One flower---three states of mind
---Venkat presented her a fresh rose, while walking on the road in a wet Toronto---the rains were sudden, fresh, with the scents of young spring typical of the city, so different from earlier locations in South Asia---an almost unpremeditated gesture, or, maybe, the influence of social media on a young psyche, eager to express the notion of romance, and, find love, true love, in a stranger or almost-stranger, the only common thread a shared ethnicity and quest for better existence, in a strange place and culture that was subtly colour-coded but overall welcoming for the foreign workers who worked for lesser dollars and never complained, eager to settle in and find some dignity there.
All these things were working at some subterranean level of an active brain, when, eager to express his feelings for her, he did what was supposed to be done by the males in this game of courtship with no fixed rules.
He bent down, said a “hi!” and offered the rose, as a gift universally understood as a symbol of love.
She was surprised to see this figure, comical in effect.
A man bent down on his right knee, indifferent to the drizzle and the thin crowd on a working morning of the spring of 2019.
The blasé scene, repeated ad nauseam, however, produced a different reaction within a female heart engaged in an identical quest for a stable marital home.
She went weak, almost fainted in his arms, overjoyed by this sudden development of a strange story searching for a denouement in a foreign setting. They sealed the three-day affair with a hot kiss---and applause from the smiling people. The two immigrants kissing became a trending video on the internet and burned it for a few hours.
He adored the flower, a lucky mascot.
---He hated roses after she left him in a huff and crushing the rose that he had come to present to her daily, in their rented apartment, overlooking the harbor.
The romance ended as swiftly as it had begun, leaving him confused. He did not even look at the Afghan man selling the roses for few days, avoiding the tall strapping man with turban and khol in the eyes; a stranger who had almost become a pal in that city of a million common dreams; an unlikely comrade-cum-counsellor, sharing stories of broken guys, in search of meaningful and enduring love and stable homes, away from their homelands burning with so many inequalities and raging violence against perceived enemies of every type other than their own tribes. Afterwards, they both exchanged stories that were typically a strong blend of hope and sadness, joy and pain, loss and recovery---endless cycle called life across ages.
He had burnt out every last trace of that enigmatic woman that had accepted his flower on a wet street, in a time-slot that looked like a black hole now, in the muddled chronology of time.
His active mind--- battered by deadlines and profit-pursuits over the weekdays and nights in a dismal pad in a shared apartment, downtown, wanted to erase that toothy smile and brown cheeks rouged to a lush pink and false eyebrows and loud laughter on trifles and the pouts in public places, as some kind of assumed or culturally-imposed sexiness on her petite figure---yes, it wanted to erase all those links, traces, memories by pressing on the delete button, some deep side of the active brain of a man on PR---and it did and he breathed easy, plunging into more assignments and a second part-time job in a warehouse run by some Bangladeshis, near Brampton.
Finally, Venkat could erase her and moved on, never buying the flowers from that Afghan but stopping by sometimes to chat and know his side of reality.
In fact, he was in denial about his own human status, denial about suppressed emotions that turn a zombie into a man, a robot into a thinking, bipedal being.
Love! A doomed emotion found in Hollywood, not in real-time life of middle-class dreaming an American dream across the world---same aspirations and colours in a colourless, powerless existence as one of the sidetracked 99percenters or some category where professionals got pigeon-holed like that.
He wanted to remain focused on success.
Only a few poets could understand that hazy region of female anatomy, beyond the logic of the day.
He hated: Love. Women. Roses.
And romantic films as fictions.
It comes cheap in a mass culture where it can be bought for a few dollars.
Tales of unequal power and control: night-stand with a hooker, owning a battered body, for few hours in a cheap motel or drunken orgies some place---forgotten next morning.
They had forgotten for the original search for the soul of a body that would be interlinked with another in a long journey onwards.
Love that would neutralize all the horded anger, acidity and bitterness and heal the festering inner scars.
“True love will find you once again, Mr. Bitter,” an ad-hoc GF had told a weeping him---bit aged, frayed on the sides and insides, plumper and receding hair---on the lakeshore, one of those cold October nights, peculiar to Canada, adding mystery to one of the banal sexual encounters, empty shells on the beach.
He had nodded eagerly for such a magical scenario in an existence---lonely and absurd!
“Illogical love finds home,” she said. “Restores faith and sanity in the market!”
---Later, it did happen.
He ran into a Vietnamese girl selling a painting of a bleeding rose. He bought the painting---and her heart incrementally, after long discussions on art and flowers in a consumerist culture---presented her a rose, similar style, and she beamed and cried and then both cried happily---and soon got married.
The prophecy came true!
He adored roses!
Sunil Sharma, PhD (English), is a Toronto-based academic, critic, literary editor and author with 23 published books: Seven collections of poetry; four of short fiction; one novel; a critical study of the novel, and, nine joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism, and, one joint poetry collection. He is, among others, a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award---2012. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015.
Hahhha..loved this .. :) the rose the romance and the aftermath ..ReplyDelete
Thanks for your kind words.Delete
I loved this..the two roses the romance and the aftermath ... The setting..ReplyDelete
Lovely as usual !ReplyDelete
Thanks for encouragement!Delete
This is just exquisite. I love how you so boldly say the quiet parts loudly, courageous and brazen yet, with such an endearing sense of humor and whimsy also, never letting the bastards grind the protagonist down. Another important contribution to the literature of migration and wayfaring speaking learnedly to this convoluted age of ours, where wonder and pain commingle inextricably. You’ve truly made the rain your season/weather pattern, taken impressive command of in different work! Reminiscent of some of my favorite French New Wave or Italian Neorealist love affair pictures, yet fascinatingly accusatory of the core mendacity of the genre itself simultaneously. The postscript/epilogue was just superb, so glad it was appended. Flash Fiction of the highest order!ReplyDelete