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One day last autumn, Professor W, whom I had met when I was at
the University of Hawaii, came to my study during a visit to Seoul.
Then a little later Professor W's Korean student, who had accompanied him on his visit to our house, arrived with a truckload of various potted plants which he duly brought up to my study, saying,
-- Professor W sent me a hundred dollars to buy pots of flowers to put in your study. He insisted on potted plants.
I only said 'Thank you,' receiving them calmly and gratefully, but once he had left I burst into gales of laughter, such as I rarely enjoy.
In actual fact, I already had on the veranda of my study two potted orchids, as well as 5 or 6 other kinds of potted plants, but Professor W must have taken them for weeds and mistakenly felt that my study was a sorry sight indeed, without a single decent flower in it.
However, that foreign friend's kindly-meant gifts were rather too intrusive for my taste and I got tired of seeing them; then as spring came they grew even more bulky and threatened to be even more gaudy until at last today, after mature consideration, I finally sent the whole lot off to a convent.
And now I am contemplating my weeds with a very peaceful feeling. These nameless wild flowers first came up of their own accord several years ago in a pot where some spring chrysanthemums had been, and they vanish and reappear, reproducing themselves in this or that pot. I have only to contemplate them -- even though I am sitting here in a secluded room on the 11th floor of a concrete jungle hen-house apartment block -- to feel that I am walking along the lanes or over the hills of my childhood home.
Besides, as I contemplate their tiny, fragile, mysterious flowers, I really sense, to the point of tears, that truly 'Solomon in all his glory' cannot be compared with one of them.