During a trip to the Netherland’s capital city of Amsterdam, affectionately called the flower shop of the world, I visited a local market and picked up dried tulip bulbs for my father. Back in India, I handed over that pack of bulbs to him, quite happy to gift a live souvenir.
One fine day, I received a WhatsApp message from my father in Ambala. “Good morning beta, your tulips are slowly showing up. The bulbs have sprouted. Soon the flowers will bloom…Happy day.”
The next second, my phone buzzed with three notifications. There were three pictures: A pot with freshly sprouted leaves of a tulip plant, another with a deep violet semi-open flower peeking out from the soil, and the third one brandishing scarlet red curvaceous petals.
I could not believe that the tulip bulbs were not just alive, but also growing, and flowering! I had gifted the bulbs to my father as souvenirs, and I vaguely remembered that he mentioned in one of our earlier conversations that he had planted them. I had smiled and said, “Very sweet of you papa,” and that was it.
In the days ahead, I never asked how the bulbs were doing because I didn’t expect in my wildest thoughts that the tulips that flourished in the environs of Amsterdam had any future in Ambala’s extreme conditions, ranging between oppressive heat and sub-zero cold, other than different soil type and mineral composition.
While I wasn’t wrong in thinking that the buds didn’t have a future in Haryana’s climate and soil, I was certainly wrong in taking a clinical approach towards the act of gardening.
So this is what my father had done. First, he researched online all about planting tulips, embedded the bulbs at the right depth in the soil, and ensured they stay in the company of over 100 other plants in our porch. Even our gardener, Tiwari ji, pitched in, though he had no idea what a tulip was!
And then, my father nurtured them over months together. Every morning, he spent time with the pots, spoke to them, giving them positive vibes. I can only imagine the bulbs quietly sitting beneath the top layer of the soil, listening to him, absorbing his trust and care, until one day, they decided to show their dazzling faces and smile back at him. No wonder it’s said that plants reciprocate feelings.
When I flew down from Mumbai to our home in Ambala, I saw the tulips in our porch, blooming in the soil of Haryana under the generous shade of the jamun tree, even brushing shoulders with pots of tangerines. Amazingly, the Dutch floral beauties appeared to be where they belong.
Sometimes, one doesn’t need a fairytale character to sprinkle magic dust and translate the unexpected into reality. All one needs is the labour of true love.
This article was published at Hindustan Times.