My dad grafted this Chiku Tree, and my grandpa attended to her while she was taking root.
Come Lunar New Year, my youngest uncle prunes her to renew her, and my mother and her sisters dress her in red khata and red lanterns to celebrate Life.
Over the years this Tree has given many of her fruits, enough for the birds and humans to enjoy. There is no conflict. Cats file their claws on her trunk & branches. There is no complaint.
On New Year’s day, my brother pointed out the budding shoots that were emerging from the nodes on branches.
I sat under her newly trimmed branches to speak to my dad and my grandparents, and to thank the Chiku Tree for staying alive so that our family members may gather under her numerous loving arms year after year.
“You walk very well,” the lady on the motorised scooter addressed me heartily when I greeted her.
We were on our way out of the orchid gardens when we met. From a distance she looked like a pink blob.
But upclose, she was fully coordinated spotting a face mask and comfortable cotton frock of bandung pink while her thick silvery hair was held in a neat bun by a pair of pink tiger lilies clasp. A circular brooch of antique gold resembling a Flower of Life caught the morning sun and sparkled attractively atop her shoulder.
I felt like hugging her. But in the current climate I wasn’t sure how my gesture would be perceived.
“Thank you! You look amazing!” I said to her, hoping she could pick up the sincerity in my voice.
Earlier on in the pavilion, a soft breeze had risen as I offered the bottled coconut juice which was given to me to the Sky and Earth first before I took my sip. (I saw this practice in a mongolian documentary)
As the pink vision receded steadily from my view under the wide open sky, I had the feeling that I did not just compliment a handicapped lady, but a goddess on her chariot making the rounds in her gardens. ❤️😊
Be it material or spiritual attainments, it’s natural for us to seek the best. And when it comes to viewing highly elusive creatures such as birds, we earthlings strive for the closest distance to catch a glimpse of them.
At the “King of The Skies,” show at Jurong Bird Park yesterday, we had been assigned seats that would bring us up close and personal with raptors, vultures, eagles and kites.
But noting my walking cane, the young usher kindly suggested that my friends and I took the upper tier of the spectator stand. The “good” seats would require us to descend a number of steps.
I took the usher’s advice and my friends gamely gave up their choice seats to join me.
And this was how we came to settle under a beautiful tree whose emerald branches laced the sky of azure blue.
I remember thanking the tree silently as I took pictures of my friends smiling against his verdant backdrop.
When the show started, one by one, the Brahminy Kite, which was one of my friends’ favourite birds, flew from their handlers and came to perch on the branches right above us!
Raising my face, I saw the underbelly of the Brahminy Kite. Holding my breath, my eyes drank in the distinct markings of warm browns, black linings and pristine white torso of the creature.
We couldn’t have gotten better seats than these, I screamed inwardly.
Over the years, my weakened leg has taught me to see clearly and not to feel bitter or shortchanged by the limitations that come along with it. Speed is important, but it’s not the only thing or everything to worthwhile living.
As the ancient poet Rumi says, “What you seek is seeking you,” and in my case, regardless of physical barriers, has happened to me many times before, and yesterday at the Jurong Bird Park again.
And because I’ve experienced the grace of this particular Rumi wisdom, extremes such as the fastest, and the latest or even the best cannot make me feel unseated easily.
The pot of desert rose plant I brought home on 1st February is in full bloom.
A month ago, to manage my expectations, the seller told me that desert rose plants are hardy but their flowering depend on other factors.
I assured her I would be grateful if it survived my care. The flowering would be a bonus. I paid her $18, carried the pot and made the short walk home.
Except for the knowledge from google , I have little experience in desert rose care.
So even when it started budding around mid-February, I didn’t dare expect too much for fear of disappointment.
And bud by bud, the desert rose came.
The whole experience has given me the chance to face my fear of disappointments and living things dying on me.
While searching for a quote to honour this plant’s teaching, I came across catholic writer, Henri Nouwen’s writing on the discipline of being surprised by joy.
After reading his thoughts I realised in bracing myself for disappointments and suffering, I have forgotten about joy! And being joyful is as much an effort as being able to handle pain.
I shall close this post with Nouwen’s quote in full to do justice to the man’s profundity and the desert rose’s inspirations within a month of being with me.
“Learn the discipline of being surprised not by suffering but by joy. As we grow old . . . there is suffering ahead of us, immense suffering, a suffering that will continue to tempt us to think that we have chosen the wrong road. . . . But don’t be surprised by pain. Be surprised by joy, be surprised by the little flower that shows its beauty in the midst of a barren desert, and be surprised by the immense healing power that keeps bursting forth like springs of fresh water from the depth of our pain.” – Henry Nouwen
To be like these leaves, solid enough to withstand the elements, yet translucent at the same time to let Light through might be how glowing softly from within looks and feels like.
Emerald and jade jewellery have to be cut & polished before they can shine.
Likewise our pride needs to be broken before we can listen. Our thoughts need to be polished before they can be spoken. And maybe after all these, there may be space for Light to pass through, and we acquire the assuring glow of the leaves.
Strong winds this morning toppled the pot of fern that has been with me since 2012.
Even in their fallen state, there was a certain elegance about the ferns.
I trimmed off the bits that had broken off and put them in the little bronze vase from Nepal. Then I arranged the leaves into a mandala for the full moon, with a painted pebble from New Zealand in the centre to represent animate and inanimate beings.
May the fullness of the moon inspire us to see wholeness even in broken things, to feel belonged even when alone and to be kind even when we’re not in the mood to be so.
Today is new moon and also World Turtle Day. A critically endangered hawksbill turtle was sighted coming onto Singapore shore to lay her eggs.
She spent about 2 hours on the East Coast Park beach before covering her contributions with sand and swimming out to sea.
This evening I received gifts of fruits, bread, noodles & soup.
Around this time in 2011, Ron and I took our first trip to Nepal.
It was the mango season then.
It is not something to be taken for granted that the same friend who lugged mangoes back to our hotel that day sent me mangoes this evening 9 years later.
I remember vividly Ron & I eating mangoes by the dusty window of Hotel Harati in Thamel in silent gratitude as cars honked madly on the street below.
This stay home imposition has provided me the grounding I need to recall & process lots of stuff.
May the new moon open our eyes to see our own buried past clearly, so that we can gather compassion & wisdom to move forward. And as the scales fall off our eyes in the new moon light, may we develop the courage to look at our own movies, instead of just the ones on Netflix.
May the new moon also refresh our ears even as our mouths are masked shut, so that we can listen better to ourselves and to others, before we speak.