On the eve of Women’s Day in 2012, the husband and I met for the first time ever after a year and a half of emails and intermittent google chats. We decided to get married.
On Women’s Day, his mother, sister and a family friend met my mother and my best friend and for the lack of a better word, things became ‘formal.’
But this is not why I get flowers every year on Women’s Day, or Valentine’s Day or birthdays and anniversaries or just like that. I think I get the flowers because I made it explicitly clear that I love flowers and that he took that feedback well; albeit after a few trials and errors.
On one hand, I understand the concept of equality. Of being equal partners in a marriage, of being responsible for your own happiness, and that you can get yourself a bouquet if you feel like it, and do not need anyone to get or send you one. And lately, even the sheer expense of these bouquets and the economics or the commercial undertone behind the celebration of a lot of ‘days’ and what one is expected to do on these days as a mark of love or respect.
However having said that, I love receiving and gifting flowers. There is something incredibly beautiful and uplifting about having a string of flowers, a bowl of fresh, fragrant roses or a string of the Indian jasmine flowers, or a bouquet of flowers – tuber roses, roses, tulips, daffodils – made of whatever the region you live in produces. And how an ordinary day changes when your loved one walks through the door with a bunch of colour and fragrance in his or her arms, and what it does to your mood.
Is it unfair of women to expect flowers from their partners? I am quite not sure about that. I remember this incident. I had gone to visit my husband in Bangalore for the first time ever after we were married. (In the first year of our marriage, I was still living in Baroda.) He had planned a trip to Coonoor and while we were on our way, I spotted at a traffic signal, a woman with a basket of the most alluring string of flowers I had seen in quite a while. These were orange in colour and I recognised them as amoli (We used to call them amoli flowers in Gujarati, but in the South of India, these are called by a different name.I am afraid I do not know their scientific name.)
I looked at them longingly.
Such beautiful flowers, I said.
Uh oh, said the husband giving them a quick glance.
We were still at the signal. The light was yet to turn green.
How beautiful they must look if one ties them around one’s hair, I began again.
Yes, said the husband, but he made no effort to call the woman to our window.
They would even go so well around our little Ganesha on the car’s dashboard, I said, with hope fluttering its wings on every word that came out of me.
Uh oh, he said again, I don’t put flowers in my car.
I fell silent. The signal turned green.
The car carried on with its journey ahead, and my silence grew deeper, ominous with each turn of the wheel.
After about twenty minutes, the husband realised that something was amiss.
What is it?
Nothing, I replied.
There is something, he persisted. You usually speak 10 words a second.
I loved those flowers.
Yes, I know. You said so. He looked genuinely perplexed.
I wanted them.
Hain? But we were at a signal. And why didn’t you say so?
Because, because…I thought you would buy them for me, for the little Ganesha in our car.
But I told you, I don’t keep flowers on the dashboard.
But I could have worn them around my hair.
Do you even have a clip to fasten them in your hair, he asked.
I could have held them in my hands.
I think he learnt an important lesson that day. That I loved flowers. That I would usually want them but I might not say so explicitly.
Over the last eight and a half years, he has faithfully imbibed the lessons he learnt on that day in 2012.
In Bangalore when he went to the green grocer to buy beautiful purple aubergine, bottle gourd, potatoes and string beans, he would also get home Asiatic lilies and what we call in India ‘chuttak flowers’ from the flower woman. I would place the lilies near our little prayer temple in the living room, and the miniature roses and marigolds in a bowl of water in our bedroom. In Reading, vibrant bouquets of chrysanthemums, sunflowers, tulips, irises, dahlias, ibises, and assorted bunch of the season’s favourite would regularly make an appearance – not just for birthdays or specials days but just like that. In Dublin, it continues as well. There are usually little notes that come along with the flowers if the flowers are meant to mark a special day.
We also send flowers to both our moms for Diwali, for Mother’s Day and for their birthdays.
I still do not know the answer to the question that whether it is unfair of women to expect that their partner bring them flowers. But I do know this for a fact. When the husband says that he is heading out to buy fish or yogurt and limes, and comes back along with the weekly shop, a bunch of flowers – it makes my day.
6 thoughts on “Is it unfair of women to expect flowers from their partners?”
Wow, so many beautiful flowers! I think it’s perfectly fine to expect flowers on special occasions if you really love receiving them and if your husband is aware of it. Nowadays, most girls prefer the cash boyfriend/husband would have spent on flowers instead, but what’s so romantic about that? Happy International Women’s Day ❤ Aiva
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Thank you; and Happy Women’s Day wishes to all the amazing women around us. You have a good point. I did not realise that some women may prefer the cash instead. I simply love what the flowers do my mood and to our home. If I had a garden, I wouldn’t have minded getting a plant or a sapling to mark a special day too. I think you do a fair bit of tree planting, don’t you? Which is so so wonderful.
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Lovely pics! My husband made it clear early on that his sympathies are with the flowers. Poor flowers! is what he says when he sees cut flowers. And over the years I’ve come round to that point of view. But what’s stopping him buying me a potted plant, I don’t know. Still, he’s a good guy, all said and done. And I have flowers in the garden 😊
Btw, those orange flowers are called kanakaambaram in the south.
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Thank you for writing in, and also for giving me the name of those orange flowers (as they are called in the South). The husband doesn’t like it if we pluck something out of a home garden but I have grown up with my mother putting little arrangements in recycled glass bottles – flowers and leaves from the garden and I love to do the same. We don’t have a garden though, but he gets me potted plants. Once he got me potted plants for my office desk after I clicked a picture at work and he thought my desk was so drab.
But you make some good points. If we had a garden I would perhaps shift to planting a shrub or a sapling but I think I do love a good bunch of flowers too!
And no, I don’t think we need to be gifted flowers.
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Again a good point. (Though I made it clear I would absolutely love to receive them! Flowers and books. )