Thursday, May 9, 2013

The weed with the yellow flowers....

Our first rental home in Perth was a small blue cottage on a busy road. While most people here would find the noise from the street annoying, I quite enjoyed it. It reminded me of India. Of course there was no pile of foul-smelling garbage, rickshaws in all their bright-coloured glory, cows crossing the road in snail pace, the all-too-familiar cycle honk, roadside vendors selling tea and deep fried pakodas, kids (who should be in school) running around shirt-less to sell flower garlands, street dogs happily mating in the middle of the street and finally, grey smoke from the cars to cast its spell over all the hustle bustle. None of that. So, I settled for the noise and decided that I loved it.

At home for a month without internet or a phone connection was like solitary confinement. Worse, actually....because at least they serve food in the prisons. Here, I had to cook it myself. At one point, I decided to send back all the hired furniture.....because buying them would cost us less. But we could only go out and buy new furniture over a weekend, as A would be away at work on week days. Unfortunately, the hire-furniture company picked everything up on a Thursday. So, I spent two days at home with no furniture. I had one pillow, one bed sheet set (probably a wedding gift), some basic utensils and plastic cutlery, my clothes and The Namesake. I sat on the floor, resting against the wall  for hours, gazing out of the window at the busy road. When the backache was too much to bear, I walked up to the street and sat on a bench at the bus stop. At least these benches had back rests and I could sit there undisturbed for hours. But the bus drivers would pull over, thinking I had somewhere to go. I smiled and waved, to indicate that I wasn't going anywhere. I had had no human interaction for days, except with A when he got back from work or the phone calls I made to India, every alternate day. So waving at bus drivers was turning out to be quite exciting! But when the same bus drivers came back on their next trip, they looked at me with suspicion (thinking I was up to no good). So I decided to stay at home, on the floor with my pillow and read The Namesake for the third time.

I never enjoyed cooking. I still don’t. So I lived on Maggie, or dal/rice or ghee/rice or sandwiches. When A came back from work, we would cook dinner together and eat on our plastic plates, sitting on the floor. He would tell me about work, his colleagues, his trips to the city at lunch time, the food court and the car showrooms he had stopped at. I’d tell him about the bus drivers and how my backache was getting worse. Then, we would sleep on our bed sheet and share the pillow.

I realised I could make myself a little more useful until we got internet connection at home (and I started looking for jobs). So, I focused on our backyard. It had plants …some in pots and others in the garden beds. They were nothing like the ones we have in India, except that they were green too. Some had bright yellow flowers, and these were my favourites. I watered them and trimmed them occasionally. Our landlady would be delighted to see how well I had maintained them, I thought.

But when the landlady did come for an inspection, she nodded her head in disapproval. “You have to keep the garden weed free. Look at all this mess!” I was confused. Mess? I thought it was beautiful. Apparently, my favourite plant with the yellow flowers was a weed. I had been nurturing a weed with such care….for so long! Clearly, I had a lot to learn. So I decided to go back to The Namesake for the fourth time.

It’s been five years since then. We no longer live on a busy road. I don’t have to leave home for a comfortable seat. I have a job and 10 pillows. I don’t rely on bus drivers for human interaction. I have a few friends and acquaintances, and more stories to share than that of my backache. I still don’t enjoy cooking….but I can tell the difference between a weed and a plant.

On completing my fifth year in this country, I realise that Australia has been no less than a university to me…and it taught me the most important lesson in life..."One person's weed is another person's flower".

The weed with the yellow flowers....


Mssha said...

I loved this post. You are a nurturer by nature and it made me so grateful to you all over again, because when we came to Bangalore, you lent us two bedsheets, two pillows and a pot and a pan. That was all I had until the furniture arrived, and I would make tea in the pan, wash it, make dal again, wash it and make begunbhaja, again. How our lives have changed. In five years, so much. God bless you. I hope life always smiles on you like a flower.

Anonymous said...

Such a wonderful post, D! I used to lurk at your blog every other day hoping you'd written something new, because they always made me feel happy and contented. I came by after a long time today and was so glad to see a post I hadn't read before. Hope you're fine. Please write more often. Love, Paromita