Lyin on the floor of my tiny room surrounded by things unorganized by the lack of furniture as the clock strikes three on my phone’s screen that emits intense light hurting my eyes in the dead of the night,
my back to the door with loose hinges that creak every time it’s opened and closed, waking up the new born in the adjacent room,
I look out the huge window that opens facing the abandoned broken hut on the top of the hill behind little houses across the road, as I hear the dogs attacking the garbage bins that lie unattended, teething through the plastic greedily, the thieves of the night that fear no one,
the cold, hard floor pricks through my bones; and I stay immobile, hypnotized by the weakling light from the lone night lamp up the hill in the void of the dark abyss
Growing up as an only child in a one-storeyed building in an area with no other kids around to play with, you have an ample amount of time to do nothing. So I ‘did nothing’ all the time in our bedroom windows, in balcony and on our building’s terrace. There was nothing unusual about these places, but for me it was like an enchanted forest. I lived in an enchanted forest. In the middle of this wonderful magical land of amazing creatures and heroes was this little one-storeyed building of ours. All the heroes were the trees. They rescued me and my childhood, each one of them.
Outside our bedroom window was my first friend ever, the guava tree. Every time I got a spanking or two from mother, I would just run to the window, and guava would always be there to comfort. All my birthday gifts, every new toy, every new Enid Blyton book, guava knew about them all. That’s what best friends are for right ? To show all your nice things to. Although sometimes I really doubted if guava really thought of me as his best friend. He got all those parrots and canaries. Parrots were the worst friend-snatchers. Guava and parrots were gelled together and it sometimes made me envious for not being able to jump out and join them. Every time it rained and guava got all wet and happy, and the water-drops shone like diamonds on its entire mane of leaves and fruits, and an occasional parrot screeching around it, it was a sight to look for. The little champa tree, the custard apple, the jasmine. And I would keep looking for hours. So much that daddy thought getting a grill for all windows would be a safer idea.
The terrace of our building was always open. As one enters through the door, up the stairs leading to the terrace, you are welcomed by a funny and joyous Umbar tree. He has got pimples all over his leaves, and when you squeeze the fruits open, a lots of annoying insects run into your face. But apart from that if you are lucky, you could get a glimpse of a fluffy little squirrel scurrying around his branches. Next to Umbar is a drumstick tree. I believe she is a lady, since she has got a lot of air about her. When the wind blows, she lets hundreds of her golden leaves float about the air like confetti. Just like the lady on the T.V let her shiny golden hair fall dreamily over her shoulders. At the far end of the terrace was the badam tree. She helped me when I was in dilemma. I spent hours reading a book sitting under her. Sometimes doing nothing, just sitting there and staring at a couple of ants hurrying up her branch. Another one, and the important one is the jambul tree. He was the king of the forest. The head of the family. He was a little isolated from all the other trees. So when these other trees are playing around, having a party. Jambul stood quiet in a corner, keeping watch. He is very huge and very tall and is a provider, like a father, abundant with jambul fruits during the lovely summers. Yes, summers were scorching hot but lovely because I had holidays from school and I got to spend as much time in the enchanted forest, as I wanted. Summers were lovely for another reason in enchanted forest. Because then visited its most beautiful and lively inmate, Gulmohar. This tree especially made my heart skip a beat. All year long he stayed into deep slumber. And as the days passed and spring approached, he unfurled from his sleep turning into a red blaze of fire. The sight felt surreal. Gulmohar seemed like the crowning prince. The world crushed beneath his beauty and enormity. Everything about him was worth being loved and intimidated of at the same time. I fell in love with him. I could not help but just stay there day in and day out, admiring the tongues of fire he hurled into the azure skies. Hours would pass on as I laid beneath his cool shade. He stayed in the lonely compound of an old abandoned hospital next to our building. But his huge branches spread all across our terrace. I awaited his visit every spring. Our enchanted forest was a beautiful place next to the open and quiet space of the old hospital. It was lonely and cold, but the presence of my lively Gulmohar contradicted with the cold atmosphere. It was perfect.
But things don’t last…
And a lot changed in the enchanted forest. Guava collapsed in the rains of 26th july. Now there is nothing where he used to be. Now there are rarely any parrots. After the man that grew all these trees around our building died, all of them started to fade. The garbage guy sometimes carelessly sets fire under one of these trees, a part of them dies. Its a hideous site with half a tree burnt and dried up. The trees are sad. Jambul still tries to stay tall and stern. But they cut poor little Umbar in half because his branches were spreading too much out. Drumstick is slowly losing her ladylike appearance. She is now in rags. And worst of all, and the biggest blow to my heart…The old hospital is no more. Its not an open space anymore. Its gone. There stands a new tall building that has enveloped the forest with its toxic appearance in its place. The forest is slowly depleting. And my gulmohar is no more. His fiery arms don’t hold me in their embrace anymore. And I could no longer lie down under his cool blanket. He fought hard. But finally they cut him down. I was there. He lost his life in this battle of survival. No man will ever guess, where now is a dirty looking sewage pipe, there used to stand a man that was more human than any man, and that man was a tree..