I hate bouquets - bunches of flowers held together by a colourful thread and encased in soft lacy covers. I don’t want to cradle them one day and see the soft crisp petals curl or wilt the next day. But, the bouquet saw its way through the door one warm evening - ten long stems with fresh leaves and white bulbs in a rich ivory sheet.
I tried not to roll my eyes or shake my head. I left them on the table instead, next to the television and I chatted with the person who brought them for me.
“The flowers need to be in the water”, I rubbed my chin even as the conversation veered towards family and friends. “They don’t last anyway”, my wise side dismissed my guilty thoughts. Between laughs, side glances, and squirmy toes, I took some deep breaths.
Two hours later, I picked up the bunch to check if the stalks had gone limp. My fingers pressed on the fresh thick stem as they bobbed under the weight of the closed buds. It was soft and crunchy and I dashed to find a vase to hold them.
I found a wide crystal jar embossed with pink roses in the study. I filled it with fresh water, settled the lilies in and placed it on the kitchen table. I was surprised how the flowers and the jar blended with everything around - as if they belonged.
Delicate, soft, pure, fresh
When the first bud unfurled its glorious white petal with pink edges I stopped myself from jumping or clapping in joy. I hated that they looked delicate, soft, pure, fresh letting out a faint scent of dewed musk. I rubbed my nose. Their long brown stamens with powdered pollen were alluring.
That evening, another bulb opened up to reveal its pith - a pale green studded with droplets of dew.
The next morning, five glorious blooms greeted me with a heady scent. I tiptoed closer to them - soft pink laced petals teased me. A tight knot broke loose deep inside. I tore myself away and turned towards the kitchen when I caught my reflection in the mirror - a long deep curve was plastered on my face. I stopped. I looked back.
The lilies were bobbing their heads with their brightest grin. I walked back to them. I traced the soft edges of the petals with my fingers and I knew that instant that I was in love with them. I sat next to them, feeling them, watching them with awe. There, in the middle of the table, they had opened up to reveal themselves to this world.
I hummed songs about flowers, I thought about the poems that described these colourful heads, and I even twirled once intoxicated by something in the air. I had never wanted to fall in love with them but the lilies with their vulnerable beauty had pulled me from a dark place to plonk me onto a world of colour, nature and love. For the next four days, I lingered around them and giggled a lot.
I posed with the blooms and captured selfies. I sniffed often and I even dipped my head too close to the flower only to get some pollen dust on my nose. I laughed when I got rid of the dust. After four full days of bliss, the inevitable happened. Five long white concave shapes lay scattered on the table. My fingers trembled as I picked them out one after the other. I stacked the petals in a coffee mug, unable to throw them away.
The coffee mug with the petals sits on the edge of a long side table. Some of the petals bear brown edges. The last two flowers in the crystal vase are beaming without a care. They are egging me on to smile more. I shake my head. The wounds have not healed.
I gather a jug of water and fill up the jar. I don’t know how to keep the lilies from falling. I know they will end up in the mug. It is only a matter of hours - of life, of pollen dust, of radiance. I sit with a numbness I knew was coming. I chide myself for giving in. “But nothing lasts anyway”, the voice ends with a light touch.
Sudha Subramanian is an author and writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @sudhasubraman