I don’t particularly feel old because I am 49. But the slipping away of joys makes me feel old. And when I don’t fight for my happiness, I feel weary.

So much gone. Daddy and his daily bag of treats, chocolates, grapes, sweet curd. The British Council library and the monthly trips to town to change books. Dhanno in the back of the car and our long road trips. Her innumerable pee stops. Marking her height on the kitchen door. Cycling. Friends in other continents. No more letter writing, and no more involvement in each other’s lives. No Bombay Times, and Page 3 gossip. Fewer vada pavs. Fewer ice-creams. No more eating without guilt. No more wasting time without anxiety. So much hair gone. So many colors gone.

Yesterday happiness was red, pink, yellow, white, lilac, hot pink, peach, rust. Individual names popped for moments, and sugary, melted into a single flower-ness on the tip of the tongue.

A few years ago, 2, 3, who knows – unhappiness sometimes creeps in without a date – there were notices, watchmen, a few petulant calls, impassioned emails, and resignation. The housing society thought plants made a mess. I took the plants in from my windowsills into my living room, discarded a few.

I kept a few plants as protest. Too few to mean anything. A protest that I could get away with, without actually getting into a fight. A feeble protest. I felt helpless, angry with myself. So I gave up on the plants. For months, I would not look at them. They would be watered but the dead ends would remain brown and dry, unplucked. The mud congealed in them, unmoved, unturned.

I stopped looking at other people’s gardens, I stopped wandering in nurseries. When people said we had a nice house, I did not quite believe it.

Once in better times, we had carried plants from Assam as our hand luggage. From Poona. From Valsad. From Borivali.

Then Teja said, no one seems to be following the rule about the plants anymore. People have started putting back the plants in the windows. Suddenly, there was new mud, new pots, new plants. They travelled from Baroda, in the back of the car.

Mud under my nails, scratches on my arm, repotting, new colors, old colors. Manure, yes, and lots of love.

Today, happiness is. Red. Pink. Yellow. White. Lilac. Green.

If there is a fight, let me take it on. To flowers and joy. Joys.

new pots, new mud chhatrasingh maali new plants ready to go and home window 1 window 2 window 3 window 4