It is 0700hrs on a Sunday. In the Museum/Zoo complex and the nearby Kanakakunnu Palace grounds, the fitness conscious citizens have their morning jog, walk and yoga. At one of the entrances to the zoo, a few individuals gather, for the Tree Walk.
We have been doing it for some years now. Twice or thrice a month the group meet at some part of Trivandrum where it is shady with trees. We stroll down the road, looking at the trees on either sides, identifying them. We make small talk. Serious tree watchers take copious notes. In a gentle, relaxed way, we recognize and pay respect to the trees that cool our city. Many of them have gone forever, victims to the road widening and beautification.
In the sun, it is a blazing 37 degree Celsius. Under the shade, it is less than 32. Trivandrum, like the rest of the country is reeling under the heat wave and drought, the extent of which is unprecedented. When, When will people realize the mercy of the green trees? They stand beneath the shade of the trees as they cut them down. Recently near the Court, a large no of trees were cut for road widening. Yes, for those who sleep in air-conditioned houses, who step into air-conditioned cars and work in air-conditioned offices, it does not matter. The writing is on the wall, yet we turn a blind eye, hoping that technology will always have an answer.
An old poem on trees... written three or four years back...
Song of the tree
You who stand beneath me,
Look up at me for a while -
While you smell, breath in deep
The fragrance of my little flowers.
Did it hurt when the flower fell
On your head, my humble gift,
Here, I bend a branch of mine,
Hold, pluck the succulent fruit
For your child, a present from me.
Lean on to me, though my skin is rough,
But feel my heart that throbs for you
My veins full of the blood of love.
Here, I fan you with my leaves,
Lest you feel tired in the heat.
Did it hurt when you cut
Chopped off the branches
And sawed off the trunk
Did it pain when in vain
Pulling at my roots with so much strain?
I miss them, Sir,
The birds who nested in my hole,
The songs they sang for my soul.
The squirrels who ran, tickling my heart
Your child who played beneath my shade.
Forgive me Sir, I am just a tree
Fated to die, faithful to men.
When in the night, freezing cold,
As to embers my body burns,
They glow in love, for you alone
And your child, warm, asleep -
Think of me – lest your heart turn to stone.
Balachandran V, 29.04.13