Moringa stump – Moringa tree – Banana plant
Images for Kyobi.blog, under a Creative Commons Attribution
I walked eagerly to the backyard, looking forward to pulling a sprig of Moringa leaves toward me. I relished these leaves daily till about a month back, when I travelled to Bombay from Goa for a family reunion. Bombay, where high-rises hide the sky; Goa, where you still see soil and sky in communion (a kinship under threat). Bombay, the consumer’s dream; Goa, the escapist’s sanctuary. I fit broadly both descriptions, of consumer and escapist—perhaps, we all do. The consumer takes materially, the escapist takes mentally, seemingly opposed yet one in the act of taking.
The happy middle is where the mind of the recipient rests. To learn to receive is to move away from a consumer’s anxious taking and from an escapist’s illusion of not taking.
Where stood the Moringa tree, with its delicate leaves and slender stems, stands now a stump. My heart ached or rather sank—curious that we call it heartache, when the feeling itself originates not in the heart but somewhere else. It seems to occur in an organ buried deeper than the heart, a place that our medical devices cannot access. And it’s more a sink than an ache.
The hacked tree stood as a reminder of a broken humanity: how can we think of ourselves as intact and intelligent, when we amputate a healthy arm that carries food to our starving mouth? The analogy, be told, is appropriate, because Moringa is known as a miracle tree, every part is health-giving. It’s by far, The Giving Tree that Shel Silverstein wrote about in his picture book.
With no sprig in hand, I returned to my door left wide open to welcome the morning light. A tiny green leaf caught my eye. It was at my doorstep. I picked it up. Wiping it gently with my fingers, I took a bite—I should know a leaf that I plucked and ate every day for two months, yet I erred on the side of caution and hesitantly chewed. Moringa indeed!
I looked up and saw that the neighbour’s Moringa tree had grown during the rains, and its branches were hanging delicately over my homeowner’s compound. The breeze had carried one of its tiny leaves to my doorstep. As the taste buds registered that the leaf was from a Moringa tree, the sinking feeling transformed into joy and a moment of realisation: When we believe in coincidences, we are robbed of experiencing life’s benevolence. A tiny leaf at my doorstep from one Moringa tree while my mind distressed over the felling of another, brought me back to a “higher love.”
All appeared beautiful again and my eyes gazed thankfully at my green surroundings. They came to rest attentively at the banana plant outside my front door. Bearing fruit and a beautiful purple flower, the plant was working hard to create nourishment for other living beings. When ripe the fruit will be harvested and the plant will perish, leaving behind a few spurs or spurring new shoots that will grow and nourish like the mother plant—benevolence, isn’t it? And it’s also an example of carrying forward inheritance, from mother to child and plant to spur or shoot.
All that I gave the plant was kitchen waste, peels, leaves, used coffee grind, overripe coconut, and a bad batch of kombucha. And what was it giving in return? You give me waste, I give you food: Can we hope to replicate a cycle of giving so untainted? Not if we continue to squander our inheritance. The sinking feeling is not an ache but a reminder that we are wasting what we have been given—the inheritance of love.