Sunday, 10 July 2016

Nature.... My Teacher.
This universe, the nature, is filled with beautiful messages, only we need to have an open and receptive mind and heart to learn or enjoy. May be because of my very rural background I am extremely attached to nature and very passionate about the five elements. They cheer me up and lift my spirits. As a result the tiniest of rustic and earthly things give me a world of pleasure whereas the big worldly materials hardly entice me.

I think I have taken this trait from my mother. She was also very close to the nature, the plants and the fauna. She wanted to grow everything, having been born and brought up  in still interior village. Always the rustic and primitive trees, plants fruits and flowers fascinated us. For example when we were in Raichur, I used to love these fruits we used to call “ Farm Hunasekai”, which I have never seen since leaving that place except may be once or twice when I had visited some remote villages. How I long for that fruit even now!  And then used to thrive on Bore hannu, Mavinakai,  Seebe kai, Badami hannu and what not!

That craving, that yearning still persists. You take me to big malls with fancy cakes, chocolates and ice creams, they just appear to me as good artistic creations. But drive me through a farm or village and I salivate looking at every plant of fruit and vegetable!

And my mother understood this. Everyday when I was back from school, some wonderful aroma of fruit would be inviting me. Worried that I would refuse to eat food if I am given fruits, she would hide them, but boy, can she hide their aroma! I would insist that there are fruits in the house and I want them and with a pseudo-ire she would take out the vessel on the condition that I get them only after I ate my lunch.

Being the youngest of the five children, I had certain special privileges. On the way back from school in Hospet, a town with sugar factory, there used to be a sugarcane vendor. You would get an entire length of cane for all of ten paises. At least once or twice a week, I used to have that sweet sugar cane craving and my mom would send my sister or brother with me to buy sugarcane. Unlike present times, we never used to cut them with knife. Both myself and my mother would enjoy the sugar cane biting them with our bare teeth. And at such rendezvous she would narrate the tales of how as a young village girl, she would enjoy the fruits in her native village.

Coming from a very tiny backward village, she was made to wear a saree at a tender age of 10. She along with her friends would stealthily run to the farm, pick the Mangoes, Jamun fruits guava etc and carry them in her pallu and eat at a village well and then run to the house. Unfortunately, her pallu used to be give away, carrying all the colours of her fruits and made her mother very angry. Ajji would admonish her, but her anger would last barely for a few minutes, she being very well aware of her daughter's craving for fruits. We used to grow Jowar and in our Raichur house there used to be hoards of gunny bags filled with grains, which my mother used to barter for fruits. Yes! Back then in the sixties the barter system still existed. We used to buy fruits with our grains!
And this love for nature, fruits and fauna blessed both me and my mother with a green thumb. Whenever we ate fruits, the seeds inside never felt as waste to us. Even if we just threw them in soil it would grow into a beautiful plant! Look at this Jackfruit sapling which has come out from the seed I have thrown last month!

And these plants have been my teachers. Constantly giving me the lessons of life, helping me to look at the world in a very pragmatic and positive way, always filling  me with hope and a very positive energy. Like a mother, in a subtle way  they impart those quality lessons which make one look at life,  at the world in a very realistic yet optimistic way.

I would narrate how a few of the plants taught me the lessons of life.

Back in 2000-2001, when I got a little time after my first pregnancy and child birth, I had bought my first set of Crysanthamam - sevanthige plants from Indo American Hybrid seeds. The saplings were sold at a very small price of 5 rupees each and they were of exceptionally good quality. Within a few months, it was
Shravana Maasa, a festive season and for Swarnagowri Vratha, my plants were blooming with hundreds of beautiful flowers in tiny plants. They were the cynosure of all the eyes. And after a month or so, all the flowers shriveled. Unable to bear the emptiness, I bought a new set. After a few months the companionship took a break as it was the time for the arrival for my daughter.
And recently, when I restarted my gardening, at Ramakrishna Ashram a lady was selling the sevanthige plants. Longingly I held them, but then more than addressing her, I uttered to myself, “ Once the flowers stop blooming, the plants will also go.”  To my surprise she smiled indulgently at me and told me that once the flowering season was over, I am supposed to cut the stems at the base to allow fresh leaves and flowers. To my extreme delight, it has turned out to be true.

Ain't it a lesson for me? Neither to cry over spoiled milk nor to break a relation that has gone sour, but to cut the negative thoughts, memories and feelings at the root and allow fresh feelings to grow and pass on???

And then there are Cosmos flowers, my favorite because of their vibrant colors and the very very easy way to grow and maintain. You just have to have one plant and within months your garden will be full of new plants and flowers. As with the chrysanthemum, when my first plant of Cosmos started to dry, I tried to adopt the same method. Alas, you can't have the same medicine for all the diseases!
At that time I had a chance to visit the Gurukula, a Vedic School near Kanakapura. The first thing that caught my eyes when I landed there were not only the colorful cosmos plants and flowers, but the fact that the plants had all grown very tall and almost all of them were green. With a frown I entered the Gurukula and what welcomed me was a beautiful bowl, filled with water and decorated with colorful Cosmos. Yes! The Newton in me said Eureka!!! Unlike chrysanthemum, I am not supposed to cut the stem at the root waiting till the flowers and plants shriveled, but to cut the flowers as soon as they bloom, leaving only a few for seeds so that the plant retains its greenery and glory!

What it taught me? Don't let your ideas, thoughts and dreams go stale! Use them, nurture and them let them flourish. So that more and more new ideas and hopes are born!

Look at these tiny little plants on my slope roof. Leave alone going there, I can't even reach them to mend or water them or care them in any way. How did they grow there?

Let me take you through an anecdote. This was a very very old incident. Long back when my son was barely three years old. One day when I came back from office, he was nowhere to be seen at home. On inquiring, I was told that he was upstairs playing with his cousins. It was a three storied house and he had never gone to play there. A bit concerned, I went upstairs and what I saw there made my head spin. The blood rushed to my head and my heart was in my mouth. While the other children were playing on the terrace, he sat there, enjoying their game on the parapet wall with his legs sprawled on both sides!!!

I was terrified to even think what his reaction would be if he senses my arrival and turns or tries to get down. With my heart pounding in my chest and palms wet with sweat running all over my body, I walked as fast as I could and held him tight. I was extremely grateful to God for saving my kid but the fear lingered.

In my new house there is a parapet wall above the slope roof and if anybody so much as go near the wall or try sitting there I can't even bear to stand there. So to discourage anybody from sitting there, I have arranged tiny pots there with Tulasi plants. And as I told earlier, Cosmos plants breed themselves and some had grown along with these Tulasi plants.

And then there came my ancestors, all adventurous and doing monkey business. These un-welcomed guests would arrive at their will not only ruining my plants but also my peace of mind. One day there was a blank in the row of the Tulasi plants and as I was in a hurry I didn't think much. But on a Sunday when I was mending my plants leisurely and walking around the terrace, I was surprised to see Cosmos flowers smiling up at me from the slope roof! While Monkeys were playing mischief around, the pot must have slipped there, but the tiny plant had not only survived the ordeal, but also was growing and flowering!!!

Troubles and problems are part of life but the thrill, the pleasure you experience when you overcome them has to be experienced to be believed. Even in the plants and fauna, there is this grit to survive. So when there is strength and willingness to fight back and survive, there is nothing that can stop you. Period.

Look at these three bitter gourds. All grown by me in the same creeper. From the same seed. watered and tended equally. Without any bias. Then why are they so different? You can't even blame fate or luck :-)  So whom are you going to blame? The fate? The caretaker? They all had the same soil, same genes, same environment and the same care. Still they grew differently. Is in internal strength, the will or what's it?

The message, the lesson???

Change what you can't accept and accept what you can't change.