A lesson in love from a flower-seller

True love is when you can drop all conditions – including notions, opinions, premises and preferences – and think only about the other person!

A friend shared a story the other day. She is a doctor and was pressed into emergency service some years back – during a devastating cyclonic storm in southern Tamil Nadu, near Nagapattinam. As she, and her fellow healthcare providers, were driving to a medical relief camp one evening, they saw a man walking along a deserted road in the blinding rain. It was strange that someone could even muster courage to brave nature’s fury and be outdoors at that time. Interestingly, the man had a jasmine garland in his hand. My friend asked for the jeep, in which she was traveling, to pull alongside the man and offered him a lift. The man hopped on. And when asked where he was headed in this terrible weather, he shared his story. He was a flower-seller that made and sold garlands outside the temple in his village. Almost a decade ago, he had fallen in love with a girl from his village. She belonged to another caste and both of them knew that they would have to face a lot of opposition should they even attempt discussing their alliance with their respective families. Also, the man and his lady love had never spoken to each other. They knew of their love for each other through a simple, beautiful ritual they would perform daily. The man would make a jasmine garland every evening and take it to a desolate temple outside the village. At an appointed hour he would leave the garland on the steps leading up to the temple. The girl whom he loved would be waiting for him to do this and would come forward, look into his eyes lovingly, take the garland and go away. No words were ever exchanged. No love was professed verbally for each other. Yet they loved each other and it was all understood. For more than two years this “silent” courtship happened between the two of them. Then the girl was forcibly married off by her family into her own community. But the man still made the garland daily and left it at the steps to the temple. She came some days. But most days she did not show up.  But the man never missed leaving the garland there every day.Then he heard from people in the village that she had died while giving birth to her first child. That was six years ago. Even so, he continued the practice of making the garland daily and leaving it on the temple steps. The man told my friend and her colleagues that, this stormy evening too, he was headed to the same temple to leave the garland on its steps. My friend asked him if he was married. He said no. And he affirmed that he would never marry. When asked why he still went to the temple on the outskirts of his village every evening, especially after his lady love had died years ago, the man replied: “My lady love may have died. But my love for her is still alive!”

I thought this is a beautiful love story.

Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999), my guru, would often say that when you are truly in love, you don’t think of yourself or for your welfare. You always think for and of the other person. “If you want a relationship to blossom, you will do well to change the focus from me, me, me to you, you, you. Then selfish passion is transformed into pure love”. Osho, the Master, said this even more powerfully, “If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up it dies and ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. It is about appreciation.”

Learning to love really means learning to put the other person ahead of yourself. It means learning to appreciate that person’s needs, thoughts, opinions and preferences. What such loving does to you, from whom love flows to the other, is that it sets you free. In that freedom, you experience bliss!


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