Lessons from the curry leaf plant…

Life has an unexpected way of teaching you lessons. And some of the most profound messages are delivered in the quietest of manners…such was a lesson I learnt from my curry leaf plant.

I had procured the curry leaf plant locally at the Jianguo weekend nursery market (if you are a plant lover, you must simply make it to this market and explore it yourself!).  I love my curry leaf tadka and it’s a non-negotiable part of any chutney, upma or South Indian dish that I make and serve. While the Indian store does sell a big bunch of frozen curry leaves, and which I did buy from time to time, I realised that I wasted a whole lot of them, as they didn’t stay well refrigerated. So I set about searching for a plant, and finding one at the above market, it became a part of my herb garden. I would then pluck the few curry leaves parsimoniously from time to time as required and use them to flavour and dish up the goodies.

Then sometime after fall last year, the plant began to yellow and shed leaves. With each passing week, I began to notice, with dismay, the bare stump, the stalks leafless. For the whole of winter, my curry leaf plant just sat there, no amount of waters or fertilizers reviving it in any way.

I had half a mind to give up, and throw it away, but something held me back. A tiny scratch on the stump showed green, which meant that perhaps there was life in it yet. I let it be, but noticing it from time to time.

And then in March, it put forth the tiniest of green leaves. I almost missed them, but on closer inspection, realised yes my sleeping beauty was waking up. Spring was round the corner!! Then some diligent feeding and fertilizing followed, and this is how it stands today:

curry leaf

Isn’t life too just like that? When we face the winters of our Life, we need to shed all that is unnecessary and extra, and go deeper into ourselves (like the curry plant did) and strengthen our roots. We need to brave out the icy, colds, rough weather with quiet and dignity, and stand still. Soon enough, Spring will beckon and you can come out of your hibernation and welcome Life back with open arms, throw out your new leaves and celebrate!!

The curry leaf plant has taught me such an important lesson. We need to have difficult Winters in Life to celebrate the arrival of Spring. The Winters remind us that Spring is just around the corner, and we need not despair. Even if we need to shed all that is external and unnecessary for the time being, we do not need all this fanfare at this particular  moment. This moment is of contemplation, of going back to the roots. And of braving the harsh weather with grace. Spring is, often enough, just ’round the corner. It seeks to remind us that while the Winter has passed, we need to learn our lesson, and in a short time ‘this too shall pass’. Both are equally necessary – one strengthens our roots, and the other opens up the wonderful possibilities of growth and awakening, when the time is right. At times, we simply need to withdraw in order to burst open again with joy.

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