As I sit here in my 12th-floor apartment in Toronto, thousands of miles away from my beloved homeland India, I read Mark Paul’s letter from his garden and my thoughts flew homeward to Dehradun, a beautiful, once-sleepy town situated on the foothills of the Himalayas.
Living in an apartment is new to me. I have a beautiful view of Lake Ontario from this beautiful and bright apartment, but I miss the warmth of my cozy and welcoming cottage at home, with the pretty lace curtains gently blowing in the wind, shooing away the bees and wasps that seek the cool interiors.
This is the middle of April and my garden must be a riot of colors. The roses, dianthus, pansies, petunias, and poppies must be in their brilliant and best attire coaxing the honeybees to visit them. My lychee trees must be loaded with green fruit which will soon turn to red as they ripen and put forth plump and juicy lychees (a fruit that grows in abundance in the Doon Valley). My mango trees must be festooned in blossoms promising a generous crop of the sweetest Dussehri mangoes that are native to the place. I’m not there and I long for these blessings or luxuries.
My mind wanders to the bare Gul Mohr tree where the parrots, a brilliant green in relief to the brown branches, gather—hundreds of them—each evening to chatter and shriek. They are discussing the events of the day. I could almost read what they were saying. And then, as if by some unseen signal, they would all fly away in different directions to their nests and perhaps to their nestlings, to settle in for the night.
The sound of birdsong that woke me every morning is now replaced by the banging and clattering of the garbage trucks in the lot downstairs. I long for the day when I return home again and sit on my veranda, my faithful dogs beside me, a mug of coffee in hand watching the dawn of a newborn day, looking at my vegetable patch and pondering what to get my cook to make for my lunch. The luxury of having garden fresh organically grown vegetables is now a distant dream.
I wonder if my ‘monkey brigade’ still visits my garden. Led by a fierce and aggressive male, this band of monkeys would come over the wall and into my garden every morning looking for fruit to eat. This brings to mind an incident. One day when the ‘visitors’ arrived they set upon a bush of bright red very pungent chili peppers in the garden. They happily surrounded the bush and began plucking the chilies and when they tasted the chilies all hell broke loose. They went on the rampage and uprooted all the chili plants in my garden. I never planted chilies again.
Homesick and lonely, I pray that this deadly virus that has robbed me and the world at large of the few joys of life will be defeated—never to return again.