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Thursday, May 10, 2007


A Red Hibiscus Bloomed - Jharkhand on my Mind


After being dormant the past 7 months, my hibiscus plant is full of buds and one has bloomed.

I grew up in Jamshedpur. Now a part of Jharkhand, at that time it was in Bihar province. It was the memory of the santal (aboriginal) women coming to town on sundays to sell vegetables that made me go out and get a hibiscus plant for my yard a few years ago. Many santal women wore red hibiscus in their hair. The combination -- dark skin, jet black hair and the red flower -- was striking. I can close my eyes and visualize groups of them, carrying baskets and chattering away. In the evening they returned to their village across the river with empty baskets.

I spent a lot of time on the world wide web to find images of women wearing hibiscus. No luck. Found a few but they were not of santal women. The closest I came to was in Timesonline, image of a young boy wearing a red hibiscus. But my search lead me to a treasure -- R.L. Kamat's wonderful website http://www.kamat.com. I have used two images from Kamat's Potpourri. Just imagine the women wearing red hibiscus in their hair and you'll get the picture of what I see when I think of market days in Jamshedpur.

© Kamat's Potpourri http://www.kamat.com

© Kamat's Potpourri http://www.kamat.com

©Richard Parry 2-26-07 http://timesonline.typepad.com/times_tokyo_weblog/images/piul_urchin_with_hibiscus_1.jpg

Finally, the hibiscus in my garden.
©Musafir 5-10-07


Lovely, even before I saw the pictures.

I may have asked you this, but Alzheimerly forgot the answer: why is it that the some of the greatest writers (at least in translation) are Indian. There is a cinematic quality about their language which is unique. I'm thinking of A. Roy, R. Narayan, B. Mukherjee in particular, and then of course we have the twin deities Rushdie and Naipaul. They have all managed to verbalize vision.
So can you.

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