Of Geraniums

Geraniums in my Moleskine (2016)
Geraniums in my Moleskine (2016)

I must have flowers in the vase, always, more than food on the table.

When I was a kid, we lived very close to my school, so I’d usually walk or cycle. Whenever I walked, I’d try taking a shorter route which passed through a poorer part of town. And, everyday I’d walk by this dilapidated house.

An old lady always sat frowning by a small window combing her matted greying hair.

To my young mind, she looked scary like a witch in a fairy tale and I’d scurry past but in hindsight she was probably really poor, old, ill and living alone which explained the state of her house and hair. Now, the house was moldy and the lady frightening but I never avoided passing it because I loved this one thing about it, the colorful potted blooms near the front door. I didn’t know what they were called back then and it took me a while to figure out they were Geraniums.
I recalled this memory fondly in college when I read Harper Lee’s ‘To kill a mocking bird’. Lee’s descriptions of the Ewell’s house pretty much matched that of the old lady’s – ‘playhouse of an insane child, it’s windows were merely open spaces in the walls, what passed for a fence was bits of tree-limbs, broomsticks…held on with pieces of barbed wire. Against the fence, in a line, were six chipped-enamel slop jars holding brilliant red geraniums, cared for tenderly.’

Flowers symbolize many things – red rose for love, lily for beauty, hydrangeas for gratitude and so on.

Geraniums symbolize hope as well as the fact that there is a kernel of goodness in everyone. They suggest a desire to be better than one’s surroundings, to make something bright in a dull world, to aspire to higher things -that goodness exists in everyone, the idea that no matter how corrupt a person, the propensity for goodness is still ever-present.

So, here’s hoping my geraniums brightened up your day a little. I’d love to hear about your walk/ride to school. Tell me.

3 thoughts on “Of Geraniums

  1. This is such a simple yet beautiful memory – I could fully visualize the school walk. Well written and touching!

  2. I faintly remember myself as a cute plumpy kid trotting to the school continuously munching things like chana, groundnuts or even a hand full of wheat grains! I don’t remember if I had any feelings for the trees, flowers, birds or any form of natural beauty which was in abundance in my small township. A sight of a car or an airplane were much desired for by every kid in the town.

    1. all this talk about food reminds me of a tuck shop just outside my school called aunty’s shop that stocked assorted candies in bell jars. I blew up all my pocket money there.

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