Connecting with roots

Connecting with roots

“Maybe you are searching among the branches, for what only appears in the roots.” Rumi. We never really leave a place, we carry it within us in our memories and in anecdotal stories of where we have been and what we have experienced. Many such stories are told and retold when my in-laws are visiting us.

My Father-in-law was in the Army and his work mandated that every few years the family move to a new location. They made a home only to move again in a few years. Despite the transfer being a daunting task, they accepted it gracefully and had become deft at establishing quick roots. My father-in-law’s mother, took her kitchen garden in her mind’s eye wherever she went. Blessed with a green thumb, she would plant a garden and grow all kinds of plants. This would go a long way in establishing ‘a home’, despite the constant movement and disruption. By association, my mother-in-law learnt about the nuances of gardening, and the art of moving on. And again, by association, I learnt my own lesson about letting go through an interesting experience.

Spring was in full swing and Bangalore a riot of colours and blossom. My own little garden was a pictorial joy. Nascent greens, pinks and reds were fighting for space and attention. It was a true pleasure to bask in this beauty after a hard day’s toil. However, I came back from work one day to a disturbing sight. All the beautiful plants had been chopped off, and the stumps glared back at me. I was confused, angry and upset.

“Why would anyone cut them off?” I asked no one in particular. My mother-in-law answered. “The roots have been ignored for a while now. They also need nourishment. This is the best time to prune them, as the natural fecundity during spring will make the plants grow back again, faster. The flowers and plants will be much stronger, as by clipping them, the consideration has gone to the roots.” I knew she was speaking from experience.

The insight disseminated by my husband’s grandmother found its way to me through his mother’s words. Albeit reluctantly, I learnt my lesson that no matter how difficult, it is important to let go. To start something new and fresh, one must readdress the old, the roots. Discomfort and anguish are the bedrock of strength and courage and only the tenacity, patience and wisdom of nature can teach us that. Hence, in all the stories that are told in the household, I added one of my own. This spring, the sunshine in the rain and the rain in the sunshine elucidated that pain and happiness mingle in life, and also that, while the branches might help you touch the sky, the roots will take you home.