If one purposes to nip something wrong in the bud, it means they will stop it from happening by destroying its core part, that way there won’t be any part of it that could possibly sprout again, and give rise to the same problematic issue. Ever seen a Bougainvillea hedge? It’s so thick, and while the flowers are beautiful, it has spiky thorns as well.
As a child, I played around it a lot, because it was easily available. I’d pluck a flower, tuck it in my hair. Sadly, as I grew up I started realizing it was most people’s preferred choice for funeral wreaths around my neighbourhood. Gradually, I stopped fancying them as I associated them with mortality. Sometimes I would come across them and they would feel ominous.
One time I passed by a bougainvillea fence that had been near our house, and I realized someone had sheared the branches off. I felt so elated. I wouldn’t have to see it again. At the time my mom was with me, and I quickly pointed it out to her.
Nonetheless, her reply made me feel like someone had punched me in the gut. “It will grow back again,” she said. “If someone wants to get rid of it completely they must destroy the roots”. At that point I realized, I’d have to get used to seeing the purple flowers, which were the most common. Weeks down the line, the detestable flowers were already starting to sprout again.
To date, I still hate the flowers, and whenever I come across a bougainvillea bush, my mom’s words ring in my head, “One must destroy the roots”. I remembered this flower a couple of weeks ago, when I heard a related anecdote from a Bishop during one of the online Sunday masses.
The story was about a small community, where the residents used to draw water from a communal well. One day, residents noticed there was a film of bubbles on the surface. Without paying much thought to it, the residents had the layer scooped out. At the time no one cared to have the matter investigated further, to know what had caused it.
The next day, the residents woke up and went to draw water from the well as usual and to their dismay, the film was back. They started getting concerned. However, no one thought to find out the cause of the intrusive film. Unanimously, they decided to seal the well, since it had always been left uncovered. That way, they reasoned, whatever was contaminating the water would not have access.
Relieved, the residents went on with their daily chores, satisfied that they had fixed the problem. Nonetheless, their joy was short-lived because when they went to get water the next morning, they noticed it had the same filthy bubbles. That’s when they thought to check the bottom of the well, because clearly, whatever was adulterating their water was coming from within.
A brave young lad, volunteered to go inside the well to check…and as one would expect, the root cause of their problem lay at the bottom of the well. Apparently, a dog had accidentally fallen inside the well and had subsequently drowned. This entire time, the residents had been using water which had been contaminated by the decaying carcass of a dog. Consequently, the carcass was pulled out and the well cleaned.
In more ways than one, most of us are like those residents; we see a problem, but instead of getting to the bottom of it and destroying the roots, we slothfully cut the branches, forgetting that the issue will continue recurring, since the roots are still intact. If something is bugging us, let’s destroy the roots…that way we’ll be sure we’ve destroyed it; because in essence, most of our incessant vexations are recurring issues that we purport to address, but never get to actually deal with.