It was a rare yellow light that quietly engulfed everything outside. Seated in the hall, with only the glass sliding door between us and the world, the three of us watched with wonder as the three trees in the lawn across stood bathing in that beautiful magnificent colour. One tree stood with mostly bare branches, with the exception of a few that had tiny shiny reddish leaves growing on them. Another stood right behind it, lazily, shorn off half of its foliage, with its light load of yellow and brown leaves that had long stopped their day jobs and were waiting to be let off. The third stood tallest, close to them, still growing, decked up with its dense green foliage.
My nine-year old son, Advaita, sat quietly on the sofa, down with fever. Diya, my three-year old daughter, recovering from viral fever, sat next to him. “Look out,” I said. “Can you see the three trees? How are they different?” I wasn’t really expecting any reply from my children. My son looked for a second at the three trees and amazed me with his quick reply. “Yes, one has lost its leaves, the other has yellow leaves that will fall soon.” And then arose the doubt. “But why is the third tree still so green?” he asked with great curiosity.
“Well, it’s leaves are still working, the tree is still growing.” I said, adding after a pause, “Two years back, all the three were growing like this and so winter came and went without snatching away leaves from any of them.” I replied. “Oh, really?” Advaita was surprised. I silently forgave him for not having followed the progress of the trees over the years, for he is a city kid fed on a diet of cartoon serials and cricket, growing in a concrete jungle. His quick reply two minutes back had anyway more than made up for it. It was indeed a sight!
Three trees in the three stages of life – in one new leaves were bursting through countless little leaves that almost looked like tiny crimson flowers. In the second, it was just a wait for everything to get over and begin life again, and the third was celebrating its youth with its ever-growing trunk and its countless green leaves. The yellowish light that still shone upon the three of them gave them an ethereal look.
Also Read : Environmentally Inclined Children
It was not a great time at home considering both the children were unwell and my son’s annual exams were nearing. I tried to calm myself down for there was no point getting tense. “Just let things be as they are, at least for the time being,” I told myself. Dusk was approaching fast and the evening light, though still yellow, had lost its bright glow.
This was the time when my son would usually be in the last leg of his play session and then return home to sit down with his keyboard. With his fever and stomach-ache and headache leaving no room for the keyboard practice today, an idea came flashing to me. Before long the laptop was out on the sofa, and the room filling up to the brim with tunes and songs playing out from it. They were mostly that Advaita had learnt from his keyboard teacher and been practicing and polishing to his satisfaction for the last few months. They were songs which had become his dearest companions, just next to his pals.
Outside the glass door, dusk was embracing the three trees, the newborn reddish leaves and the youthful green leaves merging with the semi-darkness that now kept only the silhouettes of the three visible. Inside, ‘Red River Valley’, ‘When Johny comes marching home’ and other favourites of Advaita floated by, the haunting melodies embalming the three of us. For many long moments I forgot that it was not a day like the other days….that the two kids were not well, that their father was miles away, watching over his very, very sick old mother and probably bidding her a slow farewell, that the children were missing him very much.
There was no mad mall-hopping for us, no eating out, no whiling away time in any sprawling bookstore this week-end. There was no birthday party, no calls from Advaita’s friends for some had come and gone back with the news of his sickness, and no net-surfing either. On one hand the children’s Granny lay very sick far away, on the other hand the two kids sat weak and inactive. Strangely though, I felt the evening was not wasted away.
For the first time, the children watched an evening turn into twilight, and then the gorgeously colored sky being devoured by darkness as the trees too became part of it. For the first time they watched how the three trees looked so different and how the dry, brown and yellow leaves fell from one of them. A slow day in an otherwise fast life. It was not a pleasant thing for a mother to watch her ailing children, but the music inside and the trees outside lent a healing touch, at least for a while, and after sometime the two thin faces looked much less pale.
We all watched the day slowly grow into night with the haunting music around us and the three trees on the other side of the glass door giving us silent company. We went to bed feeling full, the exhaustion from fever and disturbed nights washed away for a few hours. I could not take away much of the pain and discomfort of my sick children, but I felt good that I could at least keep my cool and think of a way of filling them with more than an hour of happiness.
Also Read : Let them Pause When it Pains