‘This is the last batch from here’, said father, tossing in the final jackfruit into the trunk. Inching to probe why, I retracted my words as an afterthought. It’d only pave way to another round of blaming. How much I don’t care about the construction, how I’m not paying attention to its details and on and on it’d go. Why else would I not remember that the jackfruit tree is going down to make room for the Vaastu appropriate kitchen! Sigh!
Decades later, that scene still stays fresh in memory. The chopping down of the tree, starting of the construction – I wasn’t there for any of it. It was only way after the completion of the house did I even come back home. But for some unknown reason, that random conversation and a vague memory of the ‘plot’ linger.
Sitting down in this tamarind’s shade, I feel connected to this strange land and place. Like it was never so strange or unbeknownst. Life has always been full of gratitude for me. Many things to be grateful for and many people to thank. Appumash tops my list of people to be grateful to. Ironic enough, I’d perhaps never thank him for I’ve never really known or met him. A wandering soul in an ottamundu ( ‘a slightly dignified version of a loincloth) that I spot once in a while in the neighborhood. That’s all I knew of the man. But as I learnt that he is the one throwing tantrums and standing against the slaying of my tamarind shade, there grew a new sense of kinship with the nameless soul. And I learnt he has a name – Appumash – as a memory to be grateful for, forever.
After all, it is just a tamarind tree, isn’t it? What’s there to be grateful for a tree? One could say nature’s balance, sustainability and global warming or whatsoever. But it’d be far from the truth. I do not possess such great visions for the future of the world or concern for our existence. Neither would Appu mash have them, I presume.
A companion in my solitary afternoons. The majestic branches arching over the house as a shade. And the fond memory of mother cribbing about the fallen
leaves that ruin the yard. And father dividing and distributing ripe tamarinds to everyone who pass by. That is what the tamarind holds for me. An image of my past, a shoulder in the present and a hope for the future.
But is it also the darkness that takes away our share of the sun and the moon? Does it not appear as haunting hands through the windows? One could view it, in all its vicious and dark shades. But to my eyes, it is a magnanimous tree in the brightest phase of my life, being my shade and shelter.
After every withering autumn, I wonder if it’d ever turn green again. With its luscious green, isn’t it protecting my soul more than what I could ever do to save its existence? Somewhere then, a tree becomes more than just the shade as it embraces you and holds you tight to its roots.