October has always been my favourite time of the year. It is the month of festivities and a precursor to the dark wintry days ahead. A time when the mornings are chilly and the evenings — which arrive a tad hastily — envelop you in an orangey-pinkish glow. As a child I used to wait for October as it was the time when my parents used to take me to visit my grandparents. They had a beautiful home surrounded by mango and coconut trees. I had spent many afternoons daydreaming in the shade of the star Jasmine trees in their courtyard, watching the chickens gaily sand-bathing. When the household slumbered, I used to sneak out of my room and go to the kitchen, dragging my grandfather’s rickety wooden chair with me. Climbing up on it, I would reach for the enormous ceramic pickle jars kept on a shelf too high for me to reach otherwise. Later, I would run off to the little vegetable patch behind the kitchen and lick the deliciously sticky sweet and sour pickle off my fingers. Surrounded by bamboo reed fences, the tiny garden, filled with okra, tomatoes and eggplants, was my favourite place in the entire world. There were raised flower beds too, mostly Marigold. I often used to pluck them and separate the petals and marvel at their shapes- each one so distinct and different from the other. No two petals of a flower were the same. It was a fact I had discovered at a very young age.
I also discovered, thanks to a highly imaginative friend from my school back in the city, that placing petals on my eyelids would guarantee the rare sight of dancing fairies. Ha-ha! Well fairies never appeared before me, but squeezing my eyes shut and placing the petals on top of them and then slowly opening them, just a crack, enough to see, did something entirely opposite, yet equally delightful. In an instant the world around me transformed into shades of bright yellow and deep red as if there were flower fairies with translucent wings dancing around me. Grandma would often say that marigolds had tremendous healing properties. The plant acts as a natural flea repellent and its flowers soothe tired eyes. At that age, I knew nothing about exhaustion or tired eyes, but those delicate little petals, soaked with the goodness of gentle autumn breeze and mild October sun definitely made my afternoons at my grandmas’ better.