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Friday, June 29, 2018

THE FLOATING DIARY (Short Story Journal – 16): PLANTAIN FLOWER

Often a thought of remorse grips my imagination, ever since my disease had begun erasing my memory. I started to write this diary so that I can reinvent myself after my memory is completely obliterated. However, I don’t know whether this experiment will work or not. It is just an endeavor that I am making to fight back an encroaching unknown darkness.

Yet, at times, a sorrow overcomes me and tells me that soon I would become obsolete and redundant and a waste to this wide and colorful world. It is a question that has plagued my mind, until I found an answer from somebody from who I least expected to get it.

Ramu Goral, the vegetable vendor, has been visiting our locality with his small wooden vegetable vending cart from a time I cannot even remember now! I can only recall that I had seen him in this locality ever since we arrived in Mumbai and settled in this apartment. That means, since my childhood, Ramu Goral had been selling vegetables to the residents of our housing society. He must be an octogenarian, considering the fact that he has been around for a very long time. However, till yesterday, the arrival of Ramu was like a routine task that took place around my house and I had never bothered much about him. I had seen him almost every day, I had looked at his vegetable loaded cart too, but have never given it much attention.

Today morning, I was standing near the window when I saw Ramu. A strange inquisitiveness gripped my imagination and I summoned him to wait and went downstairs. I had never looked at Ramu with so much scrutiny, but today I did. He was a short man of around five and a half feet of height, he had a thin emaciated body while his skin looked crumpled due to the burden of age. Yet, the remarkable part was his vibrant energy and the high pitched voice that this seemingly old and feeble man carried.  I was completely taken aback by the power in his expressions and the animation with which he was hawking his vegetables.

I asked, “Hi Ramu. I had been seeing you ever since my childhood. I am really amazed by the energy you carry, compared to your age!”

Ramu smiled in return, while wiping away the drops of sweat from his forehead. I fiddled with the vegetables from his cart in order to continue the conversation and bought some too. This brought a satisfactory expression on his face.

A sudden thought struck my mind and I asked Ramu, “There is something that I had often wondered in my subconscious mind, but today I would like to ask you. Why is it that you always carry so many Plantain Flowers in your cart every day? As far as I can remember, I had never seen your cart without the presence of this vegetable! Is there anything special about it?”

Ramu smiled at me again and said with an air of respite, “Sir, there is a little story about the Plantain Flower and it is not just a mere vegetable! Would you like to listen to it?”

I felt amused and agreed to his proposal and Ramu began his little speech, “Sir, the Plantain Flower has so much to teach us! I carry it in my cart not only to sell it but also as a source of energy for myself. The Banana tree is born from the Plantain Flower and it is a tree that never goes waste! Every part of the Banana tree has some good use to mankind, be it nutrition or household applications. And the source to genesis lies in the Plantain Flower which grows atop every Banana tree and then moves on to give birth to another!”

A smile came over my lips while I continued to listen to Ramu, “Sir, I am eighty-seven years old now, but ever since I was a five-year old child, I had been working hard to earn a living for my family. First it was for my mother and then for my wife and children and now for my grandchildren.”

He added further, “My son was a fisherman and the waves of the Arabian Sea engulfed him two years ago. He left his widow and two toddlers. My wife passed away last year. However, I cannot rest now. I must make myself useful, I cannot go redundant. I must be like the Plantain Flower and yield prosperity for my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren. The stack of Plantain Flowers in my cart gives me a constant power and tells me that I am not redundant yet, I can never be so!”

Ramu went away with his cart but I stood on the footpath for a few more minutes contemplating whatever I just heard. The negative thoughts about the encroaching unknown darkness cleared away from my mind. The story of Ramu and the Plantain Flower opened my eyes.

I said to myself, “Whatever happens, I would never be redundant. There is so much left to be done, so much I need to know, so much I need to give. I too am like a Plantain Flower, and can never go waste, whatever happens!”


The faint outline of Ramu and his vegetable cart was still visible at the end of the road. However, his shrill and strong voice was clearly audible. I smiled, turned around and went back home with a contented heart.

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