Friday, 2 November 2007

A Tribute To Mama and our Old Garden


My mother had lots and lots of gardens at the house we grew up in. Among others, there was a special rose garden that we were banned from since we always stomped our way through causing havoc, picking out all the flowers. Also, the thorns sucked so we were happy to settle for admiring them through the dining room windows while having breakfast each morning before school.


She also had these amazing rock gardens which we invaded. They were great for playing in ….there was also a brilliant Nandi Flame tree that had awesome flowers and dropped these amazing orange seeds we collected for absolutely no reason at all…. the pepper trees were great but one always ran the risk of a fat hairy caterpillar falling plop on your head(depends on how bad one wanted to swing really) and the avocado tree which we climbed up to spy on the neighbor's kids (this was before we discovered MONEY and that we could harvest and sell the avocado's at the market but that is another story).


Waaaaay before I came into the happy family picture, my mum was relaxing in the house taking a few breaths from an otherwise overactive child AKA my big brother...this must have been late 60's. If truth be told he had thrilling adventures each day of his early life. So many incidences like having a bean up his nostril (and it germinated because he was too chicken to say, eventually after pain and horrible discoveries it had to be surgically removed), to poking knitting needles in the power socket to see the sparks fly and still be alive to tell the tale…well so you can imagine as she took a pause in her rigorous routine…that silence (rather no screams, wails or annoyed neighbors calling) was precious in the otherwise chaotic life of raising a hyper toddler.


But then, the house was too quiet and in no time she was up and frantic shouting out my brother's name wondering what he could be up to (this is a scientific fact by the way, silence and mischief go hand in hand, ask parents).


He wasn't with the usual suspects (pet dog in its kennel)and not in the familiar places so she went out to the veranda to look around and sighed with relief to see him playing in the garden peacefully. she heard him cooing and giggling (a very cute belly laughter we hear) and wondering what he was up to.


That's when she saw it. Its body glistened in the high noon sun and it was as fat as her arm.


A snake.


It slithered round my brother and he was so fascinated by it he lifted and played with it (the kind of games only kids and fools can play with otherwise dangerous animals) and threw it down and laughed and laughed and laughed…..mum almost had a coronary there as the serpent slithered and twined itself in and around her son's body…her mouth went dry and she tried but could not call out my brother to get away from the danger he was facing. He turned around then to meet my mum's terrified gaze and said,


"Mama look! My friend!" pointing at the horrid creature.


My mum beckoned frantically for him to move away to come into the house ….but my brother didn't see the fuss and blatantly ignored the orders.


My mum ran to the phone called my dad and promptly announced to him that by the time he got home his only child would be dead. Then she rang the emergency number asked the cops and fire brigade that her son was in mortal danger and was playing with a snake in her garden.


Now …now, I must take a pause and explain to you the scenario.


We grew up in a small town with little or no exceptional activity and everyone knew everyone else. So a frantic emergency call from a mum in the suburbs was perhaps the highlight of that month. Picture this, the police, fire brigade and wildlife rangers zooming across town and a panicky father racing home to face the worst.


When the convoy got there my mum was that time was really in no state so she just pointed toward my brother and was led away…it could get ugly. Then the rangers tackled the business at hand…


Luck was on their side because like all kids the sirens and lights got his attention. He tried to get up and go see the fuss growing by the second at the front yard …the snake settled heavily on his lap and he was having a hard time getting the new pal off. The rangers realized it was a puff adder and desperation set in…the snake was miffed by the activity going on around him and was fretting. But my brother tough nut that he is yanked the forgotten friend off and zoomed toward the ambulance and police cars oblivious to the pee-inducing terror he caused everyone. Mum and baby were united.


Till today we don't know why that snake didn't take a nip being a viper and all …perhaps it just figured he is a kid and cut him slack.


Either way, my bro is a real true champion (even today)….and so was my mother for that matter who raised 4 hell raisers and still maintained her awesome elegant calmness and mesmerizing beauty...oh and we cannot forget her sanity…


A tribute to you Mama


1943-2000

Rest In Peace


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