Dolly Koghar finds hope in Mother Nature.
As I stepped into my study that balmy April morning, I gasped at the splendour that would’ve made even a confirmed atheist exclaim OMG! The green- topped tree that grew almost onto my teak-wood writing table had transformed into a glorious bouquet of pale-pink butterfly wings; the Sakura was in bloom. Gokoku-Jinja, a shrine-cum-park, just a stone’s throw from home, is a place I reminisce with heady nostalgia. The sweetest memories are of the seemingly idle hours I watched any of my four kids on swings; monkeying on the jungle gym; building sandcastles and dreams with buckets and hoes; or engrossed in a tête-à-tête with a friend on the sturdy branches of the low-lying trees. In haru or spring, these trees awaken into bountiful bursts of white, peach and blush, making the Jinja one of the favourite spots in Nihon (Japan) for lovers, poets, photographers, and picnickers to do hana-mee or flower-viewing of the cherry- blossoms!
Unforgettable are those hazy, lazy days under the canopy of the blooms with friends, or family. We’d stuff ourselves
on a combination of the usual Indian fare of aloo-paranthas, channa and buns, chutney sandwiches, the staple pakoras, my signature paneer-roll, and the picnic ‘must’, Coca-Cola; winding up with the indispensable cuppa chai.
The typically introverted nihon-jin (Japanese) would shed their inhibitions with a nudge from the unlimited flow of beer and sake and then, unencumbered and childlike, they’d eat, sing, and dance. The blooms are fleeting and short-lived, but they infuse a new life; a renewed energy into a populace that work themselves to death, literally. The sakura lasts only seven days, if we are lucky and it doesn’t rain, and then, à la Cinderella’s midnight curfew, the magic concludes!
Mother Nature has been grumbling and rumbling with tsunamis, earthquakes, locusts, sinkholes, AIDS, etc. We
ignored her. We thought, we, the homo sapiens (wise men in Latin, ha!) are demi-gods; in control of our destinies, the destiny of this planet, and we could overtake the universe, if we so wanted! We steadily became more and more selfish and greedy and thought in singular, me and mine; the fate of the whole of humanity or the planet wasn’t our concern. We forgot, she does not need us; in fact, she would flourish without us. It is we who came from her womb and will return there one day to be re-moulded into yet another body. She is our mother and has been tolerant for much too long, but she’s had enough and needs for us to listen up, so she took on her Ma Kah form and unleashed COVID-19.
It’s Russian roulette; COVID-19 makes no distinction between race, colour, religion, status or gender, or if we are Harvard graduates or angootha-chaap (illiterate). It’s a humbling thought that a band of microscopic viruses have successfully brought the mighty man down on his knees and we, God’s best creation, are collectively peeing in our pants/skirts, worrying who’s next. Many mightier and stronger species have died out and gone kaput.
It’s now haru; the fragile petals that hibernated deep within the buds of the sakura through the dark, cold winter are now resuscitated and are bursting with beauty at the seams in the Gokoku-Jinja. We, too, need to fold inwards and introspect. COVID-19 is a costly lesson, and one that we shouldn’t forget in a hurry and go back to the meticulous and wanton destruction of life, whether of fellow humans, or animals and plants, unscrupulously plundering the earth to its core.
The present is surreal, and we are helplessly trapped in the darkest and most abysmal place in the history of the human race. Right now, it might seem like a moonless night, an amavas, but tomorrow morning the sun will ‘rise and shine’ and beam its warm energy to nourish us and every blade of grass on this planet. We’ll survive!