I tended to my plants yesterday. And the best thing, today, I’ve two pink hibiscus flowers swinging in the morning breeze on my balcony. To reap the benefits of your hard work almost instantly is a miracle. And it doesn’t happen often. Not to me. Not to many of us. I wish we didn’t have to wait for long to get appreciated and rewarded. I wish rewards and recognition were instantaneous. Not hard-earned and difficult.
That’s precisely why I love gardening. Not because flowers bloom instantly. On most days, it doesn’t. I’m simply in love with the soil, plants and flowers — the entire package you see. Because in gardening, there’s sweet expectation and there’s rock solid patience. It isn’t simple right? To tend to a fragile little thing or a bed of flat soil, day after day, in uncertainty and hope. Many times, in complete abandon of the end result. I hum a tune sometimes, while watering. On other days, I listen to music while pruning. And on so many other days, I just give in to the feeling of wet soil on my hands and in my nails. I don’t wear gloves. I love touching soil. Somehow it makes me connect with my inner self and to the bitter truth that I’ll end up right in there — in sand and soil.
And when I do, I would want a few flowers coming out of the soil I inhabit — then. Like Rumi says: “How should Spring bring forth a garden on hard stone. Become earth so you may grow flowers of many colours.”
Flowers, to me is a metaphor for happiness. When I see a pink hibiscus brightening my otherwise green balcony, it lifts my mood. No matter how hard life gets, no matter how dark and ominous, the patches of brightness, the spots of colour re-establish my belief in life and its many colours. And black most certainly, is a colour, isn’t it? So is grey, you say. I agree.
Flowers blossom in gardens, balconies, terraces and fields. But there are flowers which bloom in forests, in wilderness. You may not find roses or tulips in the woods, nevertheless you will find Crimson Columbine, Fairy Slipper and Speedwells in abundance. Can anyone claim those are less beautiful? I believe that’s how people are. Some of us blossom in gardens, in pretty and wholesome environments, among good people, without hardships and challenges. There are some of us though, who don’t have it easy, who struggle for food, education and opportunities. Like my father, who was luckily picked from a slum of refugees by a missionary school and who dreamt of butter-rice ( food given to refugees on Sundays) long after he was able to afford it. In fact, when I asked him recently what his favourite dish was he said, “buttered rice, served hot on a large steel plate.” “I thought you love fish curry and mutton kosha”, I said bemused. “Of course I do.” He said smiling. “But nothing can beat a hot plate of….”
I was puzzled. I understood much later what he meant. You see, longing often becomes a cherished memory.
So like my father, let me conclude by saying — nothing beats the sight of flowers or the touch of soil. Of course I love writing and music. But it sure can’t compete with the sight of colour. And the smell of being alive.