I planted the fig saplings more than a decade ago and she painted them years on as handsome trees that they have become. This is a sweet chapter of my life unfolded to me by chance a couple of weeks ago when I found the painting in a students' art exhibition at Lasalle, our famed school of the arts.
You can imagine the pure joy I felt then seeing my past effort rendered on canvas in beautiful colours. It felt like a fairy tale; sweet as memory-dews, coming full circle at a time for me to recall every step I took in the early life of these trees. I knew I had to share my experience with budding artist Ms Denise Jillian Tan (above). She should know, I thought; the story that enriches must be told and she is so much part of it now. I found her contact in due time and wrote her.
This is the story of the fig trees I shared with Denise:
"These fig trees were destined for the rubbish truck when I found them as forlorn-looking two-meter tall wiry saplings in torn-up bags at the waste-yard. They caught my heart and I salvaged them from sure destruction. I am happy for them now - so strong and spreading - providing figs for animals and shade for man, and not to mention, inspiration for Denise to paint them so beautifully."
[Photos above & below: Ficus benjamina var nuda (synonym: Ficus nuda)]
Subsequently I met up with Denise and her mum Catherine for a memorable lunch together. In her own words, she shared how the trees inspired her:
"I chose that tree [foreground] in particular because of its beauty. Its many branches stretching towards the sky, giving shade to the pathway, and its roots were most perculiar: emerging from the ground, almost like a reflection of the branches above - an assymetrical beauty of nature".
I must say I am extremely blessed with Denise's generosity of heart as she presented the gift of the painting to me. For this I remain forever thankful. I hope she will realize her dream of becoming a successful artist.
I also hope this charming story ends not here but continues as a first chapter to many many other stories of people drawn to the life of these trees. May they continue to grow, touch and inspire anyone who come under the spell of their generous loving embrace.
[Footnote: the 3 trees are figs: 2 nos. Ficus microcarpa and 1 no. Ficus benjamina var nuda (synonym Ficus nuda); located above slope overlooking Symphony Lake, Singapore Botanic Gardens]