The medical profession leaves very little time for a doctor to do anything else, and I have always seen my father, a doctor, to be a very busy man. We grew up in the midst of vacations cancelled at the last minute and rushed outings while he devotedly attended to emergency calls at night and spent long hours at the hospital.
Today, after nearly three decades of doing that, he continues to work just as hard, but has the liberty to set his own working hours. Finally he has the luxury of enjoying relaxed vacations. He has a roaring social circle and takes out quality time to unwind and relax. With time now available for leisure, my father has discovered a new side to himself. The hands of the doctor are capable of putting many a gardener to shame! He has the green thumb, and he has developed a fondness for gardening.
It is a pleasure watching him excitedly waking up earlier than usual on Sundays. He gets into his car and drives off to his favourite plant nursery just outside the city. With him will be his ally, Pataan Bhaiya, who has been our gardener for years. He has been feeling short-changed ever since sahib has started taking special interest in daffodils and dahlias.
At the nursery, father is awestruck, much like Alice in Wonderland, looking at and admiring different potted plants and inquisitively inquiring about all kinds of creepers and climbers. The seasoned owner of the nursery deftly answers all his queries and puts to rest apprehensions about his beloved plants dying a premature death. Papa then carefully selects plants for his garden, keeping a watchful eye for any signs of yellow, wilting or rotting leaves.
My father's garden is truly his pride. He knows the names of all his plants by heart. Before planting them, he meticulously chooses for them the right spot to grow them. Just about any pot or flower bed wouldn't do. The premium rose varieties have been given pride of place at the entrance, while his favourite stalk flowers are planted on the coveted bed right outside his bedroom window.
Winters are incomplete without the gorgeous golden shower creeper adorning the side grills. The sprinklers are effectively used, making sure that there is not a single patch of yellow in his emerald-green lawn. Tall and majestic eucalyptus trees line the boundary wall of his lush lawns. A corner is dedicated to vegetables. It is quite a sight to watch him beam when freshly picked vegetables from the garden are cooked and served.
Gertrude Jekyll has summed the love for gardening perfectly thus: “A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” Most important, it brings him hope — for tomorrow will bring with it a fresh blade of grass, a new bud, perhaps even a fruit.