The old mango tree looked at the goings on very sadly. He was a very old. His girth spanned 2-3 feet. His roots had penetrated deep into the earth. His branches gave shade to a large area. He was on this ground for a lot longer time than these people who were milling around him. He saw Akash too among those people. That alone seemed like a betrayal to the old tree.
He was standing on the right of the old house, towering over it. The house was in a state of disrepair. No one lived here anymore. There was a time when the house was full of people and laughter. He remembered the time he was lovingly planted here by Akash’s grandfather. He was looked after very well. As he grew up, he had Akash’s father as his playmate. Akash’s father and his friends climbed on him and had their fill of his juicy, golden mangoes every day of the long summers. His mangoes were famous all over the locality. Akash’s grandmother and later his mother too used his raw mangoes to make yummy Avakai and all other types of pickles. All other mangoes were left to become golden in the sun and then all family members would gather around him and enjoy those juicy beauties. The evenings were the best, the tree thought. The ladies would gather around him, relaxing after a long day of work and string together flower garlands, laughing, talking and singing. The breeze from his branches were the best, they all said, making the tree so proud.
As the tree grew older, his girth became bigger, and branches spanning a large area. Akash spent a lot of his childhood either on the tree or under it. The old mango tree remembered Akash tying a hammock on his branches and spending all the lazy afternoons there. He too climbed the tree upto the very top, scaring his mom no end. The old tree tried to tell Akash’s mom not to worry by waving gently in the air. He was sure that Akash would not fall. Wasn’t he there to catch him?
Akash had shared a lot of secrets with the tree. The old mango tree knew when Akash had stolen 10 rupees from his father, when Akash had got into a fight with another boy and told his parents that he had fallen down, when the first time Akash had liked a certain girl in his class. Whenever anything important happened in Akash’s life, the tree would know. Akash would come to the tree and share his feelings. There were so many such secrets that the tree had forgotten at least some of them.
Their city grew up fast too. The once quiet and serene street where the house stood, became a busy main road. Now it was a lot noisier and vehicles plied at all hours. The old world charm was lost. Akash grew up and moved away. The parents too grew old and passed away. The house remained empty except for the mango tree. Now, every summer stray urchins came for his mangoes. The tree was happy that his fruits did not go waste.
Now, suddenly all these people were here. Going all around the grounds, into the house, taking measurements and making calculations. Akash too stood in a corner talking to them. Occasionally he pointed to the tree and all the ground it.
The tree knew what this meant. He was going to be cut down to make space for a flat to come up. Most of all old houses on the street had gone this way.
He was sad. He had lived a long and fruit filled life. But he felt he still had a few more years to go. He did not want to be cut.
A year later, the old mango tree was still there. Waving gently in the breeze. His branches were still spanning a large area. But nothing else remained the same. The old house was gone. Now a new house stood in its place. This new house was much bigger and much grander. Earlier the tree used to remain outside the house, but now, he was a part of the house. He was a family member.
Akash now lived here with his family.
The tree loved his new house.