well suited to the level of care I could give. Like all other Ikea products, it came with a low price tag and there was a ease of use and convenience associated with it. So I brought it home.
It was very less demanding and yet managed to light a smile every morning when I worked in the kitchen. Accepting whatever little I gave, it stayed strong to make me happy. Often reminded me of this Marathi verse about the sandalwood tree:
Vani vilasati, bahu vividha vruksha chohikade, Tayat maj chandanasam na ekahi sapade
Jayas na dile, fale na kusume, hi daive jari, sharir jhijavuni toh pari paropakara kari
Various kinds of trees live in this forest,
But I can’t find a single like sandalwood
Nature did not give it beautiful fruit or floweret,
So it wears down its body to do the world good
All was well until we went to a cacti exhibition at a local botanical garden. My recent success at keeping things alive gave me more confidence to bring home a succulent. Now this one was really pretty. Reddish stem with tiny green-white leaves. I kept it on my desk and I would make it a point to visit it every morning. Slowly but surely, my modest looking ikea plant was being neglected. For a while, it didn’t feel neglected, because it was used to the long dry spells. Although I do wonder if it knew that I was no longer looking at it with the same affection. I was watering it but I wasn’t as careful as before. The plant tried to withstand all of that.
Then something happened. It got it’s first dry leaf. May be it was just time. May be it was making way for younger leaves. But I didn’t see it that way. To me, my tough little plant, that had given me a reason to go on, to explore newer territories, had given up. I made it give up. I didn’t want it anymore and it had got the message. It willingly came under my “negligent bordering on hostile” care, loyally joined me in morning chores, and selflessly moved on to make way for others. I was ashamed of myself, of my evanescent love.
But thankfully, for me, it wasn’t too late. Thankfully I realized my mistake well in time and embraced both my plants, old and new. And I made a wish. That if this ever happens to me again I hope the realization comes soon enough. I wouldn’t want to loose those who keep me well rooted while encouraging me to fly. And I wouldn’t want to be lost to them.