On A Lotus Trail

From the Grant Trunk Road side, there is an access way to Sheoraphuli Railway Station (Kolkata Suburban). If you enter the compound from this side, you first come across a stagnant pool fenced by iron railings. It is also an auto and rickshaw stand close to a fruit market.

In a few corners hugging the banks of this foul waterbody, rarely seen by the commuters, and absolutely untended, spreads out a bunch of round floating leaves, and through them peep out a variety of lotus flowers and water lilies.

This pool, whenever it comes to my notice, brings back memories of a few days we spent at Shantiniketan, the abode of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.

We stayed there at the West Bengal Tourist Lodge, where the food and the ambience we liked, but the peace was a bit marred when deep in the night we heard someone knocking at the door of our cottage!

The next morning we forgot all about it. After a sumptuous breakfast, we headed for the Kankaitala Temple on the bank of the Kopai River in a rickshaw.

Realty sector was not so much active then as it is now. The air was balmy, and the sights very soothing on both sides of the road as we passed through some sleepy villages.

Then we came upon a place where we found a big, serene and limpid pool, a natural one, near which some local boys and girls were playing. It was around 9 in the morning.

The pool was densely dotted with both shaluk (blue water lily) and lotus, the lotus and lily pads covering much of the lake’s surface like a glossy and shiny green bedspread. They were of different colours, from pure white to pink, red and yellow.

We had an unscheduled stop there. Such beauty, I thought, is possible only when nature blooms without any human intervention! My wife then suggested we take a few fresh lotus buds and offer them to the goddess Parvati, the residing deity of the Kankaitala Temple.

When we approached the children with the request, two of them waded deep into the lake quite unafraid of the snakes that often coil around the slender stems rising from the slime underneath. They brought us a bunch of buds glistening with morning dew, and would not accept anything in return.

One bud I took back home, and put it in a vase with a little water at its base. It grew up to be a fully blown lotus in a few days’ time. How delightful it had been conversing through silence with this amazing creation of the Governor up there till the last floral leaf of this multi-petal flower dropped off.

These flowers are a lesson to humankind that no matter where one is planted by life, one can still grow and make the world, however challenging, a better place to live in.

First published in The Himalayan Times

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