Amit being the never-say-die kind of person, after we successfully saw two pots of petunias into their grave, he went right out and bought a third one. This time, we were smarter. Instead of planting the plant, we left it in the pot. The thinking was, if it doesn’t do well with too much sunlight, we can move it somewhere else until we find a place that’s just right. And when it looks quite settled and happy in a place, we can plant it, and then if it dies, it’s probably unhappy about being taken out of its pot, or it doesn’t like the new (and fairly lifeless) soil it finds itself in.
The thing is, this creature is looking so radiant right now, in its pot, in sunlight, just around the corner from where the other one died, that I don’t have the heart to disturb it. Maybe we’ll just leave it alone for a while.
Everything else in the garden is doing well – or at least holding its own. The cannas have new plants and new leaves. The frangipani had two of its leaves callously knocked off by the workers who are putting some finishing touches on the house; but it went on to give no less than four new leaves from the other dead-looking stump. The curry patta has another set of tiny green leaves. One of the neem trees is growing so fast it’s scary (the other one seems to have stalled). The three bougainvilleas are in various stages of growth, one full of leaves, one full of flowers, and the third with very few of either, but still alive, still growing. I had placed some verbena and pink flower pots near the jasmine, but the jasmine didn’t seem to like being crowded – its flowers went a sulky brown color – so I moved them away and now it’s looking a little happier. Amit bought and planted some geraniums – the first thing he’s been able to plant here – and they’re doing ok so far.
The only other matter of any interest is the lemon tree. One day I found several of its leaves missing. They didn’t look as if they’d fallen off, and the plant didn’t look as if it were shedding leaves, so I thought they’d been eaten. Sure enough, when I called Amit and we both looked more closely, we found no less than three caterpillars sitting on the leaves, eating their way through the plant. Amit plucked them off and, much to my horror, gave them to the kids to hold. I suppose it’s a good thing – they might grow up with none of the squeamishness about creepy-crawlers (as Mrini calls them) that I have.
Amit got the girls to toss the fat, green caterpillars into the drain outside our house, where they will surely die. Then he spoke to a friend, who told him that if he’d left them alone they’d have turned into butterflies before they ate up the entire tree and guess what? The guy felt so bad for the poor little fat, green creepy-crawlers, that he actually went hunting for them, found one, and put it back on the lemon tree.
By evening, it was gone and only the missing leaves were left to testify to its existence. The next morning Tara saw a butterfly and concluded that the process of metamorphosis was complete and I refrained from pointing out to her that in the world of a million butterflies, there was no way of being sure which particular caterpillar had led to the existence of one particular butterfly. Especially since our friend informed us that this particular caterpillar was a common Mormon variety, which has kind of black stripes, and the one Tara saw was, she said, green.
In other news, the bandicoots that we had so heartlessly dislodged from the back yard have also been invited back by Amit after he considered how cruel it was to remove an animal from its natural environment.
Ok, ok, just kidding (though I’d better not suggest it to him, why give him ideas?). They have not been invited back, and in fact they have been successfully kept at bay by means of the outdoor lights that remain on from dusk to dawn. Yesterday I spotted a dead rat in an empty plot a couple of houses away from ours. If I were Tara, I’d have concluded that one of our bandicoots was now a widow, or, possibly, a widower, but I thought that the dead rat looked a bit smaller than the bandicoots (or very big rats) that we’d been sharing our land with.
Our beautiful lawn, meanwhile, is looking decidedly dry, yellow, and dispirited. Clearly our household water consumption is not generating sufficient gray water for the lawn to flourish. And given the water crisis that’s being loudly announced (with much glee, it appears) in the news, I obviously can’t spend any white water on the lawn. So there’s nothing to be done but to join the rest of the country in praying for rain – and it’s not even April yet.
And now – back to work. Apart from office work that’s keeping me rather busy these days, I have also started work on my next book, which I aim to complete by the end of May. If you’ve lost track of how many books I’ve written, don’t worry, so have I. One day there’ll be a Wikipedia page on me and then you can go and look it up. 🙂 Of course, I don’t have a publisher for this latest work yet; in fact, I don’t even have a publisher for the previous one yet. And the two that I do have contracts for are still far from seeing the light of day. But so what? To keep working when you don’t know if your work will ever be seen (forget about appreciated or rewarded) is one of the big challenges of life.