Saga Of A Curry-leaf Plant

Ye birds of the sky!! Thou do not soweth, but thou sure do reapeth!

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‘O troupe of little vagrants of the trees! Sweet little villains, full of innocence!’

They fill my days with excitement and surprises! These little house sparrows! Getting accustomed to the new surroundings in Phnom Penh, seemingly dull and mundane in the beginning, turned out to be joy filled ones with the numerous birds living and visiting the premises. It has been a year and these happy souls around me make my days joy filled ones. The house sparrows ( passer domesticus) were the first ones that conquered my heart. From sunrise, till late in the evening their chirps and tweets break the silence of my days.

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The plant that enjoyed lush growth indoors!

These little birds are known as ‘angadikkuruvi‘ in my mother tongue Malayalam and they are nearly extinct in Kerala. Environmental pollution being the main reason for this mishap. Bassac Garden in Phnom Penh, where we live is blessed with an abundance of these happy souls. One gets to see them everywhere in Cambodia. May their tribe increase!!

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A happy plant basking in the sun

I have deviated from my topic curry leaf plant! (these innocent looking vagrants drift me away). We have a seven-year old curry-leaf plant with us. Curry leaves are indispensable in south Indian cooking and it is not widely available in Vietnam nor in Cambodia. The leaves that you rarely find in the markets lack the fragrant flavour. This plant was brought from India and was tended lovingly and with great care by my husband. To our immense joy the plant flourished indoors in Saigon. Moving apartments or changing pots never affected the growth of the plant.

With great care we transported the plant from Saigon to Phnom Penh and were so happy that it could breathe fresh air, bask in the sun and dance in the rain. From the pot the lucky plant found a place in the backyard. The twist in the tale happens from then!!

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Alone they came, also in battalion!

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One soweth, another reapeth

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Breakfast time!

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Leaves to finish before we leave And leaves to finish before we sleep!

Very soon, the plant with its many branches and lush green leaves became the hub of their activities, the favourite haunt for the little sparrows. After their routine morning hops on the lawn, they perch themselves on the curry leaf plant. It became a painful sight to see them picking on to the leaves, munching them! There was no stopping… The moment a tender shoot sprouted it disappeared. Who would have had the heart to shoo them away!

What a disheartening sight in the mornings!

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Time to sing an elegy!

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In three months it was time to sing an elegy to the plant. The plant was like a leafless tree in Autumn!

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From pot thou art and unto pot thou returneth ! back to the pot, thou naked plant!

From soil once again it was planted back to the pot and was kept hidden among the bamboo foliage. Ever since our little friends show no interest in the medicinal properties of the plant!

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And the pot found a place close to my eyes, next to my favourite corner of the house where light plays hide and seek, bamboo leaves rustle and sing with breeze.

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Hidden among the bamboo foliage.

Once again back to life the plant is flourishing well now. The number of sparrows have increased but foraging is limited to the lawn and surroundings. Have they failed in spotting the plant or they’re just tired of the taste?! I shall patiently wait and see !

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