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Ashima Khanna



Ashima Khanna


Dead Flowers

Dead Flowers

11 mins 22.4K 11 mins 22.4K

Dead flowers for day one:

It was raining heavily outside. The small sharp drops of northern downpour hit the earth in an endless agony. It had been sunny for a while and now it was raining. Nikolas looked outside the window. Everything was drenched in lack of coping. The gods seems vengeful today. The usual pearly smell of hallowed soil was far gone and was replaced by a pathetic sourness in the sky. He thought this downfall will never end until he read the ill fated words. The words conspicuously screamed from the pink colored brochure that he held in his hand, that he found curled up in a ball next to his daily newspaper. He had been glum and abused for almost a year now, and this wretched piece of paper claiming to be the solutions of his dire problems infuriated him. Nevertheless, he read on.  




1. The process of flower keeping 


The task seemed pro forma to Nikolas yet it was fascinating. He strolled down the aisle of the shop, looking for a suitable vase for himself, mentally taking notes.

The whole shop was category based on the material of the vases: metallic, ceramic, glass, brass, bronze. It’s funny how human beings loved grouping things up, in the name of distinctiveness. Vapid effort in the name of Gods. 

He did find something for himself after what seemed like an infinite about of seeking. A long necked ceramic urn. The shopkeeper was delighted at the choice, claiming it was beautiful and will last long, but the vase told a whole different story to Nikolas. The red cuts reminded him of his mother who wore ruby colored dresses when she felt happy. It reminded him of the blood red flowers that grew on one tree which was bounded by a hundred different green ones at the house where his family used to live when he was 13. This one will be my special tree, he said to himself. But soon it died. Couldn't survive being a vagabond, I suppose.  

The color rereminded him of the graffiti he created on the walls of his school. "God save us all" it proclaimed, apparently as a cursing. 

He missed them all.

He sat down at the dining table and opened up the vase with uttermost respect, unwrapping the newspaper, knowing full well its propriety belonged to him yet so anxious he would take that away from his own hands. The dog stared at him quietly. "You're a lot more of a saint than I am!" he would say to the dog sometimes and it would nod in agreement.  

The brochure suggested growing chrysanthemums for starters. "These are much easier to start by,” it advocated. "Remember to provide your flowers with hydration solutions, no ethylene, and lots of sunshine and talking." 

He took out the chrysanthemums from his refrigerator and was startled to death to see Mira standing at the entrance of the kitchen.  

“I thought you were to be back in other hour or so.”

“No, they cancelled the meeting on me! Can you believe such unprofessional, savage of...? " 

She stopped almost instantly only to glare at the flowers. She looked at Nikolas with an eyebrow raised. 

“Are these for me?” 


“You’re very adhering with your answer. It would hurt me severely and would also surprise me a little that the flowers are for the dog rather than the wife! "

“These aren't for the dog or for you. The purpose of them is of confidentiality, I’m afraid.”

Mira planted a face that undeniably exhibited signs of hurt, but she wasn't a woman who would give up at such a dead end, Nikolas knew that.  

"Very well, I suppose I should leave you with your designated task and head back where I belong to.” She said, swiftly turning back and heading back unhurriedly upstairs, the heels striking back against the wooden floor. 

The dog still stared with an eerie silence. "What remains dormant shall rule a million hearts." Nikolas whispered. The dog moved his head a little. It seemed to agree.  

Nikolas quietly prepared the mixture for the flowers. He poured the liquid out the bowl and then added it along with the flowers to the vase.  

He grabbed the sticky notes he bought earlier and tore down one of the pieces. Grabbing the marker, he cautiously wrote in bold the words Nikolas's hope on it and stick it up to the vase.  






2. Grease - 6 dead flowers later



"If you continued to stare yourself in the mirror for so long, you'll eventually start to hate yourself!” The quote was undoubtedly one of the most vivid and handpicked advice Nikolas’s father gave to him that for long impressed his mind. He looked himself in the mirror blank until it started feeling to him that he was hallucinating. His face looked much older for his age, and breeziness subsiding. His grey eyes had lost the shimmer of utopia he had when he was in his youth. They were good at impersonating his internal conflication. He hated that. Mira looked so carefree and exuberant for her age, even though she had more problems that Nikolas did. He felt ashamed whenever she introduced him to one of her friends.  

Friends required constant attention, specially the good ones. Nikolas was far too stressed out for that.  

His mind inadvertently drifted to his body. He took off his grey shirt and faded blue jeans and stared himself in the mirror again. His neck muscles were clenched. He made a mental note to keep them at ease. His biceps were bulged, but not like that for a macho man. His brown hair shaggy and bereft of life. 

He touched the mirror with his fingertips right where his face was. He stood still for a few seconds and then clawed his fingertips together. His face was redder than ever. He wondered that he'd eventually end up falling in love with red color. It described his body the best.  

Marked and kissed. Then marked again. 

You’re not a man you know. Men don't bow down. Men don't feel pain. Men don’t cry. Men hurt those who hurt them. His friend used to tease him when he was young. 

He stepped under the shower and let the cold water run down his body. He needed to grip the situation now, he thought to himself. He was a man and he can't be weak anymore. He needed to speak for himself and dominate. 

Revenge.  Revenge.  Revenge.  

He grabbed onto the edge of the knob and froze, until he started crying loudly, bellowing. Soon he heard faint footsteps of his wife approaching him and a continuous rhythmic banging on the door.  

“Nikolas, what happened? What's wrong?"

“I don't feel like a man anymore!”



3. The burial - 14 dead flowers later



The sun shone mercifully outside. The flowers were dying quickly and sorely. Nikolas tried his best to keep the essence of their beauty alive. He changed their water daily, added nutrient solution, kept them in the sun, and talked to them daily. But somehow the flowers found a way to deface themselves. Almost a dozen of flowers including roses, dahlias, tulips, and iris, met the same degraded death, some dying much earlier and uglier than others. Nikolas dwelled that these flowers deserved a proper burial, as an ode to the despair that never seizes to leave him. He shoveled the corner of his backyard and threw the dry carcasses of the flowers in the burrow. He joined his hands together and prayed to God for the eternal resurrection of his hope. Grounding with the everlasting presence of nature round him, he read it somewhere but he still had his own dubiety about this method. He took the heap of remnant soil that he shoveled and covered the flowers in hole, patting it gently to provide it evenness. He didn't detect someone standing behind him until he turned his head and saw Mira, standing like a lifeless apparition.

He looked her in the eye and then looked away. She bowed out swiftly and grabbed him by the shoulder. "You need to tell me what's going on and tell me quick! I can't handle you sneaking around with these flowers behind my back and rejoicing with them. I can't handle you shouting in the bathroom all by yourself and then saying words that make no sense to me! I can't handle all this hiding secrets anymore, so you better tell me fast what's going on!" Nikolas stared at her wedding ring. The shine was wearing off. 


He recalled last night. They rested on the bed. Nikolas toyed around with his own golden band; it felt restless against his finger. “Do you ever feel trapped?” he asked her. “No, more alive than ever!” she answered, kissing her band. He sighed. He did the same thing to her last night.


Mira continued to look at him for an answer.  "You're blimey, you know that?" She cried out angrily. "What? Do you want to feel like a man again? I'll show you how to feel like a man again!" She stood up hastily and started stripping in front of him. She took of her pale lavender top and then hurriedly peeled off her jeans. "C'mon, what are you waitin' for? Do all the things a man does to a woman do make him feel powerful!" She kneeled down again in front of him until she was face to face with him, breathing on his neck. "Nikolas, you don't realize how badly you want to dominate me but I understand that so well. So then come on, domineer me. Beat me up. Label me as yours!" she said under her breath, drawing her wrists in front of him in surrender. 

Nikolas gaped at her again, grabbing her wrists so tight they almost turned red. He flung them aside and pushed her away, standing up and walking away from her. 

"You have a criminal tongue woman,” he said.  

“And you know you can't find a better one than me!” she laughed. 

He shook his head in approval. “Don’t stay out like this for too long.  You'll fall sick," he said and disappeared from her sight. 



4. Alive - 28 dead flowers later 


5:30 am. 


The alarm clock flashed. His eyes focused on the composed blue of the ceiling, which seemed to masquerade as the first set of morning rays set on it. He turned around and saw Mira sleeping peacefully beside him. He fixed his eyes at her nape, moving as quietly as possible and grabbed his pillow, positioning it exactly next to her nose. Adrenaline rushed through his body and he tried to swallow his guts. He was all gung ho for the smothering, until he realized how futile it seemed. He was almost at the edge of the bed, from where he knew he was bound to fall down, metaphorically. He left the pillow at his side of the bed and noiselessly left the room.  

He climbed down the staircase and went out in the hallway to observe his flowers. It has been two days now and he had no hope that they hadn't turn their black dry self.  

Much to his astonishment he saw the flowers in full bloom, their bright color petals smiling under the graceful sun, as blunt as a razor blade. The dog lay next to the flowers, sniffing and licking his paw. Nikolas was wholly delightful. He changed the water again and reached back to the brochure for his final step.  

"Congratulations!” Nikolas read out from the brochure, while sitting cross legged next to the dog and the flower vase. “You’ve successfully managed to keep alive the flowers for two days now. And in the process you've paved way to bringing back to life the attribute that you've been denying yourselves the pleasure for so long. HOPE. But now we'll ask you to do the most excruciating task you haven't have the chance to do for so long. Confront. Confront your fears and stop your abuse. We wish you all the best for your journey ahead. "

Nikolas crumbled up the paper again and patted the dog. “The time has come for me to put an end to my misery now. This shall be the last time we'll meet. My ol' bruised self be gone but I shall be the same to you, my friend, for you have been my benefactor for long now. So long and good night. "

The dog licked his hand, nodding its head in agreement.  



5. Confrontation 



The flowers had been alive for more than a week now.  Nikolas laid on the bed with Mira, his head on her shoulder and she moving her fingers lightly through his hair. 

"It’s true what the dog said you know, I had poisoned all your 28 flowers. I printed that brochure and kept it next to your newspaper, so that you follow the entire pain ridden path only to reach to the inevitable conclusion."

Nikolas exhaled deeply. "Why not kill the 29th flower?” 

“To show you that the truth cannot be hidden from you for long. In pain lies pleasure and disgust. In pain lies your God. "

Tear streamed down his eyes. “I used to love you, you know!”

“Yeah? What happened then?"

“Then you pushed your fingers in me and hurt me for so long.”

Mira contemplated at her own fingerless hand. She smiled gratified and mouthed the words, “I know.” 

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