… He held the paper up to the light when he noticed some writing on the back. On turning it over, he read out its contents. “Report to the address by 8 am on 13th June 1986.” He glanced quickly at his watch to notice it was 7 already. He would need to have a bath and drink some coffee before he could leave. All along, the two sides of his brain fought between each other questioning the validity of the note.
Images of the red devil flashed before his eyes as the cold water washed away his headache. He pulled on his green tee shirt and work pants before rushing out the door. There was no time to enjoy a bite. He needed to get to the bottom of the note. He arrived at the address with ten minutes to spare. He noticed the huge fields behind the house. It seemed impossible to acquire so much land in the middle of the city. Intrigued and suspicious, he knocked on the bright blue door of the tiny wooden house.
The door was opened by a radiant creature dressed in the same outfit as in his recollections. Her smile triggered a memory he had suppressed. It dawned on him that it must have been her in his room last night. “Yes, it was me,” she responded. The entire string of memories came rushing back to him. She led him into the house that was brightly painted in red, yellow and orange colours. The ambience made him feel at ease and spread warmth throughout him. It looked like a child was given pots of paint with no limitations given. “Children have no limits,” she dismissed his thought. She led him through a series of blue doors to the backyard. The entire house was wooden and he could barely take in all the imagery. “Behold,” she said.
He was astounded by the stretches of plush green fields and a backyard full of large trees. The end seemed no where in his vision. The varieties were numerous and endless; mango, papaya, jackfruit, apple, chickoo, guava and more that he had never seen before. There were huge banyan trees in a corner. Under the shade of the canopy, many younger ones were seated. Dressed in similar outfits, they seemed to be preoccupied in their own world. It took him several minutes to catch his breath and find his voice. “Where are we?” he finally managed.
Her smile lit up her eyes as she said, “The answer to your qualms about this world!”
She let him wander aimlessly in the gardens of Laro for many hours. It took a while to get accustomed to the surroundings. She watched as he bent down and smelt every flower. The purple ones seemed to fascinate him more. Fortunately, he didn’t try to pick any; he would be in for a shock when they would bite him. The flowers in Laro didn’t like to be picked and the trees didn’t approve of cutting. They functioned on their own. But they needed to be given love and affection apart from their daily dose of water.
She cooked snacks for the house and her visitor as he explored the garden. She waved her lasso around and watched the splashes of silver explode from it. The kitchen was sparkling clean when she was done. Jack had returned from his walk by then. He stood silently at the door watching her movements, lost in his thoughts. Without turning towards him, she said, “Sit down and we can talk terms about your new job.”
Even if he got used to the magnificence of the garden, he wouldn’t get used to the mind reading. He sat down on the star shaped table as she placed some snacks on it. Much like everything else, they were bright and looked surreal. “My name is Squeendie. I own this house and belong to the land of zealots. It has been around for many years. We mostly never leave the house, unless there is a plea we cannot let go of. The house is invisible to all those who are not personally invited by me or one of the tiny zealots. As you can see, I try to maintain it with some help but there is a lot of ground to cover,” she said.
He smiled as she continued to talk. “Would you be up for the job?” she asked confident that he couldn’t refuse. “Sure. I can start work today itself,” he replied. She called out to the tiny zealots and introduced Jack to them all.
He proceeded to tend to the garden of Laro with kindness and compassion. He couldn’t have been happier.