The Last Garden of Knowledge

By Suzy Kassem

There was a wise man who spent all his life building a mystical garden. His flowers were the most fragrant across the land, and every day he taught them knowledge.

In the last chapter of his life, the man had grown very frail and his skin turned thin and blue. He was so determined to leave all the wisdom in the world inside his garden, to be shared with future generations, that he had severely neglected his own health.

When the man finally died alone in his chambers, his flowers cried for seven days. And seven days after his death, they realized they now had to fend for themselves. With no food, wisdom, or water, the flowers knew their days were numbered. The old man had died so suddenly that he had forgotten to unlock the gates to his garden.

One day, a young boy, who was playing out in the fields, caught the seductive scent of the forgotten garden. He knocked on the garden’s gates, but when nobody answered, he climbed over the ledge and fell inside.

At the sight of the first flower, the boy rushed to pluck it from the earth right away. But before he could tear out its stem, the flower said to him, “Wait, child. I have something for you if you do something for me.”

The boy stumbled back at the sound of the talking flower. “What do you want from me?” he mumbled.

“If you pluck me from my roots, I will die within three days. And the wisdom that I drank from my master every day, will forever be erased. I will give you a petal of his wisdom to help you grow, if you promise to return tomorrow to water my roots so that I may also grow.” said the flower.

The boy knew that he was to leave with his family for the Orient the next day, but because he was so seduced by the flower’s sweet fragrance, he agreed immediately. He took the petal home and was never seen again.

Two days later, a ball flew over the garden’s gates and landed in the dirt next to the same flower. A little girl climbed over the wall with her brother, and they both ran across the garden to fetch their ball, while carelessly crushing a trail of delicate flowers in their path.

Immediately the flower spoke out to the children, “Children, would either of you care to gain knowledge on how to bring peace into your world and inside your homes?”

The children stared at each other in awe, then stepped closer to the talking flower.

“Our country is at war and our father has not yet returned home with his army. Can you bring our father back?” asked the girl.

“Yes, I can show you how. If each of you take home one of my petals and place them under your pillows, you will know the way with time. But you must promise to return tomorrow to water my roots, or I will wilt away with time.”

The children both took two of the flower’s petals and returned to the fields. And that night, under the moonlight, the flower wept over the loss of its sisters and brothers.

The next day the flower waited for the children to return, but instead an old woman climbed over the gates with a basket to collect some flowers for her home. As she plucked several from the ground, she jumped at the sound of the talking flower.

“Woman! In every flower you have torn from this sacred garden, there contains libraries of knowledge that your children and grandchildren will never see or hear. Come closer so I can share with you some of mine, and show you the way to immortality!” the flower cried.

The woman walked over to the flower and got on her knees to study its magnificence. It only had three petals left.

“I am sick and the doctors say I do not have much longer to live. Where is the way to immortality?” she asked.

“Do you have any water so that I may drink?” inquired the flower.

“No, the stream is very far from here. I would have to bring you some tomorrow.”

“Very well,” the flower replied sadly. “Take three of my petals and put one in your tea at breakfast, one at lunch, and the last for dinner. Then you will know the way to immortality.”

The woman thanked it and went on her way. That night, the flower cried again for its master and dead siblings.

The next day, the flower stood alone in the garden dying of thirst. A bird flew over its head and landed on the ground next to it.

“Foolish flower,” said the bird, “Have you not learned that you can show humans the way to knowledge, but they will shoot you with an arrow in return?”

The flower thought about the bird’s words, and then sulked in remorse under the sun’s grueling heat. Then finally after the sun disappeared over the horizon and the flower still found itself alone, it tilted its head to face the dead, and took in its last breath to eternal sleep.

By Suzy Kassem © 2011. All rights reserved. For more check out my book, Rise Up and Salute the Sun – The Writings of Suzy Kassem