On my evening walk - flavoured with the fragrance of monsoon showers - I came across a child trying to pluck a ripe mango off a tree. Having grown up in cantonments, my friends and I shared a wonderful bond with trees, mind you not all; being greedy, we preferred the fruit-bearing variety!
There is a special bond between a fruit-bearing tree and children. The tree becomes almost a part of the childlike playact. It beckons the child to climb its sky-reaching branches, it challenges him to try and pluck the luscious fruits hanging so close, yet so far. Like a true friend it also rewards the child's sweaty palms with the nectar of its lush fruit!
The child closely watches the journey of a ready-to-be-plucked fruit from when it opens its eyes to the world as a floret till it shows the first signs of maturing. Sure enough, impatient hands pluck it just short of ripening. The relation between a tree and a child is that of innocence in its purest form. Many a summer afternoon is spent constructively devising ways to get the juiciest catch. Strategies are formed and opinions are sought. An ambush is executed and viola, the campaign literally bears fruit!
My first memory of bonding with nature was that of a 'shahtoot' (mulberry) tree in our compound in Pathankot cantonment. Our gang of girls had seen the milkman and the vegetable vendor trying to sell their wares. Inspired by them, we thought we could make a quick buck by selling this succulent berry! Triumphantly, we pulled out branches of the poor tree with some visibly raw berries.
Now to reap the fruits of our labour, oblivious to our middle-class parents, we roamed the streets and started making 'shahtoot for sale' calls, quite professionally, I may add! No prizes for guessing that we were own customers and also got a hiding for our innocent adventure!
The mango tree then became our paradise with its succulent fruit and the fact that we could relish it while swinging on the sling hanging from its sturdy branch. The guava tree, easy to climb, became our favourite picnic spot - a place where we could look down upon the adult world!
No amount of gadgetry, technology and 'smart classes' can teach a child how to bond with nature. It is a natural instinct in all of us to abound in nature. The trouble is that there is hardly any left around the children these days to connect with, considering metros are fast becoming jungles of a different kind - the concrete ones!
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