Adieu to the Fragrance of Jasmine Flowers – Forever and Ever!


The jasmine plant at the home of my parents (both since deceased in the year 2000 and 2002 respectively) is less than three decades old now, measuring 3 meters x 3 meters. It got planted at my sister’s insistence in 1996-97. I have been tending to it for over 25 years. In earlier times the fragrance would reach a few houses away from ours. Why, till about a year back the fragrance would reach my room – situated close to the small front garden; but not so any longer. This year when I plucked the first few flowers which had blossomed by mid-April, I realised that there was no fragrance at all left in these flowers even when smelt at close quarters – next to my nostrils. Stoically I accepted the loss and bid adieu to the fragrance which brought a feeling of well-being in so many lives. Our neighbour, a Kashmiri woman, would pluck the flowers from outside the boundary wall of our house for her ritualistic visit to a near-by Ram Mandir. A Bangla-speaking elderly lady would pick up the fresh flowers fallen on the foot-path adjacent to the plant and then go to Kalibari temple. A domestic help at a near-by house would pluck the flowers for his employer – a lady lawyer practicing at the Supreme Court.

I would collect the flowers every morning and keep them in the ‘baithak’ of our home; a few of these flowers were used by my sister to bring freshness in the small little area, where the holy book belonging to Sikh faith was kept. This arrangement worked well all along. On 20th January this year my sister died due to an attack of acute bronchitis – precipitated by extreme cold in the second half of December 2023 and January 2024 in Delhi; high humidity; very high AQI-reaching over 350.

Within three months of her death the jasmine did blossom but there was no fragrance left in these flowers. The same factors – global warming, climate change which ensured my sister’s death as of millions of others worldwide due to the same reasons – were responsible for the loss of fragrance of these flowers. Now I feel the loneliness at home where I had stayed with my sister for about 73 years. Both of us were unmarried and did not adopt a child. She was into her 77th year of life when she died; the jasmine plant around 27 years old at her demise. Adieu to both of them.

P.S. Sahni is a member of PIL Watch Group.

[Also see: What If Jasmine Loses Its Fragrance? Could Poetry, Nay Life Itself, Ever Be The Same?;, 29.07.2016.



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