A Red Rose and the Cactus !

R.D. Bhardwaj

One beautiful spring day, a red rose blossomed in a forest. Many kinds of trees and plants had also grown there. As the rose looked around, a pine tree nearby said, “What a beautiful flower ! I wish, I was as beautiful and lovely like the red rose !” Another tree said, “Dear pine, do not be sad, we can not have everything, moreover, nobody is perfect ……..”

The rose held its head high and remarked, “It seems that I am the most beautiful plant in the entire forest.” A sunflower raised its yellow head and asked, “Why do you say that ? In this forest there are many beautiful birds, plants and trees. You are just one of them.” But the red rose replied, “I observe that everyone is looking at me and admiring me in appreciation……..” Then the rose looked at a cactus and said, “Look at that ugly plant, it is full of nasty and ugly thorns !” The pine tree said, “Red rose, what kind of talk is this ? Who can say – what is the real beauty ? You have thorns too. Moreover, I think, you have not heard great writers and scholars admitting a fact that beauty is, in fact, skin deep …….. What looks at the surface level, may not be as true and lovely from the inner side ……”

The proud red rose looked angrily at the pine and said, “I thought, you had a good taste and sense of recognition ! But, you do not know what the beauty is at all. You cannot compare my thorns to that of the cactus…….” “What a proud flower!”, thought the tree and it started looking in different direction. The rose tried to move its roots away from the cactus, but it could not. As the days passed, the red rose would look at the cactus and say some derogatory things, like : This plant is useless ? How sorry I am to have a neighbour like him ……….”

The cactus never got upset and he even tried to advise the rose, saying, “Every thing in this world has its own beauty and credentials & flaws …….. Secondly, always remember that God does not create any form of life without a purpose.”

Spring passed by in a couple of weeks, and the weather started becoming warmer. Life became difficult in the forest, as the plants and animals needed water to survive, but there was no sign of rains. The red rose began to fade and wilt, as its delicate petals could not bear the brunt of heating weather, which was making the lives of delicate things miserable. One day, the rose saw some sparrows stick their beaks into the cactus and then fly away, quite refreshed and enlivened. This was puzzling, and the red rose asked the pine tree, as to what those birds were doing.

The pine tree explained that the birds got some water from the cactus. “Does it not hurt when they make holes with their piercing beaks ?” asked the rose.

“Yes, it certainly hurts; but the cactus does not like to see any birds suffering from thirst. Moreover, it is pleased when someone visits him and shares his or her problems with him, and the cactus helps him the way he can !” replied the pine. The rose was flabbergasted with its wide open eyes in astonishment, and said, “The cactus has water ?”

“Yes ! You don’t know, the think broad and fluffy and stuffy leaves of cactus store a lot of water when it is available in plenty and uses it during long and tiring and encumbersome summers; just as some other animals like rats, camels and giraffes also do. And yes, if you need, you can also borrow water from him, if it does not hurt your ego. And also remember, it is better to kill your ego rather than dying of thirst …….. The sparrow can help you in bringing water for you if you just ask the cactus for help. I am sure; he will not disappoint you …….”

The red rose felt ashamed over its past behaviour and bad insulting words, which it had uttered previously against the cactus. But then, finally, better sense prevailed upon him and his immediate need for life providing water compelled him to ask for some help from the cactus. However, the cactus was pleased to fulfill the immediate need of his neighbour and a kind hearted sparrow filled her beak with water taken from the cactus plant and sprinkled it over rose’s roots and delicate & withering / fading petals. Soon, the rose started gaining new lease of life and it looked at its benefactor neighbour – the Cactus plant, in a thanks giving posture.

MORAL OF THE STORY : Never judge anyone by their appearances alone. Beautiful people can be proud enough to break other’s hearts, whereas, simple looking people often extend a helping hand to others, particularly, at the time of their adversity. Prosperity makes friends and adversity tries them. And lastly, God is the supreme artist and He does not create anything without a purpose.