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  • Marya Kazmi

Raat Ki Rani: Queen of the Night

My mother is blessed with a green thumb and love for plants she treats as her children. After busy weeks of their demanding jobs as physicians, my father and her would spend hours in the garden together, working and chatting. It was therapeutic and a source of quality time. It worked out because as much as they cajoled and requested the presence of their four children in this endeavor, none of us obliged and the two were left to their own devices to enjoy nurturing nature together. One of the plants they cared for was my absolute favorite, the Raat ki Raani. It is similar to the aromatic fragrance of jasmine with smaller florets.

To this day it brings me calm and reminds me of my parent’s home. The most fragrant moments are at night when the flowers are in full bloom. Then in the morning they would close back up and you could barely smell the buds. I remember walking downstairs at night throughout my young adulthood and smelling the flower’s scent wafting throughout the main floor of our home. 

The florets were also used as a natural perfume and on special occasions my mother would quickly grab a little handful and tuck it into the straps of my bra for that natural floral perfume. 

This is why jasmine is my favorite flower and particularly the Ratt ki Rani. The flower that only blooms at night for a few hours, usually at the beginning and end of the summer season. Its small white flowers release a sweet, powerful fragrance that enchants with its potency. Raat ki Rani’s penchant for blooming at night is the reason Jasmine has also been described as “moonlight of the grove” and “moonbeams in the garden”. 

In a popular folklore Raat ki Rani is personified as a woman with a broken heart. It is the Sun God who is believed to have broken her heart. Which is the reason why she blooms, releasing her enchanting fragrance, only in his absence. This Indian legend about the love of a woman for the Sun God and how she continues after a broken heart to bloom even stronger in his absence speaks to me as a woman who has been healing her broken heart for a long time.

I understand the legend well. I once loved someone and married him. I was willing to sacrifice so much to be with him and keep him in my life. I also now can see how the strength of the flower and legend lies in the bloom after the pain of the day. Like the legend, my petals unfolded and the power I possessed came to life when he was no longer around. 

I recently watched a show called “Modern Love Mumbai”, a South Asian or Desi take on the American short stories of love situated in the city of Mumbai, India. Something about the woman’s journey to find who she was and not allow sadness or messages to dim herself for a man resonated with me.  The unexpected rejection and heartbreak led her to move through her pain and into her power. In the end she realized how much stronger she is without a man than she was when she loved a man who did not see her value. I’d like to think I am also the queen of the night. I now bloom fiercely and fully and it didn’t happen because of a man in my life, but rather despite the men in my life. I have found my strength and voice as the blossoming Raat ki Rani. 



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