‘Where is the red rose, Mom?’ 11 years old Adhya asked her Mom in disbelief as she knew her Mom will never pluck the only flower off a plant.
‘It was gone by the time I came out to water the plants Adhya. Someone plucked it.’ her Mom replied with a disappointed tone.
Adhya couldn’t believe that someone could actually be so thoughtless. To her eyes, someone stealing the rose that was special to her Mom was a sin.
‘I have to teach the red rose thief a lesson!’ Adhya thought. So, she decided to get to the bottom of it.
As she thought more about the stolen ‘Red Rose’ a flash of events that started six months back came as recollections in front of her eyes.
The story goes back to the day when Adhya’s Mom brought the red rose plant home.
At first, Adhya was not excited about it as red is not her favourite colour. It was like any other plant for her. As days went by, Adhya saw her Mom eagerly wait for it to grow and bloom. She saw her Mom develop a particular interest for that plant. By then all the other flowering plants started forming buds and eventually ended up flourishing but not the red rose plant. She observed that it made her Mom show extra care for the red rose plant.
That was when Adhya started caring for the red rose plant. Adhya was troubled on seeing her Mom’s expression when the latter used to water the red rose plant every day. It was an obvious concern that when all other plants bloomed, the red rose did not. All that Adhya wanted was to see her Mom happy. But, it was not just her Mom’s worry that bothered her. It was a dream that she was nurturing; magic that she was expecting at the heart of her heart. To her, the blooming was more than a science, logic or anything that defined it.
Days and months passed like this as Adhya, and her Mom waited. For 11-year-old Adhya Sunday was very special as she would spend all day having fun. But now Sunday was spent watering, caring for and watching her plants; especially the red rose. Even Brushing the teeth came second to watering the plants.
It was just another Sunday when no one would have expected, a miracle to happen. As usual, Adhya woke up and went to water the plants. As she was nearing the red rose plant, her sleepy eyes suddenly popped open. She quickly rubbed her eyes to be sure of what she saw. Once she confirmed that it was true, her face shone with happiness. It was that spot where a tender red rosebud was waiting for her first glance, that filled her heart with joy.
‘That’s it. This is it!’ Adhya thought.
Adhya dropped the pipe with which she was watering the plants, right there and ran towards the kitchen to tell her Mom.
‘Mom! Come look. The red rose formed a bud!’ Adhya literally screamed with excitement as She ran to fetch her Mom. Within no time, she was back with her Mom.
‘Mom, look!’ she pointed at the tiny bud that was hidden among the leaves.
‘Ah! Finally. Soon, the red rose will start blooming and start to unwrap its petals.’ said Adhya’s Mom.
‘How long before that, Mom? How many days more?’ curiously asked Adhya.
‘Give or take two weeks Adhya. And, now that it started to form bud(s), we have to take extra care and provide it with additional nutrients.’ said Adhya’s Mom as she ran her fingers gently around a leaf of the red rose plant.
Adhya felt that finally, her dream was coming true. This was not the first time she was witnessing a bloom; this was not going to be the last time that she would witness a bloom. But this dream held the happiness of two people, hers and Mom’s. From that moment on, she literally started counting the days!
On the 10th day after Adhya saw the bud, the flower started surfacing by revealing its vibrant red petals. When her Mom told that the flower would bloom fully in a day or two, Adhya’s boundless joy leapt out of her to form the petals that extended themselves to connect with the rose.
The day Adhya’s Mom talked about had come. And, when Adhya walked up to see the fully bloomed red rose, she was in for a shock.
That was when Adhya asked, ‘Where is the red rose, Mom?’ and her Mom replied that it was gone by the time she came to check. The missing flower kindled the detective spirit in Adhya.
Adhya turned the wheel of her cog to find out who it could be. After narrowing down on some suspects, Adhya thought only a regular visitor of her house could be the culprit. But ‘Who?’ remained unanswered. When she revisited her thoughts, she could feel that the person was close at hand; one who always wanted to pluck the flowers from the garden; the one who knew about the existence of the red rose.
‘Priya.’ That was the name that came to her mind when she thought about it. But how would she confront her neighbour and schoolmate?
Confident about her find, during the lunch break Adhya went to Priya’s class to check if Priya was wearing the flower in her hair. But she was disappointed, and she did not find the flower.
‘How can that be? I am confident that it is her.’ Adhya thought.
She couldn’t sleep well that night as she was not ready to give up on her quest. Next day as the other children in her class were enjoying themselves, Adhya sat in the last bench still lost in thoughts about the stolen red rose. Even her favourite Mathematics class didn’t sound interesting on that day. She was just sad and wanted to go home as soon as she could. As the school bell rang, Adhya picked up her bag and walked towards the auto rickshaw. She sat in her usual corner seat and was watching other students disperse.
Suddenly, long away from her Adhya spotted a beautiful red rose in a girl’s hair. As she looked closely, she recognised that girl as Priya. But by the time she thought of getting out of the auto to go and confront Priya about the red rose, the auto rickshaw took off. Adhya couldn’t bear the wait of 10 minutes journey back home. Both Adhya and Priya’s autos entered the lane as they both reside in almost at the same location.
Adhya didn’t want to loose temper and talk to Priya rudely because that was not going to help her unravel the mystery. So, Adhya approached Priya and pointed at the beautiful red rose in her hair and politely asked her from where she had got it.
‘Your house is not the only place where there is a red rose plant Adhya. Anyway, my Mom purchased it from the lady who sells flowers.’ Priya retorted.
Adhya felt furious from inside as she recognises every element of that flower. She had been practically watching it grow each day.
‘I am ready to let it go Priya if you come clean and apologise for what you have done.’
Priya walked away carelessly as she felt like Adhya was helpless and lacks the courage of confronting her again.
Adhya decided to take this to Priya’s Mom as she did not feel right about the entire episode. So, once she freshened up at her home, Adhya went to Priya’s house. As she reached, Priya’s Mom welcomed her warmly. While she sat down, Adhya started a conversation with Priya’s Mom.
‘Aunty, I saw a beautiful red rose in Priya’s hair today. From where did you purchase it?’ Adhya asked curiously.
‘It is strange you asked me that Beta! Priya told me that you gave her that rose from your garden.’ replied Priya’s Mom.
That’s when Adhya explained to her about what happened and how Priya responded when she confronted her. Adhya further told that she didn’t want to fight with Priya over a red rose. She just wanted Priya to realise that it was not OK to steal.
‘It is not my intention to spoil Priya’s reputation, Aunty. I am sorry if I made you feel bad.’ said Adhya to Priya’s Mom.
Priya’s Mom thanked Adhya for bringing the incident to her notice and giving her a chance to correct her daughter.
But the story did not end there. The catch to it was when Priya’s Mom asked Adhya to stay for some more time as she was making Mirchi Bajji.
Well, Mirchi Bajji was Adhya’s favourite so she couldn’t say NO to that. That was the best Mirchi Bajji Adhya had ever had. Later, she asked Priya’s Mom how to make it and till date Mirchi Bajji’s are made in the same way at Adhya’s home.
Now when Adhya reminisces about the red rose, she can never forget the spicy and tasty Mirchi Bajjis too.
The take away for her is ‘every bitter experience ends with a sweet note’. Or rather a ‘spicy note’, like in this case.
If LOVE is as sweet as a flower, then MOTHER is that sweet flower of love.Stevie Wonder
Wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms!
A piece of fiction is based on the prompt Red Roses from The Frangipani Creative group!
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Such a beautiful story Keerthi. Even I behave like this when mom gets a new plant/plants a new plant. I carefully look at it for the flower ! Plus that Red Rose painting is amazing. And yes, didn’t expect the Mirchi Bajji to creep in ??
I am impressed by Aadhya’s maturity of handling people and emotions. Something a lot of adults lack. Love the ending with mirchi bhaaji. They are my absolute favorite. You described the wait for the rose to bloom so well. That’s exactly how I waited for mine. They take so soo sooo long to bloom.
I love the connection between the rose and the mirchi bhajji. I remember you telling me about this incident, but didn’t know of the spicy twist!
Loved how you spun this beautiful story around the prompt, Keerthi! So much of our lives is about waiting and from childhood until adulthood the waiting game continues. Particularly enjoyed the lovely surprise at the end, that was quite unexpected.
I too cherish flowers that bloom in my house. They are not permanent. They wither in a day or two but leave a beautiful memory. I know how it feels when people ruthlessly pluck flowers and nip off the buds too with the pretext of offering them to God. I could immediately connect to your story, Keerthi