We were posted at Bangalore, now the weirdly spelled Bengaluru, in 1998. The last year of me being the only apple of my parents’ eyes.
I studied in a convent school – St.Louid’s. Class KG. The walk from my home to the bus-stop was almost a kilometre. Beautiful trees lined the roads on one side and houses on the other. The narrow lane was covered with fallen leaves and big red flowers, the petals of which were velvety like the cheeks of a new-born baby.
My teacher was Miss Rosebud. I always brought her a flower each day. The only teacher I have done this for. She was the only teacher in the army of unpleasant nuns. The ritual made us both smile. It helped that my father was the then lawn in-charge at the sprawling mess. The flowers were fresh and more importantly, they were free.
I had always wanted to give Miss Rosebud, who was my only and favourite teacher, one of those big red flowers from those big trees. The flowers looked exotic, much like my teacher’s name.
I never could. Once the flower fell from the tree on the coarse gravel it blackened as quickly as the burning white end of a cigarette.
Miss Rosebud couldn’t be given a rotten offering.
The other impediment to successfully procuring one of these velvety delights was a large drain separating the road from the trees. The width of the drain exceeded my entire length. It was mission impossible. My mother used to walk me till the bus-stop and I didn’t dare ask her to take the leap of faith on my behalf. I could not ask my father either. His roses would’ve gotten offended. And thus our feet would squish the bulbous flower parts every morning and afternoon. The flowers on the branches perched high above us: beautiful, pristine and unattainable.
My grandparents came to visit us. The duty of dropping and collecting me from the bus-stop went to my grandfather. He gladly accepted. This is what we did, my grandfather and I. We took long walks. Our steps would begin uncoordinated but one anecdote later we were in sync, both in gait and thoughts. He would talk to me about books, make-up poems about flying camels and falling men and always, always had candy. It was our tradition since the time I learnt walking. During our walk back home in the afternoon I told him about the flower problem.
The next morning I gave Miss Rosebud a gigantic red flower. It looked like a lobster with measles.
‘It is beautiful.’
And I really did.