Fortunately I was at my village home in Kerala during this Onam. Incessant rains were downing my spirits. Later the rains went on a casual leave and there was bright sunshine for a day or two. Finally rains departed. The climate was soothing. I could see wild growth of vegetation everywhere. Tubers, bulbs and seeds of various plants which were in hibernation, under the soil, ran havoc. There were plenty of flowers everywhere and they come handy during this festival season for decorating the courtyards with beautiful patterns using the petals of flowers. Boys and girls start collecting flowers in the wee hours well before Sun Rise. My village happens to be at the North Western end of the village. There is a road in the front which runs through the village and opens up on the Highway.
My own home compound affords me an opportunity of moving around seeking appointments with various plants and flowers they bear. Since the land area is a little larger, I need to take several rounds everyday. Many of the species happen to be known ones but there were many others hitherto unknown or un noticed. Apart from flowers there is an abundance of other life forms like colourful flying or creeping insects. I regret for not having studied botany, insect science etc.
One day while strolling around I found a beautiful sparkling green beetle resting on a leaf. My mother was telling me the other day that green grass hoppers were not to be seen these days. Incidentally they were very much there. Probably they are not entering our house enabling mom to sight them . She seldom moves out because of her poor eyesight. Two more grass hoppers bent upwards and one over the other were also sighted. When I went closer to them they got separated. They looked a little peculiar for they were a little bent and their stomach portion had red dots. Instinctively I thought of catching them for some careful examination of their belly but something prevented me and I walked past them.
Beautiful butterflies were flying over my head and one was too large. Although they sat on the tender leaves, they never allowed me to photograph them. They flew away even before I could focus my camera. Thus I was denied the opportunity of photographing some thing extraordinarily beautiful. It could have been an endangered specie and I could have won laurels for their discovery! Then there occurred a hairy larvae which was also beautiful but can not say if it was something special.
While reaching our front gate I found few bright red beetle like insects examining a bud of a wild climber. On closer look they were quite like ants but differed in their body structure. I wondered as to why Nature has given such an attractive colour for they would be susceptible to being picked up by birds. I discovered later that these ants were in fact waiting for the Pub to open. The bud blossoms into a beautiful flower and the ants would then have the nectar in it.
I happened to walk out of the main gate and turn towards the right when I saw several buds, flowers and fruits clinging to the fence of my uncles house. They belonged to the same family. Buds turn flowers and when they wither a fruit comes into being. Yes they are the phases I murmured. The ripe fruit is yellow in colour of the size of a berry. I remember to have seen them in the past too. Let me consult mom I thought as all my childhood learning are attributable to her. I plucked those fruits and went straight to my mom. She felt happy for I still valued her knowledge about such things. She informed me that the fruit is not normally eaten. Some poor children do eat them. It tastes like one’s mucus coming out of the nostrils. Immediately images of small children with a running nose licking their upper lips came to my mind.
That evening was spent at our backyard which also had its share of some wild growth. There were plants around four to five feet high and the leaves resembled that of ginger or turmeric. Many of them had beautiful white flowers while some others of the same kind had dark pink flowers which appeared to be much more beautiful. They are supposed to be distantly related to Ginger plants and have use in traditional medicines. I was told that the Ayurvedic practitioners send their people out hunting for the roots of these plants.