I live in a small town, with cement roads and dust smitten air. We relish the small town luxury of maintaining a garden, in the front as well as in the backyard of our bungalow. We never got a landscape designer or a planner for the garden. Instead, through the years, we just collected a variety of plants , and creepers and found them an ideal spot in the garden area that also boasts tiled pathways.
The garden was in-between a porch and the compound wall on an axis, and a large shaded swing on another axis. Standing at the two cross points on a tiled pathway, one could observe shades of green all around, along with red, pink, orange roses, crème coloured lilies , yellow bell flowers,nishigandha, chameli, an overgrown cactus, some show plants, and some clay pots along with a huge underground water tank, with a large metal lid in one corner. Some plants I never learnt the name of , I mention them as the tree with cropped-leaves, or elongated-leaves, yellow-patched-leaves, white-rimmed-leaves and anything that made them distinct.
As a child, I remember spending all the Sunday mornings with my father, collecting the leaves that he had just clipped from a plant, uprooting the weeds, digging water hollows around the stems, disposing shredded leaves and flowers. I followed him in my flower-printed cotton frock, from one plant to another, beaming with the joy of feeling, splattering, and cajoling the soft mud with my hands and feet. All this, with the pleasure of sprinkling tons of water in the end.
Years passed, and the small pleasures of life were replaced by the urge to explore the world outside, new facets, upsurging enthusiasm to see the unseen. I left for the city, to a new life outside the confines of what I had already been and done. The garden was as fragrant, welcoming, and inviting throughout all these changes. Every visit back home, every holiday, every mid-term vacation, that I came back with a backpack of my own, the garden waited to offer peace and solace. New trees , new flowers, new rotations of pollination. All along with the old bounties of the garden never lost their charm, they looked wiser .
In summers there was a green hue in the garden, as a result of the protective green insulating cloth draped around on a structure of bamboos. Creepers stretched over those as well, they loved reaching their own heights I guess. The rains sometimes pooled the garden, and ponds formed amidst the plants and pots , pathways drowned in muddy waters. The garden looked fuller, and lush with each passing year. Families of ants squirmed somewhere beneath, through tiny tunnels. Squirrels, birds, butterflies, mongoose, cats, all had their habitats zoned into its nooks and corners.
Writing down a memoir for this splendid patch of land, within my home, seems essential today, for all that it has been, to so many known and unknown souls. Every time I look at it, I find something to ponder over, to be amused with, to be fascinated by. Sometimes just a tiny leaf sprouting upon a stem, an unfurling flower, a withered bunch of leaves, a tender bud. At fortunate times, a tiny birdie with shining blue head, or a group of yellow butterflies zooming around the garden as if in an infinite space. In some seasons,, a family of birds with yellow beaks keeps on visiting the garden collecting twigs, croaking at one another, scaring the baby squirrels.
I once saw a squirrel trying to dodge a thorny plant, just to get to the tip of it, for some reason unknown to me, she gave a highly dramatic performance. With the vast array of memories attached with the garden now, I realized that with each new life that each one of us planted in this garden, a shower of happiness always erupted. Each day, each week , each month, the buds kept on sprouting, flowers bloomed, leaves withered, some even died. But this constant rhythm that flows through the garden is synonymous only with peace and joy. If you happen to gaze at it , the garden always gazes back with a smile. The garden has so much to give , and we just take a handful each time.
The warmth of the deep brown earth, the fresh breeze of contentment, a sweeping spray of fragrances in each of the colorful spaces, the chirpy noises echoing from one side to another, the ruffle of leaves on your arms, the hesitantly scratching cactus, the neat line of red and black ants. You take away as many flowers from it, you sweep off all the crisp dry leaves, you unearth a million weeds, you breathe in many zestful bounties of air but the garden will never fall short of giving you some more.
“Life in its forgiving form,
Bountiful, incessant, ever fresh,
Even in the darkness of a moonless night,
Even in the leafy shadows of starlight,
Just step inside with bare feet and a seamless soul,
Step inside with wide eyes..linger..take a stroll,
When the world outside is too harsh, embrace its shadows,
In joy, dance in its sunlit shallows,
You will be forever welcomed with lush green arms and mellow whistles,
Your spot will be reserved through the harsh summers, and the monsoon drizzles
My eyes may see less, my hands may tremble, my feet may lose their strength one day, but my heart will always beat as long as the garden welcomes me back. Whether I stay or leave, whether I make or break promises, as long as I can step into my garden, the world will be a better place to dwell.
Eshani Sathe is a student, a Kathak dancer, a blogger and celebrates her passionate connect with life by writing endlessly, tirelessly on http://www.myshortstories-eshani.blogspot.in/