Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Time For Replanting

Not too long ago, one could never part the curtains without leaving sullen reference to the windows. Criss-crossed by iron grills, its apple-green paint hides the decrepit apartment facing the room. Uninhabited since I first took refuge, the blight that greets me as the sun casts its first light is a reminder of how despair still looms - over this part of the city.

So I began putting house plants to make use of the available space. I had my reasons. Practical ones that sell even to the dubious of skeptics. Said plants filter dust from the busy highway just a block away. They nodded in approval. They also sprinkle life to a stale room that has become my sanctum.

My heart felt assured.

What I didn't tell even to the closest of confidants is that it filled the void I sensed within. As the Other quietly drifts away, something has to be done to keep my troubled thoughts from getting out and being known.

It was a splendid idea that was months in the making, but was done without any insight to how plants are grown. All I knew is that I looked forward to a breath of fresh air. Something, the herbs give off as their foliage block the sun.

Overnight, the Manila Seedling Bank at the corner of Quezon Avenue and Edsa became my haunting ground. I became acquainted with the different varieties of Mint and Basil, and a handful of other plants whose leaves put the soul at peace.

In the grandest of dreams, I had hoped to cover not only my part of the window, but the untouched veranda at the back of the master's bedroom. I was ready to give time and money for such undertaking, until setbacks came rushing like a torrent of flood held back by crumbling earth dikes.

Hubris has its way of breaking the spirit, and my serving came in steady painful succession. I have gone through the horrors of break-up. Withstood the onslaught of birds, as they found the delectable leaves of Basil more appetizing than after-meal refuse. Mints bloom only to wither without reason and if that's not enough, pestilence gnawed at the stems and roots of some of the first plants I raised on the iron grills.

There are times I would have abandoned the passion, especially when its very purpose disappeared when dissolution leaned towards self-destruction. But I held my ground, knowing that genocide will erase all the hard work I've put into nurturing my hanging garden. I will lose the remnants of my green thumb, and for all the lofty words and hearty promises of not repeating the same cycle, the surviving plants have to live on, bloom, and keep my part of the house verdant no matter the price.

Where there is pocketful of sunshine, leaves churn light into nutrients and tap water lifts sagging stems making them sprightly once more. Entire pots, whose previous tenants have turned dry and brittle were replaced by saplings. And when bird seeds and scarecrows failed to persuade the winged beasts from leaving the shoots unharmed, pointed sticks rose from the ground to deny them a place to land their feet.

Still, much has to be done and while entire plants wither and die, the spirit of creation lives on - every time thoughts of the seedling bank stream into consciousness, or when I pass by some saplings spreading on the ground. Their soundless whispers take me back to a time when I used to pull roots and plant them closer to home.

The Great Caladium Expansion

Thus, life goes on with barren pots being dug up for new plants to occupy, and pruning becomes a discipline whose rewards can only be seen when the sun glistens in droplets edging over the leaves' tips. I may no longer be as driven like when I started gardening, but with humble certainty and grace of wisdom, no longer will an empty, glum space feature prominently every time the curtains parted.

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