The Peace Lily Dream

by Varunika
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I check her what’s app status once again. I tend to check it every time SHE posts a picture of IT. Every time I look at these updates, a tender feeling begins to brew within my entire being. To me this IT is like a dream, and SHE is living that dream.

SHE – My childhood friend.

IT – The myriad flowers that beam and gleam in her cozy balcony, making it vibrant and alive, even in the pictures!

I know it sounds silly and lame but her balcony, those pretty terracotta pots, the petunias, the fuchsias, the hibiscus, and everything else in those pictures is what a dream looks like. Tranquil and sublime. Something that sets my spirit yearning to find something similar. Maybe not an exact replica of what SHE has, but a miniature version of IT.

That’s why I brought a Peace Lily home exactly a year ago. Alas! My peace lily plant has not bloomed so far. I want to sulk a bit more, but I am interrupted by the soft sobs of my six-year-old sitting in the living room. I walk up to her to talk. Tears roll down her cheeks as she tries to hide her face between the palms of her two tiny hands. The sobbing is slowly gaining momentum. I need to take charge almost immediately because a possible calamity is about to befall me.

I roll my eyes anticipating the herculean task ahead. Not only does Shriyadita, my 6-year-old need some cuddling, but the current situation demands a bit of cajoling too, so that she does IT all over again.

She cannot just give up. Not yet.

Also, because she can do IT. I just know it.

By IT I am referring to a grid activity from a beginner level coding workbook, which she could not solve correctly.

No, I have not enrolled her into one of those coding classes!!!

Post one introductory coding class during school, I remember her telling me, I had to scratch my head a few times, but I did crack the secret codes mom! This class was remarkably interesting!!

Summer holidays are here, and I was not keen on any online classes during these vacations, and that is when I thought of purchasing this colorful coding workbook along with a few other activity sheets.

Coming back to the current crisis.

Although Shriyadita enjoys solving these little riddles, exploring the maze, decoding the secret messages hiding under the garb of numbers, this IT is a little different than the other ones and my girl is distracted too. Cannot really blame her. My younger one is playing all her favorite songs at volume 7 in the next room, courtesy Alexa Aunty!

Shriyadita made one tiny mistake and then, one domino knocked down the next. As a result, she ended up with an exact inverted image of the correct pattern. I talk to her, comfort her and in a bid to contain the pounding waterfall from her eyes tell her, “It is OK to make mistakes specially when we are attempting something for the first time. You tried. That is important. Now that we know where we went wrong, let us just start from scratch again.”

Will you help me?”, she asks innocently wiping the tears from her cheeks.

 “Of course. I will. Let us try again.”, I whisper softly in her ears, to which she readily agrees.

I explain the instructions at the top of the page to her because that is the only help, she requires apart from her own focused effort. Within seconds I can see the clouds of doubt disappearing from her face, giving way to a confident yet calm expression, like the azure blue sky. She takes her time but eventually succeeds in finishing the activity on her own.

I did it! Yay yay!”, she exclaims, her voice dipped in the satisfaction of emerging victorious because of a sincere effort. Without any further delay, she quickly disappears into the kids’ room because everyone loves Alexa Aunty, in my house.

On most occasions I find myself flummoxed and ill-equipped to handle my children and their seemingly larger-than-life problems. This must be one of those rare moments where my parenting skill was put to test, and I survived. A gentle happy sort of breeze brushes past me before I remind myself of something else that probably deserves some attention too.

You did fine as a parent. Now can we do something about the Peace Lily?

I sit down on the couch finally, without the girls buzzing around my head and stare at the Peace Lily plant, sitting on the wooden rack place comfortably at a distance.

I will be honest here. I am an agriculture graduate from a prestigious University of this country.  Unfortunately, there seems to be a disconnect between THE Kingdom Plantae and the Horticulturist in me. My friend on the contrary has a degree in hotel management!

No, I am not envious of her. I just feel this hollow inside me for not being able to grow indoor plants, even a few. I feel jinxed. And though I ought to be THE expert here, even a simple herb like Tulsi, perishes every single time I try to plant it. It was only after an encouraging nudge from my friend and a known fact that Peace Lilies are the easiest indoor plants to grow, that I decided to try my luck with it.

So, here I am, observing my Peace Lily, admiring it really. It looks healthier than last week. Last week the plant looked brown and pale, apart from the discouraging thought that it has not bloomed yet. I thought it will not survive. I tried one last time. I changed the pot position last week and cleaned the dust that the leaves had amassed on the surface and trimmed a few discolored leaves. Now it is just a few feet away from the window receiving dappled sunlight every afternoon. It looks shinier and happier.

This plant is a survivor. In the last one year, I have seen the leaves drooping, and the plant ready to wilt many a times, primarily because, its caregiver, that is me, remained oblivious to its needs. Whenever I made an attempt to understand the plant, took cues from the color of its leaves or the texture of its potting soil, it responded.

The Peace Lily always responds. It also heals. The fact that it has stood strong with me and my ignorant ways during these testing COVID times, restores my faith in a lot of things. My parenting for instance. Despite all my shortcomings, the moment I pay attention to my children’s questions and perplexities, I see their eyes twinkling, as if a prayer were answered. I see them decode the secrets of life with more clarity and precision, like the coding workbook episode earlier. I know it is too early to predict their future. It is too early to dream. But the potting can be done. The watering can be monitored. And with just enough light and the right conditions, one day I will see a bloom.

I do not fancy anything big. I dream of waking up to a blooming Peace Lily plant. My eyes await the sight of a lovely white spathe amongst this green foliage. Because that one white flower will reaffirm my belief that … Dreams do bloom, if our efforts are consistent and sincere.

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