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The Shy Maiden of Kabini


Touch Me Not (Mimosa Pudica), Kabini -


We all know about the Mimosa. Every one of us has grown up knowing at least one at high school, often of the opposite sex, who’d shrink from all contact and withdraw deep within themselves when approached. While in the case of this writer, the reaction to him was commonplace till he discovered the existence of deodorants, shrinking from company was standard operating procedure for others who used it as a form of self-defense against social predation. These bashful specimens were after all following in the footsteps of the original Touch-me-not: the Mimosa pudica. Pretty, yet painfully shy, these natives of Central and South America are found all over Kabini and flower every year in September and October. While occurring naturally, they are also grown in gardens, primarily for the novelty value of seeing a plant so sensitive that the leaves close inwards on stimuli such as touching, warming, blowing or even a gentle shaking. Also hyper sensitive to light, like some other plant species (and the human species we discussed earlier), the Mimosa undergoes a change in leaf orientation and goes to ‘sleep’ every night, and opens up with the first rays of the morning. While it’s lovely and lovably eccentric, the Mimosa is not a farmer’s best friend, and is considered a mildly toxic weed that can affect crops like tomato, corn, coffee, bananas and sugarcane. The encouraging news is that modern medicine is beginning to discover huge potential in its chemotherapeutic compounds, while aqueous extracts of the plant have been proven to neutralize the venom of the Monocled Cobra. While all this is very fine, this writer is left to wonder when they’ll invent an antidote to dispel the painful shyness of the human Mimosas that inhabit the pimpled pathways of our adolescence!


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