Somewhere down the proverbial Memory Lane
An ancient beetle nut tree, a silk cotton tree (with dripping gum). At a weird angle from it and a fox burrow between the two, from like an inch below that, starts the still water of the pond. It however looked more like a farm of water lettuce than a pond. Dadu was always lazy to get them removed and slowly the fish died and so did the deep pink water lily that poked its head out of the lettuce jungle once in a while.
As you make your way through the rows of beetle nut trees, you see a small path leading to the house. On the left you can see a haystack. Right behind it you can see the banana tree with its red flower that burst open in the heat of the previous afternoon. Through the red petal like layers you can see the long slender off white bracts that reminds one of neatly arranged cigarettes with sea anemone like tentacles in one end. Somewhere below the haystack’s bamboo structure, hidden in rotting hay and leaves, was the snake hole of the cobra that often landed on Dadu with a soft, warm and yet powerful thud as he’d try taking hay out of the stack in the dark of the evening.
Further down on the left was our neighbour’s pond. It was just the opposite of ours- banks neatly mowed, water crystal clear and a ripple here and a slosh there assured one of the rich fish life in that water. I still remember our neighbour out every afternoon with his sickle, cutting that overgrown blade of the grass as the sun rose further into the sky and the birds chirped on the trees in the lazy noon air. He would wipe drops of sweat off his forehead with the back of his palm and greet me when sometimes i would go to sit by the pond and read my story book.
Coming back to the path, if you looked to your right, you’d see two mango trees and a tree that none of us knew the name of. It never bore fruits or flowers and Dadu couldn’t bring himself to cut it down. So it stood on the way and acted like our first foot hold to climb on to the low ceiling and then on the mango tree during summers. Surprisingly, mangoes you pluck with your own hands taste better than the ones you get in the market. Yeah, you might have to bite a rotten portion off with a black wriggling worm and the sour flesh can make your teeth tingle for the whole day. But the taste of achievement with the joys of childhood made them more than just fruits.
If you keep walking towards the house, you can see a guava tree and a puny non-fruiting mango tree so close that their branches were tangled and gave the impression of (as a poet would put it) two lovers joined in an eternal embrace.
As I lie on my bed and close my eyes, I can see them all even today. I can feel that warm summer wind with the smell of hay and water hyacinth. I can hear the crow breaking the silence of the noon and the small sparrows hopping around in their swift and agile moments as they feasted on the wheat grains still sticking to the hay. I can see the low litchi tree that bore fruits just once in 5 years and the cotton tree that let out cotton tuffs with every gust of wind. As I suppress a tear the present condition of the place comes to my mind. It now belongs to a realtor who filled the pond and cut down the trees and has made small houses to rent.