No barrier is strong enough

An old couple lived in a fenced corner house, where I passed every day on my way to school. They were in their garden almost everyday, working side by side. They hardly ever spoke to each other, but it seemed that each knew what the other was thinking. Whenever I went by, carrying my heavy load of books, I found myself looking for them in the front garden. They were so quiet and somber all the time. I wished to get to know them but felt very shy. No wonder, having just immigrated to this country, I neither knew much about the culture nor the language. Besides, they had a ‘ No Trespassing’ sign by their entry gate. I often wondered about that sign. Were they afraid of people or maybe just weary of them’ What did make them wish to be left alone’ That is what they were, alone. I never saw anybody at their front door or any car parked in their driveway. At that time, I really didn’t comprehend their wish for solitude but I honored it. That sign said to keep out so I reluctantly stayed out. So days, weeks, and months passed without either of us speaking to each other. During the long winter months, I did not see the old couple at all, as if they have gone to sleep, along with their garden. I was rather busy and very homesick at the time too. Drab and gray colors of winter, especially in the Midwest, were particularly depressing to me. One day in late April, I was buying some groceries and I saw a few pots of house plants, with shiny green leaves and sweet, gem-like purple flowers. The label indicated that the plant was called ‘ Persian violet’ (Exacum affine). For a homesick Persian like myself, that plant in a tiny pot was like finding a long-lost childhood friend. Now, I know that it was neither a violet nor from Persia but it really didn’t matter. It is needless to say that I left the store with one of those plants. Traveling on the train with my bags of groceries, all my thoughts were with this little plant. It gave me a point of reference, a sense of attachment. I didn’t feel so uprooted anymore; a tiny part of my culture was resting innocently in my hands. On my way home, I saw the old couple in the garden; toiling side by side and silently. I cautiously lifted my precious Persian violet for them to see. The next moment, I was being invited into their garden. They were talking to me a mile-a-minute and pulling me in and helping me with the grocery bags. I assure you that I didn’t understand the words they said, but I felt what they meant. We were communicating through the language of plants and there were no misunderstandings. A tiny plant in a four-inch plastic pot had broken down the barriers and brought us together. A miracle.

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