Fiction: A Garland of Wilting Flowers

Lipsa Mohapatra

Lipsa Mohapatra

Not so long ago, there was a magical kingdom known as Mess-o-karo. It was a delusional place with many unsolved mysteries that lay buried deep within its pale walls. The kingdom, in its entirety, had strange-looking creatures who never knew the essence of 'joy.' They belonged to the "aberrant" species. In their land, they called themselves "Moors of Peace." The Moors were very strong and brave and always obeyed the orders of their King. The peculiarity of Moors could be seen from their physical features as well. They had contorted smiles and eyes that spoke nothing. They understood less and never leaked into the ravines of the many colors of a simple life.
The King was the epitome of strength and power but suffered from an anatomical rarity of shedding his skin every three years. They said its effect gradually diminished his vision and auditory powers. His rule was capricious and arbitrary, resulting in the kingdom's paltry growth. 
But the kingdom had resources given by their Gods – fertile lands and perennial rivers.
The castle looked as pale as dead. A cold white mounted on the castle's walls and mantled the pine structure. The thick grey clouds shrouded the castle but let the sunshine pass through sometimes for some beautiful women who lived within the dead walls. They also always obeyed the orders of the land. 
They had to manage the resources and tend the land and water well. They sowed the seeds of love and life and called them herbs that bore strange colored parts called flowers. Their stems withered to the ground after flowering. The women tendered and watered the herbs. Some small bugs would sit on the flowers and make a sweet dessert called honey. The flowers would see them dance but never complained about their buzz or sharp stings. When the honey lump would grow big enough, the Moors would burn out the bugs and consume the honey. 
The flowers were strange, too. They spoke to the women in some bizarre language. When the bugs were burnt to death, they cried when they bloomed and wilted away even sooner. The women would worry about their early deaths. One day, the flowers told the women that they needed a purpose to live and requested them to help. The women plucked a few wilting flowers and made a garland for their Gods. They sat down, chatted away, laughed, and shared their joys while making the garland. A sense of contentment prevailed. The flowers became happy, too, as they finally found a purpose. The women beautifully decorated a ‘Spirit’ called ‘diya’ with the ‘garland of wilting flowers.' Suddenly, a Moor saw them. He could not believe they had plucked the flowers and were joyfully making a garland without an order! So he ran into the palace and informed the older Moors about the transgression. 
How could they pluck the flowers and be so joyful? Thought the older Moors. The punishment for transgression was far-fetched. So they ran down with rusted swords and twisted their hearts till they bled and made contorted faces like the rest. They trampled and rampaged their place of worship. A mad rush of epinephrine! That day, the pale castle seemed colored with some stains of joy and scattered wilted flowers. 
The shroud of the grey clouds thickened around the castle and burst out loud for the first time as if crying in dissonance and despair. The hail and thunder frightened every soul. The lightning burnt the land and the river. On the faraway rooftop, he had a contorted smile and eyes that spoke nothing. The King’s skin lay withered, the colors of the brutal assault getting washed away by the strong splashes of the night.

Bio:- Ms.Lipsa Mohapatra is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Fashion Management Studies, National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bhubaneswar, Odisha. She is an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and believes that her creative aspirations are the blessings of the almighty. Her previous works have been published in “Love in Pandemic” Nov-Dec 2020 ISSUE in Muse India. Her poems in Hindi have been published in Setu.

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