"Just one muzham, amma. You will be my first boni this morning, amma. "
"Such nice mallis! How much is one muzham?...That's too much! I don't know how people can afford flowers at such such rates! It's not as if people have jasmine growing in their gardens. Coming to think of it, who lives in a house with a garden these days? Not like in my time in Madurai, where we used to have seven beautiful malli creepers in our garden. Appa would make me and my sister water them every evening. I remember Amma used to deposit coffee powder from the previous day's filter at its roots. And Akka used to call it coffee malli. Not jaadi malli.
You know, our mallis were the most fragrant in our neighbourhood. Pankajam maami from two doors down the road would send her grand daughter on Thursdays with a small bowl to pick up the flowers. Amma would be furious. Tell your grandmother that there are mallis in the flower market as well, she would tell the little girl, before plucking out a few bruised ones from the creeper. And in summer! Aha! The creepers would be bent double under the weight of its flowers. Like a woman pregnant with twins at the end of her term! You should never count the buds, Amma used to say. They can hear you and they wither out. Every evening, she would pluck them and tie them into a dense garland using vaazhai naar. She would cut them into two equal halfs for akka and me to wear on our hair. We always fought over who had the longer share of the malli garland. Appa didn't like us wearing it long so that it fell in the front of our face. Like cheap filmstars, he would say. So we would wear it across the back of our head, pinned on either side. What? I told you...Five rupees for a muzham is too much...I can only pay you three. No? Four rupees fifty paisa is still too much. Three rupees or nothing. No, not even four rupees. Okay, okay. Fine then. Find somebody else. "