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  • Writer's pictureDilmit Singh

The Queen of Cereus a la The Gorettians

Tempus fugit. I recently connected with mates from my high school in India, St. Maria Goretti, after five decades. You heard that right, 50 years. Like the Brahm Kamal or the Queen of Cereus that blooms overnight only to be gone the next morning, my Gorettian friends rise when it is time for me to retire. As disparate atoms in the digital diaspora, we chatter; sometimes there is lack of emotional draw and then thereafter, laughter and hilarity. I have the autonomy to disappear into the dead of the night as their echoes rise to a crescendo and they, on their tilt, have the liberty to do likewise. Time zones create space as the earth twirls on its axis debuting the song of the morning thrush or echoing the hoot of the night owl!

The memories are vague and sometimes resurface as altered perceptions. In an effort to fill gaps, brains recreate, embellish, or seek assistance from others. Some in the group I knew as classmates, while others I remember as silhouettes. Accepting all, I slowly endeavor to understand them through what they choose to share. Their lives - trials and tribulations that have challenged their resilience as human beings, joys and experiences that have molded them into good, kind souls, and even deserted expanses of time that remain a blank slate in the memory bank - embody meaning. As observers or participants, we stitch our stories together into a telltale quilt sewn in pandemic confinement. Friends and acquaintances who came unseen and unannounced a couple months ago are joined in unison to keep alive the memory of school days, however short lived their association with St. Maria Goretti.

For those who've experienced reunion, the powerful sentiment of something lost then found may be familiar. But for those who cannot relate, I only ask that you imagine seeing and hearing people’s stories after five decades in absentia. Half of us have lived and left, and the other half is scrambling to make the remaining decades count twofold!

Just as The Queen of Cereus reveals its medicinal powers high on the Himalayas each night, so the image of it blooming in the city gardens of old friends reminds us of the healing power of reunion. I painted the queen on cotton rag cold pressed watercolor paper as a tribute to the missed decades with compadres.

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