With the day of their arrival drawing near, our worry grew bigger. Contours of concern were visible on my wife's face. Five months ago, my elder brother and his wife had gone to London after his retirement, leaving their immaculate terrace garden in our care. The garden was in bloom at that time for each plant had been nurtured like a child.
It was routine with my brother to head for the terrace on waking up. In fact, he liked to be served his 'bed tea' there. He spent hours arranging the flowerpots, tending to plants, mixing manure and planting saplings. He would ignore repeated calls from his wife to come down for breakfast.
Despite my brother's passion for gardening, I could not develop much interest in his venture. No wonder the garden he was once so proud of was now in a shambles. And now, he was returning from London to his beloved paradise.
The problem was when we learnt of his plan to return, the garden resembled a paradise lost. The flowers had withered away, pots were cracked thanks to the neighbourhood 'rooftop cricketers' and plants looked wasted for want of care and water. The garden was in a mess.
After the usual blame game, my wife and I went into the damage control mode. We had to bring the garden back to life. With time at our disposal limited to barely a month, we began taking contingency measures. My wife rushed to buy saplings from the vendor with a 'rehri' full of seasonal plants. In her euphoria, she not only bought 10 saplings, without bargaining, but also managed to get some gardening tips.
The next day as I was getting ready for office, she instructed: "Don't forget to bring at least 20 flowerpots on the way back. Ask the office boy to arrange for some good soil too, and try to come home early."
I followed her instructions faithfully. That evening, we planted the saplings in the pots and arranged them in a pattern on the terrace. The next morning, both of us virtually rushed to the terrace to water the plants. It was a satisfying experience to watch the tendrils grow, buds blossom and shrubs grow. As we toiled together, a feeling of belongingness with nature grew within us. Slowly, the garden was blooming. The sight of a new flower would fill our hearts with joy. The neighbours were amazed at our new found love for gardening.
My brother's flight landed well past midnight. During our conversation on the way back, he casually enquired about the terrace garden. We exchanged smiles. The next morning as he headed for the terrace, my wife and I followed him with cups of tea in hand. The smile of satisfaction on his face brought tears to our eyes. They were tears of joy.
Then on, my brother has taken a sort of retirement from his gardening venture. Perhaps, he is satisfied that the garden on the roof is now in safe hands.