After reading The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad some time ago, Keith had told me a story about someone called the Diva, perhaps a ballet dancer or opera singer. Quite the star before the siege, petulant and seemingly impossible to please, she stayed in Leningrad through the winter of 1941-42 and suffered with the rest of the population until Soviet offensives expelled German forces from the city some three years later. Survivors of Leningrad including our Diva recorded horrific stories of starvation and deprivation. Then, one day in spring towards the end of the siege, a much-diminished Diva wrote about discovering a flower blooming amidst the destruction. All her past accolades, luxuries and indulgences paled in comparison to that single blossom. She said that moment was the happiest of her life.
This weekend when I saw this lovely flowering bush at Vanaprastha, I thought about the Diva and the many blessings that I also take for granted. I haven’t identified the plant yet – if you know, please comment – but it seems to grow wild on the mountain and attracts moths and butterflies. Perhaps the sight of flowers and wings prompted my Diva dream last night.
Hearing the sweet sound of a violin solo from one of Tchaikovsky’s ballet pas-de-deux, I caught the scent of wild trumpet flowers and danced, but not to Petipa’s choreography. I bounced, flew and whirled freely with the graceful abandon of a child assured of warmth, a full belly, and fresh, clean water. And I woke smiling and saw the Diva’s single flower.