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the purple carpet

07/11/2010

Hello Sunday Polaroid of Jacarandas
It is 1937. A baby has been born. The mother sits on the verandah with a pillow to prop her back and her aching feet resting on a table. The child, with its silken, still-soft head, is content at her breast, murmuring quietly. Here? the father calls out as he stands in the centre of the yard, his arms stretching up and out to the sun as if in celebration. She nods and smiles; she is happy but tired. All right, the father says, folding up the ends of his sleeves and lifting from the grass a heavy, mostly rusted shovel. He ploughs it straight into the ground, works a small hole and turns the soil until it is well-separated. On his knees then, he plunges his hands into the earth and continues to knead the soil, if only for his own delight. After he has felt each individual granule of dirt between his fingers he takes the Jacaranda sapling and nestles it into the ground, pulls the excess soil in around it, douses it in water. In seventy-something years, the baby, no longer a baby, will die, perhaps from cancer, something sinister, or perhaps in his sleep, with no trouble, just a sigh. He will be buried in the earth and the purple blossoms will continue to prosper, each year shining intensely for a month before falling and rotting slowly, stinking up the ground in preparation for the next cycle.

Find out more about this Hello Sunday story

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