Poignant poinsettias, an Xmas memory

I have never been able to look at these flowers again without deep sadness and bitter regret

December 22, 2019 12:02 am | Updated 12:02 am IST

Bright red If it’s poinsettia, it should be Christmas.

Bright red If it’s poinsettia, it should be Christmas.

A clutch of red poinsettia pots caught my eye with a splash of brilliant colour as I turned the corner of my road. I stopped for a moment. The plant seller moved towards me with a pot in his hands. As I took it from him, a memory of my father carefully placing dozens of bright red potted poinsettia on the window sills of our English house filled my mind.

Red in the greys

I was always the first one up, and would come down and draw the curtains. December skies in Britain where we lived were always grey and gloomy. But these vividly beautiful flowers would brighten our home.

I stopped to buy a dozen plants. My brother Ramesh ran a little garden restaurant close to the Vellore Institute of Technology. He would love these, I thought, and they would remind him of home and dad. Besides they would look very pretty among the tables in his restaurant.

I lined up the pots and a small Christmas tree and some beautiful paper stars. I knew that this gesture from his sister would please him enormously.

I had been busy all morning and I thought I would take them over to him in the evening or the next day. I ignored that nagging feeling which said, “Why not take them right away. All the other things can wait.” That afternoon he had a heart attack and was gone by the next morning.

I have never been able to look at a poinsettia again without deep sadness and bitter regret. I wish I had taken them right away and seen the look of joy on his face. I learned a very painful lesson that day. Don’t take people you love for granted. There is no guarantee they will be here tomorrow. Show your love today. Don’t live with regret and a heavy heart.

Every December, the same plant seller brings me a dozen of these beautiful red poinsettias. He remembers the day I bought them.

He remembers that my brother never got to see those beautiful plants. I grieve silently, sometimes tearfully with him. This old man with the gnarled gardener’s hands is the only one who knows how I feel during Christmas.


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