Once I planted a hibiscus bush in a pot, in a rented accommodation. My joy knew no bounds when the burgeoning bush with lush leaves, started bearing exquisite red flowers.
Time flew by and soon we were to shift. But the hibiscus had other plans. It had cracked the bottom of the pot and grown roots into the ground. Disappointed at first, but on second thoughts it seemed just right that it should stay back as a keepsake from us. Even our children, young as they were, hated moving away from their neighbourhood friends. The bush found a mention during our visits to the landlords or telephonic conversations. The landlady would tell me, "Your hibiscus is thriving… oh, such a beauty!"
Later in our own house, we planted a hibiscus bush near the boundary wall. Arranging water and grains for birds is a priority with me; hence lots of birds frequent our house daily. But this shrub gave a new meaning altogether, to these sojourns, when it grew into a small, stately tree in 12 years. Now we can also sit under its shade.
Sparrows, mynahs, bulbuls, doves and parrots spend time in its grove. This imposing bush protects the feathered brigade from scorching heat, lashing rain; they even take a siesta on sultry afternoons. In case of loud noise, the birds take quick refuge in the thicket. Humming birds often flit in and out. At dawn, a bulbul sings sitting atop the bush, as if saying: "The fruit of labour is indeed sweet, but it's always lonely at the peak!"
Expert at inviting winged visitors, the bush summons me too, "Come, sit here… scribble something about me, birds or anything close to your heart." Even the birds frequenting this 'little tree', inspire me to write about nature and stories for children. One is never lonely in the hibiscus' company and guess what happened one day… a sparrow flew straight out of it and sat on my shoulder albeit for a fleeting moment. I felt as if the sparrow assured me of her lasting association with the magnificent bush and me. I thanked her and that moment became my permanent asset.
The elegant hibiscus has served as the backdrop for our family snapshots and some of our guests too. Though in the background, it's the most conspicuous feature in the photo.
The thought that we cannot repay what the bush has done for us nags me often. To express my gratitude, I got the picture of this charming bush published on the cover of my first book.