My walks in the Tobacco Company garden........6

The title of the blog could also be 'a remembered garden'. It has now changed dramatically and it would be interesting to compare the present park with the older one. It is a pity that there are not many pictures from my earlier walks. The pictures would have been memorable. Sad that you cannot be a part of the old scene.

It was in Jan 1, some years ago an event occurred and was reported in all the papers. The story would be in their archives. Anyway it is easier to write about the incident than look for it in the newspaper office. Not even certain whether it is possible for me.

Anyway as I stepped in to the park on that morning, it felt different. It appeared as though someone had strewn a lot of white flowers on the lake. They were spread all over the lake, but more were in the middle of the lake. Strange as it was not the time for 'Loi Krathong' when Thais float small baskets decorated with flowers in the water. It is a very colorful festvial.

Inexplicabally as I turned back towards the lake 15 minutes later there were more of them floating. Some looked even bigger. Then appeared a boy out of the water carrying a fish as wide as his chest and with a very wide of grin. It was probably his picture that was on the front page of papers! Soon many more from the settlements around the lake and Klong Toei, a low income settlement, came in droves to collect the dead fish.

The next day was eerie as there were men in boats scooping dead fish from the water and dumping them in the boat. The boatmen were not smiling. They were all solemn and grim. I am sure the fish smelled terrible even for those who liked them. There were no takers for the fish. None thronged around the lake as in the previous day. It took days for the crew to clean up the lake.

The factory men were working non-stop installing a couple improvised and crude looking aerators. My guess that the aerators had failed or someone had forgotten to run them during the end of the year holidays was confirmed. This lapse caused a disaster and thousands of fish died in the course of three days due to lack of oxygen in the water.

I remembered the poor little turtle which was a meal for someone and hoped that the turtles in the lake had saved themselves. Probably the smaller fish managed to cluster together at the centre of the lake, the deepest part and survived.

I wonder if any action was taken by the Factory management to inquire and punish those who were responsible. Difficult to even think of the type of punishment that can be meted out to them. It is possible that the guilt felt by the culpable was thought to be adequate punishment.

I am now curious to know how the lake was replenished with fish. In all liklehood they allowed nature to take its own course. I hope so, as the thought of the Tobacco company spending money from its earnings, tainted as it is, does not appeal.

I was witness to another disaster which was very dramatic but not as tragic as this one. One stormy night about 30 percent of the trees in the garden came crashing down. It was amazing to see that many big trees had fallen but a few small and thinner ones had survived. I took a camera the next day and took some pictures. As the days went by, I saw the gardeners busy resurrecting some of the fallen trees. They were mostly the mid sized ones. The real big ones were cut and carted away. I have no explanation why this disaster did not upset me as much as the earlier one.
Equally amazing as in a few month's time many of the resurrected trees had taken root and fresh leaves had sprouted. While the garden could never be the same, there was hope it would be greener in a few years time.


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