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Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Potted Palm...

That morning I ran out of the lift
That the watch was winning was already clear, my feet as always late.
That little nursery outside my gate was coming to life
That potted plant in the nursery across the road, the one that always stands in the corner, the one I always see.

I knew Chhotu worked there, I had seen him a couple of times
I knew his name was Chhotu, he used to weigh and buy my old newspapers too.
I saw him now in a dirty vest and shorts, watering the plants, humming a line, scratching his head.
I had been thinking for days of getting a plant, it would look good in my home I knew
I reminded myself again to stop over there in the evening.

Day was busy, coffee-breaks short, and work stretched beyond the given hour
Day was night by the time I entered my gates; Chhotu had left and the plants all asleep.
Day a month back Neeti had told me a plant would look ‘cool’ in my home, Monty had said it would add a ‘literary’ dash to my interiors.
Day was when I had made up my mind I would get a real plant, start having some nature in me. I had been planning to get the plant for long. I made up my mind it would be this weekend.

Palm…its leaves fresh, a lovely green…..swaying in the gentle sea breeze
Palm - I brought it in with much fanfare….the party with friends was due next weekend.
Palm – here in my home. Now the big question – where was the palm spot to be?

My so-called literary spirit required me to put it near the book shelf – but that would block the way each time I headed for a book – no, wrong spot
My nature-loving self said I should place it in the balcony, where the sea breeze would soothe it by day and the pigeons would come down to say hello – but what about the sun who would burn down on it the whole day? – no, wrong spot
My practical self said it should be near the kitchen counter, the green of the palm mixing with the orange and black of my marble counter-top kitchen. What a contrast it would be. But wait, what of the countless mind-numbing drink sessions and the parties that ran the whole night? What if someone tripped over the plant and spilled drinks all over? What a mess it would be!! No – wrong spot again….
My smile grew as I knew where to keep it – of course, the lobby near the hall, no one would be disturbed there for sure….but wait, the costly artificial plant was already installed there, the palm would take away its charm – no, wrong spot….

Oh come on, where would the right spot be? It was just a plant after all – how difficult could it be?

It turned out it was difficult and I was confused
It was late and I was tired
It was night and my favourite sitcom was about to begin
It was dinner time and I hadn’t cooked a thing – again!
It was time to call in a pizza – again!

So I decided to call it a day and end it with a nice movie and pizza
So I decided to postpone the palm-spot hunting for a later day
So I took it out in the common lobby near the lift and kept it there
So that it wouldn’t take up the wrong space in the house and make it a permanent place
So after the pizza was over I kept the box out in the garbage bin and checked the lock on the door
So now that all was done for the day I decided it was time to proclaim my love to my comfortor and go to sleep.

The next day I woke up with the dream still in my eye
The Hollywood crush from my teenage years again bringing back that dance in my steps
The morning awake and ready to head to work
The bath warm, the coffee bitter, the egg soft-boiled
The elevator arrived, stopped on my floor and I skipped in, my heels in matte polish, my bag in place
The hands of the watch trying to win and I trying to win it all over again

Chhotu was watering the plants
Chhotu had told me to water my plant
Chhotu had given me the palm
Chhotu had told me to water the palm – oh shoot!!!!

I told myself it was okay
I knew the plant would be fine when I came back home in the evening
I would water it then.
I told myself it was a plant and would sustain itself for the day
I closed my work and headed to the party – the one Nikhil threw as a surprise
I was sloshed by the end of it
I crashed in with Niti and slept off another horrible hangover – the ones I keep promising I will never have again
I borrowed her shirt next morning and went to work straight from her place
I finished the deadlines
I was dead by the time I reached home
I headed straight for the couch, then the call-in number, then the shower
I ate and fell asleep on the couch
I dragged myself to bed and slept

Next morning I ran to work
Next moment I remembered the palm – wasn’t I supposed to water it?
Next thing I thought was, it was out in the common lobby
Next-door neighbour would surely water it once at least
Next time I stepped home I would first water the plant
Next day next day next day….the week was over and my palm had stood alone, waiting…..

And I was out on a work trip
And the next I would be home would be two weeks later
And the one time I remembered about my palm was when I remembered I had forgotten to water it
And the only thing I could hope for was that my neighbour would water it

Chhotu was sitting in the lobby weighing the papers
Chhotu put the old newspapers in his bag and extended his hand to hand the change
“Chhotu, come back after three weeks” my neighbour said…..uh…what was his name?
Chhotu replied in the affirmative and looked at me as the door closed….

“Didi, can I take away the pot?”