We had a hugh rain tree in our school, around which a stage was built. Each morning, we would all assemble in front of that stage for our assembly under the shade of that giant Rain tree. It was, in fact, two trees entwined as one.. I have had so many cherished memories under those twin giants.
The trees were home to a number of birds and animals. As a child I was fascinated by these winged wonders of Nature. It was home to the green parrots, the white owl -which lived in one particular hollow on a very high branch and looked irritated during the asembly as if being woken up from deep slumber. Then there was the Kite - a large one which had a nest on the highest branch on the tree. It also housed a number of squirrels, chamelions and a number of unnamed (er.. whose names I dont know!) reptiles.
Every morning, during the assembly, I used to fold my hands together in a "Namaste" and look up at the tree while others drooned the morning prayers. I particularly loved to watch the old owl(old coz it was white.. maybe I am wrong.. maybe it was an albino.. I believe albinos exist in every species). I loved to watch its expressions, the occasional hoot that I used to hear, the miffed look.. Somethings can never be put in words. It was a very special bird.. cute and sweet.
Parrots can be quite noisy at times. During our prayer we had a couple of minutes of silence after the "Om Shanti, Shanti, Shantihi" phrase of the prayer. These parrots would create such a din. Sometimes there would be parrot fights. I used to stand there wondering what the reason might be. Trying to listen to then harder , to understand their chatter.. Sometimes, I thought, it was a fight between a husband and wife, sometimes between siblings or guy-parrots(what are they called?) fighting for a girl...What the reason was I would never know but it always amused by them.
I used get to school early, drop my bag in class and run to the stage to watch the birds and animals and the tree. She was hugh.. There was even the throwball court under her shade. Oh.. how many matches we have played in the middle of Chennai's summer. I watched her through the seasons.. In summers she had the dark green leaves that were thick and dense to protect us from the heat. In winter(Chennai's winter.. well what can I say), her leaves would droop. By mid february she would shed all her leaves and beginning of March, she would have light green leaves , fresh and green, colour that brings to life that magic of spring. By March mid she would be in full blossem with soft pink flowers. I had one in my book for long time.. Lost it when I shifted...:(
We used to run out to the stage to play lock and key after we finish our exams. Played till it was time for the bus to start. Not only happy moments, even when I was sad I used to sit under that tree and in a matter of minutes I would be back to my normal self.. I remember once that I was crying, dont remember for what reason though, and a fresh pink flower fell on me. It was as if the tree was saying, "Ms V! dont cry.. Here is a flower to u " ...
A few months back, I happend to pass by my school,after almost 8 years, and I saw that the stage no longer exists. Neither does the tree. School will never be the same again..it looks barren now.. Never can children sit under her again, never will they be able to see parrots fight, never will hear of the wise old owl up on the branch, never can they see the giant kite. Now the tree exists only in my memories. I will miss you Oh Gentle Giant(s)..