Wallflower-oh how I love the word! The lyrical pleasure of the word, a wisp of happiness that escapes when I mumble it to myself, and the image that it conjures in my head-a happy orange-yellow flower growing by himself on a nondescript brown wall embellished with moss and lichen, which he shyly salutes to. Flourished and nurtured by the wind and rain, he is an observer, and he smiles to himself at the vagaries of life unfolding before his eyes. He doesn’t take part, doesn’t intend to either and shivers and sighs when the occasional breeze from the cacophony of life tugs at his petals. Gathering himself he then slips back to his complacent self in the inconspicuous corner.
While a dictionary also defines the wallflower as the shy awkward loner at a gathering, not necessarily synonymous with an introvert, the unwavering introvert that I have always been, I prefer calling myself a wallflower than the former.
A little plant in your garden corner or a flower motif on your wallpaper, modest and observing as you dillydally and resonate mechanically between your extremes, I am that happy little wallflower. And, if I were to choose a flower to represent me, I would zero in on the Primrose Jasmine, little yellow flowers that grow on vine like branches, flowering against all odds in the crisp cold of winter months and the early months of awakening spring.
In my growing up days, there used be a Primrose Jasmine tree that flourished in all its splendour, next to a plum tree, in our mountain home. The tree would spread some of its sinewy branches on the weather beaten maroon roof, while other branches grazed the frostbitten earth. I had the task of climbing onto the roof and gathering the little flowers that were later used to string garlands for the several smiling deities my grandmother prayed to and sat for hours embellishing their bronze frames with flowers and sandalwood paste, a smell so heavenly. While the world carried on, I would sit with her and make little yellow garlands occasionally broken by the magenta petals of camellia flowers. I knew I was different, a dreamy kid who read Enid Blyton in the backyard and was singled out, by everybody alike, for being different. It mattered then and, now, I enjoy that difference, the oddity.
Now, for more than a month the world has been temporarily paused, a lock-down, which Amy brilliantly prefers to call ‘nesting’ (that I will use henceforth) and Su, rightfully, coins ‘rāhui’, but I have been strangely complacent. No, I have not attained the coveted Zen and telling you that I have remained unvaried through my nesting period would be a blatant lie. I have had my lows. I have witnessed my acquiescing body drowning while the dank waters of death and destruction filled my lungs, as the animated echoes of anchors screaming from their newsrooms lashed through the murky waters. Yet, I have remained largely calm, hopeful and optimist. The perks of being an introvert, no a wallflower, and socially awkward. I have slipped, without much difficulty, into a pattern of attending to my chores, finishing work, reading, studying, doodling, raising funds, doing my bit. I listen to music from the bygone era, walk around my apartment complex in an anticlockwise fashion, which I suddenly observed last night, while my neighbours maintaining a social distance always walk clockwise. They walk hurriedly while I count the Neem trees, stare at the buildings, some of which the painters, who were employed to brighten the complex, had to leave to their ghostly whitewashed selves. I gaze at the warm yellow and bright lights across the windows, a Bob Marley poster, silhouette of a neighbour softly strumming his guitar, the whiff of sputtering cumin seeds scent the air, and I ponder why am I walking in the opposite direction! Different, the wallflower softly murmurs.
My acquaintances cite instances of missing the occasional cuppa, the little gatherings and they will pelt me with stones of harsh words were I to mention that I am willing to live without it; that I would not mind living all by myself in a solitary cottage. Beyond the moorland, surrounded by old gaunt pine trees, books, a ginger cat and a dog for company, I will joyously lead a solitary life. An anachronistic person that I have always been, I will happily don the nostalgic cloak of the lost era, le temps d’autrefois!
They tell me, he has gone cuckoo,
And I correct them, wallflower, orange and yellow.