Hazel the leaf
Children's stories for adults (2):
Every evening, Sara played in the garden while her mother drank tea on a green bench under the shade of a palm tree. Sara would lie on the grass, throw her hands in the air and try to reach for the coconuts on the tree.
One day, Sara asked Amma if she could climb the tree and pluck a coconut for herself. But the tree was too tall and Amma feared that if Sara tried to climb it, she would fall and bump her head.
‘Why don’t you play by the shrubs?’ Amma said.
‘Ok Amma,’ Sara nodded.
‘But make sure you don’t pluck any leaves,’ Amma warned her. ‘It will be dark soon and plants go to sleep at night. We shouldn’t disturb them.’
‘Really Amma, do plants also go to sleep at night like I do?’
‘Plants are living things too,’ Amma said. ‘In many ways, they are like us.’
For two evenings, Sara ran in circles around the shrubs and their dog Buck chased after her. On the third day, she got tired of running, stood by the shrubs and looked at the veins on the leaves.
‘It looks beautiful,’ she told Buck, who barked loudly and sniffed the shrubs. ‘I want one leaf for myself.’
Forgetting Amma’s warning, Sara tore a leaf from the shrubs and put it in her pocket. She didn’t tell her mother what she had done.
That night, Sara dreamt that she had plucked another leaf from the shrubs. When the leaf snapped from its stem and fell into her hand, she saw a teardrop running down its veiny surface.
‘Why are you crying?’ Sara asked the leaf.
‘I’m in pain,’ the leaf howled. ‘You hurt me when you took me away from my home.’
‘Where is your home?’
‘The shrub is my home,’ the leaf said. ‘I’ll never be able to go back to it now that you’ve torn me away from it.’
‘I didn’t know leaves had homes,’ Sara said, wiping the leaf’s tears with her fingers.
‘We also have names,’ the leaf said.
‘What’s your name?’
‘Hazel,’ the leaf whispered. ‘And that faded leaf that was next to me is my Mama. If you listen closely, you can hear her crying.’
Just then, Sara heard a soft hum in the air – Hazel’s Mama. She knew then that she had made a mistake.
‘I’m sorry,’ Sara said to Hazel. ‘I didn’t know.’
‘I’ll never get to be with my Mama again,’ Hazel cried. ‘How would you feel if someone took you away from your mama?’
‘I’m sorry,’ Sara repeated herself. ‘I didn’t know.’
Just then, Amma woke Sara up for school. Sara looked around and was pleased to find herself in her room instead of the garden.
‘Who were you saying sorry to, Sara?’ Amma asked. ‘Were you having a nightmare?’
Sara took a deep breath and hugged her mother. Though her encounter with Hazel had been a dream, Sara couldn’t forget it. That evening, she took Amma’s scotch tape and tried to stick the leaf back onto the shrub. But the leaf kept falling on the grass. Disappointed, Sara lay down on the grass and began thinking of other ways she could put the leaf back on the shrubs.
Amma watched her with interest, put down her cup of tea and walked over to her daughter.
‘What were you trying to do with the tape?’ she asked.
‘Amma,’ Sara said, tears rolling down her cheek. ‘I made a mistake.’
Sara told her mother about the dream. Amma smiled and wiped Sara’s tears with a handkerchief.
‘I know how we can bring Hazel back to her mama,’ Amma said.
The next day, Sara and Amma planted seeds into the ground next to the shrubs.
‘When this plant becomes a tall tree, we can call it Hazel,’ Amma told her. ‘But you must always remember to water it so that it grows.’
Sara promised to water the plant every day.