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War of the roses

By Nickunj Malik - Jan 16,2013 - Last updated at Jan 16,2013

One might almost call it a war of the roses.

It all started quite innocently. One fine day, I decided to have a rose garden.

Actually, it began maybe a bit before that. The war, I mean. I was surveying this little expanse of land on the side of my house. It had been tended beautifully and verdant green grass lined it, like a thick and luxurious carpet. But then, I spotted a corner that was weed ridden and crying for attention.

I immediately decided to send for Hanif, from the local gardening store. He was an ace gardener and was therefore needed to pronounce his expert opinion on what to do with my wasteland.

Hanif cancelled two appointments and then suddenly arrived at my doorstep on a weekday. But before he could start the inspection, I tried to persuade him to convince my husband to have only rose cuttings planted in a neat row. I could have done it myself, but they came at a phenomenally expensive price, and added to the cost of fertiliser and the top soil, I would have ended up spending a fortune.

This definitely needed Hanif’s intervention, and his persuasion skills, at getting my spouse to approve. But before that, I had to convince Hanif that a rose garden is what the house needs, preferably the variety of roses that came from Holland.

Now, Hanif did not like being told what to do, least of all by a woman. I gathered that within the first few minutes of talking to him. For him, the man is the supreme head of the household and his decision is paramount. So as I took him around the garden path, he kept looking for something, or rather someone.

“Where is sayyidi?” he asked me suddenly, using the Arabic term for “sir”. I had lived in this part of the world long enough to realise he was referring to my husband.

“I want to talk to sayyidi,” he persisted.

“He told me to get some colourful petunias and marigolds for the flower bed,” he announced.

“That’s what I’m telling you,” I cut in.

“Petunias and marigold don’t look half as good as roses. You tell him when he gets here to have a rose bush done instead,” I insisted.

“But madam, roses will take more than a month to bloom and then wither away in the next,” he said, talking slowly, as if explaining to a child.

“You better wait for sayyidi. He said get petunias and marigolds and I think he made the right choice,” he said.

I was seething with annoyance, but Hanif did not notice. He took a leisurely stroll in the various patches of green around my house and did some mental calculations.

“When is sayyidi getting here?” he asked me impatiently.

“I need his permission to fix the backyard kitchen garden also. It is such a mess,” he glared at me.

“Who said anything about the kitchen garden? I was very irritated by now.

“You go ahead and do the rose garden first. I’m giving you total responsibility,” I declared.

“But sayyidi is the head of the household. He will decide, and you must listen to him,” Hanif lectured me, shaking his head in disapproval.

“Yes, your sayyidi might be the head, but I’m the neck that shakes the head, so you better get going,” I managed to have the final word.

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