When the train slowed down outside a station the other day, I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful date palm growing beside the tracks. The plant is a very expensive one, and I wondered why the Railway Authorities had chosen it over cheaper, indigenous species. Definitely a horticulturalist with a taste for the exotic, I concluded, and I marveled at the fact that in a country where manhole covers are stolen to be sold as scrap, the plant remained unpilfered.
The train moved forward a few feet, then stopped again. There were dozens of date-palms of various shapes and sizes beside the tracks. I mentally did the maths - there was a veritable fortune in plants out there - no horticultural department, however rich, could have sanctioned such a high budget for beautifying the area near the train tracks. The appearance and the arrangement of the plants did not make sense either - why would anyone plant them in such a haphazard pattern? And would anyone in possession of their senses even think of planting a plant on what appeared to be a heap of ash? There had to be a simple explanation.
The lady standing beside me finished the banana she had been munching, and threw the peel so it landed close to one of the date-palms. The answer came to me in a flash - the trees were not procured from a nursery and lovingly transplanted beside the tracks. They had germinated from the seeds that a commuter spat out from a train window!
I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend a couple of days back. She had been mourning about how she desperately wanted a date-palm to complete the décor of her living room, but was just not able to get them to survive in her house. She had bought healthy-looking date-palms from some of the most expensive nurseries in the city, nourished them all with the choicest organic fertilizers, with identical results – an untimely demise. Nothing she did was adequate to keep the plants alive.
And just a few miles from her apartment, the same plants that she lusted after sprung up in the most inhospitable terrain from seeds unceremoniously discarded after the consumption of the fruit.
The irony wasn’t lost on me.
Isn’t the story similar when you are writing? There are days when you have blocked a couple of hours off for writing, and you end up frittering it away on multiple games of Bejeweled Blitz because you just cannot bring yourself to write a single word. And there are those days when the words just flow from your brain and transcribe themselves on paper, even if the only paper available is the back of a train ticket.
In writing as with date-palms, most things happen because, some things happen despite, and some others do not happen even after.
[Anything can distract her from the important business of getting on with life. No wonder, therefore, everyday is a Random Wednesday for Rayna M. Iyer.]