Shades of green


Mask in place, I am off for my evening walk. There’s a lovely breeze that accompanies me. The late evening sun makes the shiny green leaves sparkle, imbuing them with magic.

The colours of the evening sky defy description. I am happy and smile inside my mask; this thought makes me giggle and I mutter to myself about how absurd this is!!

When I am about midway through my walk, I see this tree.

At the tip of each tender branch are young leaves, in a bright and energetic green. Being young, these little green leaves dance merrily in the breeze. They are living life on the edge, swaying and exploring the spaces around them. Little do they know that further up the branch are their senior family members, in a darker green, who are supporting and holding these young leaves together, indulging them, giving them time to savour their youth and to dangle precariously from the tips of each branch. For, the dark green leaves know that the days of youth will fly away in the flap of a bird’s wings.

Further up the tree are the oldest members of this family. Wizened, brown and wise. Their veins are stiff with age, and they gently sway with the breeze, looking down at the ground below, their final destination.

Each member – the young, the middle aged and the seniors are required to keep this family in harmony, and for this timeless cycle to continue.

Down on the ground, some brown old leaves have already crumbled and started merging with the soil, enriching it with their wisdom, and nurturing new life.

The Golden Tree


It is seven in the morning. There is no crazy rush to send the family out to work or school. I cherish the extra time by taking my cup of coffee to the balcony, to observe the world and ponder over life’s big questions.

My eyes take in the sights below – vehicles, morning joggers, the neat array of buildings, trees and birds. Then my eyes fall on this scene.

The rays of the early morning sun are falling exactly on this particular tree. The tree looks bright and golden, and seems to be reveling in the sun’s gaze.

The many other plants surrounding this golden tree are still in the dark, awaiting their turn patiently, as they wait for the sun to light up their day and their lives. There are some other plants that are in the shade of the building, and will never receive the sun’s rays on them directly.

Watching this scene makes me reflect. Just like these trees, even humans wait for their golden moment of fame, happiness or prosperity, and we come alive and bloom at such times, spilling forth our happiness.

Sometimes, we may have to wait for prolonged periods for those special moments, and during that long wait we end up losing faith in ourselves and our abilities. And then again, for some, such moments never happen.

But we still have to live out our lives, believing in ourselves, living every moment to the fullest, doing the best we can and hoping that the sun will peep into our lives one day!

Home garden


There is something so beautiful about having plants at home, especially when there is no space for a huge garden.

My husband’s mom talks about how green the area had been, when she and my father in law had moved into their new home after marriage. More than five decades have rolled by, and there are buildings everywhere. My mom-in-law loves and nurtures all her plants.

There are two beautiful Magnolia campaca trees at the entrance of the house. One of them yields fragrant, creamy-yellow flowers. Their trunks have grown with our home – spreading out branches, sprouting leaves, blooming flowers and watching over the goings-on in the neighbourhood.

There are many potted plants, hibiscus, sweet pea, star jasmine, creepers, tulasi, curry leaves, green chilli and coriander. As I walk around the compound, I enjoy the mid-morning breeze, as the clothes on the clotheslines flutter in unison.

The leaves of the hibiscus plant are a deep, shiny green. There is a beautiful bud, waiting for the right time to bloom.

Just above the hibiscus plant is the Ixora coccinea plant, a shrub commonly found in the region. The bright orangeish-red flowers are a treat to the eyes. I call them ‘drops of sunshine’.

One of the branches has two bud clusters that look identical. They look like sisters….sharing some childhood time, laughing merrily, gossiping with each other, and swaying in the breeze, little knowing that they may each bloom differently.

There is a strange peace that comes in watching the champak tree. The clear blue of the sky can be seen through its leaves, as a crow caws lazily in the background.

There is a joy in watering the plants, and watching the soil soak it all in.

There is peace. Everything is just as it should be.

Carpet of flowers


This afternoon, as I rushed to complete a few errands, my eyes saw that the road was filled with beautiful pink flowers that had fallen from a nearby tree. And, as I watched, the flowers continued to fall, swaying gently in the wind and gliding to the road. There were many.

They had served their purpose, giving generously of their beauty, expecting nothing in return. A few of these flowers had also fallen on some green bushes that lined the road. And even after they had served their purpose, these flowers still decorated the bushes and brought them to life!

My attention then shifted to the tree. It was in full bloom, wrapped in pretty flowers, gently swaying in the breeze.

I paused to take pictures. This got me thinking.

Life goes on. Days fly past. Morning quickly becomes night. ‘Things to do’ lists grow, shrink and expand at an alarming pace. Life’s pauses are few and far between. Technology rules. Necks are bent forward in a permanent posture of seeing and experiencing the world through one’s smartphone. Fingers are so used to touchscreen technology that we even try to zoom into physical copies of photographs.

Mother Nature is busy too! But where is the time to notice her beauty or her generosity? The miracle of sunrise and sunset are only used to pace our day, time our workouts or fix our various appointments. There is no time to enjoy the appearance of stars on the dark, velvety sky every night or appreciate a glorious sunny day! Weather reports are again to plan one’s schedule rather than to appreciate the lashing tropical rain or a grey, cloudy day!

We need to take small breaks – to stop, to appreciate, to rejuvenate and to be grateful!

A Pigeon’s Point of View


Most afternoons, when a gentle breeze sways the curtains, and the sun shines high above, I have company.

Pigeons visit my balcony, and sit on the railings. If the house is quiet, and I remain perfectly still, the pigeons sometimes brave it into the living room, walk around, and then disappear in a flutter of wings.

This afternoon, there is a pigeon on the railing. He looks at me, and seems to peer into the living room.

Image courtesy – Wikipedia

I try to guess what he sees. Does he see the laptop on my table, and wonder what that strange noise of typing is? Does he see the bits of furniture we have lovingly collected – beautiful bits of wood that once stood as majestic trees.

Does he see the porcelain birds on my TV console? What does he make of them? Does he wonder why they remain static?

Does he hear the music that is playing on my laptop? Does it sound anything like the song birds he knows?

What does he make of the huge coffee mug, from which wisps of steam are rising up and vanishing? Does he think about evaporation, about the sun’s heat and about all the water bodies that are drying up ?

When he sees the rotating fan, does he compare it to the wind whipping through the trees, and the joy he feels when he swoops down on a sunny day!

Does he see the water jug? Does he wonder why the water is contained?

I smile, and watch him. He looks wise, as he ponders over the mysteries of my home. I look at my home through new eyes.

He hangs on for some more time, and then flies away. He joins two other pigeon friends on a neighbour’s window ledge.

As I head back in, I wonder if he is sharing his thoughts with his friends.

Unexpected


The small town nestled in the hills, beautiful and green. Numerous small roads snaked their way across it; either going uphill or downhill.  Most houses were on small hills or hillocks.

The town council had recently appointed a new postmaster, who had been given the official quarters of the postal department – a rambling house with a huge living room, a kitchen and many bedrooms. The postmaster’s family settled down in the new home, happy, except for the fact that they had no neighbours in the vicinity. Their house stood, all by itself, on top of a hill; which had come to be called ‘Post Hill’.

The postmaster and his wife had four children. The children kept each other company in the big house, when they were not at school.

Outside their house stood an old silver oak tree. The locals told the postmaster’s wife that it was more than 50 years old.

The tree had grown quite close to the house and the postmaster feared that it would fall on their home, or its branches hurt his children, especially during the monsoon season. He had spoken to the Forestry Department to see if they could uproot it and replant it elsewhere or chop it down. They had promised to revert soon.

That year, the Monsoons set in early, and the town witnessed one of its worst rainy seasons ever. The Sun had been forced to take a long holiday.

On one such evening, heavy rains lashed across the town, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Heavy winds howled across the hills.

Most people were safely tucked-in indoors, keeping themselves warm and well fed!

At about eleven p.m. that night, a huge bolt of lightning fell on the town, and as many people recalled later, they saw it falling on Post Hill. The people worried about the postmaster and his family.

The rain spent itself by 6 am in the morning, as people ran to see what had happened, fearing the worst.

But when they reached Post Hill, they were happy to see the postmaster and his family safe and sound. They were amazed to see that the Silver Oak tree had been split into two by the bolt, and had fallen away from the house, saving its residents.

P.S: This is a true incident that happened to my paternal grandfather’s family, many decades ago!

My Little Peepal Tree


I have limited space on my balcony to have too many plants, but I make do with what space I have.  I have button roses, hibiscus, holy basil, orchids, curry leaves, some ferns and a silver oak, at least that’s what I thought till last week, when I saw a small Peepal Plant (also known as the Sacred Fig Tree), growing in one of the pots that used to have a small ornamental plant.  I was amazed that I hadn’t noticed this before.

Featured image

The Peepal is about half-a-foot tall, and its stem and branches are already strong and hard, signs of the beautiful tree it will grow into in a few years.  So which little bird brought the seeds of this tree to my balcony, allowing it to grow into a small plant ? Was it the myna or the pigeon or a small yellow-bird with black-edged feathers or another light green bird with a longish-beak, that flutters down the hibiscus plant everyday?

I am humbled by this miracle of nature.  In my excitement, I walk around the condominium looking for other Peepal Trees.  I am unable to see even one. I widen my search on my morning walking route.  I see neem, mango, and other trees, but not a single Peepal.

I imagine the myna or the pigeon, flying out for the day to a far off place and coming back with the seeds, to take a breather on my balcony, before they fly away to their homes.  Did they go to meet friends there? Did they go to look for food?

A whole big tree hidden in a small seed, carried by a little bird from a faraway place, the soil accepting this new baby, and nurturing it & caring for it, till it suddenly comes out of the soil in all its glory, waiting to take on the world.

My friends warn me that the Peepal Tree’s roots are very strong and hard, and can break through walls and cracks.  I know, I know. I will take it to the right home, maybe to a national park or a plant nursery.  But for the next few days, I will enjoy seeing it grow, after all it was born in my home, on my balcony…..so I will love it for a few more days.

With its beautifully shaped leaves, and woody stem, I can see how this plant will tower above the other plants in my balcony, outliving them, outliving even all of us, I imagine.

Maybe children will play under its shade, maybe a young couple will sit under its shade in the botanical gardens, maybe a jogger will stop under its cool shade to take a break and then maybe, many years from now, a little bird will carry its seeds to the balcony of one of my grand children!

I love you, my little Peepal Tree. Stay safe and grow well.