Featured Guest - Sarbari Sen
Sarbari Sen is a world famous chef in her family. She feeds one husband, one daughter, one son and their many friends as often as she can. When not making rosgullas she dabbles in homeopathy, tolerates her kids and concocts tales of murder and mayhem. She has zero tolerance towards anyone who chops a tree, which is strange since she apparently has no issues knocking off people in her stories.
See more of their work below!
Philodendron Pink Princess
Neeta put the phone down with barely a noticeable tremor. It was Monday morning and the sun shone brightly. She held her hands out into the light and flipped them over. The rays of the sun made them look as if they were coated in a gold polish.
She sighed deeply. How beautiful nature was!
She stood in the balcony, which was completely given over to plant life. Pots on the floor had plants that grew upwards towards the sun and flower hangers suspended from the ceiling contained flowers and ferns that drooped down as if reaching to kiss the plants beneath. The living room had planters all around with more plants acting as the backdrop to the simple furniture and minimal artefacts that decorated the room.
She gripped the railing and thought back to her strained relationship with Kishore; a relationship that had once been amiable.
Her thoughts went back to the time he had come into her life.
She had lost her parents to a fatal road accident. An only child of loving parents, she was devastated. She had needed to keep her mind sane and somehow dull the memory of her parents at the scene of the accident. She chose to volunteer her time at an orphanage, teaching the children. Kishore worked to arrange funds for the orphanage. He was committed and driven and came across as a compassionate person, truly devoted to the children’s wellbeing. That was all she needed at that point in her life.
They were married two years later. Neither of them had families and hence, only a small group of friends attended the simple ceremony. They fell into a regular cadence of life. For a couple of years, she focused on her job at the university, and he was lost in his work at the bank.
It started almost without a trigger. His comments came over as teasing, at first. And then they started to hurt. He found her dress sense was not good enough. He complained that she was not interested in exploring other cuisines. The food she made was boring and lacked initiative.
Neither of them really wanted, needed or yearned for a social life. Their life became one of mutual discontent without open conflict but a simmering displeasure burned slowly below the surface.
One day, a coworker presented her with a small potted plant for her birthday. His response to it was a non-committal shrug.
Neeta found herself obsessing over the plant. She found what it was called, how to take care of it and it slowly prospered. This started her interest in plants. Every week she would set aside a portion of her pay to buy companions for it.
And this became the cause for open warfare. Neeta and Kishore disagreed openly and vehemently about plants. His comments became steadily more hurtful.
He said there were too many plants, too many flowers. He didn’t or couldn’t understand, or wouldn't, why she was growing medicinal plants if she had no interest in selling them. According to him the house smelled of soil and compost, and her finger nails were perpetually soiled.
Then one day, Kishore’s bank fell under a cloud.
Investigations into the way the bank had provided loans, the people who had received the largesse, escalated into a full-blown inquiry. As a key member of the Commercial Lending department Kishore was forced into late hours and a scrutiny into his own role in the processes.
His nitpicking grew as the bank’s woes grew.
She never responded to his comments, preferring to maintain a stony silence.
Finally, the investigations ended and Kishore took a week off to recover from the ordeal and promptly threw himself into a critical inspection of the state of the house and her. Neeta did not even think of taking time off as well.
At the end of the week, Friday, Neeta came back home from work and walked out to the most favorite of all her plants, the rare Philodendron Pink Princess. She had three pots of this rare, gorgeous plant with pink leaves. Of all the plants she had, she needed only to gaze at them, every morning and evening, to be filled with happiness and a feeling that her problems had disappeared!
One of them was missing!
She confronted Kishore and initially he denied it. Then he admitted to having sold off one of the plants. He didn’t think she’d notice that one was missing. She stood there stunned, unable to say a word.
All this spun through her head as she stood there that Monday. She had called in to the university to say she was sick.
The phone rang again.
She picked it up. It was Kishore’s boss, Jairam.
“Neeta, I’m awfully sorry to hear about Kishore. My deepest condolences. I just got a call from the hospital as well. Please stay there, I’m coming to pick you up and we’ll go to the hospital together.”
“Thank you”, she whispered, “I truly appreciate it.”
She packed a small bag bag. She added her stole, too. It would likely be a long day.
In the car, they talked about Kishore. Jairam mentioned how nobody realized how much of a toll the investigation must have taken on Kishore.
“Did he have any heart conditions? Any health issues?” he asked.
“No. No issues that we knew off. All I know is that he had a massive heart attack while driving. He was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.”
In the shaded car she permitted herself to think about Kishore and his feelings on the medicinal qualities of plants.
Kishore had never believed that her medicinal plants had any power to cure anyone.
He never believed that nature had ingredients, some of them very powerful.
There were some that could kickstart a faltering heart.
And some that could stop a healthy one.
(c) Sarbari Sen