By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
There are certain things which give you immense and unexpected pleasure. The other day I was admiring a small, but beautiful garden in a friend’s place. You may say that flowers are found anywhere and everywhere and there is nothing to rave about it. Yet I do think that flowers always give one an abundance of pleasure and you never tire of admiring them. They give us a kind of divine joy, which you do not get from anything else. But I do not think that we see many flowers in this concrete city of ours and they have become almost a rarity in this man-made mechanical world.
The garden I mentioned was a small one, but it sparkled with lovely multi-coloured flowers. This garden took my mind decades back. In that age there was sufficient space in every home and you could see flowers everywhere. People grew flowers with loving hands and they delighted the onlookers. But there were also wild flowers in abundance, which grew spontaneously. You do not see such heavenly beauties of ture in this modem scientific age, in which man has apparently turned himself into an insensitive machine. He has no longing for the simple beauties of ture and does not become ecstatic when he sees the beautiful flowers. Yet even today some people do understand the necessity of flowers for decorating the sitting room. In the absence of flowers, they use plastic flowers, a poor imitation of genuine flowers. But it does not matter for us, as we ourselves have become poor imitation of the real human beings of earlier times.
Old timers like me cannot help pitying “the present generation of children and young people. They really are a deprived lot. They derive their pleasure from all these modern gadgets like television, computers, laptops, video etc., which are in reality cold, formal and mechanical. But real flowers are living entities and they have the power to make you happy even in the most dejected period of your life. With their charming colours and pleasant smell they captivate your mind. In earlier times each home with their magnificent flowers growing in abundance warmed the coldest heart. What a lot of pleasure the people of this modem age have missed. It is truly said that happiness comes from within and they come from the simplest things of ture. In that age we saw lots of colourful things to our great joy. There were wonderful green trees all around, some of them laden with fruits. People had any number of fruits in their own orchards. You had just to step out to pluck the fruits you desired. Coconuts, jackfruits, guavas, bas, plums, peaches, pears and any number of citrus fruits were available in those homes. Besides these there were also plenty of vegetables grown in every available space in every home. They brought colour to our drab and dull life. In the mornings you could see lots of birds of diverse colours and shapes chirping merrily and searching for food. The nights were not dark and gloomy, but they were colourful as well. The stars twinkled in the sky and glow worms flew around like so many glittering stars. Frankly speaking people in the earlier era saw colours in ture’s flora and fau, which have been denied to the people in the present era.
The modern life is a very busy one. ‘Fast’ is the password in this age of speed and information technology. People have no time to stand and stare. Children today have been deprived of the glorious colours of ture. Possibly they have not seen the star-laden sky in the city, which abounds in skyscrapers. They may not have seen all those magnificent flowers, fruits-laden trees, chirping colourful birds, glow worms and all those things which children in the past took as something usual and tural. Poor things! What a lot of joy they have missed! Once we lived in a world which displayed glorious technicolour all around. But now we have turned into heartless machines with a stone in place of a heart.
Life cannot remain grey all the time; it has to be colourful to make it worthwhile. What is the use of a colourless life? I wonder what the world would be like without flowers, without trees or without any kind of colour for that matter. Would not our life be terribly grim and gloomy without a dash of colour here and there?
There are some colour-blind persons in this world, who cannot see colour at all. For instance, a red and green carpet will look plain beige to a colour-blind person. It is impossible for most of us to imagine what it must be like to suffer from this kind of handicap, to live in a world of shadows and sheds. Colour makes our life happier and brighter. When you get depressed about something, doesn’t it uplift your spirit when you look at those beautiful flowers in your garden or anywhere else? Don’t you feel happy when you look at the colourful flowers through your window when you get up in the morning? Of course you may not have that delight, if you do not possess a garden, as is the case with most of these people in this age. At least you can have some potted flowers in your balcony, which would surely lift your spirits, if you are feeling jaded. I have not yet met a person who does not get cheered by the colourful flowers when he is in the most depressing mood. What could be more alluring in a room than a vase of elegant colourful flowers?
Today you do not have the advantage of plucking flowers from your own garden to decorate your sittings room or to do your daily puja. Not that I like plucking flowers, but sometimes it becomes a necessity. If you need flowers for any purpose you have to go to Fancy Bazar river side to buy them from the vendors at an exorbitant price. Usually people need flowers for pujas. Hence you see vendors selling flowers and other necessities near the temples in the city. Apparently the offering of flowers please the deities and we humans love them for their divine beauty.
In some homes I have noticed vases filled with plastic flowers. For me it is a revolting site. Those dreary flowers can in no way come near real flowers; rather they hurt the sentiment of the perceptive persons. But let us be fair. What would you do in the absence of real flowers? We all know that flowers are very necessary to enhance the beauty of a room. So some people use the fake flowers for the genuine to do as best as they can. I feel sad when I think of the time, when gorgeous flowers bloomed in abundance to enhance the beauty of ture. But now flowers have become a luxury and costly business. Children today may not even know the mes of the various kinds of flowers. In the parks also we do not see the splendour of the gorgeous flowers. I remember with nostalgia a rose garden of unique magnificence, which I saw half a century back in a foreign land. I had never seen such a lot of colours and did not know that roses had so many colours. The memory still has the power to mesmerize me. I will never forget that beautiful garden as long as I live. I feel that the flowers can give us the greatest amount of happiness. They look so lively and delightful. It is a pity that today’s children are denied that kind of happiness. The flowers can give us the warmest company and we will never feel lonely if we had some flowers to give us company. That is of course my persol feeling, which you may not accept.
I really think that colours do have messages of their own, which everyone understands and responds to. In every situation we put emphasis on the colour scheme, be it decoration, apparel or anything else. If you are in depression a gorgeous colourful dress will give a big boost to your sagging morale. If a young girl is diffident of attending her first party, the choice of her colourful dress will invariably raise her spirits and then she would not remain a wall flower in some party; but would be able to socialise happily.
The colours are soothing and cheering, but they also imply different things in different contexts. Colour schemes can express so much in our homes as well. They reveal the temperament and sensitivity of the lady of the house. They affect us in a deep way. Soft greens give a restful calm. Any kind of greenery whether foliage, leaves, plants or vegetation have a very invigorating effect on any tired person. In ancient era persons after a certain age went to the forests to meditate, perhaps because of the soothing influence of the greenery. But ‘green’ may also mean certain other things. We say that a person has green fingers if he or she is skilled in gardening. A ‘green horn’ implies a novice. ‘Green’ also implies jealousy, which is called a green-eyed monster. There are diverse implications of ‘green’, which not being a linguist I cannot fathom. Every colour has diverse significance.
Primrose yellow makes a dark room bright and welcoming. But it also signifies a trace of cowardice. Yellow pages mean a telephone directory. Every colour has diverse connotations. The term ‘blue’ sometimes implies sadness and depression. It also means rarity—as we say “once in a blue moon he visits us”. ‘Blues’ imply depression, “Blue blood” means noble birth “Blue-eyed boy” means favourite. “Blue bell” means a woodland plant with bell shaped blue flowers. ‘Red’ too has several meanings. “Red-blooded” means virile and vigorous. ‘Red carpet’ means privileged treatment of an eminent visitor. ‘Red letter day’ is a memorable day. Red light implies stop sigl as well. There are also several other implications of all these colours and I have mentioned only a few out of them. Thus every colour has various messages for us, if only we have the ability to grasp them. Usually we take all of them as mere colours, which can affect our feelings and sensitivity.
Curtains and cushions of multitude of colours make a world of difference to a sombre—coloured sitting room. A bedroom with wall papers depicting a forest and animals may send you to sleep with a wonderful feeling of warmth and happiness. You feel as if you are sleeping in an ‘ashram’ of the ancient era. Colour is such a big part of creation that we seldom realise our luck in having the ability to appreciate it. The amazing role of colours can be seen in the tapestries and embroidery accomplished by clever skilled fingers in the delicate pictures in the rooms made fresh and inviting with paint and wallpapers. Look at the abundance of glorious colours in ture. Can you imagine a more glorious picture than the blaze of colours presented by your own garden? As the poet Julian Grenfell wrote— “Life is colour and warmth and light
And a striving ever more for these”
Some of you perhaps have read the book “Abhigya Sakuntalam”, the magnificent creation of Kalidasa. There you find a delightful and exquisite description of ture’s bounties and beauties, as was found in a hermitage.
A day may seem dull and grey and because of that we may feel sad and dejected. But there is always tomorrow, when we will see a sky of brilliant blue, a field of golden corn, a sunset of crimson and purple or a single red rose. I think no gift can be more charming than a bouquet of gorgeous flowers. Don’t you agree dear reader? Whenever we find ourselves going through a gloomy phase, whenever everything around us seems to be humdrum and drab, we should perhaps ask ourselves whether perhaps the fault is ours and not of the world around us. We have to derive happiness from the simplest things and it is after all a subjective feeling. Happiness remains within us and not outside. We feel sad because of our lop-sided attitude towards ture’s bonza. If ture’s colourful beauties do not bring a ray of sunshine and hope to our minds, then nothing can make us happy. Could it be that in not recognizing the warmth, colour and light, we have allowed ourselves to be colour-blind?
(The writer is a former Head, Department of Philosophy, Cotton College, Guwahati)