In nature's company

Two decades ago, we chose Mysore as the town where we would pass the years of our retirement, after a strenuous routine in unfamiliar cities over many years.

We did not regret the choice. The climate proved congenial and the amenities we relied on were more easily available than in some foreign countries we had lived in for tenures of two to three years at a time.  One thing I valued was Mysore’s sylvan quality, like parts of London, Moscow, Tokyo and even New Delhi. 

With advancing age, we cherished our evening walk, mornings being too busy with kitchen and other duties.  We loved the Cheluvamba park in Yadavagiri because of its trees and flower beds, its proximity to our abode and the relative security close to the CFTRI estate and a police station.  I liked to walk just half an hour, taking two rounds of the path marked out in the park, braving the sixers of the batsmen, marvelling at senior strollers overtaking us twice in our circuit.  

At the end of January every year and the festive closure of the ‘cold season’, I looked forward to the blossoming of flowering trees. The tall jacaranda was as old as us. The magnolia near us would bloom around March. The avenues of gul mohars have been depleted by rare cyclones felling them at their shallow roots, by cruel axes and road-widening schemers and space grabbing builders. The Indian laburnum will here and there flash in yellow.  In our park there are seven trees of medium height which captivate the eyes with bright bunches of yellow flowers at the onset of summer.  The leaves are subdued by the radiance of the flowers.  

I was eager to ascertain the name and origin of this wonderful gift of nature which has not got the recognition that it deserves.  The label, Argentea, is sometimes attached to it to denote the silvery cast of its leaves at this time. I was like the rasika at the concert who must find out the raga of the song that haunted him, but cannot ask a vidwan because he is unable to sing it.  Finally I got the name of this tree from a friend who knows the trees and bushes of Karnataka. This flowering tree is of the kind called ‘Tabebuia,’ probably of the species, ‘Chrysenthia’ and related to the ‘tecoma’.  It has taken root with us from Latin America long ago to gladden us at the onset of the hotter season. It is a wonderful sight to see the dense treetop ablaze with yellowish orange like a special vase densely packed with festive flowers. The flowers fall off and the bare branches are left to mourn their passing glory as the weeks advance.

Let youth care for old plants and “the flowers that bloom in the spring” to gladden awhile our spirits, eager for some relief from negation and shame. Let us cherish both the natives and the immigrants who have become native.

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