A Newlife: Neighbors Bearing Bushes

by Khet Mar    /  August 1, 2009  / No comments

translated by Aung Aung Taik

Khet Garden Vines

While living in my village in Burma, I enjoyed offering our home-grown flowers to our house shrine and eating the peas and gourds we grew for dinner.  Near our village, the fields were full of rice, sunflowers, chilies and peanuts. We caught our fish in Maletto Creek. Farming and fishing were the staples of our village life.

After I got married, my husband and I moved about five times from one place to another. Because of our financial state of affairs, we weren’t able to afford a place with extra space to garden.

It wasn’t until 2007 that we managed to buy a little house, which, fortunately, came with a small patch of land about 14 by 5 feet in front. I began to grow so many plants—some in pots and some in the ground—I could barely turn around in my tiny garden.

Now I live in a row house in America on Sampsonia Way in Pittsburgh. It’s owned by the City of Asylum/Pittsbugh. The house has a spacious backyard, including a small, concrete basketball court and a lawn about twenty square feet. Behind the basketball court is a patch of land, all a part of my new life.

Spring has arrived in the city and the stores are full of seed packages, potted plants and flowers. Eyeing that patch of land behind the basketball court, my old disease of gardening has reoccurred.

“You can start a garden in the backyard if you want, you know,” said Henry Reese, founder of City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. He’s our neighbor next door as well.

“Is that right? I would love to, I am very fond of gardening,” I said.

“We will help you with it,” Henry replied with a supportive smile.

The next day, the bell rang and it was Henry at the door, holding a small potted rose bush. “This is from my neighbor,” he said. “She wants to give it to you because you are interested in gardening,”

A sudden rush of happiness came to me from the loveliness of the roses and the warmth of my neighbors.

About the Author

Khet Mar is a staff writer at Sampsonia Way. A former writer-in-residence at City of Asylum/Pittsburgh, Khet Mar is a journalist, novelist, short story writer, poet, and essayist from Burma. She is the author of one novel, Wild Snowy Night, as well as several collections of short stories, essays and poems. Her work has been translated into English and Japanese, been broadcast on radio, and made into a film. In the fall of 2007, Mar was a visiting fellow at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

View all articles by Khet Mar

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