Life Life

10/05/2019 - 07:53

The glamor of bougainvillea

When the bombax ceiba flowers in their full bloom redden a whole path and gently falls to the side of the Citadel, it is also the time bougainvillea vines sparsely grown throughout this small city have their first flush of bloom in the season. Bougainvillea, such seemingly fragile flower, always catches the eyes of passers-by like a gorgeous girl on the street.

Blooming bougainvillea vines interspersed in the sightings of shops. Photo: N.H

Along the two banks of An Cuu river, somewhere hidden in the busy street lie blooming bougainvillea vines interspersed in the sightings of restaurants and shops. Hardly a leaf could be seen as the plants were so covered in bloom from white to pink, yellow, and orange color, silently beautifying the streets and much loved by all passers-by.

I remember seeing a bougainvillea that climbed to a large country almond tree at the corner of Phu Cam bridge, on the other side of the blockhouse there, near the house of renown musician Trinh Cong Son. That bougainvillea had a vibrant pink color, twining around the tree’s canopy and completely visible from the other side of the river bank that even the gentlest fall of its petals down to the road and the river makes my heart skip a beat at Hue’s poetic beauty.

Yet after a few years, that ancient bougainvillea tree was felled, revealing its bare trunk trying to give off blooms this season. I felt like my heart was shattering, just like losing something that used to be complete.

Hue in March, in addition to the burning sun, is home to a sky full of bougainvillea. Le Ba Dang Art Museum grows a blooming vine of pink and white bougainvillea, shining like a blazing fire in the summer. When April comes along with the cicada’s summer song and the scorching heat, this ‘carefree’ flower gives me such a relaxing mind like the river breeze. Or in Thuong Bac Park, the colorful vines of bougainvillea are offering massive displays of color in their flowering season, brightening up a corner of the sky.

In Thuong Bac Park, the colorful vines of bougainvillea are offering massive displays of color in their flowering season, brightening up a corner of the sky. Photo: N.H

I also wish I had had a bougainvillea tree spilling over my old yellow-painted house wall – the color my grandmother kept associating with the nobility. I wish I had had a bougainvillea tree, so on windy days, I could watch the flowers falling to my feet, only to regret having to sweep them away later. And perhaps, with such a bougainvillea tree, my cat could play with the falling petals.

The flower somehow reminds me of my first love when we dared not hold hands nor look at each other. I felt this vibrant, yet fragile bougainvillea was in some senses symbolic of first love as both can innocently bloom regardless of the blazing sun.

When the climate is harsher and drier, bougainvillea gives more profuse flowering. Like first love, the more restrictions, the more thirst for love. And this delicate flower is often, just as first love, fragile and fruitless, only to be engraved and remembered forever in one’s heart.

Then this afternoon, when wandering in Hue, I was so much in love with the flowering bougainvillea vines of March trailing down the porches, over the eaves and house fences. I felt like love was in its full bloom.

By NAM GIAO

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