Forbidden Flower

~ frangipanni to most, araliya to me ~

‘Araliya’ acrylic on canvas by author

My olfactory system has a voracious appetite — I’m a compulsive sniffer.

Frangipanni evokes flesh-wrenching memories of Sri Lanka, its rainforests, its ebony-sinewed demigods, hot wet nights, and rainstorms like long-drawn-out lust, so I avoid sticking my nose into its flesh-silk-heavy-heady heart. Too many memories. An ache that wants all of it back with what can only be the urgency of love.

Alone, as I walked my usual otiose walk —waning dusk — I picked up two fallen blooms, creamy-cool and muddy. I took a deep breath. My gut did not collapse. Synapses remained inert. Under an indigo sky that billowed around a silver scythe of a moon and a lone star, I became one with the universe, or was it the other way around? I understood. I had stood too long in the waist of an hourglass. And now it was time. The weeping no longer rang inside me, dark and musky. I became the flower. The scent. The texture. I breathed the sobbing air of a flower’s ebbing away. But Araliya lived inside me, animalic and eternal. Call it a consummation, a reconciliation with what was and could not be again. My soul, no longer tormented by recollections’ mortifications, was released. A moment of immersion in crystal water, a mercurial dipping in translucent gold…

We all carry araliyas, birds-of-paradise, fruits and seeds, thorny days, dreaded nights within us. Fearlessly, reach out and embrace them. Acknowledge and bow the head. Let healing begin… it is a stepping back, a shedding of the self. Watch the wind as it gently carries you away, claiming you as it claims dust and sand…

Farida Haque

Multimedia artist, writer, poet. ‘Celebrating other lives, I am a sparrow in the shadow of a rosebush...’

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