Whenever, I had come over to Sydney to spend time with my family, we met most of the times on road or cottage fence and spent some time between us talking. She used to say jokingly to me sometimes,” I hope Salma is giving you enough time and feeding you with all good foods”. Once she said, “Run fast home to gorge on the food platters set by Salma.”
Carrol would wax her love for flowers, particularly of her garden. Sometime she would talk to me about different kinds of flower in her front and back-yard and tried to make me familiar about her favourite flowers. Once she took me to her back-yard. She organised her flower plant beds and a seating arrangement lighted by the morning sun so beautifully, I simply craved for spending time in her back-yard every morning when it is sunny. Once when she heard about my wife Salma's sickness, she sent her a flower bouquet gathered from his back-yard garden.
So far we never visited each other's home, we have engaged in talking on the road or fence side or myself taken by Carrol for a look around of her garden. I couldn't venture out to invite her to our home for a coffee. We were careful not to go beyond our comfort zone. Perhaps we didn't understand each other well enough.
After five years' of life in Brisbane, I moved back to Sydney. I saw her once than standing in her rose garden wrapped in over coat warming herself in the sunshine. I found her little bit wrought with wrinkles on her face visible enough. I approached her,“How are you Carrol?”.
“The weather is changing and flue is bothering me a lot”, she said. “You know my antibiotic dose is running third time. I feel as if this flue would drag me to my grave. Every year, I take vaccine, they hardly make me immune, and I had to gulp down loads of antibiotics”.
I enquired, “Is somebody besides you?”
“My son Bob came to see me from Mittagong. I sent him back from my front yard warning not to be with me now, I told him, this flue could be contagious, so better not come in my contact, rather keep in touch with me over phone. You know, he wanted me live with him, but I am not ready to leave my Ruby Rose Cottage that bears the loving memory of my mother. Many people are moving out from this place and I would not. I would rather straight away go to my grave than take shelter in an old home”.
I thought Carrol was unhappy, made worse by the flue; therefore, I didn't venture to spend more time with her. “Goodbye Carrol” said to her and come back home.
The winter days were progressing sometime bringing severe cold mornings. One day I was travelling by train to the city. While in the train, I found the golf course adjacent
to the railway track shrouded with thick layer of mist. I felt as if I saw the water droplets of the mist with my eyesight lost its way through the mist. While I was walking to our local rail station Ingleburn to catch the train to the city, I found frost flakes accumulated on the grass-cover by the side of footpath. I loved watching dews crowning the green grass pricks, that glittered brilliantly with the first sunlight of the morning. But the icy frost denied me of that pleasure.
I didn't see Carrol for quite some time; she usually would not come out, when it is very cold in the morning. Sometime she did in late morning, when it is warm enough outside. I could imagine she was either watching TV in her drawing room or trimming her rose garden in her back-yard. Or perhaps lost in her inner world, reminiscing her life spent.
The short Magnolia tree near the fence of Ruby Rose Cottage has bared itself of all the leaves and stood like a shameless naked a maiden. A few buds adored one or two branches as if they had woken up from slumber and warming up for a glorious winter blossom. It would soon create a bonanza of pinkish Magnolia flowers.
After some days all on a sudden, I found the Magnolia tree fronting the fenced Ruby Rose Cottage in full bloom with purple flowers adorning the bare branches of the tree. The roses in the front yard garden of Carrol were still smiling, defying the cold morning. In the streaming brilliant sunlight the blue sky seemed to stretch for eternity. The whole world seemed to be drunk with the sunlight from heaven. All around I could listen to boundless silent music rippled across the earth and air.
I came out of home with the faintest hope of seeing Carrol in her front-yard garden. It didn't happen. Then I went across the road to have a closer look at the Magnolia treein full bloom. I touched petals of a few roses with a soft hand, taking care they don't fall off. From my heart I wished Carrol well and mumbled, “Have a good day Carrol”. I wish she could hear me from the inside of her home.
I saw a flock of pigeons in flight that was rhythmically changing direction all the time in the brilliantly lit sunny sky. A pair of doves on the electric line were breaking into each other. I started walking under the lovely sun, as if I was on a perpetual journey, like the eternal life.