"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan

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It was during a trek to the Western Ghats, I had felt, "There are more shades of green here than my Adobe Photoshop can ever create". At that moment, amidst the light green rays of sun peeking through fresh wet leaflets, I had realized how soothing Green was to the eyes. No wonder, God created the heavenly Rainbow and put Green bang in the middle of it!

A few days after I returned from the trek, I woke up to the cacophony of our building watchman (Bahadur) shouting at his kid. Apparently, the kid (Lali) refused to go to school until she was given bling red earrings and green barbie ribbons, like her other friends wore to school. Bahadur was obviously nonchalant towards Lali's kiddish desires and seemingly unaware of the tact of cajoling kids. The sobbing kid finally gave in and was haplessly driven to school.

Later that day, while cleaning my room, I found an old pot under my bed and it immediately brought back memories of, what I called, my 'first child'. It was a tomato plant - part of a school assignment - and though the plant survived only a week, it had left behind an unforgettable impression. I still remembered that moment when I first saw the tiny red cherry tomato on my own plant and holding it in my hand, I had probably felt like a father holding his new born baby!

Precisely then, it struck me that I knew a way to gift Lali her green ribbons and red earrings.

I filled some fresh soil into the pot, gift wrapped it and stole a small ripe tomato from our kitchen to go with it. Then I went down looking for the kid. Lali, as usual, was with her books and fidgeting aimlessly with her markers. I summoned her and she came running with a curious excitement. Her childish genius had already spotted the gift wrap in my hands. I told her it was a magic pot and it would give her the reds and greens she wanted. She had to tell the magic mantra 'Abracadabra' and put the tomato in the pot. Then she had to spray water every morning on it by repeating the same magic words. Lali instantly bought the idea, grabbed the pot from my hands, dropped the tomato in it and spoke the magic words "Abba-ka-Dabba". I knew she had done her best. For the next few days, I didn't hear any crying of the kid or shouting of the watchman.

Exactly two weeks later, as I was rushing to leave for my mundane office, I nearly tripped on Lali, who was standing right outside my room with the pot in her hand. As soon as I looked at her, she beamed the pot at me, in the same style that Kapil Dev held up the World Cup for all to see. There in the pot dangled a tiny ripe tomato, the result of dedicated innings that Lali had played.

Lali's plant was perfect. Its bright green leaves twisted into ribbon like shapes and the lone tomato swung like a shiny bead of earring. I wanted to explain the analogy to the kid but didn't look like she cared about the earrings and ribbons anymore. Lali was now in a new world. She had ripened, matured. No! her innocence was not lost - rather it had traveled from the world of man to the Garden of God. She wanted me to hold it gently, like it was her tiny sibling. She even named it 'Toto'. She blushed when I appreciated her and with those red cheeks, in a way, she resembled her sibling, Toto! 

Lali had 'Gone Green'. Toto looked fresher than my tomato did 10 years back, maybe it was a mark of her pure innocence. I returned Toto back to her and asked her to teach this trick to all kids in her class. While she danced away to introduce her new-born sibling to her other friends, I wondered if God could keep Toto always as red and fresh as it could possibly be..

Image credit : 123rf.com

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