When we were living in the city next to my grandmother’s house, Sam and Alex spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s garden. Alex was very young then, just learning to talk. Sam was already the most talkative toddler ever and she liked to christen the plants and flowers. Because it was the Disney princess phase of their lives, the plants and flowers were renamed Jasmine, Pocahontas, Esmeralda, and so on.
After spending time in the garden, they’d come home, little Alex trailing Sam, and they would often give me flowers. Not flowers that they plucked off the plants — they didn’t pluck flowers. They’d pick up what had fallen to the ground, collect them and give them to me saying, “Mommy, for you.” More often than not, they would give me sampaguita.
Fast forward to 2008 when we bought this house. There was a trellis-covered lanai on one side. Artfully arranged hedges and bushes blocked access from the front so that the only way to the lanai was from inside the house through a side door. We figured we didn’t need a lanai because we have a real garden on the other side of the house so we had the hedges and bushes moved to the garden and the lanai became a carport.
But realizing how bare the area looked after all the plants had been moved, we mulled over what we should plant there that would’t scratch the car when it got in and out. Sam suggested sampaguita. She said we would plant them near the posts and make the plants climb up the trellis.
And we did just that. The sampaguita plants have grown despite occasional drawbacks when it stormed. That’s how the trellis looks today.
There are new flowers everyday.
And, to give way to the new flowers, the old ones fall to the ground. For the past several days, Sam had been picking up the fallen flowers and giving them to me.
Many have completely withered but I’ve kept them on my desk.
The last time that Sam came into my study with a bunch of flowers, I asked her if she remembered how she used to do the very same thing when she was about four or five. She looked rather surprised, I don’t think she remembered but I did.
And I wanted to freeze that moment when past and present seemed to have become one. I told her I should press the flowers between book pages and keep them. And she replied, quite haughtily, “Ano ‘yan — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (What’s that — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)?”
If the last paragraph didn’t make any sense to you, you probably haven’t read or seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If you’ve seen the American remake but have not read the book, you’re missing half the fun and thrill. I’ve read all three books in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series, one after the other, and they were… well, let’s just say that once you start, it’s hard to stop until the very end. My next project is to see the three Swedish films based on the novels. Should be fun.