Stories and Genesis of Hope in the Carden
by Danny Castillones Sillada
A refreshing sight after the flood in our garden, photo by Danny Sillada
“Porqué tambien somos lo que hemos perdido.”
(Because we are also what we have lost.)
~From the movie “Amores Perro”
EVERY CORNER OF our garden, in a very small space in front of our house beside the creek at the edge of the metropolis, tells a motley story about us. Each plant, tree, or flower has a nostalgic association to a distant home that no longer exists, because the people who used to inhabit and make it a transcendent dwelling were no longer there.
In the garden, we would recall the happy and sad moments of our childhood with our loved ones, the pain and beauty of growing, the anguish and joy of leaving and finding the pasture of our dreams in the city. How quaint and idyllic our lives back then in our bucolic world!
But in the garden, we do not only retrace the fragments of our bygone days, the garden itself conjures and chronicles our past and present, including our future dreams and aspirations.
A Ficus, for instance, as old as my eldest son, is still standing from its pot, a living reminder of my struggle in the early stage of my marriage. One day, it almost died from dehydration. My wife and I tried to resuscitate the plant until it recovered and grew so tall and sturdy. Now, it is a tree!
The minted smell of Yerba Buena reminds me of my late mother who used to boil its leaves to cure my upset stomach. Sometimes, I thought, it was not the herb that really cures me, but my mother’s tenderness in blowing the hot liquid before allowing me to sip from the porcelain bowl.
Last summer, the Dama de Noche arrived from my wife’s province; she uprooted it from her parents’ orchard. She said that the mystical scent of the flower at night is reminiscent of her blissful and gloomy childhood. I said also that the scent of Dama de El Día at daytime is reminiscent of my impish childhood. We would laugh and smile at our sentimental and funny stories that we could only tell in the garden.
We have different types of plants, some are rare while others are ordinary that we could trace back to our respective beginnings.
We have a handful species of Orchids and common flowers that can be found in everyone’s backyard. We have also the Pandan, the Lemon Grass, the Chili Pepper, the Alugbati (Malabar Nightshade), the Duwao (Yellow Ginger), the bonsai Lemoncito, and the young and growing fruit trees, like Mango, Lansones, and Santol. (My wife and I would wonder how we were able to cram them together in a very small space).
Ah, what is a garden without insects and little animals seeking refuge in its lush and opulent arms? A rare visit from a snake would scare us, an exotic green frog would fascinate us, and a truant bee or butterfly would complete and give an alluring smile to our garden with its budding flowers.
The enchantment, however, is yet to come, when out of nowhere at nightfall, when plants and flowers are about to sleep, nocturnal flashes of tiny lights emitted by the fireflies would hover above our garden – the mesmeric sight is utterly magical!
Occasionally, meandering sparrows and bluebirds would come and perch in our garden on sunny days. The same birds would come back on rainy season as if they left something in the garden or the garden left something on them.
Our garden has become the second home to some orphaned and itinerant little animals and insects. And like these little creatures, the garden has also become the refuge of our harried souls from the threatening forces of human existence.
In my lowest moments, for example, when everything seems distant and aloof, the garden is more visible than the people that I cared and loved. I could cry in its quietude or fondle the petals of a wilting flower the way my late mother used to caress my forehead when I am sad or sick. It does not complain, judge, or say anything. It is just there in acquiescent silence, intermittently rustling its flimsy arms against the nomadic winds.
Come summer or rainy season, the garden is always there listening to our tears and laughter, screams and whispers, sighs and regrets. It has witnessed our joys and sorrows, departures and arrivals, estrangement and reconciliation, loss and hope.
In some instances in the past, my wife and I were almost fallen apart, but the memories and stories of the garden would always bring us together. As if a certain part of our lives is entwined among the roots, stems, and branches of the garden. It is like a child that grows with us, among us, and inside our hearts and souls.
The garden has become a symbol of renewal of our commitment to embrace each other’s defeat or victory, to love in sickness or in health, and to live with value and meaning within our family and fellow human beings. It is a symbol of birthing as much as a symbol of hope within our changing society and environment.
The same ancestor of plants and flowers in the garden, during the Archean geologic period, that paved the beginning of life in our uninhabitable planet 3.8 billion years ago. A blue-green photosynthetic bacterium called Cyanobacteria, responsible for creating oxygen and stimulating the biodiversity in our planet, gave hope to all the potential life forms to flourish on Earth.
Our garden, however small in size, is our little genesis of HOPE!
When the recent deluge submerged our village for the second time, we lost almost everything, needless to mention the inestimable damage incurred by the previous floods caused by the Typhoon Ondoy, but not our plants and flowers in the garden.
We could only watch them (from the second floor of our house) tiptoeing and submerging amid the gradual ascent of the murky waters. Their wet and resilient foliage would glimmer with verdant colors and sparkle of life despite the looming countenance of the grieving sky.
How I wish we could always hold on to that magnificent beauty in the midst of its painfully delicate sight!
© Danny Castillones Sillada
How to cite this essay:
Sillada, Danny Castillones. “Stories And Genesis Of Hope In The Garden.” Manila Bulletin (Lifestyle: Arts & Culture), 26 August 2012. Print.