The sandy warm winds of June herald her arrival. She struts down the boulevards of Chandigarh with oomph and vivacity posing for the shutterbugs —paparazzi no less! Bang! She enters the city and livens up the muted atmosphere, cutting through the staid and uninteresting summery miasma.
An itsy-bitsy glimpse of crimson juxtaposed against bright emerald foliage or the first burst of fiery orange reaching for the sky indicates her grand arrival. I never accuse her for keeping me waiting for months together, because the unrelenting wait is well worth it.
As dramatic as a theatrical trailer, she stimulates a sense of uneasy inquisitiveness within us and then makes a smashing and colourful debut. She puts the overbearing swashbucklers, roisterers and other swaggering gallants to shame. Such is her poise and grace. As the trepid summer advances, she undergoes a metamorphosis from coy bride to an enchanting temptress.
The flame orange and crimson spreads far and wide, reaching for the patches of pale gold and dusty pink, to infinity and beyond. I am often left bamboozled at her sheer brilliance; in her outstretching arms I seek her benediction. Then I spot her down the alley in meditative tranquil. I quietly stand back and just stare at her, careful enough not to cut through the porcelain silence. You can also spot her in any chaotic bazaar standing in the corner in a contemplative posture.
I’d like to believe I’ve been her Romeo ever since I hit my teens. In school, as a child I would secretly withdraw from a game of tag or football and rush to the corner where she stood majestically. I would sit cross-legged at her footsteps and enjoy reading my all-time favourite Enid Blyton. The crisp wind would gently blow causing the bright orange-red flower to smoothly land in between my pages, I secretly knew I had her approval.
As time wound its way through the cosmic clock, I was guilty as charged for having lost contact with her. My address book lost her whereabouts. Strangely enough, I never bothered finding her.
Yesterday, having resolved to go for morning walks, I experienced a sense of déjà vu. Lost in my pre-occupied thoughts, I sauntered around the road when I saw her bright red head. I ignored and moved ahead. Something felt wrong and I turned back only to realise my dear friend stood right there where I left her many years ago. She was still the same. Like old wine, she had matured into a real beauty. The sheer happiness you feel when you re-unite with an old comrade after aeons is unparalleled.
She brings to an agitated human mind the warmth of the crack of the dawn and the red-gold hues of a dying sunset. My maternal grandfather, a spirited man and an ardent nature lover, would often tell me that to stare at her is to trust that life is all about unending joy and happiness. However sad or upset one might be, she teaches us the secret philosophy of life to simply smile and breathe in the artless beauty of good earth.
The other day, as I was cleaning my book shelf, I stumbled upon an old novel, only to find a delicate flower pressed between the pages, its colour still bright blood-red. It rendered a smile to my face and here I am penning down a tribute to the woman in crimson. Long live, the mighty Gulmohar!