Two old men sat on the park bench.
Although they came from opposite quarters of the world they shared a common mother tongue as they met in a third quarter, a place where foreign tongues were ill understood, even unwelcome.
Two eccentrics; two bicyclists; two septuagenarians born just 24 days apart.
Nong said to Pii: “Everybody asks ‘Aren’t I afraid riding a bicycle around town? More afraid in a motor vehicle.’ The answer.”Why fear when past three score years and ten” Pii thought.
This was not the first encounter of the two old men. Ten days earlier Pii came across Nong sitting on his favourite park bench. This time though, Nong was on his feet walking around with two small buckets. Red in the left hand, or at least one would hope so that port and starboard were not to be confused, and in the other hand Green.
“The lady in the shop was somewhat bemused to encounter a whitey buying little buckets so far in advance of the annual water festival.” said Nong.
But the truth be that in the coming year there may be no water festival. There may be no water, as the Little Boy, egged on by failures of Kyoto, Copenhagen .. and heaven help all, perhaps Paris, brings on a record breaking drought.
Nong had come earlier for peace, quiet and green beauty. So had Pii , but Pii also had another motive.
The park was not as green as one might like. Far too little shade for the sweltering tropics, and what there was, consisted largely of exotic trees providing poor habitat for native birds and animals.
Pii had been persuaded by a friend, now absent in the desert lands of Arabia, to invite local folk who use the park, not as does Nong, but for evening exercise. Mostly they can be seen plodding around in zombie like state with little interest in social interaction.
Would the suggestion bear fruit and see exercise for public, not only private benefit? Would they join in and help plant trees for the squirrels? Would they then offer to carry water to see the trees through the long dry to come?
On planting day a group of Pii’s friends came to give a hand and the job was nicely done with around sixty small trees of local varieties in the ground and some good follow up rain to help them settle in and grow. No, the zombies continued to behave as before ignoring the activity. Not entirely, a couple asked what was happening and one rather old man who lived nearby was happy to take a golden flowering Payom tree (Shorea roxburghii) home to plant there.
Come to the present, four days after the two old men sat complaining about the younger generation Pii returned. Returned with a feeling of guilt and apprehension, but equipped to ease both.
The problem was, despite his sailors buckets, the distances water had to be carried to trees planted far from Nong’s favourite park bench were daunting and a diligent water carrier might well risk heat exhaustion. But Pii had a solution as his bicycle was equipped with a carry rack and a pair of state of the art, all weather imported panniers. Each of these could carry eight litres of bottled water for the thirsty little trees.
Just as well Pii was so equipped, as all but one of the few watering points in the park, yes even in the decrepit toilet blocks, were out of action. The remote trees had their drink and should be out of danger from drought for a good week or so.
>However a problem remains for Pii. Nong was not there this day and Pii wants to let Nong know not to worry about the remote trees. But how to get the message to Nong? Pii did not have the fore thought to pack paper and pencil to write a note and leave in Nong’s bucket hiding place.
So Pii writes this account in the confident knowledge following Mr Snowden’s revelations, that the English spies who cunningly pretend to be comedians in order to keep a close eye on the comings and goings of Nong’s possibly seditious writers circle, will do as Mother would wish.
Mother Earth that is.
… and an after thought. Anybody interested in supporting this project is invited to record a comment below and a response will be forth coming.