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“You know that plant of yours? All sticks now, brown and bare. I doubt it will survive!” That was the L&M talking about my Mussaenda.

“Don’t you dare touch her!” I warned him. “She will come around, you just wait and watch!”

We had brought two of them home. One was planted in a flowerpot, while the other was given a place next to the still young mango tree, the only free space available. Much to my disappointment, the one in the pot died regretted by all, …umm I mean by me. The other one bravely soldiered on in the partial shade of the Mango Tree and the little sunlight it managed to get. Its first flower was a great source of joy to me.

You see, the Mussaenda was planted with great hope. Of bringing the Sunbirds and the Sahyadri Birdwings into my backyard. In fact the place chosen was such that my camera viewfinder could have unrestricted access to the thingamabobs from the terrace. With their favorite garlic vine (Mansoa alliacea) having been uprooted, not to mention the red ixora that stood next to it chopped down, the poor things had fewer things of interest in my garden. And then the L&M makes dark allusions to her being all stick and bones. What if he had plans of a substitute to be planted in the exact spot? (And I can bet you anything that it would not be a butterfly or bird magnet plant!) No way was I going to let that happen. I had faith in her, she would bounce back and sport foliage and flowers soon. After all in the dry months she had to conserve resources, the reason why she looked all bare and brown.

And how right I was! Unbeknownst to us, she had been quietly pulling herself up and out of the shadow of big sister, the Mango Tree. The rains had helped and she had set out on a search for the much needed sunlight. Imagine my surprise one fine day to find the mango tree was sporting red flowers. Eh? How did that happen? Obviously it was not the mango tree. Duh! The ambitious and hardworking Mussaenda apparently had triumphantly broken through the protective canopy of the Mango Tree and burst into flowers. You go girl, I silently applauded her. Now get the birds and butterflies to visit! That’s all I ask of you. I am sure she knows.

“Did you say brown and bare? Look at her now!” I couldn’t help but ask the L&M. He had to agree she was now green, and also beautiful.

Here she is. One doesn’t know where she ends and the mango tree begins. Or may be there is no beginning and end, they are in this together. Who knows!

© Shail Mohan 2020