I saw it late in the night. As we walked closer to my favourite tree, it merely looked like a shadow. But, when I stood right below a branch that arched over the pathway, I saw the shadow of bright red flowers glow against the dim lights of the street lamp. I could only sigh because, this year, I probably will not get to see it smile proudly in the evening sun.
My favourite Gulmohar tree has given me many grateful smiles. It stands on the edge of a little pathway that gracefully curves towards a busy street. This tree has the perfect straight trunk with bowing branches that doesn’t poke towards the sky.
I wonder how the tree managed to branch out neatly like a flower bloom with rows of green smiling gratefully at the vast blue sky. The canopy is so bountiful that it is almost impossible to see any light stream through. And, there hasn’t been a single year, when I have missed the haloed red crown signalling the hot summer days.
All I know is that, I will continue to walk under the tree, imagining its colourful halo, reliving many glorious moments from the years that have gone by and sending my silent wishes. If trees can hear, this tree surely will get my greetings
I cannot remember when exactly I fell in love with this tree. Gulmohar trees and I have a huge relationship that goes back to my childhood. I still remember these giant beauties that lined up along the muddy pathways of our village.
I remember standing on one end of the road and watching the bare twigs engulf the streets like an umbrella. On wintry days, those trees looked almost bare and their nightly shadows gave me the creeps. But, every summer, those beauties would undergo a makeover.
They would smile with their lush green leaflets at first and before you know, they would sing and dance with pride in their red crowns. As kids, we hopped on the red carpeted ground and laughed as if we were royalty.
On windy days, we would stand underneath to feel the red petalled rain. I could never get enough of these trees, which is why, when the prospect of having a garden showed up, the first tree I wanted to have in my backyard was a Gulmohar. I have his tree grow in size and shape.
The wood has slowly grown over the little wire that I had used to secure it when it was a sapling. I can still see the green edges. The branches are crooked and many birds have made it their home. But, it has taken all these years for it to smile with red blooms. But, the tree down the road with a red head always gets my attention no matter what. I think it has to do with the red head!
This particular Gulmohar has never failed to bloom. Every summer, the tree raptures with redness that grabs everyone’s attention. That particular stretch of the street drenches itself in the red carpet that is hard to miss. It is impossible to not pause or smile under its gracefully sequenced edges. Its beautiful blooms sprawl the streets, the manicured grass and the shrubs.
Smooth petals kissing your face
On a rare occasion, the smooth petals even kiss your face. Yet, this year, I have not seen it. I have not been able to witness its first flower. When the tree in my backyard showed the first signs of summer two months ago, I wondered about the tree down the road.
I was reminded of all those evening strolls the past years — that one particular evening, when I had spent time standing underneath and smiling at the little flower that had fallen over a shrub. That petal had turned over and there it was with an orange underside. It looked peaceful against the bright green leaves.
Although that shrub and this flower were a mis-match, they looked in sync and meant to be. I had spent a few moments marvelling. There will be no such moments this year.
All I know is that, I will continue to walk under the tree, imagining its colourful halo, reliving many glorious moments from the years that have gone by and sending my silent wishes. If trees can hear, this tree surely will get my greetings.
Sudha Subramanian is an independent journalist based in Dubai.