By: Mrinalini Shinde, NLSIU.
The shops turn on their shiny lights.
The sun is on its way down.
Me; my little oil lamp will suffice.
The vultures have come to town.
As a car horn startles my faint heart,
I clutch the side of my stall.
The stall shunted onto a communal blind spot,
Tries to stand against a supermarket wall.
What do I have, but a basket full of blossoms,
Some yet unopened, some gaping wide.
Strung together with strands of cotton,
Most shiny white, some orange on the side.
I string and string, the scent fills the air.
But, unbreathing, they all walk past.
None have the time to stand and stare.
Eyes looking far ahead, some downcast.
There was a time, not long ago,
Men buying strings for their wives.
The shy gift made, the blush it painted on her,
The string pulling me into their lives.
In a past long gone, I can hardly place,
Would the flowers to offer to the Gods, be bought.
The Gods seem to have vanished now.
The holy buds I pick everyday, nobody wants.
I am alone, as I always was,
For who would to a lowly flower-seller wed.
Now I am old and worn, and my eyes fail
It would not be long before I am dead.
The vultures screech, that I move my stall.
I am encroaching upon the road, they say.
The town needs to be ‘beautified’ they say,
All rubbish must be cleared from the way.
I sell barely enough, to eat a morsel at night.
And my hands bleed from where the strings have cut.
But the scent of the flowers, is all I have now.
All that keeps me alive, inhaling life’s rut.
This poem was inspired by the sight of an elderly flower vendor at a market in Bangalore, and for some reason, it seemed very painful.
Also, the title is taken from a brilliant book by Anita Amrirrezvani, that I am currently reading, called, ‘The Blood of Flowers’.