The Privet Tree

I must not forget. He cut down the privet tree. For me. For no other reason. Just for me. I must not forget.

I knew that the privet in flower was affecting my health. It was notorious for doing so, for causing sore throats, allergies, aches and pains, for a multitude of ailments. And it was growing just a few metres from our verandah, but in our neighbour’s yard, just over the border.

He received permission from the neighbour to get rid of the privet, but there was a warning. ‘Watch out for the huge carpet snake that lives in it! Good luck Mate!’ We knew about the snake of course, and had seen it at times. We knew it was not venomous, but it was big, and strong, and looked powerful enough to crush a small animal easily, and had probably done so often enough. I was quite frightened of it, as I was of all snakes.

But he was not deterred and sought his chain-saw. It was a long job, and I elected not to watch as I considered those saws to be most dangerous for the user. When he called me to say that it was time for a cuppa’, this being thirsty work, I was surprised to see that he had accomplished so much. All the branches had been cut off and I enquired had he seen the snake? Oh yes, it had been coiled around a large branch and he had removed branch and snake together to another tree-ed area in our neighbour’s yard.

I was full of appreciation. Indeed, my cup overfloweth. With love. Happy love, for we were so happy. I told him how I felt.

‘If ever things go wrong between us,’ I said, ‘I shall remember this day, when you cut down the privet for me.’ He looked at me gratefully, I thought, with those brown eyes of his, but being a man of few words, he said nothing much, just that he didn’t want me to be sick.

After a number of good years, things did indeed go wrong. His obsessive nature won; over his need of me, and he has sought other climes, another country, where he can pursue his dreams. He asked me to go with him, but this was impossible, certainly impractical. He was chasing rainbows after all. So off he went, alone at first, and the hurt was unimaginable.

I felt of no value at all to him. I was devastated as my life with him crumbled. If he really loved me, he could not have left like that; could not have found someone else so quickly, so blatantly. But each time he returned to collect possessions, he took me eagerly in his strong arms and kissed me, hugged me, held me, spent some time with me. I held my composure. Just. I was determined not to let him see how broken I was, and I believe he went off thinking he had my blessing, in a way. In a way that was enough, anyway, for him.

I suffered, mostly in silence, trying to come to a conclusion, this being inevitably that he had not ever loved me. Could not ever have loved me truly. Not as I had loved him. The dagger to my heart was twisted this way and that; hurtfully, painfully, and I prayed for some respite.

The thought alighted softly, quietly, surely on my shoulder. Remember the privet tree? How could you forget how he manfully tackled an awful task, not without some danger, for you? What about the ruus tree? Positively noxious, and he had cut it down uncomplainingly, despite the rash that ensued, because I wanted it removed. Of course he had loved me once, before his ambitions overwhelmed him. And I must understand man’s frailty. And mend my heart.