Sadabahar in Staffordshire

PART 1
There was a young roofer from Leek
Who was known as a bit of a cheek
Rang our doorbell one day
But more on display
Was his disinterest in fixing our leak.

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Design created from a Mimusops elengi drawing by A.T. Boyle

PART 2
A lad arrived at the door. His hoodie bore the outline of a pointed roof with the word REPAIR underneath.

The woman who opened that door saw how sensitive he was to getting wet. It struck her as strange, given his trade, and that this was England.

Wincing as rain met his face, she noticed he had fixed his gaze on the small section of roof that wasn’t broken. When eventually he opened his mouth, she hoped to hear something wise.

A giant raindrop took its chance to swerve the gateway tongue and plummet to the back of his throat. First she extended sympathy. Then, a glass of water. There it was, she thought, another example of water getting into the wrong places. She asked him: ‘Can you make water fall in the right places?’

The lad laughed, another wave of coughing, water spilling from a glass.

To be honest, not much progress was being made. She thought about the rain streaming down her bedroom walls, gleefully liberating millions of rock granules – limestone, gypsum, clay, sand – from the human structures that define a home. How her finely plastered vertical walls must be finding new possibilities on the horizontal plane of an after-quarry world!

In spite of the desperate cries from her interior decoration, the woman quite liked it when the sole trader quipped: ‘You’ve a leak in your roof and you live in Leek!’

He became quite giddy, to be truthful, and she thought: Mostly, fixing things requires more than a vague intention.

And with that the lad wearing a hoodie named REPAIR evaporated from her doorstep.

PART 3
Did you know, there’s an evergreen tree called Mimusops elengi? Others name it Asian bulletwood, Ranjal, Tanjong, Red coondoo. Or, Bakul, West Indian medlar, Maulsari, Barsoli, Karakuli, Starflower. Sometimes it’s Spanish cherry.

Deep at this tree’s core lies an intense red heartwood. A fire within.

Brown dye, duller, is made from its bark.

Hairy flowers in delicate-shaped stars cling onto their scent, perhaps for their own pleasure as well as ours. The ripe fruit is like a giant apricot, though I’ve never tasted Mimusops on my tongue. Have you?

It’s a tree that needs heat to grow, to survive, to thrive.

If all keeps on track, if the dreams we do not want to dream are dreamed, Leek’s plant hardiness zone – telling us how low a temperature can drop for a plant to survive – may make a more comfortable home than India, an already hot country that may burn before we do. Or flood. Either, or.

PART 4
We need water to drink, to grow plants to eat, to quench insects that pollinate our plants that make our homes green. Evergreen ideally. What we don’t want is too much water all at once. We want just enough to fall in just the right places at the right time.

In southern India a few people are collecting objects washed up by floods: straggly-haired dolls, waterlogged kettles, puckered photo albums, toasters that will rust. Objects are finding unplanned resting places; are re-found.

PART 5
Writing is another way of collecting, of re-finding. It can help to solve puzzles like: How can we fix the leaks? (not the leeks).

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Note:
1) Sadabahar is an Urdu word that means evergreen.

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(Copyright: A.T. Boyle, 2023)

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