My head has rolled back slightly, supported by the chair’s frame. I’m trying, through closed lids, to determine if the sparkles I can see are black or red. I think it’s both and for a moment I’m left wondering how it’s possible to see two colours in the same place at the same time. Far in the distance a truck is reversing and I can hear the beep, beep, beep of its warning signal. Closer a grey loerie calls to his flock and a pair of mynah birds squabble. The sun, already cooler than just a few weeks ago warms the back of my neck through my shirt. A dog shoves its cold snoot into my palm, looking for attention.
“Remember, Josh…” I begin.
It’s been a difficult day. Yesterday Josh visited the oncologist who was upbeat and showed as many signs of optimism as oncologists allow themselves. Josh felt well enough to walk to a class instead of using a wheelchair. Today, that seemingly trivial use of energy, has caught up with him. He is man-down. It’s 2pm and he’s just made it out of bed and as far as the garden.
We are sitting in a pair of canvas chairs facing the vegetable garden and discussing the possibility of Josh not writing June exams. I look up and see his eyes shine with hidden tears as he tells me how frustrated he is.
“My mental energy is ten out of ten but physically I’m only a five. ” My heart shatters all over again. I look away, fighting my own tears, and watch a pair of Hadedas noodle the carrot beds, looking for grubs. A bulbul calls to his mate from the phone line above the passion fruit vine.
“This is nice, isn’t it?” Josh says after a moment. “I love this garden. It’s peaceful.”
We lapse into silence listening to the birds, watching the dogs loll of the lawn, sipping our tea.
The vegetable garden has been many things: a labour of love, a meditation, a challenge, a source of food, work, a source of pride. Right now? It’s our sanctuary.