One is often reminded, especially by those who have never had first hand experience, that hardship refines the soul. I found this difficult to believe until I started growing bougainvillea.

This hardy shrub flowers only when it is starved. In the midst of the hottest summer in April and May, it is not watered for a week. The leaves grow yellow and fall. The branches stand gaunt and ghostly in the pitiless sun. After these weeks of this stern discipline, it is watered twice a week.

One morning I noticed tiny buds blistering the tips of every stem. The I began to water them profusely.

Three weeks later the garden was a blazing dazzle of colour. Branches of multi-coloured flowers exploded on every branch in an incredible celebration.

Then, it rained. All the earth was green with rejoining. But the flowers of the bouainvillea began to drop in great unsightly handfulls. Till not a single flower was left. Leaves covered very limb, but not a single flower appeared.

Somehow there is always something flabby in those who have never known the exhilaration of the struggle. There is a loss of the sharp – edged flash of brilliance that comes only with the conquest of unbeatable odds.