Stories under the banyan tree

Stories under the banyan tree

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Stories under the banyan tree

This picture was taken on the day of my father’s retirement in 1990 in front of our house in Ramamurthy Nagar.

It has my parents T G Raman and Devayany, sisters Suma and Latha, nephew Vineeth (Latha’s son), my wife Geetha and myself. My father retired as an accountant from ITI Limited, Bengaluru. On the day of his retirement, we all waited at home with gifts to surprise him. Latha gifted him an easy chair which was apt for the occasion. It was an emotional day and it was hard for us to hold back our tears.

My father came from a poor background. He came to Bengaluru looking for a job and finally got an appointment at ITI Limited. He was a strict disciplinarian so we learnt a lot of good things in life. He taught us manners, etiquette and ethics.

Ours was a happy joint family. As the children grew up among grandparents, they learnt to respect elders and understand the many values in life. In those days, neighbours used to be very friendly and we all lived like one family; therefore, we had many friends around us. I remember once when I was 10 years old and all my neighbours were in my house, I tried enacting a magicby making a small steel ball vanish into the air, hiding it in my ear. It surprised everyone, but finally when I tried to get the ball back, it got stuck inside my ear. My father hurriedly took me to the nearest hospital and had it flushed out. From then on, I stopped trying such tricks.

Unlike today, there was nothing much for entertainment at that time and all the attention was showered on children. We grew up amidst affection and care. My mother was a good singer and I still remember her singing in the kitchen while she cooked. My mother’s cousins lived in Thippasandra and used to visit us often to have a get-together almost every weekend.   
                                                                                                       
We moved to Ramamurthy Nagar in 1960 and I still remember those days very clearly. There was a big banyan tree which stood majestically near the present auto stand, by which Ramamurthy Nagar bus stop gets its name ‘Aaladha Mara Bus Stop’. We stayed on Post Office Road near that ‘Aaladha Mara’ and my sisters and I studied at St Antony’s School, situated opposite ITI Limited about 3 kilometres away. My father had a bicycle to shuttle between office and home; therefore, the only option for us was to walk to school. The only asphalted road was Old Madras Road and one could blindly cross it as hardly any buses used to ply. One wouldn’t have imagined then the traffic chaos prevalent on Old Madras Road now. Many of the residents here wouldn’t have seen that ‘Aaladha mara’ (banyan tree) which was so huge and beautiful.

In fact, there were 2 other banyan trees there which served as shelters to passersby. The three of them stood in a triangle. There was a pond in between two of the trees and it was fun watching the tadpoles in them. Generations of monkeys and birds lived on these wonderful trees. As children, after returning from school, we used to gather under the majestic ‘Aaladha mara’ to play games like ‘joot aatta’, marbles and ‘kanna muche’.

It was exciting to listen to the cricket commentary under this cool banyan tree. Come April-May and it was time to fly kites. Our kites would soar to the skies as high as 1 km. I am sure our new generation boys wouldn’t believe this. Thanks to the ‘underdeveloped’ technology then, I can proudly say that our generation enjoyed nature the most.

It was heartbreaking for all of us when they decided to cut these trees. As the 3 trees vanished to make way for fancy shops, hotels and buildings, the cool breeze disappeared to make way for heat waves.

Around the 80s, the television era started. Very few had televisions and we used to barge into our neighbour’s house to get a glimpse of the programmes. And then came the mopeds, scooters and bikes. Cars were rarely seen on roads. My father bought a moped in 1985 which made life a little easier and also saved time. As people increasingly started buying vehicles and TVs, the sheen of life began to fade. People stayed in their homes waiting to watch TV and gadgets took priority over social gatherings. The old shops were renovated to accommodate the latest arrivals to attract customers. And in the 90s, every house had a telephone which again divided people. It is known to all that while science makes life easier, people also drift away at the same time failing to understand the values of life.

However, all of us in the picture are still connected with each other, except my parents who are no more. Suma has one son and is staying in Jalahalli, working as a teacher in a school nearby. Latha is also a teacher at Jubilee School in Vijanapura. She has a daughter and her son Vineeth is a 3D artist at a German company in Electronic City. I am working as an assistant engineer at ITI Limited and my wife Geetha is a librarian at Ravindra Bharathi Global School in Marathalli. All of us meet as often as we can. We have moved to another house in Ramamurthy Nagar. The place has transformed now and the nostalgic memories of those good old times still linger in my mind.

(The author can be contacted on mohaniti2002@gmail.com)

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