A beautiful garden, a shelter to numerous plants, birds, animals, fishes and insects has only one friend – little Montu. Will he be able to save it from being demolished to make way for a new apartment block?
‘Let the Flowers Bloom’ is a translation of ‘Phool Photao’, a short story in Bangla, written by Rina Chakrabarti. Souryadeep has translated it into English.
Right after returning from school Montu quickly grabbed his little shovel and sneaked out of the house. After checking every nooks and corners, he slowly moved towards the garden which was just beside the house. The wide variety of flowers and the site of so many beautiful birds grabbed Montu’s attention.
Right beside the garden there was a small pond filled with crystal clear water which under the evening light appeared to be so mesmerising as if it were a landscape painted by Vincent Van Gogh. The soothing scenario of the lush green grass and the wide variety of blooming flowers accompanied by the comforting view of the waters intoxicated Montu.
Each day after returning from school, he would quickly grab his shovel and rush to the garden and without any delay start digging the soil. Sitting by the lake, Montu used to observe various fishes gliding across the fresh water and hear the mellifluous chirping of the evening birds. The butterflies had also created a colourful thread over the blooming flowers which appeared like an optical illusion. Flowers, birds, the trees, the reflection of the evening sky and the setting sun over the pond were so intricate that it appeared like the stairway to heaven.
Walking through the garden one could see an old house. Montu restricted himself from going near the house as he didn’t know whose house it was and who lived there. He had never seen anybody there before. Montu used to loiter around the garden, play with the birds and dig up the soil. He used to help the dying flowers bloom by digging up the soil in a decent way. Sometimes Montu climbed on the branch of the mango tree and gazed far at the never ending horizon. He used to feel like Tarzan, which made him happier. He used up to the fantasy world in his fragile egg shell mind.
Montu’s friends had never been to this place. They usually played football, watched TV or fought amongst themselves. Montu was a bit different from his friends. He used to live in his own sweet world. He loved feeding the fishes with small small “aatar guli”1. He liked sowing seeds of different kind of flowers in this beautiful garden.
Montu had lost his mom at a very young age. It had been only three years since his father got married to another woman. His stepmom usually threw tantrums at Montu day and night. She would say, “O, how on earth is this boy so uncivilised!!…” “No playing, no watching TV…just loitering in the garden like a lost soul.”
Montu was warned about snakes and other poisonous insects in the garden but he simply gave a deaf ear to them. The stepmother used to mumble and Montu as usual didn’t care at all. She would crib, “Is it our garden that you go there and plant trees..? The owner will sell all the plants and flowers and all your hard work will go in vain. Why do you need to stay there all day long?”
Montu’s heart ached on hearing these. Is it true that one can sell such a heavenly garden? The plants may not have developed properly due to lack of care but still the flowers bloom and the trees bear fruits. So many birds take shelter on these trees, there are so many colourful butterflies. Recently the honeybees had built a honeycomb and were busy in their world. Where will they go then? The thoughts made Montu’s heart weep and on returning home as usual he had to deal with harsh words thrown at him by his step mom. In a furious tone she said, “Let your father come, you spoilt brat, and he will show you how going to that garden looks like. You won’t learn until you are thrashed hard.”
Scared by these harsh words Montu sat down with his book to study. He wondered what wrong had he done that he had to deal with all these accusations and threats. Only that he had fallen in love with the lush green grass and the beautiful birds in a garden. How can it even harm anyone? The sea shells, the honey bees, the earthworms, all of them have equal rights to survive in this planet.
One day after returning from school, Montu heard devastating news. His friend Bablu had come to visit him and said, “Oye Montu, you won’t be able to visit your beloved garden anymore. Now you have no other option and you have to play with us.”
“Why?” Montu asked vaguely.
“The owner of the house has come to visit the place. He is willing to sell the land, your beloved garden and go away. He is planning to demolish the house and construct an apartment instead.”
At night Montu wept and his eyes were flooded with tears. He thought about the two new big shells that have come to the pond and how the fishes played with them. Various species of snakes also have made their shelter in this pond. If the pond gets dried up, all of them are going to die a terrible death. If they cut down the trees, they will destroy homes of those beautiful innocent birds too. Butterflies won’t hover above the flowers and there would be no honey bees. Montu had to do something to protect his beloved garden.
He knew the story of the selfish giant. The giant never let any children play in his garden but this giant seemed to be more brutal. He wanted to destroy his own garden. No matter what happens Montu will visit the giant and will have a conservation with him, he decided.
In the courtyard of the house sat Dr Suryakanta Chowdhury. He was leafing through the pages of his will. Suddenly he heard someone calling him in a shrill voice. The gates were locked but still that person had managed to jump into the garden. Mr Rowchowdhury would be arriving soon. He was a renowned promoter in the locality. Dr Suryakanta would be talking business with him and he was just preparing himself. That sudden shrill voice disturbed him. He left his work and came out with a pinch of anger on his face.
“Who are you? How did you bump in here?”
“I live beside your house, Sir. It’s just that I come here every evening to your garden and spend time with these fishes, these beautiful flowers and birds.”
“Is it so? Then what do you want from me?”
With highly suspicious eyes, Dr Suryakanta looked at Montu. But there he saw such an innocent child. He understood the boy wanted to say something but could not. Perhaps he was scared.
“What happened? What is it you want to say?”
“Promise me that you won’t scold me,” said Montu with mournful eyes.
“No, no, I won’t. Hey! Why are you weeping?”
Dr Chowdhury was feeling tensed. Is he a spy? So many things are happening nowadays. Is there someone who wants to create a chaos in business? He hadn’t been here for a long time. Times have changed so much now. That’s why Mr Roychowdhury had advised him to be alert all times.
Montu was behaving in a strange way as if he was hiding something important. Looking around Montu now began to speak. He said, “I beg you Sir, please don’t become the selfish giant. This garden is like heaven to me and i enjoy the company of such beautiful flowers and the innocent blue pond. What wrong have they possibly done? They don’t deserve to be tortured, do they? Plants also have a life, don’t you know?
Dr Chowdhury was a professor of a life science in the Oxford University. He had done a lot of research regarding various species of plants. He was well aware that if we cut more and more trees and destroy the greenery around us it will gradually destroy the ecological balance. But in spite of that a child had said this to Dr Chowdhury with so much anguish. Montu’s words made Dr Chowdhury lapse into deep thought.
Dr Chowdhury slowly moved towards the pond. He remembered his childhood days. Many years ago, a small boy from a distant village had come to the city holding his father’s hand. He was unable to accustom himself with the harsh practices of the city and that’s why such a lovely garden and pond had been built just for him so that he could enjoy and cherish the aura of the village life in the middle of the city. That small boy was none other than the grandfather of Dr Chowdhury. His name was Nishikanto Chowdhury and he had given all his life to look after this beautiful garden. Although he was such a learned man, Dr Chowdhury was now on the verge of destroying such a wonderful ecosystem.
And now a boy of such a tender age wanted to safeguard all the plants and animals in the garden. Dr Chowdhury could see his grandfather in Montu. It was as if his grandfather was requesting Dr Chowdhury to stop the devastation.
Montu quietly stared at Dr Chowdhury. He was patiently waiting for his reply. Suddenly a hand rested upon Montu’s shoulder.
“What is your name son? What standard you are in?”
“My name is Arjun Sen. I study in …..”
“Bravo!” Dr Chowdhury didn’t let Montu finish his statement. In a joyous tone he said, “You are truly Arjun2. You just restrained me from thinking something so brutal. All these have, different species of animals. You have loved them so much, taken care of them. I am forever indebted to you son and I thank you on behalf of them. The beautiful place will remain as it is, and it will always be the heaven on earth. You just let these flowers bloom my son and if possible encourage my mates to be as thoughtful as you.”
Mr Chowdhury gave a tight hug to Montu and tears ran down from his eyes.
About the author Rina Chakrabarti
Rina started writing stories and poetry during early school life. Her first published work was Dwitiyo Jahanara published in Gharani magazine in the year 1976. As a child she travelled widely in the rural countryside with her father and also visited various parts of India. Spending time amidst the pristine natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of Orissa and in the company of various writers from Bengal and eastern India, she found inspiration to write short stories. The simplicity of language and a deep sensitivity gave her stories a unique and different dimension.
(Pictures courtesy: Pixabay)
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