I remember so clearly my first day of school.Actually I mean kindergarten, which was attached to the main school and together known as The St Helenas School .The two sections were separated from one another because each one lay at the opposite end of the compound with the kindergarten at one end of the premises and the high school at the other.
There was a separate gate to that little world which made it seem like a fairy story land tucked away on a quiet street.Due to this the younger ones could enter their section at their own pace undisturbed by the older students.It was another world altogether.
The first day at kindergarten
All the parents stood at the gate with faces full of excitement ,anticipation and apprehension.Some kids happily left their parents and those parents looked relieved .Some clung on absolutely unwilling to go inside the gate.I belonged to the third category .
I went in, albeit reluctantly, after I had taken a promise from my parents. They reassured me that they would not leave me alone . I was scared the teachers would not allow them to stay, and expressed this to them.Immediately my mother said “We are going to climb and sit on top of that tree !” I became happy instantly as I looked at this saviour of mine.
The Albizia or powder puff tree as we fondly called it
A huge tree with beautiful pink flowers, the sight of which comforted me .Powder puff was not it’s real name ,but we kids liked to call it that as the flowers resembled a powder puff. As I grew older I marvelled at my own naivete, and wondered how I could ever have believed what my parents told ne to be true .I did not for a second question their ability,nor experience in climbing trees ,nor did I think of the feasibility of them climbing this one.
I just believed and accepted what they said.Period .The tree became a symbol of my security since that day.I never ever thought of how the feat was being achieved by my parents.I just knew they were my parents and they could do anything. I was safe and secure in that knowledge .Ah the innocence of childhood !
The classrooms in a bungalow
Our classrooms were in a bungalow which was partially covered by the tree, as it was huge and most of the times we played under the shade of this gigantic tree
I loved its delicate flowers ,which fell periodically and which we picked up ever so lovingly .The beautiful pink hue of the flowers was the color of my childhood dreams . I loved watching its branches sway gently in the breeze and the creaking sound they made, whenever the wind blew
. Even the Jungle Jim on which we exercised was under that tree. We would hang upside down and look at the skies peering through the leaves of the tree and be lost in our imaginations.
Sometimes if classes were not being conducted in the classroom, they were conducted outside ,under the tree. At such times our dreams were fuelled even more by the fairy stories we heard from our teachers and which gave wings to our imaginations.
If we were not being taught the alphabet and the numbers ,or being told stories,we were given lumps of wet clay on a slate and told to make whatever we fancied .In this way we moulded our minds and became dreamy eyed kids building their own futures .
Where we felt loved and wanted
It was so comforting to rest our backs against the huge trunk of the tree and feel so rested and loved by its reassuring trunk.We would do this whenever we got tired after playing a game of ring a ring of roses, or just running around in circles, enjoying that priceless period called childhood.
We loved this tree.The tree too I am sure loved us back and must have been a little sad when we grew older and went into the first grade which was in another part of the school.Such was our romance with the Albizia tree, all through school life .
When I was older,even though we were in the opposite part of the school, I would often go visit this tree. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends and gain a great deal of comfort and solace from it, especially when I was upset It symbolised to me a place where my parent’s would be waiting for me. In a way it became symbolic as a parent figure and a source of comfort and love .
Fifty years later
Today here I sit almost fifty years later ,under the shade of another Albizia tree .
Its the lockdown phase and I was getting pretty restless cooped up at home.
During one such period of restlessness ,it so happened that my daughter asked me if we could go to the terrace of our building to get a breather and perhaps catch the setting sun.I agreed and after gaining access to the terrace we walked on to it .
The tree reappears
We didnt t realize we had stepped into another world, where we could see the tops of so many trees swaying gently in the breeze.The birds too welcomed us with their cacophony as the blue skies opened up their arms to us. It seemed as if all of them had been waiting for us .We walked further to the other section of the terrace and Lo behold! when I reached the other end , I saw this magnificent sight !
I saw those same delicate pink flowers, in full bloom,of the Albizia tree . The tree had been waiting for us. It gently began to sway with the breeze,on our arrival and my heart was filled with those same feelings of love and warmth and comfort which I had experienced as a child .
I smiled to myself and continued to stare at the tree ,and whispered “Helloo dear friend” when in close proximity to it,which the tree replied with a gentle swaying motion
An old friend awaits me
I had never ever observed this particular tree carefully, even thought its trunk was visible from my bedroom window .I had never realized how tall it was. It reached further than the fifth floor of my building and partially covered the terrace .How had I missed such a beautiful sight?
I knew the answer to that one .This tree was always there ,but I had never noticed it .Now in my loneliness and isolation it appeared out of the blue to comfort me and to give me the love I needed ,the warmth I craved for, and the understanding that was required of a wise old friend.
I became so inspired upon beholding that tree, I wanted to sit and write in its shade immediately. I love to.pour my emotions into my words and see them settling down on the paper whenever I am touched and stirred by a beautiful sight .This tree has become a constant source of inspiration since then.
I always showed my wrting to my dad, for his critical approval when he was alive. That day I was missing him a lot as I stood on the terrace ,and would you believe me if I tell you that one of the branches of the tree moved so close to me and caressed my cheek .My eyes were filled with tears and my heart with gratitude at this loving gesture.
Love is waiting for us
We are never without love. We only fail to notice it and to acknowledge it .Love is always there, waiting for us. My appeal to all of you, who are separated from your near and dear ones during this time, do not feel alone .The Universe is with you, You may not be aware of the form .The people you are with,a tree, a plant ,the breeze ,a water body, even a pet .It is there in your environment waiting for you to acknowledge it
I am aware of the thoughts that we all share at this moment. Thoughts of longing ,of belonging ,of near and dear ones and the life we once enjoyed So many of us feel ,”Oh why am I not with such and such person, It would have been so wonderful to share this time with them”. No! We could not choose. The universe knew better .
We are, where we are supposed to be and in the company of those people whom the Univrrse wants us to be with.Its all perfectly planned. We just dont understand it .
The gift of presence
Be mentally and emotionally present with those whom you are physically present with.Pine not for the past .This period is unique.This time has come to teach us .The present is here to heal us .Whenever we want someone to give us their full and complete attention and truly listen to us, we expect them to be fully present.
Today the Universe is fully present with you, as you too have finally found time for it .Listening to you .Waiting to fulfill your desires .Ask and you will receive.You have to be patient and have a heart full of faith .May this period of time heal you and fulfill you and prepare you for a wonderful tomorrow.