Ritu inspected her garden; the garden of hers had been a journey of patience. The whole area around their house had been rocky and the entire place had to be dug up thrice and the stones removed, manure and soil put and had then been ready for ‘cultivation’. The front side had been used for carpet grass and ornamental plants i.e flowering plants, crotons. And the backside was a kitchen garden.
But it was the front garden which was her pride (the kitchen garden was looked after by her mother in-law). All types of crotons existed there. And also flower shrubs, roses in different colors, hibiscus, seasonal flowers etc. On any day her garden would look like a rainbow, vibrant colors, pleasing to the eye.
But there was a problem. As soon as she planted a sapling and it started to bloom or flower, if the plant/shrub was small it would be stolen. So was the case in the whole neighborhood. They informed the Home Guards but were told that they were more in the lookout for burglars, car thieves etc and not these petty crimes which were probably someones prank anyways. So the ladies in their area that is of Cluster 135 Sector 1 decided that they would be always on the watch not only of theirs but also the whole cluster’s gardens. Whenever one of them was going out, they would tell atleast one of the others because usually these thefts occurred when the family was out.
Today ‘Paa’ was being screened at the multipurpose hall of the Officers Club and the whole family was going out to watch it and Ritu was worried. Her yellow-red dual colored hibiscus had two beautiful flowers and her instinct told that it would be stolen. So she locked the garden gates, informed Archana her immediate neighbor and Swati who lived upstairs, sent a silent prayer and left for the movie.
Night they were late in returning so she could only inspect her garden in the morning and lo, her instincts had been right, the shrub had been stolen.
Both Swati and Archana confirmed that they had not heard any sounds.
This left Ritu very morose. She lost interest in gardening, socializing, generally in life.
Couple of days later her husband came with some chemical in a bottle and started telling of its qualities. Ritu was never interested in chemistry and so said, ‘Cut it short, tell me why you have brought it home.’
‘My dear its sort of a dye, if you apply it to your treasured plants and when they are watered the water and sunrays create a sort of fluorescent light.’
‘So if our plants are stolen by any of out neighbors and if you see any plant gleaming you will know……’
‘Enough! how can you even think that any of our neighbors can steal,’ she was indignant.
‘Someone has isn’t it? Why don’t you apply this dye and…….’
‘No I won’t’.
‘Okay then I will and let’s see.’
Two days later they all went for some shopping and again that day one red rose plant was stolen. And Ritu shed silent tears.
The ladies of her cluster had a monthly kitty party in one of the houses. That month it was Archanas turn, after the food and the games were over, the party moved to the garden as the weather was just right to idle out in the open. Archana thought of watering her garden while chatting with them.
The weather was good, sunshine mild and because the garden was being watered there was this mild wet smell of soil. Ritu’s moroseness flitted away and she relaxed when something gleaming caught her eye…….it was her red rose plant.
If looks could kill, Archana would have turned to ashes then and there.