Bandages and Flowers
The healing that happens for growth
It is a sunny morning of spring. I look at the trees from my balcony. It is a nice view. But then, my mom comes around and starts arranging things in my room as well as the whole house. And as soon as she is done, she arranges flowers in various places in the house. Be it the centre table in the hall or the side table near the door, she makes rangoli in the house with the flowers. Then I am called to review it. I say it is nice or not based on how it looks but more importantly, I see how it adds beauty to the house. I then resume the tree-watching session from the balcony. The flowers in my house do look beautiful but somehow, they do not seem as beautiful as they are on the trees. I wonder about this. Is it because the flowers I have at my home are already stale and dead? Or is it just because I am so close to the flowers at my house that I see them very clearly with every detail and meticulousness? There is only one way to know this- to go down and see it through my eyes. I venture out of my house to the garden in my society as well as outside.
This is my take on Bandages and flowers. If you are landing here for the first time, you might want to check out my other pieces like -
Mental Health and Curtains, Fans and advertisements, Gardening and Economies of effort, Lights and Rejection, Bags and Batman, Doors, and Feminism, Washrooms and Cupboards, Driving and Friendship, or Humor and Instant Messaging!
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I go close to the flowers. Hundreds of them in various shapes and sizes. Each has a different fragrance. Mogra, rose, Chameli, etc. I see them and wonder if I know anything about them at all. What does Mogra become after the flowering period is over? Does it become a fruit that I know or do not know about? I have seen roses wither in the house and in functions, but what happens if they are let grown in the plant? Do they wither out and fall or do they become fruit too? I let my curiosity grow here. Instead of Googling the answer or asking the gardener, I decided to cut a rose stem and plant it at my house. And I attempt to do it. Voila, easy as 1, 2,3!
I return to my house and open the door. I show the rose to my mother but then she notices that I have a cut on my hand and I am slightly bleeding. The master of wounds- Band-Aid is called. I apply it to the cut and plant the rose in a small pot that I have. As I water the plant, I notice that my band-aid is intact and indeed a waterproof one!
What a marvellous thing is human creativity! They created a way to let me grow the plant in my house and also created the band-aid to heal my wounds and protect it from extra harm. It is indeed beautiful how creativity is a tool of growth. But then, I also see things around that are harming us more than they benefit. Look at plastic. It is cheap, affordable, and ultra-useful but it is highly polluting. Then, humans came up with other inventions and alternatives to plastic. Plant-based packaging and bags are invented.
Think about it and creativity is the band-aid to the destruction we cause. We do plant the rose in our gardens but fail to see that the thorns need to be taken care of too. There should be enough warning and awareness that the rose is supremely beautiful and extremely fragrant but it also has thorns to harm you. Does it mean that we stop using roses? Does it mean that we stop growing things in our garden?
Of course not. The idea is to make sure that we know that the rose has a thorn and if we are not careful, the thorn would hurt us. It might just make a cut in our hands and we would be okay in 5 minutes or it might prick us in a sensitive way that it punctures some important organ. Of course, this happens in ignorance. But we all know that ignorance is bliss and we do dive into it to enter oblivion that we might end up hurting ourselves.
The beauty of band-aids is that they are available for each and every wound that we face. It might be a cut on the hand or a major broken bone in our body. There is a band-aid to heal it. Band-aids mean healing. Interestingly, Band-Aid is also the name of a band that was made for charity purposes. In fact, Band-aid is a generic term for adhesive bandages just like how Colgate and Xerox have become one for toothpaste and photocopy respectively.
Bandages are essentially a positive piece of cloth. They signify healing and growth. They also become a harbinger of sympathy. Many people fake injuries or have the fantasy of having a bandage of some kind so that they get attention. This is rare but in a world where attention is broken like bubbles of soap, it is an easy way to get it. In fact, many children have some real fascination with adhesive bandages like Band-Aid and would apply it even when it is not needed. This is yet another way of using them.
If we think about bandages in-depth, they are also attending to despair. People who use bandages show that they are in pain of some kind and are trying to heal from it. Not everyone is fortunate to heal. Some try to hide the injury and appear strong even when they are broken from inside. Some are not privileged enough to have a bandage on their wounds and have to function without it. One does not need to be a doctor to necessarily see if a person is injured or not. Sometimes, simple observations tell us that the person is in pain. Sometimes, we need to be tactful and make them say it. Even a doctor cannot cure you properly if you do not tell your problem to them completely.
In order to get a bandage and start the process of healing, you need to show that you are injured. You need to expose it to the person who you trust of healing and helping. Then only you can heal and grow. If you do not, you might be eventually covered in bandages but then it would be of mummies like the ones in Egypt.
If someone does show you their injuries, be a bandage and try to heal them. If you cannot, be rose and soothe them. Keep the thorns away from them and help them grow. Show them where the bandage is. Help them get it or get it for them if you can. In the most unfortunate event, you would be the same rose that would have injured them. But that does not mean that you are devoid of soothing them with your fragrance or appearance.
There is beauty in you and there are thorns in you. You might hurt people unintentionally sometimes and sometimes, they would strike themselves on the thorn. You do not feel guilty if they are intentionally touching the thorn. However, you never stop being the beautiful you and being the most pleasing smell one can find. Be you and grow. Seek bandages when you need them and do not become a mummy. Let yourself feel the beauty and the power that you have.
Oh, freaks! I have overwatered the rose and now the flat just below us is complaining. Let me handle that. Maybe I would give them a rose and a bandage to make them feel better.
Enjoy these customary offerings from me.
That was my take on Flowers and Bandages. Read on to see what Raj has to say.
Bandages are so often made to match our skin’s colour (for now let’s not get into whose skin colour, how fair or dark and all), and it is precisely here that we seem to be camouflaging our wounds to hide them. Why can’t we embrace them rather? How come we have not had pink, yellow, blue, green, or orange band-aids? Even rainbow coloured ones perhaps? Subtle things like these sometimes become the telling signs of culture and society. I was wondering how Japanese culture embraces the cracks and brokenness through their art of ‘kintsugi’ where golden lacquer is used to mend a broken piece of pottery. This highlights the imperfections while embracing the beauty of it; while also embracing the history or the past of it. Kintsugi literally means “joining with gold”, and this centuries-old art has more to it than aesthetics, for the Japanese, it's part of a broader philosophy of embracing the beauty of human flaws.
Can we attempt something similar? Would a small gesture of having multiple colours in our bandages be a giant leap towards creating awareness and making space for the kind of openness that currently severely lacks in our society and culture? Or does it really work the other way round, the culture has to evolve so as to make space for something like this?
When we see the wounds of people – mental or physical – acknowledge them, accept them, and empathize with them, it allows us to become a less performative society. Sometimes things need to be defined to be understood, as bell hooks argue in her book All About Love: “if our society had a commonly held understanding of the meaning of love, the act of loving would not be so mystifying”. Pain and love are generally mystified to make the concepts of impenetrable obscurity, and how that leaves us helpless and broken is quite evident on the faces that you see on the streets. They seem to be wanting to shout, some managing to even shout out through their faces, but nothing audible comes out, for we have not the space or the language.
How will then anything but weeds spring out of these cracks? These wounds and cracks are inevitable, whereas what springs out of them is something we can influence, like ‘kintsugi’ with pottery, can we work towards creating such an environment where flowers bloom out of these cracks of our wounds? And as often happens with the ideas we like, but it seems far-fetched, we develop an itch for it whereby we strive to reach or achieve it at least symbolically if not practically, it then inevitably becomes a tattoo concept. I was mildly surprised to learn (while writing this very piece) that there already exist a variety of tattoo concepts (and illustrations by artists) that bring together band-aids and flowers. Upon trying to understand the meaning, it wasn’t far away from the point where I began: kintsugi. The internet expresses the meaning of these tattoos and illustrations as: “This might be a physical wound or an emotional wound, but the Band-Aid tattoo represents a wound that is present or a wound that is healing. Talking to people that have this tattoo, many of the ones will say they have it because they have an emotional wound that has not healed.”
Flowers are a sign of hope and beauty. They have inspired songs, plays, novels, lovers, gods, and demons, across literature, architecture, history, philosophy, and other fields that you can think of. How the bees and butterflies hover around it and how even the mention of flowers conjures up a nice and sunny image in our minds but then again I feel we betray the essence and only the tangible beauty is admired while the soul of the flower often dies alone in silence. Recently I posted something about it on my Instagram;
Looks like even the flowers that rein the lands of beauty need the bandages when the sun sets in their kingdom. So this relationship seems quite mutually dependent on healing and well being. We always try to preserve the beauty of things without really acknowledging them in their entirety. How often do we stop to think about the entire life cycle of a flower? How often does art explore the “non-beautiful” parts of the flower’s life…
I don’t know if any of this makes sense, but the simple thing that bothers me is why do we need to camouflage our wounds, our past, our cracks? And the other thing is that how come only the flower that blooms gets all the praise, who will cry for the dead flower and the unborn bud?
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