You Make a Living from What You Get - But You Make a Life from What You Give

martedì 6 settembre 2011


Narmin Mohammadi, a traveller who occasionally works in London as a successful fashion PR, also takes time to write about her experiences in her city allotment. Here is her latest installment:

Life is full of twists and turns.

In my 20s I looked ahead and was convinced that by the time I reached my 40s I'd be married, with kids and a "good" job. I'm sure if I now went back in time and told my young self that I would be divorced, with no children and no permanent full time job, I would be pitied. I was young, I didn't realise then that despite society's pressure for us to own things and have our success measured by material objects, I would be very happy with none of those things.

What makes me happy is picking plums fresh from the tree and eating them, digging up fist sized beetroots and sharing them with my mother, or going to a pot luck lunch with a container of salad made entirely home grown produce. What makes me happy is seeing all these wonderful fruit and veg grow before my eyes.

Why all this introspection?

I recently found out one of my lovely allotment neighbours is suffering from cancer. I hadn't seen him for a few weeks and when I enquired about his whereabouts, I was given the sad news. I didn't expect to see him for a while as I knew he was undergoing further tests and was about to start a course of radiotherapy. So I was thrilled to see him sitting on his plot the other week enjoying a cup of tea and the Summer sunshine. He was a lot thinner than the last time I'd seen him, and his face seemed more lined than usual but he still had the lovely smile that had greeted so many of my early, feeble attempts at digging. News of his visit had spread and as I chatted to him lots of other plot holders came by to say hello and see how he was doing. 

He is well loved; he is such a generous man, always sharing his produce (I've lost count of the number of times he's given me rhubarb because he found out I liked stewing it and eating it for breakfast, or the armfulls of beetroot leaves he'd give my mother because she likes cooking with them), and his time, often helping others with building projects on their plots. The day wore on and the visittors went about their business. My neighbour would sometimes get up and tend to his runner beans, but mainly he sat watching his plot as the butterflies fluttered and the bees buzzed around the flowers he's planted especially for them.

I have since learned that the prognosis is not good. Sometimes there are weeks between his visits, sometimes there are days. But he's always there when he's feeling strong enough to visit. At first I wondered why he goes to all this effort when he's feeling weak but as I watched him sitting there with his cup of tea watching over his plot, it struck me that this is the most natural thing he can do. On his plot he is surrounded by life, and when you are fighting a mighty battle against cancer, there is no better place on earth to be to deepen your resolve to live.

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