On May 28, 2018, at 6:00 in the evening, I left the office with a heavy heart. That day was officially my last day working in the company which I helped set up. Because of the chaos of moving out, and because of the rightful demands of the business person who bought the company plus my own personal errands, I could not go to that office until July 19, 2018, when I finally had the time to visit my beloved ornamental plants.

I had difficulty breathing for a few seconds when I saw them again. Some of them had died; the leaves were already brown and brittle which means, they died long before I arrived. The person who bought the company was so busy that he did not have time to even think about the plants in the small veranda which my boss and I turned into a secret garden. (The veranda is at the back of our office. A small door covered with a single panel curtain connects that veranda to our office, that's why we aptly called it The Secret Garden.) 

When I arrived there in the afternoon of July 19, I immediately watered them and promised the company owner’s wife that I’d be back to get them the following Saturday. So there, on July 21, 2018, at 5 in the afternoon, I hauled the flower pots to my house.

I had to save what could be saved and throw away the withered ones. Below are the plants that survived. By the time I got them they were already leafless and they looked dead. When I lightly scratched the base of their trunk, however,  I saw that they were green. The roots, therefore, were still very much alive and they could be nourished back to life.  I am not sure whether or not plants can understand words but anyway, I talked to them, repeatedly telling them to grow their beautiful leaves and flowers  again when they are ready. I even apologized for neglecting them for such a long time. 

Why are these "ordinary looking"  plants so special to me? It's because  each plant has its own story. 

I bought these in December 2015. It was Christmas vacation and my boss was in his home country. I was alone in the offfice.  I was not required to stay there during the vacation but I had nothing to do at home. Being alone in the office, I thought, was much better than being alone at home. While I was surfing the net, I suddenly thought of going to Quezon City Memorial Park and bought ornamental plants to decorate the office with. When my boss came back the following year, he was very happy to see them. There were also tiny flowering plants that I bought at that time but unfortunately, those plants were among those that died. 

In April 2015, while my boss and I were preparing for the soft opening of our company, a long-time friend gave us this beautiful gift. This kalachuchi had no more leaves when I got it back in July, but hey.. aren't those pretty pink flowers a beautiful reward for all my efforts to grow it back? 

One day in 2016, my boss gave me money and instructed me to go to Quezon City Memorial Park and buy any plant that I'd fancy. I asked another teacher to accompany me. These buenavistas were not leafless when I saw them again, but the trunks were stooping and all leaves were wilted. They did not die maybe because they are in much bigger pots. The soil in those pots somehow retained moisture in the evening when the temperature was relatively lower. Maybe. 

One Saturday in August 2017, my boss suddenly sent me a text message asking me to accompany him to the park to buy some more flowering plants. This hydrangea was one of those potted plants that we bought. When we bought this, it had eight big clusters of purple flowers. When I saw this again in July 2018, however, it was only a grayish stem. When I stooped to check its roots, I noticed some small green "lumps" at the base, near the roots. I knew that under the right conditions and with much care, it would grow leaves and flowers again. Those tiny lumps are the same leaves that we can see now. 

My boss was particularly  fond of this one. He thought it looked lovely hanging from the wall in our secret garden.

This is another beauty that my boss helped me take care of.

Aside from the memories in that academy that are deeply ingrained in my being, these plants above are the only remaining things now that remind me of my life in that academy. 

During those times that my boss and I would fight, we would go to Secret Garden and talk. We would look at those plants as we talked. He loves plants as much as I do. Gardening is one of the very few things that we are compatible with. 

I pass by these plants every time I go out of my house.  I sometimes stop for a while to feel their leaves and yes, I get nostalgic. Sometimes I long to be in that office again. Sometimes I wish things had not turned sour. 

Just like these plants that looked dead and hopeless but grew to be robust again, sometimes I feel this hope within me, a hope that someday, somehow, the things in my life that look hopeless now will grow and flourish again. 


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