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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another Gulmohur Tree

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I am not going to review the Aamer Hussein’s novel wherein Usman feeds a little hungry frog sitting under a Gulmohur tree, nor am I going to talk about some Hindi film song similar to that of the film entitled Devta – Gulmohur ‘gar tumhara nam hota …I am also not going to comment on the ‘Gulmohur Park Protest’ of February 23, 2009 happened in New Delhi against the allotment one thousand sq. meters of land in the Gulmohur Park Colony( not really a Gulmohur Park) to run a dance school.

There are a number of films entitled Gulmohur in different Indian languages like Tamil and Marathi. There are a number of institutions and companies too bearing this name. I am not going to talk about them also. Here, I am not at all concerned with the National Flower of St. Kitts, Nevia or the Official Tree of Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or the City Tree of Tainan in Taiwan.

“Then what are you going to talk about?”… You say. Well, I am going to talk about a tree waiting to be cut down for the sake of opening the fifteenth gate of a Stadium, or for the sake of urban development.Rather, I am going to tell about the sad but similar story of a number of trees known botanically as Delonix regia of the family Caesalpiniaceae. These trees are known in the world as Flame Trees, or the Royal Poincianas. In India Bengalis call it Krishnachura and Kannad people call it as Kmpuforai. Now here is the story-

Long , long ago( about twenty five years back, a period of twenty five years passed through my life like a long century, and I fear some more one or two such centuries - considering the average life expectancy of a man, may not pass through my life to enforce me see individuals of the species I belong to, doing the same as they often do), there were about a hundred plants, standing here and there or assembled in patches in the historic Morabadi Ground of Ranchi – standing as witnesses to the brutal rape of the ground by circus- companies, political parties, business melas etc. that used to leave a number of pits and pots, mounds and ditches, plastic pamphlets and banners, husks and fruit skins and lots of filth on its body – almost irreparable. About fifty out of those plants were of Gulmohur. 

I used to see those plants during my morning walk when my son filled with a number of questions used to gaze towards them, and towards the pits and pots, plastic banners and pamphlets, dung of circus elephants, garbage blowing in the air, and lots of filth scattered around. Some of the questions that came out, in spite of great resistance and struggle inside used to be – What is the name of this plant, Dad? Why do those people not repair the ground before leaving it? Who allows circus companies to stay here so long and to damage the ground? Why don’t they leave after repairing? Why do political parties scatter all the garbage in the ground during their rallies, and move away before cleaning it? One day I told him that more shady plants of them were called Gulmohur and out of others- some were natives while others were exotic. The Gulmohur plants grow into beautiful shady trees and attract all persons and creatures when they remain in full bloom during the months of May and June. Some good people have planted these a few years back. …

I watched those trees growing during every morning and evening when I passed through the ground while going on and coming back. Those plants grew into adults within years and their flowers started organizing seminars of insects that attracted every eye. A good I.A.S. Officer, a forest secretary in a good mood had once started massive tree plantation during his tenure and those plants too had grown up into smart and tough adults to accompany the majestic Gulmohur trees.

A vast ground bordered by beautiful blooming trees started attracting mafias and developers, as still it is , in the newly formed state capital of the newly formed state of Jharkhand. But the persistent fear created by the crowd of morning walkers during each morning and evening hours, did not allow them to think ahead.


 Mafias are blamed to grab land or a forest under the umbrella of government officers, but when the government itself needs something, it has a number of genuine reasons to grab a land or a forest in the name of development. And… to misfortunes of the lovely trees, the government planned to construct a very big football stadium in the ground and the work started to continue day and night. Local children assembled to see big machines and bulldozers deployed at the site by engineers.

Yes, the work continued round the clock for two short years cutting the Gulmohar trees one by one. Trees that stood within the boundary were cut within the shortest time and no one could see even their dead bodies. But those who happened to be lucky enough to stand beyond the boundary started feeling that they had some more days to live and stand in the historic ground.

Now gradually it started appearing that the stadium had a number of gates – about fifteen, and each one of the gates happened to open before one, two or even more of the Gulmohar trees in full bloom. Who can tolerate a tree standing just in front of his gate? Laborers started opening frames of gates one by one and each day cleared at least one gate killing at least one tree. The other day killed another Gulmohar tree and opening of gate and cutting of trees continued. The fifteenth of the Gulmohar trees had more life to live. Just try to imagine its agony… As if a killer with sharpest knife in his hand has started talking with someone and thus has suspended the killing, only God knows how long ? The life which is sure to be ended is standing on its turn. 

See for yourself in the picture. I could not monitor the ground and its trees for about some days as I remained in bed due to irregular heartbeats followed by a number of other ailments. One day I felt better in the morning and prepared to join my duties. As I entered into the ground my eyes caught scene of the fifteenth gate. I could not see the majestic but unfortunate Gulmohar, that was standing waiting its death. Thus another Gulmohar tree disappeared. I thanked God, as I could neither see the dead body, nor could I see the ugly face of the killer. Many more trees in the ground are still waiting for their turn.

Key Words : Gulmohar, stadium, gate, historic

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