PICTURE COURTESY : Shuvojit Moulik
[N.B. This story has been inspired by this particular picture]
I walked towards the cherry blossom tree as the flowers giggled hiding the soft green of the leaves. The breeze of the spring was already flirting with the branches, now full of baby pink cherry blossoms. This particular tree, I have always loved, like my twin sister; I even know her age. She is twenty-five, just like me. I looked at the smiling cherry blossoms as they winked back at me, saying, ‘We told you so!!’ I nodded my head in affirmation, my eyes speaking on my behalf.
Their little petals poked the little girl in me, the little girl who was still alive and perhaps, after all these years, the little girl is smiling, she is happy. I took off my flat heels, and rested my tired feet on the soft grass who protects the fallen leaves like a guardian, in the same way, the tree has been protecting me and my dreams. I could hear the whispers of the flowers, their ebullience, pacifying my excitement, letting my emotions flow in the architecture of my work, my dream. Their delicate edges wove the threads of my future endeavours. I stared at my empty basket, delving deep into a reverie.
Our conversation came to a sudden halt when I heard someone sobbing; I felt, it’s a voice of a little child. She was easy to spot. I could see her sitting, leaning against a nearby cherry tree, her face, hidden in her knees, her long hair., trying to hide her flabby stomach.
“What’s wrong? May I ask? ” I enquired, rubbing her hair.
She turned her face away. “Leave. Like they did.” She cried.
“Why would I leave? And who are they? ” I presumed she must have ended with some quarrel with her friends but it turned out that the story had more colours to it.
“Eric, Ivy and others.” Her tears were almost choking her voice.
“There there”, I patted her back and tried to take her in my arms. “Why? ”
“Because there’s a beauty pageant in school and I am fat.” By now, she had submitted to me and started to cry in my arms.
“That’s the whole problem. I can’t control my hunger. I eat a lot. I am fat. Eric rejected me. Ivy and other girls are participating in the pageant and I can’t. Eric says I’m a good human being but he’s still with the selfish Ivy because I am fat and I don’t look good.”
“Come on, let’s sit over there, under that cherry tree and let me solve your problem”, I consoled.
“Why do we need to go there and not here? And you can never solve my problem. Nobody can.” The girl screamed in affliction.
“Because that’s a very special tree and I will tell you the story of a little girl, just like you who used to be happy and healthy and who, too got rejected by her friends and went on to become a fashion designer and today, she has successfully organized a beauty pageant for the ‘healthy’ women, in collaborating with a cosmetic company with international reputation.”
The girl looked at my eyes for the first time and in a jejune tone she remarked, “Really?”
“Yes dear”, I beamed and she walked with me towards my twin sister. By her looks, I realized she must a child of eight or nine years and having seated under my cherry tree, which my father had planted on the day of my birth, to celebrate my arrival, I started to narrate my story. She sat beside me, as we both decided to take a trip twelve years back, when a young girl was crying under the same tree, perhaps sometime, in a similar spring of Stockholm.
“You know”, I said. “The silly little girl was bullied by her friends for being fat. Her friends teased her, called her ‘ doughnut’ , ‘basket ball ‘ and what not? ”
“Pumpkin, couch and so many things”, my young friend chimed.
“Yes. And that day”, I continued. “Her application for participating in the beauty pageant was rejected. That day, she came to her favourite tree and cried, cried for being fat. Cried till she could cry no more. And then it happened. ”
“What happened?” My young friend had stopped crying and seemed to get interested in my story.
“Cherry blossoms fell over her head.” I continued. “It was beautiful. It was dusk. The baby pink flowers have mingled with the rosewood evening sky and they conspired to make me fall in love with life. I looked up to find the blossoms in full bloom, smiling at me, as some of them fell, tickling my ears, poking me to smile because they were smiling. They are a happy bunch kido, they wanted others to be happy.”
“It must have been beautiful, in that rain of flowers”, my friend commented with alacrity.
“Yes”, I answered. “That’s when I realized the beatitude of inner beauty, the elegant aura of life. That was when I realized, there will be beauty pageants for healthy women, because they too are beautiful, with their round cherry shapes, baby pink lips. ”
“And so you were this little girl who grew to be a fashion designer and organize this beauty pageant? ” I could smell joy in her voice.
“Yes, I am that little girl who grew up to design some wonderful dresses that healthy women can wear and look gorgeous, dresses which bring out the women they are. They too walk the ramp. And I know many who are married to some handsome men.”
The girl hugged me and kissed my cheeks. “You are an angel. Thank you”.
I could not stop laughing. Kissing her back, I replied, “ We all are angels, in our own different ways. Just follow the gestures of the universe and you will find your true self.”
“Someday, I will participate in your pageant and will win it.”
“Why don’t you come with me to my house today?”
“Call your parents and let them know my address so that they will not get worried. The grand finale is tomorrow and I was looking for a show stopper.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean to say, I found my show stopper”.
In a zephyr of emotions, and ripples of dreams, my young friend’s eyes sparkled, perhaps trying to understand the language of my cherry blossom tree.
“Sakura”, I said to myself. “ You didn’t succeed after organizing THE CHERRY BLOSSOM PAGEANT. You have succeeded NOW. THIS was your dream, the other one was just a part of it.” I picked up my basket to collect cherry blossoms. The crown of cherry blossoms was yet to be made. I have always preferred to weave it with my own hands.
Words about Shuvojit Moulik :
Shuvojit Moulik is a visiting researcher at Karolinska Instituet, Stockholm, Sweden and founder of the NGO, Civilian Welfare Foundation. He loves to click pictures when he makes time out of his busy schedule An excellent cook, he loves to travel as well. You can reach him at : https://www.facebook.com/shuvojitmoulik or tweet him @shuvojitmoulik.