Gardening Nurtures the Beauty

Namita Rai

Namita Rai


This summer, the mulberry tree had branched out, forming a canopy over my two adjacent gardens which were laid against the old, colonial dilapidated bungalow. Grandmother would often pick mulberries from the tree and give us its juice. We enjoyed the sweet, tart flavor and savored its taste.
Street children with bare backs would leap over the low boundary wall, not bothering about getting injured by the sharp, pointed triangular glass pieces stuck on the wall, to pick the mulberries, leaving little for us. Even the rusted iron gate was left open, allowing cows, horses, and even donkeys to enter inside and graze. Sometimes they would break the weak wooden fencing and trample over the flower beds.
In one extreme corner of the garden was an old, dry well with its bricked rim covered by overgrowth of grass. I still remember the swing, which was hung around the thick branch of the mulberry tree where my friends awaited their chance to sit on the narrow wooden plank and swing in the air. No wonder my house location was identified by the huge, vibrant garden it possessed!
I awoke to the melodious call of a cuckoo. Suddenly, a cold gust of wind swept through, scattering the loose papers where I had penned my poem titled "Winds of Summer." Jumping out of bed to retrieve them, my attention was captivated by the solitary lavender cosmos blooming under the faint sunlight in the pot on my writing table.
In buoyant spirits, I promised myself to spend time in my garden. The sound of tinkling anklets heralded the arrival of the maid whose daily chores included plucking the mogras and jasmine for the ‘Puja’. As she walked by, the lingering fragrance of the puja flowers filled the air, evoking memories of the 'Gajra' my father used to lovingly present to my mother on their wedding anniversaries. 
Adjacent to the fragrant mogras and jasmine in the garden, a vibrant display of periwinkle and a profusion of colorful lantana in shades of yellow, pink, crimson, and orange caught the eye. This exotic spectacle frequently enticed passersby to pick the colorful blooms. Between the periwinkle and the roses, a lush patch of green grass added to the garden's charm. Grandmother devoted special attention to these roses; among them, "The Evening Glory," a flame-orange variety, had garnered acclaim by winning a prize at a local exhibition.
In another corner, sunflowers from previous years' seeds brightened the garden with their heads turned towards the sun, inviting bumblebees that buzzed and hovered over them. Daffodils, lilies, and hibiscus in white, orange, and red hues swayed with bent necks in the breeze.
Beneath our bare feet, the soft velvety grass and prickly weeds created a ticklish sensation as we walked carefully, avoiding the orange-colored black bugs with black spots that invaded the garden and terrified us. Colorful butterflies with translucent wings fluttered around the garden, sipping nectar from flowers before swiftly circling the bottlebrush tree, almost as if taking vows around its fiery-red, drooping blooms. Occasionally, they would lose their way and venture into our rooms as well.
Walking slowly, I felt a needle-like prick on my ankle. Rubbing the bite mark, my eyes followed the path of ants marching in a straight line, attempting to scale the towering, age-old Ashoka tree at the garden's heart. Nearby children gathered, eager to catch a glimpse of the large black African lizard that seemed to have made the Ashoka tree its permanent residence. Out of nowhere, a lush green creeper had entwined itself around the Ashoka tree.
My visit to the garden felt incomplete until I sat on the solitary, finely sculpted stone bench that had been a steadfast companion through my changing moods. While sitting there in contemplation, I found myself experiencing a strange tranquility, and I couldn't resist writing a few lines.
A foot away, a green bottlebrush plant with its slender spike-like leaves drooped gracefully downward, resembling a newlywed bride with eyes cast demurely downward. Surrounding the bottlebrush tree, an exuberant tangle of lively green ferns flourished, enhancing the garden's splendor with its verdant foliage where green caterpillars often concealed themselves.
Frequently, my sister's friends would visit our home to compile their herbarium files, finding in our garden a miniature botanical sanctuary. This was all thanks to my grandmother's passion for greenery. She skillfully managed to allocate funds from our household expenses to nurture the garden. This mini botanical haven attracted an array of insects, rodents, bats, and a diverse assortment of birds. The rhythmic calls of the cuckoo heralded fresh dawn, promising new beginnings. Nightingales sang, sparrows chirped, and parrots hid in the green foliage.
As the mulberry tree's canopy extended over the adjacent garden, it juxtaposed starkly with its dry trunks, twisted branches, and wild overgrowth of green shrubs, proving the beauty inherent in any corner of nature. I often found an authentic beauty in this imperfect patch of greenery.
No longer did I envy the manicured gardens adorning affluent villas. Instead, my heart found solace in our less-than-perfect garden, which unabashedly bloomed for everyone, spreading happiness and cheer without discrimination.
Even the solitary stone bench held numerous memories of my teenage years. Sitting in the garden, I would often contemplate life's cycles of birth, growth, decay, and its ability to adapt to adversities and differences with harmony and grace. From nature, one learns resilience, patience, perseverance, and adaptability! So why do we humans tend to be insensitive towards nature's bounties as we progress in life? We often forget that we are continuously impacted by their presence on this beautiful planet. It's no wonder my grandmother understood this early in life, instilling in us her passion for gardening not only for its aesthetic value but also for nurturing the beauty of the soul.

4 comments :

  1. A beautiful prose piece with a lyrical candour.

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  2. Lovely elucidation @Namita Rai! Could actually enjoy the garden.

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  3. Very nicely presented and very good vocabs the writer has.....excellent presentation.Good Namita ma'am....looking forward for many more such write ups. congratulation!!

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  4. Thankyou for your generous feedback

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