It was Basant Panchami the other day and it will be Valentine's Day soon and wherever there's 'spring', ye olde earth is busy putting on lipstick and scent. Every right-minded person should think pink polka dot thoughts tied in perky hello-kitty bows and "The wilderness and the solitary place
shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose" (Isaiah 35:1). However, I've been sifting the evidence and I submit, as a paid-up city sparrow, that when you live long years in a cement cage, an industrial-strength dose of faith is required to keep your dil from turning into a 'donut'.
I mean, you're in trouble, right, when you see god-bods on the ramp and instead of saying "Wooo!" like a normal person, you ask the unfeeling universe: "And why take ye thought of raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin" (Matthew 6:28); crabbity subtext: "Wah, some folks have it easy."
Whatever happened, you think guiltily, to the feel-good mag advice about putting that glad little posy on your desk because it's spring and Chanel did an India-themed collection; does it not behoove us to affirm that "The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle (dove) is heard in our land" (Song of Solomon 2:12)?
But even the roses and lilies already scenting your room can't make you cheer the panache of the Beloved: "I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys" (Song of Solomon 2:1). "It's the heat," "No, it's the edge of the universe," you scold yourself, "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass." (Peter 1:24).
Matthew wins after all (was he really a tax-collector? Was he several Matthews combined? I like 'Matthew' next to Luke, the Greek doctor) for in the matter of lilies, he says firmly, "And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" (Matthew 6:29). Oh, you think gratefully, he's saying, look at the random beauty around you and realise that while it seems like a pretty random universe, you can tot up blessings and choose to have faith that there is a plan. Lo, phir Basant aayee, no Krispy Kreme, thanks.
Renuka Narayanan writes on religion and culture.