The Flowers in My Neighbourhood


It’s around the first week of April that I begin to see the light. When I wake up at 6.00 am and draw the curtains to see the soft light of dawn beginning to spread across purple skies. Skies that remained dark most of the time until then given the short winter hours.

It is towards the beginning of April that I also begin to see colours. When trees whose bare branches resembled the gnarled fingers of an old man begin to open up. Trees that now look like they are reaching into their wardrobes and dressing up in all possible shades of green.

April is also when flowers begin to appear, hesitatingly pushing their heads out of the still-frozen ground. It starts with the brief and poetic season of cherry blossoms filling the air with their heady scent. When fat bunches of these pink and white flowers suddenly begin to chequer the green, weighing down the branches. Their colours warm the green-blue haze that filled the neighbourhood until then. It’s as if someone just slipped in a warm filter.

Cherry Blossoms (Image from Pixabay)

Slowly, the days turn warmer too. I don’t feel the frost in the air anymore when I go running. Instead, I feel the sun on my face. I turn towards it, like a sunflower, feeling the gentle fingers of its hands caressing me. I am sure that’s exactly what the dandelions feel too as they elbow their way through the grass around them. I never used to pay much attention to dandelions until I came across the origin of their name. Dandelion is derived from the French “dent-de-lion” or lion’s teeth because of their uniquely ridged leaves. The only form of the dandelion that I had ever seen was when it had already gone to seed. As children, my brother and I loved picking dandelions, blow their wispy tendrils, and watch them float away lazily. We call them ‘appooppan thaadi,’ which means grandfather’s beard in Malayalam.

Dandelion (Image from Pixabay)

Dandelions are supposed to have numerous health benefits, and so are wildflower daisies. “A ‘cure for sore eyes – pluck some (daisy) flowers, boil them in water then wash the eyes with that water every morning before breakfast,” goes an old home advice seen in the National Folklore Collection in Ireland. It’s no wonder, given that the name daisy is derived from the old English ‘daeges eage’ or day’s eye because daisies always open up to the sun.

And then in May, it begins to rain gold. It’s the time when laburnums begin to appear, dripping yellow. Laburnum is a spectacular sight, but its beauty masks its extremely poisonous nature – ingesting laburnum seeds can send you into a coma.

Laburnum (Image from Pixabay)

To me, April is not the cruellest month. It’s when I can feel myself uncurl after a moody and blue winter. It’s the time when I can shed some of the layers of clothes and the dull weight of long, cold months, making me feel lighter from inside out. April brings with it anticipation, the hope of better times ahead. Because summer is coming.

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