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The gift of nature that kept on giving

My entire family is fond of fruits. Every time my parents bring home a bagful of custard apples and pomegranates, the sweeties take us down the memory lane. Manika Ahuja writes

chandigarh Updated: Sep 13, 2013 09:22 IST
Manika Ahuja

My entire family is fond of fruits. Every time my parents bring home a bagful of custard apples and pomegranates, the sweeties take us down the memory lane.


When I was in a convent in Chandigarh and we lived in a big government house in Panchkula, we had our vacations before the onset of monsoon. My cousin, Rubina, had come from Shimla to stay with us, exactly when my dad had brought two saplings, one each of custard apple and pomegranate, from a friend and gave us to plant and look after.

As children, we not only loved planting but also would play around the saplings for hours. Out of curiosity, we would take vermilion from the "pooja thaali" of mother after she had finished chanting her mantras and etch the red hue on the plantlets. With time, watering the sprouts and offering prayers to the trees became almost a ritual.

The saplings soon grew in size to become huge shrubs. We became so attached to the new arrivals in family that we would rush home from school in excitement just to look after the plants. My cousin would call from Shimla and enquire about the two lovely works of God.

The shrubs became the cynosure of our eyes, and then the unexpected happened. My dad was transferred and we had only a few months more to stay in the government house. The shrubs of custard apple and pomegranate had flowered that season, and we had discovered how bountiful nature can be. Heavenly fragrance from the flowers enveloped our backyard. With siblings, I would dance around the trees ecstatically.

Just before we vacated that house, Mother Nature showed us more love, as the branches got laden with fruits. The bounty was so big that we sent a bucketful to cousins in Shimla and gave some to our neighbours. Nature had been a true friend, as opposed to the transient relationships of the materialistic world.

Today, as I read for the Masters in English degree from Panjab University, I understand the intrinsic meaning of the immortal lines by the great bard, William Wordsworth: "Nature never did betray/The heart that loved her."

The writer can be reached at manikaahuja1@gmail.com