Rabindranath Tagore

The Gardener 1

SERVANT: Have mercy upon your servant, my queen! QUEEN: The assembly is over and my servants are all gone. Why do you come at this late hour? SERVANT: When you have finished with others, that is my time. I come to ask what remains for your last servant to do. QUEEN: What can you expect when it is too late? SERVANT: Make me the gardener of your flower garden. QUEEN: What folly is this? SERVANT: I will give up my other work. I will throw my swords and lances down in the dust. Do not send me to distant courts; Do not bid me undertake new conquests. But make me the gardener of your flower garden. QUEEN: What will your duties be? SERVANT: The service of your idle days. I will keep fresh the grassy path where you walk in the morning, where your feet will be greeted with praise at every step by the flowers eager for death. I will swing you in a swing among the branches of the saptaparna, where the early evening moon will struggle to kiss your skirt through the leaves. I will replenish with scented oil the lamp that burns by your bedside, and decorate your footstool with sandal and saffron paste in wondrous designs. QUEEN: What will you have for your reward? SERVANT: To be allowed to hold your little fists like tender lotus-buds and slip flower chains over your wrists; To tinge the soles of your feet with the red juice of ashoka petals and kiss away the speck of dust that may chance to linger there. QUEEN: Your prayers are granted, my servant, you will be the gardener of my flower garden.

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