Extraordinary in the ordinary

Finding contentment wherever you are

I leaned in to check if it was alive. I couldn't imagine any other reason for an insect to sit on the same flower all day!
Published at The Hindu.

We have a plantation of roses hugging an entire wall of the porch at our home in Ambala. Come March and April, it explodes into kaleidoscopic blossoms, each with a character of its own. This year we have had blood-red roses effusing a strong and authentic gulabari jal (rose water) scent, peach pink half-open buds unfolding with an elite aura about them, fairly large off-white ones in the unique shade of semi-baked cake batter, scarlet-red ones that are so plump they’re nearly kissing the ground, and a velvety soft mango-yellow one in full bloom.

I observe these roses closely. In recent days I noticed a tiny guest in the plantation — an insect similar to a grasshopper, but smaller in size and pale green in colour. It sat on the crown of the mango-yellow rose. I assumed it was there for a moment to sip nectar.

In the evening the same day, I was amused to see it perched at the same place. I leaned in to check if it was alive. I couldn’t imagine any other reason for an insect to sit on the same flower all day! After all, the yellow rose was in a rich plantation of very exciting opportunities. The other roses were as nutritious and promising, if not more. There was nothing to stop the insect from hopping from one rose to the other, enjoying different creamy petals, multiple fragrances and flavours.

I assumed so based on my understanding of common behaviour. Whether insect or human, we often feel lured towards ‘other’ opportunities, greener pastures, more perks and greater joys, especially when they are within our reach. Whether we need them or not is another matter. Whether their achievement brings lasting happiness is also quite another matter.

Soon I saw it twitching its front legs and curving its spine. It was not only alive, it had no injury. A bumblebee buzzed off and on. A wasp hovered over the rose. Our guest was active and so was life all around it. I thought that it probably wanted to absorb the goodness of one flower in its entirety, and had hence settled down on one rose for the whole day.

The next day, Day 2, I went to our porch for a chore. The sun was overhead. I wishfully glanced at the yellow rose, secretly hoping to spot our tiny guest. I couldn’t. I went closer to take a look again.

And there it was…in a cozy, shaded space formed by a petal giving cover to the petal below it! Since the crown of the rose was exposed to direct sunrays, our guest had found a way to deal with the heat within the petals of the same rose. It could’ve taken a short flight to another rose that was fully under the shade at that time. But it didn’t.

A small but meaningful example of willingness to find a solution instead of escaping the problem. In the latter half of the day, when the sun’s rays had sobered, I found it had moved back to the crown of the rose, and swayed in tandem with the gentle evening breeze.

Came Day 3. I stepped out with my morning cup of tea. No surprise, I saw our guest still perched peacefully. It seemed as satisfied sitting on the yellow rose on that third day as it was on the first. It enjoyed food and health from it. Day turned to night, and it continued to enjoy the familiar position.

It was happy there. And that happiness was independent of the dynamics and opportunities in its environment. Isn’t that precious?

In the next few days, as the rose withers, our humble guest must fly away to another one. Until then, as it rests on the yellow petals regardless of the scarlet-red, peach- pink, and off-white temptations in the backdrop, I know I’m looking at contentment.

This article was published at The Hindu.

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