Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Almond Tree

Update for week ended 24 February 2012

Ankit was a precocious little 6 year old. He was playful, naughty, smart and quite witty. He loved to indulge in sweets, especially Pedhas (a milk sweet), elai adai –  jackfruit cakes (traditional Tamil steamed rice cakes stuffed with candied jackfruit and coconut, served wrapped in green banana leaves) and chocolates, the ultimate temptation for all (not kids alone). But his mother would insist that Ankit also had his share of healthy food each day which included a glass of milk in the morning and evening and 2 blanched almonds before heading to school, apart from the regular and healthy Indian lunch and dinner. Milk was okay, but the almonds were a no no! He tried all tricks up his sleeve to avoid the almonds, sometimes just “forgetting it” on the dining table before dashing off to school; or at times, just keeping the almonds unchewed in the mouth to later spit it out on way to the school bus, or simply slip it out of the window to be “fed” to the birds on the sill. Ankit’s parents were quite unrelenting on their insistence that he eat the almonds for good health each day; so sometimes they would incentivize him with some tarty sweet raisins, or a special treat at lunch, or by sheer intimidation. Ankit’s abhorrence of this little dry fruit grew so much that he even hated the Indian Almond tree that grew on the pavement en route to his to bust stop. He would stop, sometimes stare at the tree with some frowns or simply mutter some child like expletives under his breath – all aimed at the tree. Of course, the Indian Almond tree or the Badam is not the “real” almond tree from where we get the expensive dry fruit that are gifted during Diwali. This is a tree that bears fruits similar to the real almond and has a seed like the mango, which when cracked open contains kernels resembling the almond. But Ankit would look at the large green leaves and the sprouting little fruits at the branch ends and mutter his usual expletives whenever he passed the tree. And lo and behold, something happened the day after he had a bout of fresh altercations with his sibling and parents on the almond issue again. The normally green leafed tree now looked different. It sported green fruits that had grown larger, but the leaves! The leaves had changed into a shade of pinkish green. It is not usual to see trees in the tropics to go through the autumnal changes that perhaps a maple or oak would undergo. This was strange and Ankit’s father noticed it, as did Ankit. Ankit was surprised initially, but kept on his daily rigmarole of mutterings near the tree. The next day, the leaves had turned a shade of deep pink all over. The tree stood out from the rest on the street, with its 12 inch diameter oval leaves, all mauve pink turning crimson. This was very unusual. On Friday, as Ankit left for school, skipping and slightly happier because it was to be  a shorter day at school (a science exhibition and a parents’ open day meant that there would be no study classes and they would all leave for home at lunch break). He passed the tree, looked at its red leaves and  a few maroon ones that were slowly dropping to the ground and turned to his father.

This month on D Street was quite unusual. It was almost like the D Boyz were eating their doses of almonds and milk to give them strength and alertness such that they managed to steer clear of all trouble and even it did come their way, they knew how to handle it. So Greece or no Grease; they worked hard ahead and kept propping and carrying their SENSEX higher and higher. The fluctuating global weather patterns also could not dampen their spirits – even though they experienced the coldest Mumbai day in February as well as the hottest Mumbai day in February – all within a 2 week span. Nope – they were determined to get their SENSEX going up beyond 18000. And so after celebrating their Valentine weekend, they achieved what they aimed for as the SENSEX stayed above 18000 for almost 10 days. And then the curse of the almond boy suddenly turned their street tree leaves to red as the SENSEX stumbled and tumbled this week to end lower at 17923.

Ankit asked his father – “how did the leaves turn red and maroon?” And Father had no answer, and he could not try and explain about La Nina or El Nino effects to the little 6 year old. He bent down and smiled, “Ankit, I think you have been doing something to this tree. Is it magic? Are you going to turn out like that famous wizard boy in glasses?” (incidentally, Ankit also wore glasses). Ankit innocently answered his dad, “but Dad, I only said Avara Kedavra. Nothing more than that. Look I have no wand, either?” Father smiled again, held Ankit’s hand and walked him to the bus stop. Today’s discussion at the bus stop was not peppered with the usual, “chew your almonds”; but on the song bird that whistled a lovely tune.

So what do you plan to do this weekend? Do you have any little children tales like these to share?

Have a nice and safe weekend……