Cholena reveals her relationship with flowers. Though she hated flowers initially for its frail symbolism and it being likened to women, she always loved Tulips; it reminded her of her Sailor Dad. An exclusive photo feature on flower for Different Truths.
Don’t get me wrong. I actually hated flowers, flowers in general. To me, they were way too pretty. Too perfect. Too delicate. Too attention seeking. On top of that, they die too quickly.
But somehow Tulips has gotten a hold of my heart in a rather strange way. My dad was a Sailor and he used to send me postcards from all around the world. One particular was from Holland. It had ribbons of tulips with towering Dutch windmills and cobalt blue sky as the backdrop and a promise that was written on its back, in a neat beautiful handwriting of his that he will take me there some day. But he never got around to doing it and Tulips henceforth became a reminder of broken promise.
Comparing flowers to women made me hate them even more. I believe that women are much tougher and stronger …they can very well take care of themselves and it’s an insult to compare them to flowers. So obviously I hated it when someone gifted me flowers. It was like saying “Oh so you are a girl. So soft. So delicate. So weak. You reminded me of flowers. So here, this is for you.” When instead he/she could have gotten me some cactus or something … which is hardy and has the will to fight and survive no matter what the situation is.
That was exactly why I became a little bit nervous when I got a project to shoot flowers. It’s so easy to shoot something you are in love with but how do you shoot something that you hate the most? So I decided to do something that I have never done before. Google for flower images…and tada, everything was right there in front of me – every angle and colours I could think of.
This was the part when my job got way tougher. I not only had to shoot what I hated, but also in a unique way. So I decided to look at them in a different perspective and see them as an interesting subject and not merely as weak flowers.
That dreadful day finally arrived and I was the first visitor to walk into the Flower Dome, the world of perpetual Spring in Singapore. Colours were all I could see. Too many, in fact, to the point I couldn’t differentiate them. So I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I could hear the gentle, soft melody of classical music floating in the air. I pushed the colours out of my mind and shapes started to appear. I opened my eyes slowly. All set, I started to click.
While shooting I realised something that I should have realised much earlier. I had forgotten the part where flowers had to go through hardship in order to bloom and live, even if it was only for a few days. After all, all flowers go through dirt. Maybe I should at least give them credit for that and not associate them with the strong word hate.
Even till today, I’m not entirely in love with flowers and I prefer not to be compared with them. However, Tulips somehow has gotten my hearts complete attention. Deep down, I admire them a lot for their uniqueness and the exotic colours. One major point is that tulips are directly connected to my dad. Also connected to my childhood fantasy and I guess I just can’t get rid of that admiration I had for them when I was a kid.
What were hours felt like minutes and my stomach finally started growling! I decided to call it a day. At that moment, if someone could have gifted me Potted Tulips, without batting an eyelid I would have easily smiled and said, “Tulips are my favourite flowers.”
Pix by author.