When life gives you limes…


None of us at home have a ‘green thumb’. We have a small garden attached to our house and a lot of planting and landscaping can be done – be it trees, flowers, plants, vegetables for daily needs, just whatever. The land is very fertile. However, we haven’t shown much interest. We tried to engage a gardener but it was a complete fiasco. He turned out to be very relaxed and the grass that he tried to carpet the ground became patchy in no time. It is not a barren land. There are a few trees and plants in our garden but the credit goes to people who planted them before we started to live here and our house caretaker. Of course, we also contributed a bit towards it – my father got hedges planted around the border keeping security in mind; my mother got a green piece of cloth fixed outside the hedges to make it more secure and stop the pigs and the litter of piglets from brushing past the hedges and looking for their dinner inside; and I, in those once-in-a-blue moon fit got a few flower pots and 3 Ashoka plants from a nursery and on one occasion I picked up a newly uprooted and discarded Aloe Vera plant from outside the local park and resurrected it in my garden.

This blog is not about my ‘green’ challenges but a special tree that made me retrospective. A very different kind of lime tree plant it is (see picture). Mother says it’s called Kaffir lime. For those who don’t know about it, it is not your regular lime which you can comfortably place between your thumb and fingers and squeeze it with little effort to make a tangy lemonade. It is dark green and as big as an orange. It is very sad to see the fruits grow, ripen and rot as the season goes by and the majestic tree must find it disrespectful to see this happen to it year after year. Going waste. We do pluck a few every year and use it for making lemonades. Once mother even made pickles out of some a few years ago. But that is it. Things remain the same over the years but for one thing.

What has changed over the years is our approach to those passers-by who are mostly poor children, who cross by the garden and pluck the limes from the other side of the wall. We cannot see those children because of the height of the wall but their antics are quite noisy. Usually they come in a group and can be heard giggling and challenging others as they try to pelt stones to get the limes. The bitter-sour Kaffir limes that they mistake them for some variety of sweet oranges.  I remember mother howling at them many times from the kitchen window which overlooks the garden and we could then hear them retreating as fast as they could. I also remember telling them in my commanding voice that I would call the security guard that very minute, which again immediately chased them away. All of us at home have fretted over this issue.

This year it has been different. As I answered the doorbell to attend a guest yesterday, I saw two little boys trying to get my attention from the other end of the wall. They complained about some other children who were busy plucking the limes. I looked at the tree. It stood tall. It was laden with hundreds of ignored Kaffir limes which were now turning from firm dark green to wrinkly yellow.  I asked those two boys if they wanted the fruits too. They wondered if it was some kind of a trick and didn’t know what to answer until one of them mustered some courage and said ‘yes’. I then asked my housekeeper to help these and other children with the fruits.

I don’t know if the above episode has taught me to share my other possessions too, especially possessions that I have in abundance. But another episode yesterday morning made me connect the two later in the day and I mumbled thanks to the Supreme. I happened to see a poor man during my morning jog who had just dropped his daughter to the charity school bowing his head with folded hands in obeisance in the direction of the school building. He was thankful. Thankful for the little that he had. Then why shouldn’t I be thankful for a lot that I have…and share.