I have mentioned the mango tree behind our apartment in an earlier post. In reality, there are two of them, growing next to each other in the same compound. They belong to an elderly lady, of remarkable spirit and physical will, who lives alone in the old house within the compound.
Neighbouring her plot is a house which has been extended several times and is occupied by several families. Among the many people in this strange house is a woman, K, who objects to the trees. She claims the leaves that the tree sheds ‘dirty’ her compound and cause her no end of trouble.
Three days ago, she called the city municipal office and complained about the trees. They promptly sent a few men over to cut them down.
Veena, a friend and neighbour, heard and saw branches falling and rushed out to talk sense into the municipal people and K. She begged and pleaded and even shed a few tears. The result was that the trees were spared, but all the branches extending over the compound were lopped off.
The trees are now precariously balanced, with most of their weight on one side. When the rains come, I won’t be surprised if they just keel over and crash.
The lady whose trees these are shut herself inside the house and refused to come out during the whole chopping up exercise. These are trees she has probably lived with all her life; they probably know each other as old friends do.
She’s well over 60, perhaps close to 70 even, and each week, she diligently sweeps up the leaves from the trees and either buries them (during the rains, for compost) or burns them (during the dry season to heat water).
Not all of us have the time and energy to maintain a garden, but I do wonder – to think of fallen leaves from a magnificent tree as garbage that ‘dirties’ one’s home, while being perfectly tolerant of the tons of un-reusable, un-recyclable plastic that we ourselves bring in daily, seems sadly warped, doesn’t it?
This is a picture of the old house and the trees around it from last year’s monsoon. The lopped tree doesn’t look too bad from my balcony, as the cutting was mostly on the other side, but still I can’t bring myself to take a picture of it now.