Daydream: Dead plants and human suffering

Manila — Coming home from a one-time, month-long job posting with an international humanitarian organization that has a team deployed in a conflict area, I found myself staring at two pots with dead plants among a row of previously happy looking greens.

I stayed there for a while wondering how they died. My plants are the kind that don't need watering for even a week. I guessed my neighbor or the cleaners in the apartment must have drowned them unintentionally as I asked them to look after the plants while I was gone. I failed to specify however, that they didn’t need daily watering.

I felt sad because plants don’t die on me. It's because I grew up believing I have a green thumb or a knack for growing and making plants alive and healthy, and I really do. I heard it the first time from my father who believed I inherited it from him, that is, if green thumbs are hereditary and can be passed on to one's offspring.

But I moved on and searched for new plants to care for in a garden and plant shop. I saw one that has tiny violet flowers and another with colored leaves. When I put them in the row of potted plants, they all looked happy together again.

As I continued to write stories from materials and information I gathered from my short work assignment, and these are about people I encountered, my plant problem looked miniscule when I think of the persons I met and the lives they currently live; they fled a war to live somewhere else temporarily.