This is in continuation to my earlier mini-story – Prajakta- A lonely tree.
Someone is coming this way! That is so exciting, sadly my blooms are about to dry. They might not like me that much now, what do I do? flustered Prajakta,
An old woman hobbled slowly along the path. She carried a small bag in her hand and seemed to be hunched. The woman walked slowly around trees, and occasionally hunched and peered at something. She put something in her bag occasionally before continuing her walk.
As she came near Prajakta, she seemed delighted!
“I knew there was a Prajakta plant nearby. These sweet-smelling flowers…”, she trailed as she bent some more to pick a few flowers. She carefully placed them in the bag and sat under the tree for some time.
Prajakta was thrilled to see someone enjoying her company.
After some time the woman rose, touched Prajakta and said ‘I will be back tomorrow’
And true to her words, she started coming daily. The woman came early in the mornings to see Prajakta in all her glory, a tree soaked in the morning dew with a dazzling carpet of white and orange around her. The woman religiously picked the prajakta flowers and took them with her.
At times the woman would come in early evenings, sit under the tree and read some poetry or stories that she liked. Once in a while she wrote her own and read it out to Prajakta.
Then Prajakta too would shed a flower to convey her appreciation. The woman would smile and caress the trunk. It was like two lost friends had now bonded over stories, poetry, and loneliness. Prajakta didn’t feel lonely anymore. She had found a beautiful friend in that old lady.
Winter came and the woman couldn’t make it to the tree regularly. She had troubled knees and it was a task to reach Prajakta. She knew her friend was in pain. Prajakta would rustle her leaves to give some cool breeze to the woman as she sat under the tree. She gave her flowers, but she didn’t know what else she could do.
The woman became irregular, but Prajakta understood.
Then one day, the woman, who was now hunched double, came to Prajakta after undertaking a laborious walk. She sat down and there was peace on her face.
After some time she opened her eyes and quivered ‘I don’t think I will last till the Spring to see your beauty again, but I have stored that memory in my mind. You have been a wonderful friend to me in my lonely years.’
Prajakta shed a silent tear as she heard the woman talk
‘I had another Prajakta, long ago in my backyard. We had a small house with a tiny backyard. I and my husband loved flowers and trees. We had planted a Prajakta together when we moved into our home. I have so many wonderful memories associated with the plant. I and my husband read books, wrote poetry under that prajakta’s shade. We named our daughter by the same name as well.’
When I found you, it felt like I found a piece of my heart. I felt lonely earlier and no one seemed to have the time to listen to my memories or thoughts. With you, I found a companion, a thread from the past that I could cherish!
So saying the woman hugged Prajakta with tears flowing from her eyes but a peaceful smile on her face. Today Prajakta too felt peaceful and as a gift, she shed her flowers on the old woman as they both enjoyed each other’s company for one last time.