Mrs. Risbood dropped the spatula on the kitchen counter and scooted towards the garden. Something had hit the guava tree and doddered its leaves. Her breath rate accelerated as she hurried her steps towards the moss covered compound wall that stood beside a sewage stream. As she peeped through the leafy network, she didn't spot a human as she thought she would. But what she saw was a green bee-eater that flapped its quills, doddered the leaves, took off and stood on the roof of the old little house that shone mauve and blush pink in the sunlight.
The garden had sheltered Mrs. Risbood for years and had been her favourite place on the earth. But, it wasn't a delightful place to be in when her son had initially bought it. It lacked the colours of the nature and the pleasant homely feeling. So Mrs. Risbood decided to make it a place worth living. Every morning and evening, she'd swing the blade of the sickle against the base of the weeds and cut through their stems with a sawing action. For the thicket she used the axe. Then in the monsoon, she carried on plantation in her free time. She'd eat a mango and throw the seed in the vacant spaces. She followed the same with the guava, the red pepper, the tomato, the brinjal, the custard apple and the other fruits. Gradually, a small little garden had bloomed in the front and the back yards. Even the space next to the sewage line was lined with topiaries, shrubs and flowering plants.
Mrs. Risbood loved and pampered each of her pet plants. But the favourite amongst them was the pistachio green guava tree that stood by the side of the sewage stream. It didnt have a beautiful shape. Was rather uneven and gibbous. Yet, it had a special aura that attracted everybody towards it. Some liked the chartreuse, lime green, pear green and asparagus green grass that grew around it. Some felt pleasant to sit by its bark with the coldness of the waste water stream. Most were drawn by its fruits, and some by its incomparable pulchritude.
Most of its admirers were children who'd pluck the round fruits that hung on its stems. Mrs. Risbood would shout at them and run them away. But her approach failed when one day a little boy stood by the roadside talking to his friend. The moment their voices reached Mrs. Risboods ears, she popped out of the house.
"The guavas are delicious" she remarked sarcastically, "But you cant get them! I'm standing here behind its branches and I can see you."
"We arent stealing them" said the boys quickly. "We were rather planning to borrow them from you."
The old lady was surprised. She'd seen the grown-ups, the oldies and the youngsters robbing the fruits from her trees. But this had never happened. She lowered her glasses and looked at the boys. One of them had already walked till the compound wall and had spotted a ripe guava.
"Could you please drop that one with a fruit picker granny?" he said gregariously.
The old lady smiled and did what was asked. She was amazed by the affable approach of the little lads.
"Why doesnt your father get fruits for you?" she inquired inquisitively.
"I've lost my father". The lad replied.
Mrs. Risbood felt bad for the little boy. She was even more bothered when she learnt that the boy's mother was a working woman who'd remain away from home for the whole day. The boy would then spend his time alone in the house. It was only when his friend came with a bicycle that he'd be lucky to get a ride in the nearby vicinity.
"I'd come around the same time everyday" the little boy said on receiving a guava from Mrs. Risbood.
"Would you grant us a guava?"
And so Mrs. Risbood would give a guava to each of the boys. At first, the boy would go back home with his friend. But by degrees, he started staying behind ...lingering in the undisturbed places and talking to Mrs. Risbood.
Quite frequently, she'd rest his head on her lap and tell stories of the faraway lands, the birds, the animals and the nature. She'd even tell historic and mythological tales. The bulbul, the yellow canary and the mynah would frequently twist their heads to one side and bow down in an attempt to listen to the stories. But the mischievous and agile squirrel that played around, would only frolic.
When the variety of fruits popped in winter, she'd pluck them and make juice and jam and other recipes and serve him lovingly.
Soon, everything became familiar and friendly. The little weeds that grew around the trees had tiny pink, white, yellow and purple flowers. And it was the first time that he had looked so closely at these delicate, weird shaped yet beautiful blooms. They seemed to him like Lilliputians swaying and nodding their heads at the tutelage of the breeze. Even the blades of the green grass gave them company.
The boy would stretch and rub his feet on the grass ....and feel it soft and pleasing. Kneeling down on it, he'd bend to look at the running water in the sewage canal, and would find a complete world in it! Lined on the borders were mosses, dickweeds, wolffia & hydrilla. Surprisingly, the water was clean enough for the lad to spot the colorful guppies. Quickly, he'd pull some popped amaranth from his pocket and sprinkle it on the water. Within no time, the orange, sea green, silver, golden yellow and bluish shaded rainbow fishes would gather and pick the surface with little pouts. As days passed they got fonder of him and he of them. Every day, at the same time, they'd gather at the same spot and wait for him.
And this was not the end. The different birds that visited the trees, shrubs and the grass had also befriended the boy. The koel that ate the fruits early in the morning, kept his share for the afternoon meal and also sung some melodies. The bulbul that would peck on his head initially, had become relaxed and easy going now. She would allow him to peep into her nest and see her little ones. But the one the boy liked the most was the yellow canary. He was amazed with the pulchritude of his physical self and with his alluring voice. Every day before dawn the yellow bird would blow sweet whistles and sing some songs that were so pleasant to the ears. "It does the same in the mornings" ....Mrs. Risbood once told him.
"Do you know why they sing?" The boy asked one afternoon as he lay on Mrs. Rizbood's lap and she fiddled with his hair.
"Their songs help the tiny buds and leaves to open their curls."
"Would they not un-curl without them singing?"
"God has made them for each other."
This was so unique a thing thought the boy. Could God make two different people ....two different living beings for each other? Like the plants and the birds ...like he and the guava tree, and the other trees in the garden. Like he and the fishes ...and the fishes and the sewage water ...and the water and the trees ......and the little flowers and the bees. And then he and Mrs. Risbood. Was it really that way? The boy had realized that there was a special bond now between him and Mrs. Risbood and with her little garden. Like what Mrs. Risbood said ....made for each other.