Growing up, we lived in a house where the water seeped through the walls every monsoon. As the water crept through the layers of cement and plaster, it left sorry marks behind, like careless trails of paint down an artist’s brush.
My parents were simple folks who worked hard for a living and raising a family, and then slept peacefully at night. They had little time for hobbies, whether for themselves or their children.
The sum of these two paragraphs is the fact that we never really had a garden growing up. We lived on the first floor and had a terrace, but due to the leakage we could not have potted plants there. There was a slice of land downstairs where our entrance gate was, which had a hibiscus plant belonging to our next-door neighbour. We never planted anything there. In fact, the only plant that grew happily in our house was the tulsi, which is a medicinal herb revered in the Hindu religion, hence finds a spot of worship in every Bengali house. Sometime, perhaps when I was in college or my early years of work life, someone told my mother that money plant was lucky for families and would bring in money. So, it was duly added to our scant “garden”.
Anyways, in November last year, we started renovating the house. We chiselled away the leaky layers of plasters and re-did the cementing. The house got a thorough coat of greenish-grey paint. We decided to have a small garden near our entrance area, where the hibiscus plant is. Our neighbours do not stay in the house next door anymore, so that area is no longer in use (my mother dutifully picks up the hibiscus flowers for her daily prayers though).
This week, while I was home, we finally ended up hiring some help to dig the soil, irrigate it and layer it with a dash of organic fertiliser. I went to a nearby nursery and bought a few plants: a red rose, an orange gerbera, a snake plant and a rubber plant. I also had a quick visit to one of our neighbour’s house, who is a veteran gardener. She had a whole array of plants, perhaps over thirty in variety. I scanned those and decided on two to add to our collection (since I left for college and thereafter work-life, I hardly spend too much time at home. So, I do not have express permission from my parents to leave a whole lot of plants behind me that they have to take care of): chilly saplings and a succulent from her garden. The next morning, our neighbour brought those in.
I had the happiest time setting up the plants in their new homes and watering them for couple of days. One of the chilly saplings grew limp in the same afternoon that I planted it, and I was able to recover it with some watering. The rubber plant was also curling up with the strong sun, so I put a shade of newspaper to support it for a few days.
Here are some snaps from our mini garden:
As I write this, sitting thousands of feet above the ground on my flight back to Bangalore, my only regret is I didn’t get a lot of time to spend with the plants. Wouldn’t it have been great if I could stay one more week and wake up each morning to water the plants?
On the bright side, the next time I am home, I’d be back to a lovely garden ecosystem, with bigger, stronger plants. Some of the plants may disappear, but I am quite sure most of them would survive. Wouldn’t that be lovely too?