Today, I will tell you a story about plant biology and little children who learned to hide broken lives behind their backs. To differentiate a monocotyledonous plant from a dicotyledonous plant, you watch studiously for which shoot carries its seed above soil. But first, you must cut the bottoms off two plastic bottles, fill them with soil and bog them down with water. Then, sticking your index finger deep into the soil, make a hole small enough for the lonesome corn seed to fit. In your second pot, do the same, but nestle one black-eyed bean instead.

Wait. Hour after hour. With the patience of a child who has nothing better to do, wait for the shoot to break the surface.

Run to your mummy after several long hours and question her as to why the corn has not grown. And what of the beans? Mummy should I add more water? Mummy should I plant more seeds? Mummy what if it doesn’t grow? Mummy will I fail the experiment? Mummy, maybe I should add more water…

Under the rain of her reassuring words, go to sleep.

Day 1.

Day 2.

Day 3.

Go to sleep with no hope now.

Week 1.

Find the blade of green peeking from beneath the soil. Jump with rapturous delight as days push the green—the corn with two lithe blades splitting from the stalk; the bean, a single leaf tilted to the left. Clap your hands with glee and egg the stalks on. Grow profound respect for the bean that carries its buried seed above ground. Grow disdain for the cowardly corn.

Listen to your mother. Water your saplings.

Store this memory and savour the simplicity of its joy:

Draw it out. Replant the seeds. Rewatch the blades.

When the pain resurfaces, relearn your lessons.

Namrata Singh grew up in Nigeria, moved to Milan, and currently lives in India. She is a writer masquerading as a public health professional. She has published an essay with The Kalahari Review, and has some stories in Klorofyl. You can find her pseudo-ekphrastic writings on Instagram, @3frenchens. She can also be found on Twitter and Medium with the same handle.

© 2020 Namrata Singh. Published by LITTLE FICTION | BIG TRUTHS, May 2020.

Editors: Troy Palmer, Beth Gilstrap & Alvin Park. Images from The Noun Project (credit: Luis Prado).

The 2020 Flash Issue:



by Namrata Singh