At first glance, you could barely see them, but they shimmered happily in the first rays of sunlight and my heart lifted with joy at the miracle of nature.
At first, I didn’t think they would survive. “What survives in the stone?” I asked myself. But two days later, I found them with a brighter green. My heart softened. My hands were itching to find a potty and give them a new home. But, babies probably wouldn’t be able to take a shock, I thought. I had to wait. I had to learn to let nature give them a bit of sunshine so they could take root and grow strong.
A week passed. Seedlings looked promising. The leaves got bigger and their smiles widened, a sign that they were fine. I thought of all the best places in my garden for them to unfold, the best homes they could bring joy to.
That evening, I told a group of my friends about basil plants. “Let’s see,” urged one. We walked while my head was busy imagining their reactions – their happy faces, their surprised gasps. When we got to the sidewalk, a sharp shock hit my eyes. In a corner near the bushes, there was a pile of greenery. I cracked up in horror.
All my dreams crashed in an instant. A worker had probably uprooted them – in his attempt to clear the weeds. Maybe I should have taken them when I had the chance? Maybe I should have protected them with a railing? Maybe I should have put up a sign? Or should I have watched better? I thought of a million things I could have done and I blamed myself all the more.
A dry area greeted me the next morning. The uprooted plants lay piled up in one corner – life slowly escaping from them. The leaves were soft and the roots were soft. I sifted through them with my fingers. There were weeds, grass and succulents. Finally, I saw the basil that had been pulled out. The plants were droopy but something seemed different.
Were they still alive? My heart raced. I looked a little more and lo and behold – I found them. Living. Five of them. I had to work fast – my brain was thinking of ways to cure them. I didn’t want to give them individual houses. No. I wanted other plants to shower them with plant love, give them hope, and inspire them to grow. I searched around for large pots with beautiful plants that could make room for these babies.
I drilled a few holes and patched them. I sprinkled water. I said a prayer. I whispered a little hope and hummed a tune. Within minutes, the babies had found new friendly plants to grow with. All I could do now was wait and watch.
A week passed. I noticed how the leaves were slowly smiling again – now with a wider smile. The saplings looked healthy and the stems looked taut. I laugh as I watch them toss their tiny crowns against the wind. It was perfect and the bees soon started buzzing around them.
This morning, while chatting with basil friends, I looked around and gasped. A small plant which had probably escaped the eyes of the workman stood in the middle of the gravel. I laughed.
Sometimes the most unlikely things happen – hope has a way of quitting even when you’re not looking for it. I love this bright day filled with so much hope. These seedlings taught me never to give up on my dreams.
Sudha Subramanian is an author and writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @sudhasubraman