lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Because I love you

She loved and trusted her. Her every step watched over, guided and protected. Then she grew up. Her every step watched over, guided and protected still, she chafed. There was the whole wide world to explore and learn. But she was hemmed in, penned and bound by a litany of you mustn’t, you shouldn’t, you can’t, it is not done.

If she’d ever voiced the question, cried “why are you doing this,” she would have been told in hurt and loving tones that were actually implacable, “because I love you.”

She loved and trusted him. Her every action watched, every move noted, her world small as ever; still hemmed in, penned and bound by you can’t, you shouldn’t, you mustn’t, and more. If she’d ever thought to ask “why are you doing this,” she would have been told “because I love you” with the same implacability.

She discovered bonsai. All her hemmed in, penned and bound realities shaped her trees. She became particular. She grew trees from seedlings, saw them as saplings and urged and nudged and pinched them into the shape of her vision. Then she used wires. If she thought her first seedling grown into sapling reaching out to experience more of the world ever asked her, “why are you doing this,” she’d have gone on twisting the wire around the branches to bend and hold them to the perfect front view and back that she envisaged for the young tree, and she’d have whispered “because I love you.”

Her collection of imprisoned trees, her miniature world grew as she aged. Unnaturally shaped to imitate nature, with hollows and lightning-struck scars and more detail, her trees grew. Her loving mother, who defined her boundaries when she was a child, who tainted her pubescent and teenaged perception of the world, was long dead now; her husband, who refined those boundaries and fences and limits, dead for a month.

She was old, herself. But not so old that she couldn’t dig a patch and find the perfect spot in the sprawling grounds her house was set in; it was the mansion and grounds that she was given in marriage to as much as her husband, by her mother. She was going to plant that tree, her first seedling sapling young tree that she stunted into submission; plant it in soil that would let it grow, now at forty years of age. At liberty to grow as it pleased at last.

“Are you crazy,” her sons screamed at her. “That tree will fetch thousands for its age alone. You are destroying it.” They took her potted world away from her to be cared for by a gardener. She was taken aback. For the first time, she whispered the words, “why are you doing this.” And she received an honest reply.

“Because these bonsai are money.”


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