The Talking Flower.
I met a talking flower among the plants that had grown along the walls of a dilapidated building. It was perched at the top of the tallest plant, was glowing in pale yellow, and was the size of the fist of an infant. I was attracted to its splendor at first. But I was taken aback when it started talking. The flower did not seem to have noticed my bewilderment and continued speaking its mind by moving its petals. I had a suspicion at the beginning that some kind of a pre-recorded audio device might be hidden inside the flower. But later I came to understand that the flower had indeed been addressing me and its meaningless discourse at the beginning was only to invite me into its ambiance.
I did not understand the tone and the sound of its speech to begin with. Hence it was difficult to construe the flower’s speech. But as the time passed I got the hang of the style of its speech. The flower said that I was the first beast it has seen in generations. It also said it blossomed just that morning; Among the many plants that had grown along the walls only one was destined to produce only one flower on a day and the life of that flower is only one day. Its current and the previous generations had only one ambition which is to meet a talking beast. I asked the flower why they had such an ambition. The flower said it is the duty of every flower to meet a man and show him their world.
I did not want to ask why, again; instead I had a growing urge to enter the world of talking flowers. I said, ‘Take me along. I will follow you. Can I pluck you from the plant? So you can easily guide me.’
The flower replied, ‘If you pluck me, I will lose the power of speech. I have the ability to speak only when I am united with the plant.’
I responded anxiously, ‘Then I will root out the plant and transfer it to a pot.’
The flower said, ‘Do that right away. I will wither before dusk. I need to show you my world before that happens.’
I asked the flower, ‘How would I return to my world if you die?’
The flower paused for a while as though showing impatience, ‘I am the only flower in these surroundings. But I have a lot of sisters in my world. All of them can speak. They will guide you back to your world.’
(What was I thinking? Of course a flower is of feminine gender, at least in the poetic sense. If I am trying to tell the story of a talking flower, I better address her with feminine pronoun.)
Hurriedly I found a pot and transferred the plant with the talking flower. The flower asked me to open the door on the far end of the wall. The door opened at my slightest touch. I was astonished. She told me it was not my touch that opened the door; but her existence. ‘Nobody can enter our world without our consent.’ Beyond the door was a passage that seemed to grow towards infinity. She commanded me to walk through passage. I walked holding the flower pot in my hand. Nothing strange was in sight even after walking a long distance. My legs ached. The flower said we were almost there. After fifteen minutes of walking we reached a stream. I heard a noise that was similar to the laughter of a hundred infants. The flower found the question mark hanging on my face and explained, ‘The noise comes from the stream. It’s the giggling of the stream when it walks on pebbles.’
A little later a raft that was made of sedge came floating. ‘Hop on. This will take us to our world. Oaring is not necessary,’ said the flower. The raft took us along the current. I could not calculate the duration of the journey. No human faces were to be seen on either banks of the river. They were full of flower plants and meadows. Neither did I see any animals or birds. The flower did not utter a word through the journey. Her radiance had been diminishing by the hour.
The raft came to a stop. We found ourselves looking at a dense forest. I climbed down the raft and started walking. The trees were unusually tall. There was chatter at the top of the trees. The flower said that the talk was about our visit. Her voice sounded weak. Her petals had started losing their color. Now I saw a great clearing. I heard what sounded like music from a million violins. I asked her where the music came from. She replied that the grass express their existence through music. She said it could be a welcome music for my visit. Time froze for the period I was under the spell of that music.
‘Alright, let’s go meet the other talking flowers. You can talk to them for as long as you wish. I will die in a short while. I wouldn’t be of any use to you.’ said the flower. ‘Aren’t you scared of death? I am heartbroken’ I said. ‘Worry and misery are for humans.’ the flower paused for a while and continued, ‘we are well aware of our fate. Why make efforts to overcome something that cannot be violated? Moreover I did not know the purpose of even this one day’s life. Nor did I know how I entered this world. I do not have any plans as to how I should live my life. I am content just to be a flower. Since I do not have any expectations about my life or any identification about myself, I have no worry about my death.’
‘Isn’t death an insufferable pain?’ I asked.
‘Is it so? Have you experienced death before? I have no traces of such experience in my memory. Many a times the experiences that life gives us are painful.’
‘Have you not made an effort to free you from such pains?’
‘Isn’t pain also an experience?’ said the flower. ‘When you become witness of a painful experience, it leaves you. The next experience comes in. You become its witness. It goes away only to be replaced by another. All you do is nothing but watching them sail away. Since you are only the witness and all experiences you undergo are different from your true Self. Hence they don’t affect you or alter your presence in any way. You are that unchanging, imperishable consciousness alone. The flower body I possess or the beast form you have are only sheaths on the consciousness whose passing does not in any way upset our true nature, the consciousness. This is our knowledge. I have received this knowledge from my mother. Every talking flower in our world has this knowledge hence we do not worry about our demise.’
‘Don’t you desire that some pleasant experiences you undergo should continue? Or the ones that give you pain should leave you?’ The curiosity that I should visit the flower’s world was behind me now. I want to discuss everything that is possible with the flower before she met with her destiny.
‘My life’s Experiences are not my choice. They happen in my presence. How could I own or disown something that is not my choice? I don’t connect the awareness of my existence with my experiences. They are for my senses alone; for the world is experienced through the senses. I simply exist without any will. I exist; therefore I am,’ said the flower. The radiance on its body has increased a little. I looked up and understood why the flower glowed a little. Beyond the meadow was an enormous flower garden. Innumerable flower plants were seen. Every plant had a single flower. The presumption that every flower had the ability to speak got me excited.
‘I can’t thank you enough my friend. You brought me here so I could die amongst my sisters. Let’s go meet them.’
I hesitated to walk on grass knowing full well now they had feelings. The flower asked me not to worry. ‘Thousands of grasses collectively carry your feet. In fact they are glad to do this service to you.’
I walked on the grass and we reached the flowers. The flowers sang in a sweet voice to greet us. The song was massaging my ears. After the song, the flowers started talking excitedly with the pot flower. They enquired about me. Then they turned toward me and sang again. I took that as their smile. I thanked them for letting me into their world and expressed my joy in entering their world. I conveyed how lucky I was since no human had ever done this before. I said it was the most important day of my life. I said the grief caused by the thought of losing the pot flower was unbearable.
The largest and the most radiant of flowers spoke to me. ‘Do you think you have just entered our world? You always exist in our world. Not only us, flowers, but everything around you try to somehow communicate with you in one way or the other. You just required the mind and the ears to be able to be aware of such happenings. You were in a receptive state today. Hence you could enter our world.’
Ignoring the shock on my face, the flowers started singing again. I noticed the flower in my hand. She was in her last moment. This is my first instance observing a flower’s death. I understood the song sung by the flowers is a farewell to my dear friend. Finally the flower dropped from her stem and blossomed in my heart.