The Perfect Flower : Bonus Winner | Season 5

– Karishma Udit Chhatrapati

In a lifetime, it only takes a single moment to find what you’ve been searching for. The irony lies in the fact that what you’ve sought so eagerly has always been with you. Sometimes, you may feel like giving up, but the quest persists. Such is the tale of 73-year-old Jaggu and his beloved Jasmine.

Jaggu, a spirited 9-year-old, found himself engrossed in a game of cricket in his neighborhood when he first laid eyes on Jasmine. She had come to spend her summer vacation with her grandparents, who had recently relocated to Jaggu’s area. Jaggu, lovingly christened by his father’s elder brother, had always been one to shy away from girls. But this innocent 9-year-old girl had him utterly captivated in a heartbeat. As the rubber ball bounced off his head, he stood there motionless, while her gaze remained fixed on him. Despite her desire to laugh at the ball’s comical bounce, something extraordinary unfolded in that moment.

Two weeks passed, filled with unspoken, soul-searching gazes, before Jaggu summoned the courage to approach Jasmine. He couldn’t face her empty-handed, so he plucked a hibiscus flower from his backyard and ventured over as she played with the other girls.

“Greetings, I’m Jaggu. May I know your beautiful name?” He spoke, offering the flower. “This is a token of our friendship. Will you be my best friend forever?”
Jasmine accepted the flower, responding with a shy smile, “Yes, I will be your best friend forever and await the perfect flower from you.”

Jaggu was a romantic at heart, having witnessed his father woo his mother with a flower on every return. Even during their disagreements, a bouquet of flowers was enough to mend their differences. So, his young and innocent mind convinced him that he could win Jasmine’s heart with a flower. However, he lamented not being able to present her with the perfect flower at their first meeting.

Throughout that initial summer vacation, they spent most of their days together. For the first time, Jaggu’s neighborhood became a united front, with boys and girls playing together. Before Jasmine’s arrival, strict gender boundaries had kept the children segregated. Jasmine’s presence shattered these societal constraints, uniting the community and revealing the transformative power of love and friendship.

After over a month, it was time for Jasmine to return to her parents’ home. Those were days without means to stay connected from afar—no telephones, let alone smartphones—and posting letters was prohibitively expensive. Yet, as they bid each other farewell, there were no tears, only hope for the next vacation. Jaggu gave her a bunch of fresh flowers and said, “One petal for each day that passes until we meet again.”

They waved goodbye, silently promising to spend the next vacation playing together and sharing their school adventures.
The next vacation arrived, and Jasmine returned to her grandparents’ house. She had a gift for Jaggu, who eagerly awaited her arrival. He sat on his veranda reading a book when he heard the joyful commotion at her grandparents’ entrance. As she approached him, his heart skipped a beat, and he patiently allowed her to reunite with her grandparents before approaching.

Jasmine presented him with a gift, and he had a flower for her, hoping it would be the perfect one. He handed her a fully blooming red rose. She accepted it with gratitude but uttered, “Jaggu, this is the most beautiful flower you’ve given me to date, but it’s not the perfect one.”

His smile faded into a slight frown, and before a tear could escape his eye, she handed him the gift she had prepared. It was a notebook, with the first page adorned with a collage of petals forming a unique flower. She had written, “To My Best Friend Forever.” The subsequent pages contained preserved petals and her thoughts and feelings for each day. Through this notebook, she revealed the depth of her trust and faith in Jaggu, sharing her anger, fears, and traumas—a testament to the courage it took to reveal herself so completely.

Their teenage years passed, and their love deepened. Many pages in their diaries were adorned with the petals Jaggu had given her, yet the perfect flower remained elusive.
As Jaggu prepared to go abroad for further studies, their families arranged for their marriage. A few months into their marriage, Jaggu left for England, and Jasmine had to wait until he was settled and could call for her. Phone calls were costly and had to be meticulously timed to allow enough time for everyone to say hello to Jaggu and provide Jasmine with a few extra minutes.

Jasmine continued to write in her diary, preserving the petals from the bouquet Jaggu had given her before leaving. Six months later, he returned to India to take Jasmine with him. They had a wonderful life together, with two children and flourishing careers.
Their love story had come full circle, with the “perfect flower” remaining elusive yet always present in the petals and pages of their shared history.

They celebrated 50 years of marriage and 65 years of togetherness. Piles of diaries filled with pages adorned with the petals Jaggu had given her, along with her words that revealed her truth to him. They had two children and four grandchildren, with Jaggu renowned in the medical field and Jasmine an admired philanthropist.
As they journeyed together, they gifted each other countless flowers, but the namesake, the “perfect flower,” remained a mystery.

Their story took a poignant turn when, during the golden jubilee anniversary of their wedding, Jasmine was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. She chose to forgo treatment, wanting to live with dignity until the very end. Jaggu supported her decision, knowing the toll that treatment would take on his beloved Jasmine.
In their last two and a half years together, they fulfilled each other’s dreams. Jasmine continued to fill her diary, adorned with petals, but the “perfect flower” remained elusive.

On a bright mid-April day, Jasmine passed away, her body gently released. She had left a few lines in her diary, which she placed next to Jaggu’s night lamp. She kissed him goodnight and slipped into a deep sleep in his arms. The next morning, as he awoke to the summer sun, he saw a beautiful glow on her face, reminiscent of the innocent smile of the 9-year-old Jasmine he had first encountered.

Jaggu felt no pain on that day, only overwhelming love and gratitude for every moment they had shared. While driving to the crematorium, he stopped at a traffic light where a young girl was selling small garlands of flowers. He purchased them all and asked his daughter to adorn Jasmine’s hair with the flowers.
As he watched, the scent of jasmine filled the air. He looked at his beloved Jasmine, and he felt her whisper in his ear, “Thank you for the perfect flower.”

Through their journey together, they had gifted each other countless flowers, but the elusive ‘perfect flower’ remained their enduring metaphor for the intangible yet profound essence of their love.

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