Coming home from office on the evening of September 5th, 2013, I stopped at the cobbler’s. I had given my purse to him in the morning for repairs and had to retrieve it at that time. Since the cobbler was still doing something with the purse, I parked the car on one side and my dad alighted from the car to get my purse. While I was parked, I heard some shots coming from not very far away. Since the corner of the cobbler is the same corner that is almost the end of the street my home stands on, I got worried.
I was trying to figure out what is going on – difficult while sitting in the driver’s seat and only fidgeting about – when my Khala called on my mobile phone. While I attended the call, I saw in the side view mirror as my father peeked out from the corner the cobbler was sitting in. If we hadn’t stopped at the cobbler’s, I daresay we would have been at the corner of our street calculating parking the car in our garage and witnessed the whole scenario that happened there. Needless to say, that was unimportant since it was a good thing we had stopped, as it shall be evident further down in my account.
As I attended my Khala’s call, she, I concluded, was talking on either the other phone, or the intercom, with my mother at the same time. As I waited and called into the phone alternatively on intervals of a few seconds, I figured they all were communicating with each other about whatever had happened there. My Khala was also informing my mom that she had called me.
When she was finally free, she told me to be careful since there had been firing in that area on the very street that my house stands on, and there was a blue car on the loose. She told me to be careful at the corner of the street when I come there. I told her my whereabouts and also that I had also heard something. She explained that there had been firing going on there and then disconnected the call.
More excited than scared or warned, I waited impatiently for my dad to come up with my purse. I grumbled about the cobbler taking so much time – though it had been a blessing in disguise if you see it from the point of view of someone who had just been saved from a close encounter with a real shootout – and pressed the horn slightly once or twice.
As my father finally arrived, I quickly put the car in gear and would have made speed to my street if there hadn’t been so many speed-breakers on the way. When I reached home, I was shocked beyond belief to see my dear Gul Mohar tree lying in tatters all over the gate slope that’s used to park the car inside the house. The other tree, whose name I do not know, was also lying uprooted a few feet from the spot. My mom, Khala and Khalu were outside surveying the damage. I was angry. That tree had a history with me and I wasn’t ready to forgive whoever did this.
When I was in class eighth, my school held an exhibition for green earth. Saplings were distributed to students who wanted to “adopt” them, the event rightly named “Adopt a Tree”. My dear Gul Mohar had leaves like the touch me not plant. And at that time I had no idea they were two different plants with completely different characteristics. Wanting to do something good in the world and also wanting to take something home for my mother, I asked them if there was a plant which would give white or red flowers. I was informed that there were no white flowers in the Gul Mohar but there were red ones. So I brought it home with me.
I planted the sapling in a small pot, not knowing, not even dreaming it would one day become the tree it was that day it was uprooted. Some months later, the small plant pot was becoming too small for my dear green friend, so I changed the pot to a bigger one. Some more months later, we shifted downstairs and my father planted the tree, which had grown bigger than most “plants” – it was on its way to becoming a tree – in the small plant-bed that also had my grandma’s Jasmine tree in it.
Over the years, my dear tree made quite a few achievements – growing so tall and dense. We made quite a few changes to our home in that time, and for the past eight or ten years, it has stayed in one spot – on the footpath right outside my window. It gave me shade, security, and lots of beautiful red flowers every year. Surprisingly, the red flowers had quite a pattern to them, since one of the petals of each flower was always white with red spots. The flowers were so beautiful, they made my belief in the One Supreme Being stronger – since there could be no-one better than Him who could paint such a beauty – the Al Musawwir (painter).
As I parked the car on the other side of the street – it was impossible to park inside with all the tree branches about – I got out very angrily and asked everyone as to what had happened. What I was told made my hair stand on end.
There had been an encounter right outside my home between two cars. One car reportedly belonged to the police, and the other had so called culprits. They were fighting each other. There was a heavy car which the culprits occupied, and it had been the one to not just uproot my poor dear tree, but it also took some branches of it for quite some distance before they fell off. The vehicle of the culprits drove so fast, it climbed onto our footpath, destroyed both our trees and screeched off into the distance with the other car in tow. We believe it could be a heavy Hilux that was responsible for this damage – the tree is now dead, there’s absolutely no chance to replant it.
It has been destroyed. It was sixteen years old.
Though the chase went on, the police came and made inquiries, more officials were also involved, the culprits were even caught, I think, it wasn’t so much important as losing a good companion that had been a silent “friend” for more than sixteen years. Yes, friend. It provides us with pure oxygen – what more can anyone want if they want to live? 🙂
My dear Gul Mohar. I hope to see you in a small abode in Jannah, hopefully. I shall miss you. And so shall your visitors. 🙂