Monday, October 09, 2017

Planting memories

This may be repetition because this blog has been around for so long. It’s the story of my not green thumbs and a memory.

One of my most vivid memories of my childhood is a day when my mother received a letter from my father informing her that he was fine but had been mugged in the African city he was in. The look on my mums face and the delicate way in which she shared that news with me is imprinted in my brain. The same night we were scheduled to join some friends for a midnight picnic. This was in the safe old days of the early 80s and there were 10-15 families in the enterprise so a woman with just her two kids would have safety in numbers. I don’t remember how we got there but that night we were in  Lodhi Gardens, the laughter of families, picnic rugs and a feast at the ready. There were lots of older kids to watch the younger ones and I had a great time despite my worry about my parents. I remember thinking how unfair it was that we were all having so much fun and how big and untouched all these plants were when my dad could be hurt and my mum definitely was. I surreptitiously stomped on and pulled at lthe grass and plucked flowers and leaves - trying to hurt something else to pass  along my confusion. We picnic’d in the cool swaying night breeze and I brought home the smallest bit of a cactus plant and the memory of my mothers worried face as her friends tried to reassure her that my dad would be fine. 

That cactus plant is the only thing I have ever managed to grow. It was in a small pot for a long time and as it grew it moved to a larger one before finding a spot in the garden where it took on tree like proportions and had to eventually be disposed off for being a hazard.

Forward to many years later and it’s been proven without a doubt that the cactus only grew because of its inherent sturdiness. It had nothing to do with me; in fact it grew in spite of me. And from my teens and into adulthood I have tried everything from money plants to chillies and tomatoes to succulents and they always show promise but eventually perish. I’ve learnt the hard way to leave the growing of things to V and my helper J who are successfully growing herbs and succulents (I didn’t know I could drown them) and big flowering plants on my balcony. None of the work, all of the joy. 

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