Not-so Secret Garden
I have no problem in trying to be hospitable, strange kids
are fine, other people's cats I can just about live with but
my hospitality doesn't extend towards squirrels!" This
comment only served to make my husband's grin get even bigger.
"No, I'm serious, we can't encourage them to wander in
whenever they feel like, apart from the fact that it may be
unhygienic if they come into contact with food or anything,
I just don't want an invasion of squirrels from the garden".
My other half obviously found this very amusing and his reply
only managed to make me even more exasperated. "You've
been watching too many Alfred Hitchcock films beware "The
invasion of the killer squirrels!"" You must be
wondering what on earth I am talking about so let me just
rewind a little and fill you in on the back ground to this
rather bizarre conversation.
always been a city girl, the thought of living in suburbia
or even beyond was something I was never desperately keen
on. I really didn't want to have to trudge a mile down the
road to borrow the proverbial cup of sugar or be able to count
the number of people I saw in a day on the fingers of one
hand. I wanted to look out of my window and see other human
beings going about their business and know that my neighbours
were a hop and a skip away. A little bit of noise thrown into
the mix wouldn't hurt either. In other words you can take
a girl out of Dhaka but you can't take Dhaka out of a girl!
I also wanted a garden where the children could run around
and play and not always have to be cooped up in the house
which is an unpleasant but often unavoidable side effect of
living in a hustling bustling metropolis. So when we went
house hunting, my list of criteria seemed impossible to meet.
But luck was on our side and we found a property that just
fit the bill. One of the selling features described by the
estate agent was the communal garden behind the house. From
the moment we set eyes on it, both my husband I fell in love
with the garden. Despite being in the middle of London, just
beyond the back patio lay a mini oasis. Effectively the patio
opens out onto two acres of greenery. Not only was I in the
middle of London, but I also had a wonderful park literally
at my fingertips.
has proved to be a source of enjoyment not just for the kids
but for us as well. During the year we have events such as
our annual bonfire and fireworks display, the summer fete
and Christmas get together. As for the rest of the year, if
you look out of the window, you can see people jogging or
going for their power walks, taking their dogs for their regular
walks or people just strolling around getting a breath of
fresh air. At one point when my cousin was living with us,
we decided to go jogging around the garden every evening.
This was to avoid being seen by other people as we panted
around the grounds. But we found to our dismay that this was
a huge mistake as every time we jogged passed the other houses
around the garden, we set off the light sensors in their patios!
Let's just say we didn't make ourselves very popular.
very common sight in the garden is that of dozens of children
playing. It is almost as if they appear from nowhere and suddenly
the entire place is crawling with children of different ages
playing together, riding their bikes or just playing on the
swings and slides in the little playground in the centre of
the garden. This everything we could have wished for and more.
When I say "more" I really do mean more. What I
subsequently learned was that the garden had a few unwritten
conditions attached to it. We were very happy that the children
were able to go out and play and have friends who lived in
houses around the garden. But this also meant that we had
somewhere along the line given up our right to any privacy
as their friends had carte blanche when it came to access
to our house. Being a Bangladeshi, this concept of having
an open house was not a problem. However there were times
when I found my house invaded by nine or ten children having
been invited by my progeny for lunch at short notice. I have
on many occasions fed children or found them playing on the
play station and wondered, "Do I even know you?"
One incident that still makes me laugh is where we had two
children wander into my husband's study, see a bowl of popcorn
on his desk and then help themselves to a handful and leave
almost as suddenly as they had arrived. To this day I still
have no idea who they were.
that wasn't enough, I have also had strange cats drifting
into the house, checking out our bedrooms and then wandering
back to their respective homes. The latest addition to my
string of guests was our pet squirrel that lives in the garden.
I say pet squirrel because it sits outside our kitchen and
waits for us to give it some nuts, in fact it is even quite
partial to Crunchy Nut Cornflakes! A few days ago I was sitting
in the T.V. room when I heard the noise of scurrying feet
under my chair. I asked our house help whether it was Fizz
the cat again but she announced that it was a squirrel. Feeding
it nuts from our kitchen is one thing but sharing my chanachur
while watching television was just not acceptable! Hence my
conversation with my husband about banning any kind of visits
by creatures of the bushy tailed variety.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004