Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dhatura, Atlas and its effects on my life

Today, while walking down the defense cantonment road leading to my house, I saw the lovely Dhatura plant and it was like finding a lost treasure. Dhatura has most magnificent tubular flowers in white colour. The leaves are dark green with a purplish sheen on it. Purple sheen is seen only at an angle. And the fruits are green in color, circular balls with spikes all over it. Dhatura made me go back into school times like flashback.
In 8th standard, I discovered a new side to my life and strangely it was a subject called Biology that made me discover love- my love for plants, leaves, seeds. I always liked them and now I was getting marks for it. I think, it was in 8th standard that we had a whole chapter on plants with seeds and Dhatura was one of them. We were staying in a cantonment area with plenty of wilderness around. So finding the plant was no problem at all. We had a lovely teacher 'Sunita Saxena' who was an ex-student and was very young, vibrant teacher. A young in age (or at heart) and vibrant teacher means a lot of fun to her students.  These people are open to learning and their friendly approach makes them relate-able and the subject interesting. Most old teachers come with the notion that they are avatars of Brahma and there is nothing new left for them to learn on this planet.
So Biology teacher asked us to get a Dhatura plant to school and I was happy to volunteer for it. This began my fascination for the plant. I collected a big plant that had a few flowers, fruits. So took them along to school with great pride. Teacher was very happy and I was pleased, at least one teacher was happy at some work that I did. Some brownie points in life.In my school, teachers only registered the top rankers. All others were treated as useless piece of furniture. Next job was to press the flowers and stick dried flowers in biology journal. So promptly the flowers were pressed in a largest book in our kitty. And that large book was Atlas. So I took a Europe page and pressed these flowers, kept a weight on it. After a few days when I opened, I found that flowers had caught fungus, molds and ate a few parts of countries. Wherever the flowers had been pressed those countries all had eaten by fungus. I consoled myself- thought why will I ever need to refer to Europe, it is anyway never opened. So forgot about it. 
Mother, one day discovered Dhatura fruits, plants and was furious. The seeds are extremely poisonous and can cause death too and so mother just   
threw everything out and warned me against getting them EVER in the house again. A warning in those days meant you had to listen to it. One day father wanted to refer to Europe map, so asked for my Atlas and then had to hear quiet an earful for not keeping the Atlas properly. My father was so particular that I couldn't even underline any sentence in pen, only pencil was to be used.
You see, books were bought as per needs and we were not forced to buy same books every year. Books were meant to be kept clean, neat, not dog-eared so that they can be used by younger siblings or sold at second-hand mart.

Anyway till date, whenever I see Dhatura plant or Atlas book, I remember all the verbal bashing from both my mother and father but my love for that beautiful plant remains intact.