Jacaranda and Tabubia are unpretentious trees when not in bloom. Jacaranda is slender and willowy and the Tabubia [except T Rosea] are small, gnarled misshapen trees.
We, here, in Bangalore are fortunate to see these exotic imports from Latin America in full bloom. The Jacaranda is all mauve blue with a carpet of blue underfoot. It is blue above and blue below. The Tabubia Argentica [Tacoma] is all golden yellow with no leaves at all. It is all one riot of flowers. The pinkish Tabubia rosea is also in bloom and this biggish tree has this year seem to object to the traffic pollution and the blossom is far less than the previous years. This is at least true in the trees that I am watching. The other Tabubia, Tabubia Avallanediae is a magnificent little tree with pink bunches of flowers all over with no leaves and the bloom is just over as I write. These trees arrived in India around three hundred years ago and have gone native in the sense they have become part of us, especially urban Indians.
While the likes of me are agog with appreciation of the beauty of these trees in bloom, have you known people who have fallen in love with them? I have known several. Mrs. Nafeeza Rahman is one of them. Her love is her Mango tree in her courtyard. This maverick hybrid does not follow the normal fruiting pattern of the regular mango. When the other mango trees are flowering this one fruits! As this fruiting time coincides with Id milad, Mrs. Rahman thinks it is Allah’s doing. My observation that all fruits are Allah’s creation does not go well with this tree lover. The fruit’s appearance is also strange. It is big but less than that of a Malgoa and when ripe the skin remains green and the taste is between that of Malgoa and Raspuri. When I said this to Mrs. Rehman, she said, ‘don’t compare my special fruit with the ordinary run of the mill Raspuri’ my aam [Mango] is Allah’s gift. Her love does not stop at admiring the tree. From the time it flowers to the time it fruits, she sits and spends time in watching it. Lately she has taken to doing this with a pair of binoculars!
I came to know about her love when she came to me with severe anxiety some years ago. An agitated and sleepless Nafeeza told me about her problem. The mango tree! The unwieldy branches where causing problems to her neighbor, who wanted her to prune the errant branches. There was no choice. The prospect of cutting the branches was the cause of her anxiety and depression. She asked me, ‘will it hurt’? I did the mistake of laughing. This woman who eats meat morning, noon and night is asking me whether her mango tree will experience pain when being cut. She said after seeing me laugh and the reason why,’ the two are different that tree is being hurt in front of me; the meat I eat is different’. When I asked her how it is different, she cut the conversation short by telling me, ‘you don’t understand, you have no feelings for my tree’.
I had to give her medication to sleep and I was told later, that on the day the tree was pruned she stayed away from home and her grief took a lot of time and medication to heal.
This, however, has not prevented her from gifting me every year when her beloved tree fruits!