May 29, 2002

for mummy with love :-)

sitting alone,
doing nothing,
spring comes
and the grass grows by itself.

well, spring is here, and it’s more than just the deep green grass that’s refreshing to the eye; with all the colourful tulips, chrysanthemums, rhododendrons, fluffy yellow roses, poppies and rich blue forget-me-nots peeping out from every house patio and garden.

as a kid i took them for granted. perhaps that was because my mother tended to them while my sister and i were away at school. to me, they were just a lot of mud, leaves and moss that occupied space. occasionally, they would also flower. i never got in their way, neither did they, until my mother decided it was time i helped her take care of them too. i remember being forced out of the house with a hose to water all of them every weekend, and i hated the routine.

we lived in a ground-floor flat of a four-storey building that housed fourteen other apartments — in them were some newly married couples, while most were young parents. in the thirteen years that followed, the couples soon grew into little families of three or four, while the kids soon outgrew their shoes and clothes and games of lagori, dabaispice and jhattapatti; they grew taller than their parents and their friends and destinies changed; some flew away to the usa to get a higher education or a greencard, others just got married. as for the parents in the society, they grew older and wealthier. to accommodate their hard-earned material wealths such as their many cars and scooters, the earth all around and in the compound was cemented. the plants couldn’t take the dust and noise, and died, each one of them.

nothing was the same anymore. it felt like the soul of our house had been plucked out and thrown away. my mother never talked about them again, and years later the plants were long forgotten. however, my dislike for the cold house seemed to increase… so much that when i left for bangalore i literally told my father i would not return until he decided to move into a brighter, livelier house. sure enough, within a year, we did. but the plants never came home.

six months after my marriage today, each time i watch alan titchmarsh on bbc’s gardening programmes, i remember how much it meant to my mom — how she always got sackfuls of helpful tips, red fertile mud and saplings or seeds from the maalis (gardeners) in lonavala, or even from the few friends who shared the same interest. i wondered what joy she must have felt to watch her plants grow, and then realised i could experience the same if i really wanted to…

with the entire population in the united kingdom encouraged to grow plants and trees…free seeds are given away with nestle’s breakfast cereals, and even with tomatoes at sainsbury’s. gardening is literally child’s play here, with huge stores like homebase, b&q and focus for everything you need for your garden, inspirational flower shows for designer gardens, and of course, my favourite alan titchmarsh who makes it all seem so easy.

four months ago, praveen and i bought our first plant from the “reduced” section (the plants here are usually well past their ‘growing time’ and require immediate re-potting and attention) at homebase, because i wasn’t sure if i’d be able to take care of them. today there are four of them in the bathroom — the only place in our house that receives maximum sunlight, two little rose plants (yellow and mauve) that praveen gifted on our wedding-day (celebrated every month ;-), my pet ferns, and twelve tomato plants in a huge pot outside.

my love for gardening seems to be growing along with the plants themselves; i find it very calming, and i guess what i like most about them is how they just demand your love. we still look for new plants to buy from the “reduced” sections. because each time i nurse them back to health i cannot help but think this:

amma, i think i have your hands.