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Are flowers really fragrant?

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by jayasala42, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    .Perched cross-legged on her wooden shelf-like stall, Shanthi eyes potential customers while her hands are in a hectic race to quickly string marigolds,jasmine, jathi and kadambam.She and her eldest son make at least 50 garlands a day -some cheap and some luxurious garlands for wedding receptions or popular netas.

    Much before the sun rise ,they make a move to Koyampedu market to get flowers at the cheapest rate by auction.Sun or rain don't deter them from visiting the market.

    She starts the preparations to sell her saffron-hued wares that will adorn a sacred idol, decorate a welcoming front door, grace a chief guest or garland the memory of a departed loved one.
    A mother of four, Shanthi has been the sole breadwinner of her family ever since her husband fell critically ill soon after the marriage. While selling flowers may appear to be a rosy profession, the flower market is not gender-friendly in terms of sanitation or working facilities,Her hand smells fragrant while her hut is a mess with her husband's excretion smeared throughout.As she returns from her fragrant business, she has to keep her hands on the mess.

    She has to grease the palm of a greedy policeman,answer to the terms of rowdy elements eyeing on her.Some pierce with their crooked glances from the opposite tea shop when she feeds her infant while sqatting on the floor.Sometimes her assessment of selling flowers during a pooja season falls flat and she has to keep bundles of flowers in the refrigerators of nearby customers very often incurring their displeasure. She is also concerned about countering the lean days - when Shanthi has to switch over to water melon, or cheap cool drinks business.



    Except for regular temples, garland makers have no business in off seasons..
    As darkness sets in, prices fall, they have to sell off the perishable goods a t the lowest price,than to dump it into garbage.

    But it is ironic that the same flowers that add cheer and warmth in an upper class drawing room, only remind women like Shanthi that their lives haven't blossomed despite their handling beautiful buds and flowers. It is the fancy flower boutique owners with their high-end clients who are making the fast buck, not those turning out simple but auspicious garlands with their toil-worn hands.

    When the flower vendor says that the flower costs Rs30 per muzham, we are forced to think that they are making a huge profit.Some pass a sarcastic remark" I am asking the price of flower and not that of gold or silver. But in reality, they spend their entire day time, mostly near a gutter, having no space to attend to nature's call-the nearby public toilets remaining totally unusable.

    When we think of their pitiable state we don't have a mind to bargain.
    The only solace now is the cell phone in her hands, which she often uses while stringing flowers.Gossip is their only relaxation and break from her 24 hrs duty.It is only fragrant outside, but their life smells nasty.

    Daily while leaving the shop, she hangs three sampangi garlands of cheaper variety outside her shop,that can be used to revere the poor dead from nearby slums.If it is not utilised, the garland would adorn the Krishna doll in her shop.
    "the garland may be utilised for my husband or me too -in the near future. She grins.My eyes get moistened.

    I wonder whether their life is rosy ,though they handle baskets of roses?Do the flowers give any fragrance to their lives?

    Jayasala 42
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2015
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  2. stillwaters

    stillwaters Gold IL'ite

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    Yes mam , i feel they are fragrant because in her whole dreary life they are the only source of succor and relief .
     
  3. Akanksha1982

    Akanksha1982 IL Hall of Fame

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    Nice snippet Jaya Mam. I don't buy flowers or milk etc while visiting the temple. I will just donate some money in the hundi as I have seen pile of old flowers dumped near the temple or near the temple. So, yes she is loosing business from people like me.

    I don't think she doesn't have fragrance in life. She is lucky than a lot of people who are not into a business like her. Your post reminded me of a nice poem that I had learned in school. Don't remember the poet or the actual poem but it was about the Great Depression of 1930s. It was set in London. There were a few men cleaning out the gutters (more manual than how it is done today). There were 20 men standing around and watching. 10 of them thought how bad the job was while 10 thought if only they had a job like that. So that's life and it is this unevenness, unfairness of life that gives one hope (which is as essential as air or water to live). There are people in worst situation than us and there are people in better situation than us. If we look at the former and count our blessings, we are happy an if we look at the later and repent ourselves, we will be unhappy. So it depends on her whether she wants to be happy with what she has or not.
     
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  4. suryakala

    suryakala IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Smt @jayasala42 ,

    Very thoughtful of you to have provided an emotional support to Shanthi through your concern and listening to her. I always wonder at the resilience, flexibility acceptance of the inevitable and moving on with life by Shanthi and many many people like her.

    If not they provide fragrance in life, flowers, vegetables, fish and the likes can at least provide the livelihood for Shanthis in a society that does not guarantee even minimum food, shelter, clothes and health for its poor.

    A nice insight @Jayasala42 , Thanks.
     
  5. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    Thank you Still waters.In a way you are correct. At least the fragrance of flowers may give her some relief while at business.But it is undeniable fact that she is unable to enjoy either the beauty or fragrance - she is accustomed.it does not give any extra relaxation as to us when we visit a flower garden.Perhaps flowers also shed tears for her.

    Jayasala 42
     
  6. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    There are many like Akankshas who don't buy flowers and place a few rupees in Hundi.

    It is a personal option.We cannot expect all people on earth to look to the people who are still more in poverty and get satisfied.Human race is not intended to be like that though acceptance is an essential principle of life. It is very easy to advise that people with menial jobs can get satisfied comparing themselves with jobless ones, and the man without shoes should console himself on seeing a person without legs.

    Even the theory of evolution is advancement from stage to stage, There is nothing wrong in having ambition in life and desire to reach the position our neighbours have reached.Ambition is a positive virtue .When compared with high achievers it takes the colour of 'envy' or jealousy' and when comparison is made with less fortunate ones,it is treated as a virtue.

    If this sort of compromise goes on, we cannot have a healthy society.Person earning Rs 4000 a month will get satisfied on comparing one with lesser salary.
    The satisfaction or consolation can happen only when all efforts have been taken out of Free Will and all efforts have failed.Personality trait developers say that there is no limit to the trials/efforts that human beings can attempt. In their view the contentment/satisfaction one receives on seeing a less abled/less fortunate person itself is a misconception and sends wrong message to the society.
    Real ambition and good efforts and healthy comparisons can never be considered on par with lust.
    I am sorry if I have differed from you.

    Jayasala 42
     
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  7. VaniVyas

    VaniVyas Platinum IL'ite

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    Very Nice mam. I really appreciate you taking an insight into these issues and also overwhelmed at your knowledge.( based on your threads in general)

    I think instead of donating money to the hundi we should help these florists . But we often cant recognize who is genuine or who is not.
     
  8. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Suryakala,
    Thank you for the feedback.whether it is flowers, vegetables/fish-all perishable items grant livelihood. They have no capital to trade in non perishable grocery items.They have to make some profit only as long as the goods don't become stale.They don't enjoy the beauty or fragrance. for them it is a commodity giving livelihood.
    Jayasala 42
     
  9. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Smt. Jayasala:

    I was very moved by your post and the way you have presented the life story of Shanti. I have nominated the post immediately even before I spent more time reading your post again and respond here.

    In my view, her virtues speak volume about her and her character. How many in that position would think of poor dead bodies requiring flower garlands and leave some in the evening outside her business for someone to grab it for free? How many will have even motivation to get up in the morning to go to work with so many trials and tribulations including her husband's health, rowdies bothering her every now and then, the gundas extracting her hard earned money from time to time, buying flowers early in the morning that need to be sold no later than 12 hours?

    As you right said in your response, if our heart doesn't ache and our eyes don't shed tears for such people, what is the purpose of our existence? She clearly demonstrates that character of an individual is not driven by secular education but pure development of personality and attitude towards life. I bow down my head in respect for her courage and conviction to fight against all odds in her life and I am sure her child and her husband are very blessed souls to have her in their life.

    Let her tribe increase more and more in the society and prove to the world that with their will power, they could make the next generation get better. Her life may not have fragrance but her virtues do.

    Viswa
     
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  10. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    Thank you Viswamitra,
    I have always a soft corner to people dealing with perishable goods-the reason behind setting a high margin in the beginning and reducing it to nil as the perishable hour approaches.
    They don't plan anything big,just for livelihood.I have seen people bargaining with the flower vendor, commenting on her short limbs for measuring muzham, and discussing about wholesale prices ,margins etc etc exhibiting their knowledge in marketing.Some vendors keep quiet. Some would respond harsh" why do you come here? Go to market. get loose flowers, ask your wife to string.Poyya, velaiye paaththukittu.daridra pasanga.naan freeya 2 muzham poo thaaren, eduththukittu odu"( Go and look to your work. I shall give you flowers free.Damn creatures".)

    As you say,Shanthi's life may not be fragrant, yet it is meaningful.Thank you for nominating
    Jayasala 42
     
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