The soul of harsinghar

The soul of harsinghar

“Look at the shape. Its perfect!” “And, the size! Bigger than the normal!” “And such fragrance!  Fills the whole house!”

This was an almost daily discussion under Mrs Tiwari’s harsinghar (parijat) tree. She had planted the harsinghar the year they shifted into the colony. Its blossoms began to be so sought after; there was always competition to see who reached the tree first and got the best and maximum flowers. There were a few of us who were the regulars, reaching there at almost the same time. 

The above conversation is a sample of what transpired while the flowers were being collected. There were other harsinghars in the colony. But none gave forth flowers of this size, shape and fragrance. It was believed that it was Mrs Tiwari’s love and care that did the trick.

A couple of years back, the Tiwaris decided to shift from the house they had inhabited for so long with so much popularity, thanks to the harsinghar tree. It was Mrs Prasad who first noticed. “The harsinghars don’t seem to be so big this year,” she said, while on our daily ‘walk the talk’ in the evening. 

Then Rachna commented one day, “The fragrance is also not as it used to be.” And, the quantity of the flowers also seemed to be lessening. Earlier, there was enough for all of us – each carrying a small basket. But, suddenly, we found we had to push and grab to get even a few handfuls.

This was puzzling, as the gardener had been given strict instructions to water the tree and use manure abundantly.  The harsinghar was the ‘shaan’ of the colony and we wanted to retain it at all costs, even after Mrs Tiwari's departure.

But no amount of watering and tending could save the harsinghar. One season, it didn’t bloom. The tree stood bereft of flowers while all the other harsinghars in the colony were in full bloom. We could not understand why and took to watching the gardener surreptitiously to see if he was shirking in his duty. But, no. He was watering it regulary and adding the right quantity of manure at the right time, assured S K Rao, our in-house gardening expert. This was all the more confounding.

The tenants in the Tiwari house – which had been rented out after the move – were also upset by this development. They felt they might be blamed for the fall of the harsinghar. Gradually, our loyalties shifted to other trees in the colony. Some of us even planted our own. Mrs Tiwari’s harsinghar stood forgotten and forlorn in its former glory.

Then, one day we heard that the Tiwaris were to be back. They had tried living in posher, more elite apartments and realised that life in our colony was affable, a comfort zone.

So. that flowering season a strange thing happened. Lo and behold, the harsinghar rose in full bloom again!  And, once again, we could declare “the size is bigger than normal”; “the shape is so perfect”; and “the fragrance fills the whole house!” Who says trees do not have a soul? They do, and they can feel too, as was proved in this case.

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