My little garden was the envy of my neighbours. My father liked to enjoy his favourite pastime of gardening. Variant greenery of our little garden soothed the eyes of every pedestrian passing by our beautiful grove; a street of Alloy Steel quarters assembled gracefully.
As we lived at one end of the street, my father most certainly rehashed gardening; acquiring a lot of space with temporal boundaries of wires. Our little garden was a lavish decoration with flowers of varied colours, ranging from Rose to Hibiscus, Lily, Petunia, among others. Adjacent to the flower garden, we had a little orchard with fruits such as Mango, Pear, Jackfruit, and a lot more. All day long, chirruping of colorful birds echoed through our garden as well as our little orchard inflicting vigorous pleasure, flooding our hearts and minds.
This event took place long long ago. In the evening of one summer, Mrs. Katrina Brown stepped in our street as our fresh neighbour. It was the first time I had encountered such a gorgeous Christian lady. To our great amazement, she became our next door neighbour. My parents were happy with their new charming neighbour.
Everything went well for the first few days. It was a period of great amusement while I played Ha-do-do with Diana, the sweet daughter of Mrs. Brown, who was almost the same age as me. Mrs. Brown was an instrumentalist. Till today, I still recall an intricate melody on her piano. She had a habit of attending a nearby Church every Sunday morning along with Diana, and her husband – Mr. Brown. On one or two occasions, I accompanied them to Church and I noticed how heartily and profound that beautiful lady engaged herself in prayer to the Almighty, and at that very moment, I kept a fixed look at her face, entangled with a heavenly light of piousness. But I was yet to experience the other face of the coin.
One evening, a heavy downpour commenced a new era of relationship between the two families – the Das’ and the Browns. The rainfall was really ponderous, accompanied by strong winds coming from the Arabian sea. Almost all the buds and verdant mangoes of a special mango tree were spread out everywhere on the courtyard of Mrs. Brown’s. That mango tree in our orchard tilted towards the portico of the Brown family, with its clinging fruits yet to be ripened. The next morning, I was awoken by agitated blast of words from Mrs. Brown's mouth.
She said to my mother, “Mrs. Das, you have to cut down this mango tree! It has been titled more towards my courtyard due to the storm that swept through yesternight. If it is kept unshorn, the roof of my home as well as my courtyard would have to face scattered buds, shedded leaves and unriped mangoes each day, making my whole area dirty.”
This was our favourite tree as it bores the sweetest fruits among all the mango trees in the orchard. Moreover, my father treated each of the trees in our orchard as his own child.
My mother replied, “I understand your problem, Mr.s Brown. But that tree is like our child. Each year, it bears the sweetest fruits. Please don’t compel us to cut it.”
“Harvest time is almost due.” She added, “You may take all of its fruits, but let’s keep the tree alive.”
“Most of its flowers and fruits have been exuded, Mr.s Das.” Mrs. Brown interjected.
“Some fruits are still clinging to the tree.” Mum replied, “I request you to taste the ripened fruits this season. Moreover, all the fruits are yours to keep this year.”
Although Mrs. Brown had some grudge against the tree, she agreed to the conditions stated by mum and departed without saying more. Before long, the ripening season arrived. She tasted all the sweet mangoes in exception of ten which she allocated to us.
“Not only does the tree bear delicious fruits, but it also makes my terrace shady these days, absorbing the scorching heat from the sun.” Mrs. Brown said, “You’re right, Mrs. Das... the tree ought not be cut down. I’m beginning to fall in love with this tree. I would never mind sweeping its shedded leaves. Next mango season, we will split the harvest into two equal parts.”
That year passed. The next mango season arrived sooner than we had expected. Both families couldn’t wait to take a bite of the sweetest mangoes of that very tree. History repeated itself: a violent storm swept through our place. It was so fierce that it uprooted most of our trees, damaged electric poles and changed the course of the river close by.
Alloy Steel authorities took a decision to cut down the big trees touching the electric wires, including our beloved mango tree that produced the sweetest fruits. My father and Mr. Brown pleaded with the Maintenance Department of the Alloy Steel Plant not to cut down the tree, but they paid no heed to their pleas.
Few days later, the company came to our house with two choppers. As soon as they stepped into our orchard with the motive of cutting down the tree, Mrs. Brown rushed towards them like an arrow that had been shot from a bow, embracing the tree like her own baby and requested that they refrain from cutting down the tree. They couldn’t comply with her request because they had received orders from a higher authority. They were helpless.
Before their bleary-watery eyes, the giant tree was chopped down. A gloomy surrounding engulfed part of our orchard when the last part of the trunk was chopped off. Mrs. Brown cried like a baby. Thereafter, her health suffered a steep decline. Many a days, we didn’t follow her fingers on her favourite piano.
One rainy morning, we came out of our home to hearken to an extremely melodious tune flowing out of her piano. It was really astonishing when our mindedness went to a sapling of mango that had sprouted out in that very place from where the giant tree was rooted out. Perhaps one of that last mango tree's degenerated seed took that place and the first shower of the rainy season provided it the chance to germinate with its two tiny leaves.
Mrs. Brown first noticed it and with a reflection of getting back her lost mango tree which she treated like her own baby, she placed her fingers again on her piano, originating a new celestial melody that enchanted the whole neighbourhood. Everyday she spent a lot of time to serve the sapling while awaiting for the day when it would flourish with its unfurled branches, juicy delicious fruits as well as the soothing-tranquil shade.
My father on the other hand, got a transfer order and we had to relocate to a different city. I don’t know how Mrs. Brown is faring till date, but my innermost spirit throws its earnest glance today from a far away place at Mrs Brown's lovely tree which may have remained standing in my nostalgic orchard, still bearing the dream and fancy of that fairy lady.
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Nice story. Excellent writing style