Sunday 18 June 2017

The Fruit-seller and the Gita

The Fruit-seller by Mira Boolell Khushiram

His watermelons in an offhand heap
by the roadside under vivid blue plastic
sharper than the sky. Casual symbolic.
‘Just the action, mind. The fruit’s not yours to keep.’

But he hasn’t read those specific verses.
He peddles his wares wholly unaware
of hidden meanings, symbols, faiths and their
connects to the fruit that he disburses.

I often stop at his stall, it’s on my way -
he cuts me a juicy watermelon slice,
quencher of thirsts, symbolic and otherwise,
but he doesn’t know it. He picks and weighs

his wares, and allows me to attribute
a deeper meaning to both verse and fruit.

I am trying a collaboration today - letting the art of a dear friend unlock words in my head. The watercolour above is by architect Mira Boolell Khushiram, from Mauritius. Mira and I met in Cairo through a ladies group - she had moved in from Tunis and I from Dubai the same year, and we soon found we shared common interests. Many trips followed - to art galleries in Zamalek and the old Islamic monuments and bead and handicrafts shops in the Khan. She and I both moved out of Cairo the same year too. Expat lives, expat friendships, characterised by transience and more goodbyes than any normal heart should be allowed to handle. We keep in touch, thank goodness for technology!

Mira's interest in art goes back to her childhood, and she has worked with charcoal, oils, pastels and watercolours. While away from her architectural practice in Mauritius she worked in the studios of eminent Tunisian and Egyptian artists honing her skills further.  She is now retired from her profession and pursues her art full time, showcasing Mauritian life and the beautiful seascapes around her through her paintings. 

Her fruitseller invoked a very well known verse from the Bhagavad Gita in my mind - which basically exhorts folks to focus on what needs to be done and do it, without hankering after any benefits. 

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ||

karmay-evādhikāras te mā phalehu kadāchana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te sago ’stvakarmai

'You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction.' ~ Bhagavad Gita, 2:47.

The fruit-seller's cart - rather a poignant metaphor. Look forward to your feedback on this collaborative effort and thank you, as always, for reading.


  1. Lovely collaboration. My eyes enjoy the softness of the painting. Your words complement the vague action/inaction of the full transaction. And that's a compliment. Now I am thirsty for watermelon

    1. The ME does produce some real sweet watermelons! Thank you for the compliment :)

  2. After reading the passage, I see how your verse and the image fit so well.

    1. The words fruits and results are synonymous in my mother tongue and I suspect in several Indian languages. So glad you liked the 'fit'!

  3. Hi Nila - what a great way to keep in touch - by collaborating with Mira ... love the painting and those words ... clever fit. I love this kind of art work ... then knowing the back story ... such fun to read - and to know the two of you will remain in touch for as long as possible ... collaborating as and when - a great idea for a book ... or two ... cheers Hilary

    1. Now that's a super idea - why didn't I think of it ?:) Always enjoy knowing the backstories...sometimes they are more alluring than the actual stories :)

  4. Love the collaboration, which gives enhancement and new beauty to consider.
    I hope the house move chaos is settling.

    1. Nope, total chaos prevails, boxes everywhere still, can't find anything, poetry is an escape! and therapy.

      Glad you liked the collaboration.

  5. This was wonderful to read, verse at it's very best.


  6. A thought provoking piece drawing an intriguing parallel - very nicely done :)

  7. What should I the poem again and again or look at the picture as it gives out the meaning so subtly...what an amazing combination...a picture, a poem and a deep philosophical meaning... and all seem to be part of one big thing...each one complete in its own respect still incomplete without the other two!
    Fantastic experience!!!
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies

    1. I take it the collaboration has your approval then? :p thanks for stopping by!

  8. Lovely painting, and a excellent poem. Enjoyed today's post very much.

  9. Hi to all Nila's friends. Never thought this painting(one of my favourites and earliest)would triggersuch enthusiasm with regard to our collaboration.
    I am really thrilled as Nila and I have common interests that we enjoyed as she mentioned in the "back story" during our sojourn in Cairo
    We hope to further combine our art expressions after such encouragement.
    Thanks to all. Cheers

    1. The artist herself! Thank you. Look forward to featuring more of our work together soon!

    2. Hi Mira and Nila - I look forward to more here ... it's a wonderful collaboration - love watercolours and those memories ... so glad you two met and now remain in touch .. cheers Hilary

    3. Nilanjana and Mira
      Great collaboration. Enjoyed reading the back story too.

    4. Thank you both! Glad you enjoyed the post, back story and all :)