“WHEN I WAS YOUNG I HAD MY VERY OWN LEEFEH”
Journalist and director of Agenda Culturel, shares his childhood memories of leefeh The leefeh is a magnificent plant. Annually, it grows one, even two floors high to spread itself over the rooftop. The leefeh is children’s delight and happiness. Imagine my joy when planting a seed in March, only to play with its big leaves on the terrace by September. The leefeh is a gift from nature, covering any cracked or badly painted walls as it snakes over them. To my child’s eyes it climbs at the speed of the toy racing car that Santa Clause offered me that winter.
The leefeh doesn’t need water to grow beautifully. It only needs good soil; it refuses to grow in a pot. The sun and the sea are its allies. Plant it in Beit Meri and it will refuse to grow. Any child can offer these simple conditions and grow their leefeh. Nothing compares to the childhood happiness of counting the yellowed leaves to tell my mother that my leefeh had kept its promise.
One summer, an uncle of mine recommended that I hack my leefeh at its base to insert a clove of garlic. That summer, my leefeh grew wonderfully and all of my neighbors admired it. I was so proud of my uncle but most importantly of my leefeh. To see it blossom so rapidly, whilst children take years to grow, the leefeh creates a sort of complicity with a child that no other plant can provide. But the leefeh is not a kid’s plant alone; parents also love it. To get a glimpse of the interest that grownups have towards the leefeh, you should have seen my mother taking her morning coffee with the neighbors under my leefeh’s leaves. Its death entails the painful task of ripping the leefeh that clings onto every facet of the wall.
I don’t share the artist’s point of view of turning the leefeh into a lampshade despite how pleasant it might be, for the simple reason that it is not the leefeh’s proper function. Let it be known once and for all that the leefeh is children’s summer joy and the only way to stay clean throughout the year.