The creaking sound of her rickety rattan chair comforts Nina as she sinks down into the seat. Every afternoon she enjoys sitting and admiring her garden.
Familiar sounds echo as she breathes in the earthy pleasures of rich soil and damp leaves. A cool breeze blows gently on her skin. Sitting and watching she feels alive, in harmony with nature.
Nina’s garden is her haven, a place of renewal where she nourishes her soul. Silently she thanks each plant and ornament for bringing her joy, they are valued members of her extended family.
Nina lives alone in a modest old timber house. A wooden nameplate bearing the name Akiko,meaning Iris; light and bright, hangs at the cottage entrance.
Her life is quiet and sometimes lonely. Most days she gardens and preens her tiny house. She does this for her own satisfaction and because she is grateful for everything she has.
As she sits looking at the garden her gaze is drawn to her flourishing Suma bush. She involuntarily gasps at its radiance. An affectionate loving smile spreads across her face. This plant tells her story.
As a young woman Nina spent her lunch breaks in the tranquil Jenku Gardens. This peaceful daily experience inspired her to create her own garden. She knew little about gardening but was eager to learn.
Nina planted a Suma bush near her front entrance so she could admire its soft beauty and smell its subtle fragrance each time she came in and out of her house.
Despite meticulous care and constant love her Suma failed to thrive. The foliage thinned and the vibrant green leaves faded to an insipid yellow.
Nina felt a deep sense of failure and loss. It broke her heart to see her Suma in such a bad state. Reluctantly she moved the plant to the back garden.
Weeks later she noticed new green shoots sprouting on the Suma’s spindly stem. Nina’s heart filled with thanks knowing her plant was showing signs of regeneration.
It dawned on her that this species survives better in the shade. She realised her Suma could not flourish where she’d wanted it to grow no matter how much care she lavished on the plant.
This lesson taught her to respect the inherent needs of each species. Over years her garden grew and matured into a place of natural beauty with thriving plant and bird life coexisting within her garden sanctuary.
Drawing her attention back to today a Pipi bird swoops under the Suma plant searching for food in the rich soil. Nina smiles and thanks every element of nature for keeping her company her whole life.
She feels tired and closes her eyes letting her head nod forward. She feels like she is floating.
Nina hears her mother’s voice. She must be dreaming. Such a lovely sweet sound.
Their arms instinctively embrace in a warm hug. Neither wanting to let go.
Nina’s tears flow freely as she recalls all the times she’d felt lonely and longed to talk things over with her mother.
“Take my hand Nina, it’s your time to rest with me.”
Months after her death Nina’s family sold Akiko cottage for a high price to a land developer. It took less than a day to bulldoze the house and garden leaving an empty block prime for multi story town houses.
Nina’s granddaughter Mai stands motionless looking at the barren land where her grandmother’s cottage and garden once were. She feels like she has been punched hard in the stomach sucking her breath away.
Mai closes her eyes and imagines all the times she sat chatting with her grandmother while looking at her precious garden.
Mai releases a primal scream and falls to her knees.
“They can destroy everything you created Grandmother but they can never destroy how loved and valued you made me feel.”