An urban-ecospace: booming in tight spaces

Rituparna Mukherjee
Rituparna Mukherjee

I would like to think that my love for gardening is something inherited. Both of my grandmothers had the green touch, growing a variety of flowers, fruits and vegetables in the vast gardens they had in the small-town homes we used to vacation in. In fact, my visits to my maternal grandmother in Shillong, Meghalaya were always touched with a certain luminescence and the iridescence of nature—of the many-hued petunias, gerberas, climbing roses and camellias, the bloodied poppies, the lush plums and pomegranates, their luscious flesh oozing life.

I have seldom seen my grandmothers procure puja flowers from the market; it was always home-grown. It is different for me as an urban gardener here in Kolkata, with an ever-increasing temperature, ever-shortening winter, late and over-abundant rains, the impact of climate change is clearer from an observation of my small rooftop garden. This has been my pride and salvation since the last eight years, ever since I started working and had my own place. But gardening in tight spaces poses its own unique challenges, the most common of them being pests that travel faster than I can sometimes keep up, especially during monsoons. However, as with everything else in life, gardening well is a force of habit and familiarity.

A rose by any other name
I have learnt that plants are the most resilient beings and can thrive in the most adverse circumstances with bare necessities. I often think of them as individuals that have their own gregariousness, plants, especially those grown in pots, like community, and grouping plants, especially flowering plants helps them grow better, more resourceful, and helps them brave the weather better. I have also learnt the value of doing less to get more. Often, showering plants with excessive care harms them and I earnestly think that teaches me to value my own personal space and independence as well as that of others. There is value in allowing others to grow in their own being in their own space and time. And cliched as it may sound, plants work wonderfully in keeping people calm and content.

A Valentine's touch, perhaps
The sight of lush greenery amidst the steadily encroaching concrete that threatens to eat even the small patches of sky is strangely serene. Call it a post-lockdown fad or an Instagram trend, but the sight of greenery trailing its way down tiny balconies is a sight for sore eyes in this city space. It is my hope that individual balconies will add up to blooming eco-spaces within this concrete jungle, as more and more people find happiness in adding a touch of greenery in their lives, one plant at a time.

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Bio: Rituparna Mukherjee teaches English and Communication Studies at Jogamaya Devi College, Kolkata. She is a published poet, short fiction writer and enjoys writing flash fiction. A multilingual translator, translating Bengali and Hindi fiction and poetry into English, her work has been published in many international journals of repute. She is the chief editor at The Antonym Magazine.  Her first complete work in translation, The One-Legged, translated from Sakyajit Bhattacharya’s Ekanorey has been published by Antonym Collection publishing in January 2024.
Email: ritumukherjee10@gmail.com
Instagram handle: @ritumukherjee10


Birth

In all it's lilac glory

Oh, to have nature at my door

They say it's heart bleeds

untamed, many-hued bougainvilleas


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