In a Garden State
Snippets from walking with flowers
This is a collaborative piece
Words: Kyra Mathews
Sketches: Abhilasha Tyagi
Photos: TLJ Archives
“Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden - in all the places.” ― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
Let us walk, not just aimlessly down the city streets, but in search of living things. Let us stuff our pockets with leaves and smear our jeans with grass-stains, leaving the cobblestones and people for another day.
Let us take two garden walks a day, to keep bad spirits and karma away.
Let us watch things grow and bloom, collecting seeds of stories and planting them in pots — and when I say ‘us’, I’m just being polite. I mean me.
I may not have a green thumb, but I am most definitely green-footed, and my green feet like to walk alone. M
I received a thank you card from a suburban English garden I had complimented; I'd tucked a note between its green leaves, thanking it (and its nurturer) for its existence. The MVP of any suburban garden, daffodils, are such show-offy, loud, explosive flowers. They dare you to forget them as you walk past. Also, they are not as needy or clingy as the little forget-me-nots. I forgot those already, and they did not receive a card from me.
Aai’s silhouette against my aunt’s balcony garden, waving hello, you’re finally home, shall I make chai? A flutter of pastel chanderi battling a Bombay breeze. The way I remember her, yes, after all this time, always. The loveliest once-living human nestled amongst other lovely living things, tall, beautiful and in bloom, thinking of nothing but living a lovely life.
Did you know you have a flower in your hair? No, I thought it was a frangipani. Did you pluck it? That’s for savages. Do I look like a savage? You look like a girl with a flower in your hair. Like that song. What song? I sing it, “If you’re going to San Franciscoooooo/be sure you wear/some flowers in your hairrrrr/ Where did you even find it? Friends show up for each other in unexpected ways, on lucky days.
This was an expensive garden. A garden with a full stop, a plan, a blueprint. This garden knows twinkly lit parties, champagne flutes, self-watering pots, and citrus trees in turquoise pots. Very dutifully beautiful. Dutiful, beautiful, and blah. A garden of P’s and Q’s, which was just so and just right. It would haunt no-one at night. Not when jungles of wild things in bloom exist, making you question your own significance in the presence of such lush, green magic. Not for me, thanks. I’ll be where the wild things are.
On a day when we had much too much to do, B and I decided to explore the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. We dressed for the part in flowers and leaves, laying down in (forbidden) roses, feeling like we’d stepped out of an Enid Blyton fairytale, going on a picnic with strawberry jam and scones, solving the mysteries of men, mascara goop and other universal conundrums, the way friends and sisters do. Pretending we were in a Vogue for Spring editorial, all tangled limbs and mulled wine sachets, stuffing our noses with wild jasmine; begging each other’s pardon and promising the other a rose garden.
Eavesdropping on a gardener, on her lower-level balcony, her hands full of warm water and good intentions, as she whispers to her potted, green-clad children: “I know I’m supposed to have plans today, getting dressed and the whole shebang, he’d agreed to it a week ago, and it’s not like I didn’t know in advance, but I hate those small talk and snacks in tiny bowls types of things and it’s too late to cancel now, I know, but honestly, I’d rather just stay here with all of you.”
Kyra Mathews is a copywriter from Mumbai/Dubai who lives with her husband, multiple plants and an imaginary dog named Sherlock Bones. She can be frequently found on her yellow reading chair and less frequently here
Abhilasha Tyagi is a full-time writer and an accidental illustrator based in New Delhi. See more of her work here.