Sunday, June 21, 2015

A parent relates how her involvement with a few plants helped her discover the smart parent in her

Lessons from Nature - This article of mine got published in a Saturday issue of  The New Indian Express.

The original appears here....

Shubho, my son, eight years old then, wanted to get a pet - the first animate thing he had asked for! I reminded him that he had to first learn to take care of himself to prove to me that he could be the care-giver for a pet. Later, when Manjula, my domestic help, mentioned how her husband enjoyed gardening during the weekends, I got two pots for me, secretly wishing it would be a good substitute for a pet. One already had a tulsi (basil) sapling. The other was bare, just a good amount of fertile soil in it. “You could grow dhania (coriander), even methi(fenugreek)” Manjula suggested. The seeds were sown with great care, nicely spread out all over the pot, and then covered with loose mud, Shubho curiously hanging around. I was slowly getting drawn into the business of having a sort of kitchen garden.

A few days later when nothing had really happened, I grumbled “There’s no growth here.” What could have gone wrong? Manjula said calmly “Maybe the seeds were not that great….” I was disappointed though she kept my hopes alive. “Sometimes they take time…” Suddenly one day she pointed out a few whitish green tiny structures that had sprung up here and there in the plant less pot! I was thrilled. But so few! At least two dozens of seeds had gone beneath the top layer of the soil, I thought. The same evening I told Shubho, “Well, if you could water the pots regularly, it would be great!”, half knowing it would eventually become my job. No wonder I didn’t allow him to keep a pet!

I kept thinking that the methi seeds seemed to have been devoured by the soil completely and the dhanias were not making good progress. Manjula softly mentioned that they needed the same care that a newborn infant needs. “Nothing in excess - the sunshine, the water.” Soon a basket with holes, that held potatoes and onions in the kitchen, was delicately placed over the pot with those tiny new lives – Manjula’s idea again! “The holes would allow in just the right amount of sun and protect the tiny precious ones from the water rushing down on them.”

Strangely, my son, a smart city kid, with little appreciation for greenery and all that, had begun taking good care of the saplings, rarely forgetting to water them. Had he realized the little precious lives depended all on him? And to think that he disliked doing anything that meant routine! He was visibly happy and excited with the way things were moving. He had not really expected anything. Zero expectations could bring on so much of happiness! As for me, I had given up hopes of the methis coming up, when one fine morning, Manjula again discovered them. Tiny, very tiny methi shoots stood proudly, looking at us. When had they erupted? How did overloaded Manjula get the time to stop and look? Numerous fresh dhania shoots too had risen up from the same pot! They were all coming up, one by one – slowly but surely - when the time was just ‘right’, each growing at its own pace.

The monsoon showers are doing their bit of watering the pots now and then though rarely does Shubho forget his duty. Next time he asks for a pet, maybe I should agree.......Till a few weeks back I didn’t really know what patience meant. Till recently, Manjula had come across as an ignorant maid. And the soft, dutiful side of my naughty, happy-go-lucky, city-spoilt son has suddenly shone up bright and clear. Have the changes come in us with the shoots emerging and growing? Or did we have it in us just as the seeds were there inside the soil?

I have more of me in my book Rays and Rains (e-book available at a much lower price).
Rays and Rains

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