Saturday, 7 June 2008

Last week I rescued a drowning lizard.

This week it was a hungry dog. A mournful stray mongrel with wonderful tan fur, who has now overcome his perfectly understandable fear of the human race, at least as far as I am concerned. He lets me pat him, listens happily when I talk endlessly (gosh, it's so nice to have someone who really LISTENS!! Ever since my therapist dumped me, I've missed that!) and he's now waiting at the front gate several times a day to see if I've got any spare food or love. I'm not sure what this dog's name is. He wags at almost every name I throw at him. Except Lancelot. He was definitely pained by that one.

The lizard story, meanwhile, is not as noble as it sounds, because I was responsible (accidentally, of course) for the lizard falling into the water tank in the first place. However, I can still take credit for scooping her out and placing her in a sunny spot to revive.

Soon after, I also nearly drowned - no, drenched - a little toad who happened to have taken up residence in a flower pot I decided to water.

A few days ago, our wonderful drumstick tree broke in half during a gale, and I spent almost an entire day dismantling the broken branches. I felt I owed the tree this much; the sapling was a gift from a family friend Mr. Nellamuthu, who died the following year. We remember him every time we bring in a harvest of drumsticks - and what wonderful harvests there have been over these years.

It was amazing just how much use even a fallen tree can be. There were branches and twigs that will dry and become someone's firewood. There were huge amounts of leaves and buds rich in iron and other minerals that we were able to distribute to so many people (to cook into a veggie dish); there were a few very tender drumsticks not yet at their prime: green tendrils that we will cook into a sambar; there were random green bits that all got collected for the compost heap. I worked the whole day up on the roof, and ended up with a ghastly headache that evening. But it was worth it. I felt it was the least I could do for this tree that had given us so much.

The following day we called in two gardeners to cut the remainder of the tree down, down to the roots. I noticed a gummy substance easing out of some of the hacks. It looked like melted candle wax, and in some places it was deep red, like blood.

I felt sad for the bees who loved this tree -- I would find them even past sunset, drinking their fill of nectar from its white flowers; also the little bee-eaters (that I've never seen eating bees) who are little flittery brown-and-white birds with longish beaks and yellow bums and a "too-whit-too-whit-too-whit" song. The squirrels will have one less tree to leap about and nibble on. The neighbours' ugly walls and immodest windows will no longer be hidden by greenery. We are all going to miss that tree.

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