Lost and Found: Have You Seen My Childhood Garden?
During the pandemic lockdown, I was caught with the abrupt closing of international borders and was forced (not unhappily) to stay in my hometown, Kuching, Sarawak, in Malaysian Borneo. This gave me ample time to rediscover the garden I grew up in – that has vastly changed since my family moved in the early 1980s. No longer surrounded by nature, our house compound today is now besieged by a different type of jungle – the semi-industrial kind where tar, cement, car grease, and petty capitalist aspirations carved out whatever greenery was left.
I had come and gone in the last decade whilst doing my postgraduate studies in the UK, each time leaving with more heartbreak with what has changed, deteriorated, and no longer recognisable from my childhood. On this day when I spotted this green crested lizard (Bronchocela cristatella) perched on a wild papaya sapling, I was crouched down, rather forlornly, unable to shut my ears to the incessant clanging from the car workshop next-door. The lizard and I, we were motionless in apparent solitude, lost in our thoughts, until my eyes cleared, readjusted and focused on its slender green body. We stared at each other, unblinking. And it seemed for a moment that the borders between my past and present, collapsed and I was home again once more.
Author bio: June is an environmental geographer and dreams of a long-lost garden.