What was there to see anyway? We never left our own private grounds and all there was to see were acres of coconut trees and mango trees bending over with fruit. There were only a lot of other fruit trees of just about every tropical species, passionately collected by my grandmother (a true plantswoman if ever there was one). At least 4-5 of them would be in bud or flowering or fruiting at any given time ... but who wanted to see that? Not me!
Finally, I would give in and we would set off. I wonder whether you can picture us? A very reluctant child dragging my feet behind my mother, our numerous dogs in tow and wondering when I could possibly say, "okay, now let's go back".
But she would linger, plucking a weed ... and then admiring its flower... pointing out a bird or a squirrel... and all the while she would be fashioning some little craft of her own from the wealth of greenery around us.
(the tribal necklace )
Pulling a leaflet out of a drooping coconut leaf, she would soon turn it into a toy watch and a ring for me. Another would transform into a magical necklace that a tribal princess would have coveted.
And then she would pick up some baby coconuts which had fallen off the tree. A quick tug to remove the 'cap' and she would fit the top of the coconut with some looped and interwoven coconut-leaf ribs. Ta-dah! There was a whirling, twirling toy complete with music (of sorts).
You wanted music? She would quickly roll some coconut leaves into a make-shift trumpet. A blaring sort of music, but still, music all the same ... with a little stretch of imagination.
This was in the pre-TV, pre-PC days with no cartoon programmes or High School shows which become compulsive watching. All I had competing for my attention was a huge pile of books and comics.
Her impromptu crafting finally worked... it got me to look at gardens at least twice. And then, thrice. Until a time came when I got my own garden and decided to see if I could coax some of that beauty and enjoyment from it.
And, when she visits us now, my mother continues to work the same old magic on my city-bred, too-old-for-toys daughter. Some things never change... and thank God for that!
All photos except the first one were taken by my brother, Jagan. All rights reserved.