I had never seen white aparajita in Varanasi. Just like the red/pink of hibiscus, it was always the blue of aparajita for me. I saw the white aparajita for the first time in Kolkata. I have seen it very rarely at other places since then. It’s not as common as the blue variety and I have not seen even that one in my neighbourhood for the two years that I have spent there, although it has bela, datura, paarijat, and even yellow hibiscus.
I had not only seen the rare white aparajita back then, I had planted it too in Dimapur, Nagaland. It’s very easy to plant it because it takes only one seed to do so, and a pod that contains minimum five seeds must have at least one of them viable. I had carried the pods of white and blue aparajita from my mother’s uncle’s garden to Dimapur and had planted the seeds at the entrance of our block of the staff quarters. Plants bearing flowers of both the colours grew from those seeds. There was no way to predict the colour of the flowers as there’s no difference in the stem and leaves of the plants. So, we came to know about that happy occurrence only when the plants started producing flowers.
The vines intertwined and there was no way one could tell which one produced the blue flowers and on which one grew the white ones. They had started at the ground floor, and had reached the third floor’s corrugated iron roof by the end of the second year. Their stems had lignified and had become tough and brown, not the soft and green type of the old anymore. The leaves had grown into a thick and broad canopy on one side of the balcony of both the first and second floors. Guptaji and Mishra Sir’s families were happy with the plant, as it supplied them with plenty of flowers for their daily morning puja. It’s true, aparajita does flower in abundance and with regularity.
Leaves start drying and fall in the autumn, if I still remember it, but the plant is perennial. Spring brings fresh new leaves and flowers. The place where I used to work was only half a kilometre away from staff quarters. There was a kaccha road that ran from my work place to the quarters. The three storeys high plant (it had clutched the wrought iron railings of the balconies) could be seen from over five hundred metres. It was my aparajita. I used to take parental pride in it. People used to praise my plant and I used to stand beaming with pride. Who knew that pride and attachment would make me write a poem one day?
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