04 March 2009

The Rain Tree

For the longest time, I didn’t know what the name of the huge tree outside my window was. It stretches at least four stories tall and it’s long branches reach almost to either end of the street. This majestic tree seems ancient to me. But my landlady swears that the tree is as old as her house – 25 years. “My house is very old!” she likes to tell me.

At the beginning of the year, the tree loses all its leaves. But before the last leaf has fallen, new ones are already blooming. It always amazes me how quickly this tree completes this annual cycle of regeneration: it takes only two to three weeks.

The tree stretches its branches across the terrace and over the roof as if it had long protective arms which guard the house and shield us from the heat of the sun. It gives the terrace some much-needed shade, and thanks also to the two huge banyan trees just behind the house, the interior is always cool.

In a bookshop, I came across a book on the trees of India. I went through the illustrations and found the description and some illustrations of the tree I was looking for. This tree has a very wide canopy. It grows to a height of about 25 metres and its branches can spread out to a diameter of 40 metres. In spring, it produces pink flowers which look like bristles in the form of a small ball or pompom. At night, its rows of small oval leaves close up, folding together. This also happens when it rains, hence its name… the Rain Tree! Finally I had a name for my tree. I had heard of the Rain Tree before, but I didn’t know it was the tree outside my window.

No comments :