It was a beautiful autumn afternoon of 1976 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Sara had just got back from school and hastily downed her snack of peanut butter sandwiches and gulped down a glass of warm milk that I had prepared for her. She was excited. “Mama, my friends will be home any minute and we plan to go to the ‘Shar- e- Nau’ park to collect leaves and pine cones for our school project. Will you come?” “Of course, Sweetheart, how can I miss all the fun?” I said, pulling her cheeks gently.
She picked up her jute bag and sat down in the corridor of the apartment waiting for her friends impatiently.The bell rang and Sara ran to open the door. Mina, Elena, Hamida and Walid were crowding behind each other trying to look in through the peephole. Shouting, Laughing and pushing each other to try and see inside. They straightened up as soon as they saw me, trying to hide their embarrassment. “Salaam halajaan! (hi Aunty!) Are you coming with us?” Walid, the oldest in the group asked sheepishly. “Can’t leave you little lambs alone, can I ?” The park was a 15 minute walk from our house and a breezy, sunny and cheerful Autumn day with a handful of c andies made the walk even better.
When we reached the park we looked around in awe at the beauty surrounding us. It was like a scene out of a Painting. Nature had painted a masterpiece that was priceless. Art that was not confined to the homes of millionaires – free for anyone willing to participate and soak in its beauty. Tall, stunning trees with leaves of such a beautiful hue of colors and sizes ranging from light brown, orange, green, yellow and vermillion cascading around. The ground had perhaps the most beautiful and colorful carpet that was alive and constantly changing shape. Autumn is probably the most beautiful season of nature. Most would say Spring but Spring has to be beautiful because it is a time of blossom, a time of giving birth and new beginnings. But Autumn – It is different. Towards the end of their life span, even as the the leaves and trees are dying, they surround us with bewitching beauty, color, life and joy. You almost want to hug it and say, ‘Thank you Autumn, for saving us the best for last….’
The kids were besides themselves with joy. They ran around picking leaves, pine cones and pebbles of various shapes colors and sizes. Chattering away incessantly with a wide eyed look of amazement at such a treasure trove of natural beauty. Their innocence was endearing, their laughter infectious.
I sat on a bench and watched their happy, excited faces soak in the beauty of that moment where everything was perfect. The cool breeze, the sun lounging lazily behind the trees, the picturesque trees, and above all the joy of their friendship. Their happiness rubbed off on me and I felt good. I picked up a leaf the color of burnt orange lying on the bench next to me. It was the size of my palm and had beautiful large and small veins running thru it. I put the leaf in my bag and decide to use it later as a bookmark.
Looking at these little energetic bubbles of life running around and chattering incessantly, I knew then that this would be one of those days etched in their memory forever – to be drawn on later and fondly remembered as a priceless moment of utter joy that was so simple and pure. Moments that would not be so easy to achieve as they grow older and get caught up in the mindless race for success and superficial growth.
What would we not give as adults to experience the simple joys of life with friends who have no other motive but to share that moment and feel blessed at the opportunity……
I couldn’t help wondering that the bond between children and Nature was so magnetic because they have the same personality. They are both pure and innocent. Generous and giving – And Sensitive – yes, easy to hurt them, but they forgive just as quickly.
No matter how we treat them, they repay us with kindness and put a smile on our faces. Above all they continue to trust us again and again. I found myself (with slightly moist eyes) wishing and hoping that it is this trust that should not be washed away as they grow older. Praying that their experiences in life enrich them and make them better humans, a rare and dying breed that the world desperately needs at this time….
OIL ON CANVAS
60CM x 70CM
Speak to us of Giving”, said a Rich man. And he answered;
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
For what are your possessions, but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And Tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the over – prudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the Pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself? Is not the dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes the gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life and their coffers are never empty. There are those that give with Joy and the Joy is their reward. And there are those that give with Pain and the pain is their bap tism. And then there are those who give and know not Pain in giving nor do they seek Joy nor give with mindfulness of virtue. They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space. Through the hands of such as these, God speaks and from behind their eyes he smiles upon the e arth. – Khalil Gibran – The Prophet