Bonsai Liberation Fund
Just have to increase the strength of the painkillers," she
mimicked the specialist, as she slowly and with difficulty pushed
her rollator towards the hospitals main exit. "Nothing
else I can do for you now," she imitated his pedantic voice.
"You should have come to see me much earlier.... I did, you
ass! Ten years ago, and you told me I shouldnt be so coquettish!
After all, a woman my age.... Fèh!"
Her husband was waiting for her in the car. He helped her into
her seat and folded the rollator.
"And?" He looked at her with eyes that knew how she
"The usual story. Stronger painkillers, calcium to keep my
bones from really falling apart, must be careful not to break
any more of them. Ah, you know, same damn old thing he always
"Yeah," grumbled her man. "Thats why Id
better not come along, when you see him. Id beat the rheumatoid
arthritis out of him."
She smiled and rubbed her hand. One finger was swollen and red,
and the joint was beginning to grow completely the wrong way.
Ugly! Ugly! Ugly! Like a bonsai tree....
"Im beginning to feel like a bonsai tree," she
"Youre beginning to look like one, my wife," he
joked; together they grinned.
Thats how it all started.
Bonsai ... bonsai ... the word, and the picture that went with
it, didnt leave her and thats how she decided to start
a fund. A fund for the liberation of bonsai trees: the Bonsai
The BLF had two members and a dog, and the three of them took
care of everything. Her man bordered off a piece of their garden,
turned the ground, put in some good earth and planted a hedge
Grows fast, bamboo does, and by the time shed bought her
first bonsai trees, the stalks were high enough to keep anybody
from seeing what was behind the hedge. None of their business
and we all know how it is with Liberation Funds ... before even
reading the word Bonsai, people would start screaming!
She bought first one, then two, then fifteen little bonsai trees
that - just for laughs - all were between sixty and seventy years
old. She, too, was between sixty and seventy, thats why.
He dug out two small ponds and built a slender, rounded, narrow,
Japanese-style bridge, to go across one to the other.
She bought a few Japanese azaleas and asked her grandson to go
to the river, and bring her loads and loads of those beautifully
rounded, grey and white, water-polished stones.
Her man spread white gravel on the path that curved around and
through the garden, and decorated it with a raked, symmetric pattern.
The old wooden rake he used actually was for hay, but the effect
She sat on one of the many elegant benches he'd made for her and
told him where to put the statue of Buddha, where to put the rain
bells and the stone Chinese lanterns; she indicated where to plant
the azaleas, and where to put the hand-painted sign that said:
Bonsai Liberation Fund in Japanese writing. She would have preferred
Chinese letters, but wasnt totally sure of herself there,
so she opted for the Japanese she was totally familiar with.
"You know something," she said, after looking around
and approving with a fat cat smile. "You know something?
I like feeling like a bonsai and when Im sitting here, I
dont even mind that I look like one."
"Yo, Mama-San," he laughed. "Then its time
to give those trees of yours a chance to breathe, eh?"
Before anybody could say sayonara, all the little bonsais had
been put into the ground and after adding a little this, arranging
a little that, dusting Buddhas head and putting down a made-in-China
house for the toad, he too sat on the little bench and together
they overlooked their Japanese garden.
The leaves of the bamboos whispered in the wind and the water
on the little fountain wall murmured sweet words to attract the
birds. Come ... come ... have a bath, have some seeds, a piece
The dog slept. He couldnt care less about being a member
of the Fund, and even less about their garden ... he wasnt
even allowed to pee on those little trees! So, how the heck was
he going to mark this as his territory? Humans! Bah!
The year has gone by quickly and springs warm sunshine allows
her to sit on one of the little benches and observe the state
of her Fund, or rather the state of those that benefit from it.
Ever seen a sixty-five-year-old bonsai oak spread its wings to
the sky? Ever watched the splendour of an acacia bonsai, when
the branches are allowed to branch out? Ever seen what a bonsai
tree does, when you dont prune its branches and tie them
down in any darn twisted manner you wish, or clip the left side
of its roots?
Do you know what Liberated Bonsai Trees look like?
They look happy, they look healthy, they look contented, and even
though their trunks will always remain crooked and malformed,
their leaves rustle in the wind and sing along with the murmuring
water of the waterfall.
Theyre crooked, but theyre free. Like the woman sitting
on that little bench. Yes, that one, with the funny hands and
funny feet. The one who can hardly walk, but always has a smile
on her face. Thats what they look like.
Rey (1938 - ?) was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and
from the time she was a little girl, has worked in radio, television,
publicity and the theatre, as a broadcaster, entertainer, scriptwriter,
translator, editor, and actress, in the Netherlands, Canada and
Today, retired, she finally has the time to be a full-time writer
for herself, and an editor for other authors.
Her work during the Second World War, as a 'baby-courier' in the
Dutch Underground, earned her the honourable distinction of having
been one of Holland's two Child Resistance Fighters.
Deborah Rey is married and has one daughter, and one grandson.
She lives at the French Atlantic coast, with her husband, the
Dingo-Dog and six cats.