This week, I joined Parul Thakur for a new photo series on her blog happinessandfood.com. It so happened that while browsing through my photo library, I unearthed a few of old tree shots taken during the recent years.
The idea of this post came to me as I reflected on my earliest memories of the trees around my hometown. The next minute I was writing a post on how #treelove happened to me. So, here it is. I think this is mostly going to be a walk down memory lane, going back to the time when I first began to understand the world around me.
Growing up amidst the Aradhura hills in Kohima, a quiet hill town in the North-East, I’ve been accustomed to seeing an abundance of green everywhere. Since the university campus we lived in was located at the foot of a hill, there were trees all around us, especially those sky-high towering majestic pines and the eucalyptus trees, that lined our homes and the roads that we used to take every day. I’ve grown to love them all, irrespective of whether they were in full bloom, or bare, withered or shrunken. To me, trees have always been akin to an old faithful friend- the one who sticks by you, through thick and thin. My favourite companion during the long summer holidays was the beautiful plum tree in our garden which bore the juiciest of fruits every year (our envious neighbours were living proof!) and the only tree that I could climb anytime since I loved reading, perched up there.
As a child, I loved looking out and watching nature for hours. Daydreaming was my hobby, you could say. I loved to think of a myriad things -of lands far away and some days, I’d find myself lost with my favourite characters from books I’d read, often peeping into my uneventful world, through the windows, catching me unawares. What a blissful world it was, back then! I recall trees were the one thing I used to watch the most – as they were always visible from every window of our home, and so was it at school. As the years went by, my love for trees remained unchanged, as if that’s how it was always meant to be.
I remember how fascinating it was to see them grow from sapling to tree, and soon enough, hovering above the rest; amazed at how they stood up to rainy days and smiled in the bright Sun. In the months of February through April, I used to watch with amazement how the strong winds tested their strength and tenacity to stand tall, despite the forces pulling them to the other side. And yet, they were always graceful, bowing and swaying and marking their presence in the most humble way. Trees can be very comforting in that way.
Barring the years we lived in Jaipur, where the low-lying Aravallis surrounding the city looked terribly bare, brown and always morose, I would say that I have spent the most part of my life amid greenery, such that the colour green came to be a constant in my life.
After finishing school when I joined college, I kept visiting Kohima until Dad retired and my parents relocated to Calcutta, leaving Kohima for good. I was almost heartbroken to say goodbye to the hills, and the only consolation was that we could have a partial view of the evening sky visible from one of our rooms. And if that wasn’t enough, a bigger shock awaited me when I landed at Ahmedabad a year later, post marriage, with absolutely no trace of green anywhere close to where we lived, surrounded, as we were, by tall buildings, concrete blocks, from where neither sunrise nor sunset was visible. I felt it not only sealed my view of the skyline but also my fate. I nearly choked at the thought of having to live there for the rest of my life.
Thankfully, fate had other plans. A year later, out of the blue, came the opportunity for us to move to Mauritius and I was only too grateful to leave the concrete jungle behind, to land up in the midst of lush greenery all over again! In the subsequent years, when we moved to England, I took to the beautiful countryside as fish takes to water- living amidst idyllic towns and pretty villages, and the famous pubs with tables in the garden – a part of Britain where time seems to have stopped in its tracks for good. In a way, my amazing journey has taken me to witness amazing landscapes and somewhere along the way, the tree became a symbol for something inherently gentle and comforting, helping me to stay grounded, no matter where life took me along. And, during one such journey that was uncharted and unplanned, we landed up in Bangalore only to fall in love with its’ beautiful rain trees once again.
I’m sure by now you can see how I never got tired of the trees! And, why not? I feel the world we live in, needs a lot more love to show the trees to save them from rapidly disappearing from the face of our planet, our lives and the environment we live in.
How cruel and heartless is that when people think that we could do away with our beautiful trees in the name of development? As the cities are encroaching upon more and more land from the suburbs, there is less land available for trees to thrive in. Not forgetting the fact that cities are doing away with all the rich green cover they already have, in order to build more concrete structures around, be it in the name of widening the roads, constructing new flyovers, building new complexes, improving the infrastructure of the city and reasons galore. Do not be fooled. Cutting down trees is not an option in any case.
Trees are vital. As the biggest plants on the planet, they give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilize the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife. What would happen to this world if the trees are gone? I think we need more trees than we have now, not just for ourselves but the world that we are going to leave behind for our children.
What are your thoughts? Do you love trees too? Does the decreasing green cover worry you as much? Please don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below.