Crypto Floriography

Day 11 NaPoWriMo 2020

(Photo by Aashish Vaidya)


Crypto Floriography

Burrowed, deep in mud
at night, only to slowly,
in morning, emerge,
unsullied, above water,
delicately beautiful.

Plucked freshly from pond,
roots dripping in mud, clenched bud
now fully open.
Those assembled seem confused
at Buddha’s wordless sermon.

Seeing a simple
object of immaculate
beauty, within few
moments, a disciple smiles,
as the meaning dawns. Pure Zen.

Notes:  Day 11 of NaPoWriMo 2020.  The prompt “is based on the concept of the language of flowers. Have you ever heard, for example, that yellow roses stand for friendship, white roses for innocence, and red roses for love? Well, there are as many potential meanings for flowers as there are flowers. The Victorians were particularly ga-ga for giving each other bouquets that were essentially decoder-rings of meaning. For today, I challenge you to write a poem in which one or more flowers take on specific meanings. And if you’re having trouble getting started, why not take a gander at this glossary of flower meanings? (You can find a plain-text version here). Feel free to make use of these existing meanings, or make up your own.”

Recounting Buddha’s wordless Flower Sermon, where he holds up a flower.  The act confused all the disciples, except one. Seeing the gesture, Mahakasyapa, smiles and is immediately enlightened.  Though, modern scholars believe the sermon is most likely an invention, it is illustrative of Zen Buddhism, with its emphasis on the experiential over dogma or doctrine.


Relevant to the prompt – the flower held up by Buddha was a lotus.  A zen master would invariably think the thI suppose I should have tried harder, instead of coming up with three tankas to depict the Flower Sermon – in this the flower being lotus – Nelumbo Nucifera, typically, a symbol of purity. It has various meanings to many asian religious traditions, including Buddhism.  The picture is one of yellow flower, typically the Indian Lotus flowers are usually pink.


The Flower Shop

Day 2 of NaPoWriMo 2020

(Photo by Aashish Vaidya.  Image of Ranchod Rai Temple, taken few years ago on MG Road, while standing right in front of the flower shop, the subject of the poem)

The Flower Shop

The flower shop on the corner of MG road

and Sarneshwar Lane was located strategically –

equidistant from the two of the four gates of the old city:

Laheripura and Mandvi, both within less than a quarter kilometer.


Within a 5 minutes walk, were more than ten temples.

The devotees of which were the regulars of the flower shop,

owned and operated by the Ancient Man, a name coined by some

street urchin, which stuck, to the extent that

no one knew his real name anymore.


The Ancient Man, kept busy from dusk to dawn, wrapping the flowers,

the roses, the vincas, the jasmines, the marigolds,

and the plumerias, in fragments of

banana leaves and securing the packages

with thin white pieces of thread.


The Ancient Man, usually sported a short shirt length,

or a long, white tunic that hit below his knees.

The tunics were permanently stained with flower pollens or with

the deep yellow of the Kesudo flower – the Butea monosperma,

To the point that they really shouldn’t even be called white.

Similarly dyed were his loose white cotton-linen pants,

which should rightfully be called pajamas.


The Ancient Man, kept no books, but had encyclopedic knowledge

of the needs of his regulars: what type of flower packages they would want,

on regular days, on special personal occasions, and during festival days.


After working the flower shop from pre-dawn, the Ancient Man,

at dusk, close his shop for the day, right after grabbing the last

flower package, he’d had set aside from himself.

And then walk ten meters, south of his shop, across MG street,

To the Ranchod Rai temple, which is one of the many names

of Krishna, literally meaning “One who abandoned the battlefield.”

Krishna really did this when he decided to relocate

His grandfather’s capital from Mathura to Dwarka.


The Ancient Man, would join other devotees, in the evening prayers

Led by a skinny priest, dressed in saffron tunic and dhoti,

Sporting a black ponytail on an otherwise clean-shaven head.


The priest, will prepare the offering plate with camphor, flowers petals,

Vermillion past and grains of rice.  He will then proceed to light

the ghee soaked wicks placed on the brass Aarti.


After marking the forehead of the special devotee with vermillion paste

and grains of rice, and bestowing his blessings, the priest will hand over the Aarti.

Promptly, ringing the hand bell, and chanting slokas, he will commence

the evening prayer.  The blessed devotee will rhythmically, ritualistically move the Aarti

in loops.  While others, including the Ancient Man, will join the prayer chorus,

immediately increasing the decibel level of MG road, logjamed

with bumper to bumper traffic of exhaust spewing, constantly honking,

impossibly loud scooters, auto-rickshaws, cars, pedestrians, and stray animals.


Soon after the prayer is over, the Ancient Man will head home for the night.

Only to start his routine, all over again, pre-dawn,

while his customers all still soundly asleep dreaming dreams.


Notes:  Second day of NaPoWriMo 2020.  Got a late start, and barely pieced something together – almost in a stream of conscisouness type of writing today.  The prompt was: “…a leaf from Schuyler’s book, as it were, and asks you to write a poem about a specific place — a particular house or store or school or office. Try to incorporate concrete details, like street names, distances (“three and a half blocks from the post office”), the types of trees or flowers, the color of the shirts on the people you remember there. Little details like this can really help the reader imagine not only the place, but its mood – and can take your poem to weird and wild place.”