Season of fruitfulness

In my own little patch are two coconut trees, a mango tree and a jackfruit tree.

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness/ close bosom friend of the maturing Sun/ conspiring with him to load and bless...” was said of the season of autumn by the English poet John Keats. He might as well have described the Indian spring-summer-monsoon when we see the fecundity of nature with fruits and flowers in plenty.

In my own little patch with few pretensions there are two coconut trees, a mango tree and a jackfruit tree. A little away is the champa tree of the golden yellow flowers. The little strip is redolent with “fruitfulness” and the scent of the champa. These trees came as saplings, gifted to me as a young mother by my mother-in-law. The gracious old lady planted these saplings with love and care and entrusted them to me.

It is many years since she left us, but I now see in these tall trees her dauntless spirit. The trees, maimed and broken in the Odisha cyclone of 1999, still held their own to the consternation of our neighbours who saw mightier trees fall to the ground. They withstood the trauma and are today grand old trees which have been giving us their bounty, unbidden.

The coconut trees are profuse in their blessings and the coconuts are distributed to the neighbours and given to the local temple. The trees with their swaying fronds in the evening breeze seem to be humming a song of their own, soothing the passerby. The air that was redolent with the mango blossom is now rich with the fruit that drop down in answer to the breeze.

Its massive branches  laden with fruit, the tree spreads itself half across the wall and onto the street where, under its overarching boughs, young boys with their catapults bring down the delicious ripe bounty with whooping shouts of great glee. Who can prevent those exuberant spirits and if we did, it could be the case of Oscar Wilde’s Selfish Giant where the tree refused to bear leaves and flowers till the children came back!

The jackfruit tree is also full with fruit. As a vegetable, it graced the various delicacies not only in our home but also the homes around, and now the ripened fruit exuding its aroma is waiting to be brought down. I look at the mango and the jackfruit in their abundance and say to myself, “ripeness is all.”

William Shakespeare’s words mean that a life well-lived and rich with experience is enough, and here the trees, too, have gone through the richness of their experience through the stages of leaf, bud, flower and fruit, all along blessing so many homes. Lastly, the champa tree overhangs our terrace; its leaves delicate, branches slender and flowers in golden, fragrant splendour. The transience of the flowers is an essential part of their beauty and I carry it with me till it is time again.

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