Garden

New song & story

 

This song is dedicated to a very special woman, "P". Born in southern India at the end of British rule, P studied comparative literature through secondary school before relocating to Kenya with her husband to work as a teacher. Once her children were old enough for school, the family moved to London, where they stayed until P’s husband died. She then followed her son to the US, where she focused on cultivating her garden, her story-telling talents, and her love of fiction. This freedom came to a stop just over two years ago, when a difficult prognosis left P confined to a small, dingy hospice room. That’s where we met.

Over the next few years, P and I became close friends. She would read me stories from her self-published collection of Kenyan fables, supplementing them with cultural commentary. As the Royal Family’s number-one-fan, she was also unusually keen on the conspiracies surrounding Diana’s death and Harry’s latest suitor. This royal fandom was grounded in one of the most impressive understandings of European royal history that I’ve ever encountered — I think I learned more from P than from my professors back on campus.

But my time with P was more than a history lesson. I had the chance to meet many of her children and grandchildren, who greeted me like another member of the family. P and I had an annual Holiday Extravaganza, usually consisting of a miniature tinsel tree and some homemade gifts worth their weight in gold. And when the festivities ended, we found time to reflect on her life — the ups, downs, and in-betweens. Sometimes we’d pop-philosophize, and sometimes we’d just sit in silence. One of the greatest lessons that I learned from P was how to sit in silence.

P died on a cool morning last fall, the same morning that I recorded most of this song. Although P’s life was beautiful and full of joy, “Garden” focuses on one of the more difficult chapters: the end. It’s chalked full of clichés and metaphors, but I hope you enjoy it.

This one’s for you, P.