By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
TODAY one of the eight cosmos plants wilted. I was not able to water them yesterday. The seven others did not seem to be affected, except this one, which survived in the very little crowded space she was able to squeeze her existence. I got the seeds from an elderly lady who said, she just scatters the seeds in her garden and forgets about them, until two months later, when they all bloom at the same time.
My fascination with cosmos started in Sangilo, where they line the roads and the hospital grounds, along with the pink gumamelas. According to someone who loves flowers, cosmos is known as the “love flower”. It is often used “to illustrate one’s deepest feelings of love.”
I am not sure if this wilting cosmos will soon say goodbye. She reminds of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince who watered his rose daily, but decided to leave her planet, on account of his doubts. In my case, I left for important errands, and postponed watering the plant for just a day. I wondered what happened to the rose when he left. Will the Little Prince find his rose wilted, like my cosmos?
Pablo Neruda in his poem, “If You Forget Me”, had a warning:
Well, now,/ if little by little you stop loving me/ I shall stop loving you little by little.
If suddenly/ you forget me/ do not look for me,/ for I shall already have forgotten you.
Such stern warning and total dependence on the other’s caring:
But / if each day,/ each hour,/ you feel that you are destined for me/ with implacable sweetness,/ if each day a flower / climbs up to your lips to seek me,/ ah my love, ah my own,/ in me all that fire is repeated,/in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,/ my love feeds on your love, beloved/ and as long as you live it will be in your arms/ without leaving mine.
It is important to me that this particular cosmos lives because every day, except for yesterday, I made sure that she was given enough water to survive the searing heat. I have established some sort of a bond with all my plants, and they have become a part of me, and to lose one, is like losing a thread in an intricate weave. It is like losing a profound conversation.
My wish is, for them to grow well enough with minimum care, so that if I travel, and the one who is assigned to care for them forgets to extend the nurturing care, they will remember to live and wait for my return.
I will be back,
and when I am back,
your leaves will reach out to me
like a long lost lover,
finding in your colors, the warmth
and your petals shall spread out,
forgetting I was ever gone.
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