Today’s story is inspired from the Fig tree in A’s garden in Uttarakhand which has fascinated me on every visit with its changing face. This time around it was in a skeletal avatar that left me gaping at it in wonder at its sheer form and geometry. I thought its gray tones contrasted brilliantly with the razor sharp blue skies of the hills. But then I saw it silhouetted ghost like against the misty veil of the clouds that had descended down one rainy morning and I changed my mind.
I have taken some inspiration from Sylvia Plath and her analogies involving the Fig tree. If you haven’t read her one and only book – The Bell Jar, you could check out my review to make up your mind about it.
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor……………..
I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
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The Gossip in the Fig tree
The solitary fig tree soars protectively over the garden compound as if to shield it from evil eyes. Its woody projections branch out in every direction, forking and re-forking to create a neural highway of sorts. Each slender finger-like stem fans out from every bough, tipped a luscious purple at the end where its fleshy fruit forms a bulbous appendage. This purple goodness drives the bird folk around my garden wild with gourmet delight.
Several avian species of Barbet, Bulbul, Sparrows, Myna, Jays, Magpies, doves and more can be spotted gorging on the figs, their appreciation apparent in their joyous cries. The fig tree regulars have an unspoken time table of when each species would come to feast on this foodie haven. So, early mornings begin with the Russet sparrows, followed closely by the Bublbuls and a little later in the day the Barbets start to swoop in and out. Never a dull moment on the fig tree with my feathered neighbors around.
The fig tree has stood the test of time and season like a veteran gladiator. It turns skeletal and bare come Autumn-winter and lush green with the advent of Spring and then Summer. You have to see its thick leafy foliage in summers when the birds can only be heard and not seen in it.
The bird chatter is relentless and endless all day, starting from sunrise and shutting down a little after sunset. I have often wondered at this gossip session that the fowl folks seem to be indulging in daily. Do they crib about their spouse or off springs? Perhaps lament the weather follies that have become a daily occurrence.
Maybe they are tattling about this lazy human that lurks in the garden all day long with nary to do. I mean I must seem strange to them. I don’t wake at the drop of dawn and toddle off to milk cows or cut fodder for them or make cakes out of cow dung or work in the fields.
On the contrary, I head out sporadically for a morning walk, depending on what time I woke up and in what mood. Once back, I sit out in the garden with my breakfast, followed by two cups of tea and then one of coffee; all of this takes me about 3-4 hours. Oh and I stare into space while downing the brews, stirring only to move the chair to follow the sun.
Granted that I have some productive days too when I choose to do the laundry or dry out some herbs or some other such sundry job. All of which must be bemusing to them to no end.
I wonder if their scuttlebutt includes a judgement on me, trilling a critique on my pink colored hair or clucking at my choice of breakfast fare? Perhaps its my humble gardening endeavors which has them cawing raucously in hilarity?
Some days I find more of them in the fig tree than normal and wonder what prompted the increase in number. Did the regulars call out to their relatives to show off their strange human? On such days I try to take pictures of them and am humbled to note some of them posing for me. These ones be the must who empathise with the odd bird that I am.
Well whatever it is, I derive immense solace from their company and pray that they always find the time and inclination to pay me a visit. Their eager bavardage is music to my ears in the otherwise deafening silence of the hills. Each bird note in the hillside orchestra of the wind whispering in the pine trees, the water source gurgling mildly, is like that perfect placement of musical tones in a brilliantly composed symphony.
Mind you my gardening efforts have begun to pay off as I have managed to grow an impressive variety of herbs, flowering creepers and seasonal veggies. The kaffeeklatsch could afford a small toast to me on my green success but I guess that since none of it is for their gourmet pleasure, they couldn’t be bothered to give two hoots over it.
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In the times of Corona Virus, I have taken to get back to creative writing and this is the first installment. These stories are prompted from the photographs I had taken on my recent vacation in Uttarakhand. I would love to hear what you thought about this. So please don’t be shy or hesitant in leaving me some brickbats in the comment section. I promise not to hyper ventilate and plan an insidious revenge on you 😉