Saturday, April 07, 2012

Mulling over mulberries

"Here we go 'round the mulberry bush, 
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush. 
Here we go 'round the mulberry bush, 
So early in the morning..."

And then I learned that mulberries don't grow on a bush. Ok.

My first memory - and the only one till recently - of the mulberry tree is from childhood. Probably as far back as 20-25 years at least. That tree was in a neighbouring compound but its branches hung over the wall that separated its owners and one of the buildings in our colony. Behind Building No. 2 actually. Where the water tank was. Still is. We'd sit on the tank surface to play make-believe games like Teacher-Teacher and House-House (was the word repetition for effect?). And during the hot summers, we'd happily fight for the red mulberries that were within our tiny grasps. Red because we were impatient. Red because we didn't trust birds or insects or friends enough to let them survive to be purpley-black-sweet. Along with the tiny avlas we'd pluck from a tree in our own compound, the mulberries were a favourite of mine, their slight tartness savoured with much delight.

Cut to 2012. I had forgotten all about mulberries. Till a random walk through Bandra's Bazaar Road one Saturday afternoon led a friend and me to a drab-looking transit camp where we chanced upon this glorious sight...

Lining someone's humble abode, a little tree stood tall. One whose roots were unfortunately trapped in ugly, grey, hard cement. But one whose lovely green leaves were interspersed with bright red and purpley-black fruit. When I looked up at those hues against the sun, scenes from my childhood flashed across my mind. The friend helped me pluck a few berries and I was thrilled to get a taste of that very childhood in that brief passage of time. 

 
Click on the photos for a larger view
A lady seated outside her home opposite the tree looked at us in amusement. She mentioned that the local children did pluck the mulberries and even though the branches over the roof were tough to reach, they'd still make a dash for them. A man seeing us in conversation chipped in with his two cents. Said he's been living there since 41 years and that the tree has been around all those years. Really? Then an elderly woman passed by and mumbled in Marathi about how eating too many mulberries caused one to feel terribly hungry. Or that's what I thought I heard.

The tree in my neighbourhood is no longer there. Probably hacked down by the owners. Sad, no? But... Mulberries! Who would've thought these tiny clusters of fruity beads could spark off such long lost but precious thoughts? 

~j~

PS: While reading up on mulberries, I learned about Vincent Van Gogh's painting called The Mulberry Tree which was inspired by a "superb autumn". Look it up!

3 Replies:

Lobotrix said...

Reminds me of the tamarind and mango trees in the farming field (?) next to my building. My summer holidays were all about plucking tamarinds from the building terrace, hiding and eating them and watching other kids climb the mango tree or aim their 'cattys' to steal some raw or ripe mangoes. Now, mango tree cut down for building construction; tamarind tree felled by nature's fury!

krist0ph3r said...

mulberries!!! ah, i just rewound 20 years myself!!!

btw we had the exact same thing... neighbouring building's tree leaning over into our compound... only difference was that we had to climb the wall to reach it. fun times!!!

~j~ said...

Lo & Kris, thanks for your comments!

We were fortunate to have trees and our kinda fun (catty!) when we were young. Kids today don't have these pleasures. Most are buried in their TV shows, video games and Facebook.

I must go photograph the banyan tree in my colony now. Before someone hacks that down too.

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