When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
There are earthquakes, prime ministers and presidents rocking this world.
However, here I sit, quietly mourning two trees a hundred miles away, that stand no more.
My home in most of my dreams, almost till just a few years ago is the not house I stay in now - where I've stayed for the better part of the last fifteen or so years. It's my grandmother's house where my sister and I have spent almost all our summer holidays. Through my schooling days, Christmas or Summer meant a long vacation spent in the sprawling one storey house with a roof top that was the perfect place for run and catch, badminton, star gazing, watching the sun set, hopscotch, ... we were young and the possibilities were endless.
The house also boasted of a small water tank that doubled up as a kiddy pool, which we did grow out of - and an amazing garden.
The best part of the garder were two huge- and I mean Huuuggeee Chikku trees. We've climbed them, we've relished its fruits for days, we've played endless games with the seeds of the fruits and we were more under the shade of those trees than we were inside the house when the sun was up.
It was under those trees that we were fed – distracted by the music of birds.
It was the sound of a mynah that sat in those trees that my mother could perfectly emulate. We’d listen in awe and ask her to whistle that little tune over and over again, wondering how she ever did it. Trying in vain to copy her, having only air blow out, no matter how we tried to twist our lips and mouths.
When my sister was still a baby, and I was quite small, my grandma used to tie two sarees to the branch of one of the trees - the one closer to the side entrance of the house. We would both have a swing each. The saree was then padded with a layer of seat cushion and we would lie in it. My mother or grandmother would tie a rope to the two make shift swings, and keep tugging at the from where she sat – swaying us gently.
It was in the shade of that tree that I had my first and only pet – a little baby chick, which was stolen away by an eagle from the shade of the same tree. I cried for days.
As we grew, it was under those trees that we played house – with miniature kitchen utensils, big hopes and friends from all around the neighbourhood. As we grew, make shift swings of cloth couldn’t hold us anymore. The sarees tore and gave way. That sadness was shortlived however, as our grandmother knew our priorities and had a big sturdy table converted into a swing.
This swing was like a boat for us. Tied up to a tall branch of the tree by four strong iron linked chains, we could both now swing at the same time. We grew leaving behind kiddish things like playing house, and moved on the board games that we could play right on the swing.
The swing would make a rhythmic tung-tong noise – hearing which meant that the swing is in motion and the other is to join immediately.
This big swing was wide and strong enough to even hold my mother and grandmother at the same time. Those fat chains could easily support us as we leant on it. Three of us would sit there playing UNO or Bluff for hours.
Some afternoons, we’d nap on it – it had cushion and life was perfect.
It was on that swing one of those swings that I first fell in love – with Mr.Darcy, and more importantly, with reading itself. My favourite authors changed from Jane Austen to J K Rowling to L M Montgomery, but the love for the swing never changed.
However, time went on, life got in the way, we stopped going back there for holidays so much. The swing used to always be there on the tree for us, as long as we went back with my mother to her childhood home.
Eventually, the holidays spent there became just long weekends spent there. One day she passed on … we took her back there from the city we lived in, and after everything was done, I remember sitting on those steps that she used to sit in and wonder why they had taken down the swing. The trees were still a comfort, and a familiar climb – so I could find a big branch to climb on to.
More than ten years have passed since then.
The house changed in a million ways, that I almost don’t recognize it anymore. But the trees were as familiar as breathing. As close as last year, when we’d gone there, my sister, father and I were all climbing and hanging off those branches continuing like we always used to.
Last Monday, I found out that those trees were no more. I’ve been trying to write this since then, but I needed to tribute the happy parts and not just mourn their loss.
Out of the many things we take for granted, and only remember when we’ve already lost them and it’s too late – those trees will be. A childhood under those shades and the wind made softer by them.
I’m glad they were a part of my life. I didn’t realize how important a role they played till now. I hope every child in the world has a tree to play around.