Whoosh! And it lay there, still as beautiful as ever, but lifeless I knew.
So a minute before this large, green almond tree fell I was picking fallen mangoes. Laughing aloud – the sudden rain and hail had given a sweet respite from the scorching summer heat. I had not anticipated that my joy would disappear with just a blow of wind. There it lay. Gone in a minute. I had a smile on my lips, rain touching my hair and hail on my feet, but my eyes saw the little giant tumble and it made me sigh.
How do you mourn a tree’s death? You pick it’s branches and lay it aside? Do you pick up one of the twigs as a souvenir? Do you not step on its leaves, now nothing more but fodder to the cows? Or stop the little kids from the slum nearby to pick its branches only to use it as firewood? You call a friend and cry about the lost canopy, the green and how naked your house looks from the outside now? Or you write a memoir? But whatever it is that you do, you can’t undo the pain of seeing that bit of the sky that you were never used to seeing. That bit of the sky that had always been covered by foliage.
I walked out in the rain and saw the damage. There were obvious questions –did the car parked in its sweet shade get damaged? Did anyone get hurt? No, nothing had happened. The car stood there still protected in the tree’s death. The only damage was the sight of this sky, that was always green in my head. Now it was blue. And vacant.
I had often felt the tree was a woman. A lady who loved her life to the fullest : in Summers she would blossom – her shoulders heavy with several green almonds. In Winters she would smile at the morning chill and the evening breeze and in Rain she would just go mad with all the cold water around her feet. She was a rock-star. Her many branches spread like a crown, hair so wild and eyes with mascara. She was sensuous, had a warm heart.
She had some ear for gossip too. So often I had seen her branches edging into the master bedroom trying to eavesdrop on our conversation. She was friends with the little Jasmine crawled on the fence below. May be she got her all the news, and they must have remarked on what a noisy family we were. All in good faith, I presume. In her most moody days she would hurl raw, bitter almonds at us. The lawn would be full of dry leaves and raw fruits. And we knew Miss Tree was upset. But it is this that made her ever so endearing. Like Roberts from Pretty Woman.
On the phone, conversation with my sister in Chicago reeled around the tree. My father returned home and we felt sad about the loss. The next morning the neighbours remarked : it was the most beautiful tree around. The scrap dealer, knife sharpener, fruit seller and painter, all dropped in a line. And the cleaning lady asked about the branches left. The cows visited too. They stood there in a group, munching on the fallen leaves.
I woke up to the emptiness and ran out. In my sleep I had imagined the tree had been replanted. I examined the broken limb and I knew it couldn’t be bandaged.
The tree left the blue sky. A lot of light, but this ain’t light of the day.
Bring me some green, I say!