Sendhil dusted the ash of his seventh cigarette of the evening. He was sitting in the middle of his dry garden and was using the flower pot as his ashtray, which once had roses blossoming on it. He was holding a set of divorce papers and was in deep thought. He kept thinking about how unpredictable life is and how little he can do anything about it.
He thought about the happy days when he and his wife Priya were in love and how their life took u-turn after the marriage. It was their love for plants that had brought them together for the first time at a plant nursery unit. Later their passion for plants had turned into a love for each other.
When they decided to buy a house for themselves, the first decision they both made together was to have a big garden. More time had gone into the planning of the garden rather than the house itself. The garden which was once blossoming with flowers is now reduced to an empty land with weeds and stones.
Sendhil decided nothing good is going to happen anymore as he believed that things have reached to the point of no return and the only good thing that can happen now is a mutually benefitting divorce settlement. He kept thinking about what would happen to Dhruv, his one year kid. He wanted to have him after the divorce; however, he very well knew that Priya would not make it easy for him.
Lighting his eighth cigarette, he started to walk around his empty garden with a loaded mind. During his walk, he heard the sound of the gates opening. He anticipated it to be his wife returning from her job; however, he saw an old man entering the house, limping his leg.
The old man, despite his age, possessed a young divine grace in his eyes. Sendhil could not avoid noticing this; however, he was sceptical just like the way he would be with any stranger.
“Who are you?” asked Sendhil, looking at the old man.
“Sir, my name is Subbu. I have been working as a gardener in the nearby park, but they have sacked me as they found a young replacement.” said the old man.
“So what can I do for you?” asked Sendhil, unable to understand what Subbu was trying to arrive at.
“Sir, plants are my life. I have spent most of my life growing them, caring for them and speaking to them. Today when I am out of my job, I feel lost. When I was crossing your house, I saw this huge piece of vacant land on the side of your home. I felt this place could become an amazing garden, and I wanted to build it for you. That is the reason I came here asking for this job” said Subbu in a humble tone.
Feeling annoyed by this unexpected request, Sendhil said, “I don’t have any plans for a garden now. I will call you when I decide to have one.”
“But Sir, I don’t want any salary for my job. All I need is little food and some utilities to create the garden.” pleaded Subbu trying harder to convince.
“Why will anybody work for no salary? I smell something fishy here,” commented Sendhil with a trace of guilt inside him for saying that to Subbu.
“Well Sir, I have no family to depend on or to live for. All my life, I have been working as a gardener at various places. This is the only thing I know, and it makes me immensely happy. So if you can give me this job, I promise to serve you more than just a gardener.” explained Subbu.
Sendhil gave a thought for a while and asked Subbu, “If I give you this job, then where will you stay? I cannot afford to let you sleep in my house.”
“That’s alright, Sir. If you allow me, I will make a small tent here in the garden and shall live in it,” answered Subbu.
“Are you serious? Are you sure you will be ok with it?” asked Sendhil. “I am serious, Sir. I love living in a tent” answered Subbu.
“Ok then, you will be my Gardener from now on. But remember I can guarantee your job only for three months, and after that even I am not sure if I will be living in this house or not” said Sendhil.
“Why Sir?” asked Subbu, disappointed by Sendhil’s words.
“I can’t answer you that now,” said Sendhil avoiding to reveal that his divorce hearing will be in three months.
Trying not to get into that topic, Subbu said: “Fine, Sir, I shall start my work today by building up my tent first.”
“Go ahead,” said Sendhil and moved inside his house. He already felt a little respect for Subbu by his humility and grace.
Subbu carried his things from the previous workplace and started making his tent at a corner of the garden. He stopped for a while, looked all around the garden, gave a smile and again went back to his job. While Subbu was fixing an iron rod into the ground for supporting his tent, he heard a lady voice at the back of him.
“Who are you, and what are you doing here?” asked Priya looking at an unexpected visitor in her garden.
“Madam, I am Subbu. I have been hired as a gardener here,” answered Subbu in a humble tone.
“But who hired you when I am the one who makes decisions here,” asked Priya, annoyed.
“Madam I am here to make this place beautiful, so please give me a chance to do it. I assure you that if you are not happy with my job, I shall leave this place at once,” said Subbu respectfully.
Priya did not expect such a humble answer. She asked, “What did my husband say?” “He had allowed me to work here for a three months time Madam,” said Subbu.