By SHIRLEY SILLAN KOMOGI
TODAY I accompanied my mother to the garden on the mountain.
The journey to the garden is a vigorous one. I will try to paint a picture of the scene with words as if you were there with me. The walk starts right outside at the back of the house.
Twenty steps away and you are standing on grey slippery concrete – where the water tap is. To your left, dark green glossy leaves of the coffee tree, its red, attractive pulp fruits bunched up, forming red clusters on every branch.
Peeking through its greenery, there lies a slope, lazily laced with sunflower shrubs dotting the light green kunai grass with its bright smiling flowers. And below the slope lies the neighbouring houses – all clustered up forming a swarm of old corrugated iron roofing.
To your right, steep bulging hills, struggling to support the last of the brownish-green trees left after the tragic bushfire.
In front of you, the narrow track leads up to the mountain garden. Several steps up and you are forced to climb a mini man-made hill. Its red-brown copper coloured soil clings to your flattened slipper, as if all the body fat has been rolled out of it when you wore it.
This hill was the result of digging the earth to make a levelled strip for house-construction. Little children loved playing ‘bururu’ on this hill.
So now you are on top of this hill, you slowly descend- stepping carefully on clumped earth as if they were marbled stairs, being careful not to step on the young sweet potato shoots that sprawl everywhere as if chasing after their freedom.
Closely you walk alongside the drain. You make a right turn then a left turn until you come to the edge of the evergreen field of kunai grass, their blades sharp yet light as feathers.
You climb up the slope with slow, heavy steps because in front of you is another turn of the same slope. But you are enlightened when you are embraced by the shade of the wild breadfruit tree. Although it bears no fruit, its shade is a haven in the heat of the day. The blackened earth beneath you looks rich with humus.
You poke your toe into the soft, loose soil. Your toe leaves a mark in the soil, but that is the least of your worries.
The air here is crispy fresh. You smell the fresh earth, the poignant distinctive smell of rotten wood. The breadfruit tree sprouts new soft leaves whilst the old brown and black-spotted leaves fall beneath its trunk. And somehow you are reminded of the joys and sorrows that come along with young and old age.
You have not yet reached the garden, so you sulkily abandon the caressing arms of the breadfruit tree’s shade. You follow the path with ascending steps yet again. You slightly turn your gaze to your left and you see the house, the start of your journey uphill. Finally you reach the top of the hill. You feel victorious.
The view is marvellous and your thoughts go back to the mastermind of this great architecture of grand mountains. Just in front you see the garden, its dark brown earth bringing forth signs of life, green corn, sweet potato, taro and beans.
With revived strength and springing steps, you hurry towards the garden and fall helplessly under the shade of the young ‘marmar’ tree.
Right now, you are too exhausted to care about where you sit. The dried leaves of the nearby shrub will be just fine, you think to yourself.
Suddenly you become friends with the creepy-crawly bug and ant crawling on the top-soil beside your feet. The view is amazing; it makes all the hard work of the journey worthwhile.
The army-green canopy of the trees, stretch out for you to see as if they were an army in a parade. The green canvas of the canopy kisses the feet of the Komiyufa, Nupaha and Kaveve mountains.
Life seemed to flourish on those mountains wherever patches of different greens were. The mountains looked as if a painter mixed up all his green paint in a blotch and finally dotted the mountains white.
Wherever there were no trees, a lonely brown kunai house stood, with it the fading canopy line of the forest trees. It was as if the mountains were ashamed of their bald spots and wished to quickly cover up with a green wig of shrubby trees.
Through the trees, you see something glistening, reflecting the mid-morning sun’s rays. It looked like the front scene of a play on a brightly-lit stage and the sun’s reflected rays were the added lighting effects.
It now dawned on you that the cause of this was the Zogizoi River running its course down the Sepeyaro Valley. You can now eliminate other sounds in your mind to concentrate.
And this time, you hear the faint roar of the river, its fine bass-line accompanying the sweet soprano and tenor voices of the birds.
The scene seemed to occupy a large space in your mind. Never before had you come to know and feel such peace. You swear you would come here often from now on.
Maybe leave the family members behind at home and come alone with your favourite book to read here. Your heart feels lighter – as if you found a treasure and it belongs to you.
Your eyes feel heavy, the silence soothing. You turn to your right and gather in your hands the dried leaves.
This should do it, you think out loud. You fall back slowly onto the earth as if it was a mattress. The leaves would do just fine for a mat.
The young ‘marmar’ tree stands as your watchful guard, its shade, your blanket. Sleep came easily and you find yourself fast asleep.
If God looked down and saw you fast asleep, he would smile and think to Himself, child that was my plan all along when I created the Garden of Eden for you.
- Shirley Sillan Komogi is a freelance writer.