Bougainvillea are getting their time in the sun! I always thought that the humble bougainvillea must definitely have been the step child of the flower God. I mean, to be stuck with a name like THAT! It's okay for a French Navy Admiral to be called 'Louis Antoine De Bouganville' but the narcissist named a flower after himself, what had the poor thing ever done to him?
So, now you have the bougainvillea, a humble little flowering plant. Just an average plain jane, even the petals aren't pretty, they aren't even called petals. The faux petals are actually 'bracts' and they look like coloured leaves more than petals. Miss plain Jane isn’t as talented as her pretty cousin the rose, you see it doesn't smell sweet either. I mean imagine Shakespeare saying… 'What's in a name.. a bougainvillea will never smell sweet even if it were called a rose."
And so, I was surprised to see the celebration of Bougainvillea recently. To begin with, an entire country got named after it. You don’t see another country, or even a state called Rose, or Jasmine or even Poppy or Pansy, but Bougainvillea , a small cluster of islands and atolls which were previously part of Papua New Guinea, have overwhelmingly voted to be an autonomous nation as of December 11, 2019.Bougainvillea will soon be a stamp on your passport, while rose will still be a type of wine in your liquor cabin.
At a recent beach side wedding, I saw the bride wear a tiara of bougainvillea, and I was surprised. Wasn’t that pride of place reserved for ‘proper flowers’ like carnations, or chrysanthemums? Even the table center pieces were bouganvilleas.
That flower, that was not even a flower, was being celebrated, and it filled my heart with joy. (The actual bouganvillea flower is the small , white , inconspicuous within the colourful leaves masquerading as petals.)
Now, for years, and by years I mean decades, I have been a big fan of bougainvillaea’s’, this is infact the third article I am writing in celebration of this plant.
You see, the bougainvillea, is like your typical 'adjusting / compromising' woman, doesn't mind it if she is made to grow on the dividers of national highways, amongst dust and grime and the whizzing cars. She is always part of the flowering hedge surrounding the garden and never part of the actual 'garden' itself. You'll never see a boy gift a girl a bouquet of bougainvillea. The only time a bougainvillea features in a hindi movie is when, sometimes during a song sequence the hero tucks in a single bougainvillea in the heroines hair. Why? Because all the other flowers in the garden have huge boards which read 'DO NOT PLUCK'.
When all the other pretty flowers wilt and wither away from the hot summer sun, our hardy little ‘Miss No- Fuss’ comes to our rescue once again , with her profusion of colours. Bouganvillea was always the back-up flower, the ‘best supporting flower’ award and never the ‘heroine flower’ award. And yet, times have changed.
There was a time when posh cafes used to have faux flower walls, made of blooming roses and azaleas, but this weekend I saw an upmarket restaurant celebrate a faux flower wall covered in bougainvillea, they went one ahead and even did a faux ceiling with bougainvillea creepers.
Times are changing. The journey of the Bougainvillea from the dusty road side divider, to the pride of place in a wedding celebration, makes me believe that you can be whoever you want to be, you can achieve the brightest and most glorious future for yourself. That good, sturdy, hardy people can succeed in marvellous ways, by just continuing to be the best version of themselves , just like the Bougainvillea. Don’t let history define your future, just because it has not happened till date, does not mean it cannot happen in the future; believe in your brilliance!
Bougainvillea make me believe that ‘ Apna time Ayega ‘ applies to people as well as flowers.