Friday, January 11, 2013

Water Works

The other morning, our door-bell chimed.
            It was Lydia Kumarasamy, our nosy neighbour who’s always trying to fix Amanda up with one of her uncountable nephews.
            “Listen, Lydia,” Amanda began, uncomfortably aware that she had just answered the door in a very sheer silk and lace nightgown from Victoria’s Secret, “I really cannot go on another date with one of…”
            “Oh Amanda! How lovely to see you!” Lydia said smoothly with seasoned tact. “Listen, I’m going a-vay on a Mediterranean cruise with my sister, Sushila for two veeks and I need to ask you guys a favour. If I give you the key to my flat, can you water my plants? Just once a day vill do!” she said, her head bobbing gently. She held up a key and smiled brightly.
            Amanda blinked. “Oh. Uhm. Yeah. Sure. No problem.”
            Lydia beamed. “Oh, you are a treasure! Here’s the key. The watering can is next to the kitchen sink. See you when I get back. My nephew Cyrus is just back from Yale where he was studying engineering. You must meet him! Ok? If there are any problems, just SMS me!”
            With a cheery wave, she pivoted on her heels in a jangle of gold bangles and disappeared down the corridor back into her flat.
            Amanda shut the door and turned to us. “Yale? I graduated cum laude from Harvard! She expects me to date someone from Yale? That third rate Ivy League university?”
            Saffy looked up from her bowl of cereal. “Is she paying us for all this work?”
            That was five days ago. At last count, four of Lydia’s pot plants have died and one – a particularly lush pot of purple lilies – is showing distinct signs of accelerated aging. Meanwhile, a serious wave of recriminations between Saffy and Amanda as to whose fault it is has crested.
            “You over-watered them!” Amanda said firmly at breakfast this morning.
            Saffy’s impressive bosom inflated to maximum capacity. “I did not! If anything, you under-watered them. The soil was super dry, so I just added a bit more!”
            “Saffy, they’re cacti! They’re desert plants! Desert plants don’t need a lot of water! On account of them being desert plants!”
            Saffy hesitated in the face of such unrefutable horticultural evidence, but she rallied magnificently. “It’s the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard! If they’re desert plants, then what are they doing growing in the tropics?”
            Amanda’s forehead furrowed. A seasoned litigator, she could sense a treacherous slide ahead. Saffy’s logic, which never makes sense when you first hear it, always has a way of wearing you down to the stage you wonder if she actually doesn’t have a very valid point after all.
            So, Amanda shifted her line of defence and went on the offensive. “And what happened to those lilies?” she demanded.
            “I spritzed them like it said on Google!” Saffy replied hotly. “You can’t fault me on that!”
            Later, over afternoon tea, the girls were still bickering.
            “Aiyoh, you two, ah!” Sharyn moaned. “So simple thing to water plants, can still die, meh?”
            “Sharyn, you have no idea what you’re talking about,” Saffy snapped. “That flat is filled with wall to wall plants! The guest bedroom is a zoo! There are plants on every available surface! And each plant has its own watering requirements! Some need a lot of water, some need only a spray, some need to be rotated to face the light, and some don’t need watering at all! It’s all so confusing!”
            Amanda nodded. “It’s like dating ten men all at once! You have to remember what each one does and doesn’t like!”
            “Well, at least with men, there’s a pay-off after dinner,” Saffy said. “All these stupid plants do is sit there and grow. Or, in our case,” she added, “die!”
            Amanda pursed her lips and pouted. “It’s no wonder I’m still single! I can’t even look after a plant! What hope do I have of nurturing a relationship?”
            “Aiyoh, you seow, ah!” Sharyn said. “A plant is not like a man, ok? A man you have to wash his clothes. You must scold him because he leave toilet seat up or cannot aim properly. You must cook for him, udderwise, hor, he complain to his mudder that you are not like her. A plant, all you do is water water, finish! It don’t kachow you at night when you try to sleep. And one time a week, you add some fertilizer. Wah, so easy!”
            Later, Amanda said Sharyn married her first and only boyfriend. “Try dating a bunch of men for several years, then we’ll talk.”
            “Totally,” Saffy said. 

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