Fading Beauty

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I’ve realised that wilting flowers make me somewhat uncomfortable. It’s a very subtle feeling and once it starts, I need to empty the vase — which means stuffing once-beautiful stems into the dustbin. Often, I need to fold them in half or cut them before they fit — and the irony of this treatment, just days after I took so much trouble to bring them home safe and undamaged is not lost on me. Once they were prized, once they were lush and colourful and vibrant. Now they lie forgotten in the dustbin until they finally leave with the rest of the trash. Even there, under the sink, catching a glimpse of them makes me feel strange. Like I’m complicit in something unkind and deceitful because I don’t bother celebrating them in this withered state as much as I did when they were full of life.

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Today, whilst weeding out the tired, dried-out blooms and leaves, I took a closer look. True, they were drooping; leached of colour and chlorophyll they’d become ghost-like versions of their former selves — but this time I saw beauty in the papery tissues and straw-like stems. They couldn’t hold themselves upright with as much grace as before but, laid flat, they had a completely different physicality. Tangled, limp or brittle they were beautiful again and reminded me of a meadow clearing somewhere in the evening sunshine.

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Images: Vatsala Murthy

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