I was looking at a lovely post about autumn on 5 Precious
Things, a magical blog by artist Ruthie Redden, and it struck me
that in my life, I have never experienced the season of autumn.
In Bahrain, it was always either summer or winter. Here in
Bangalore, I have both those, plus a spring of sorts, and
a monsoon season. We also have wedding season and mango season
and several festive seasons whenever Christian, Hindu and
Muslim festivals somehow end up overlapping, and the whole city
seems to take a week off.
But no autumn.
Some of the trees here remember their heritage, though, and have
their own personal autumns. Irrespective of the local weather
they shed their leaves when they feel it's time. The mahogany trees
outside my window do it. Last month they decided winter is over.
Now they're getting ready for summer.
Their tiny, delicately fragrant spring flowers have given way to
these humongous potato-like pods, which will soon crack open,
and send winged seeds of dark brown whirling to the ground.
And then, I think, it will be autumn. They set their seeds free,
giving them to the world, knowing that most will be swept away
or burnt, that few will ever birth into new life. And instead of
celebrating their personal autumn with yellow, orange, red or
purple, they simply drop their leaves. All of them. And stand tall
and naked, mourning with dignity through their winter. Only
for a short while, though. For the mahogany trees, spring comes quickly.
I have never thought about autumn much, perhaps because
it was a season I missed. The season that stands out for me
is winter. I despise the cold and the dryness. And I have
my personal winters, too, times of feeling stripped bare,
empty and vulnerable. But I never paid attention to
the personal autumns that must have preceded
each winter in my life.
What if there's a message in the mahogany trees' autumns?
What if they are saying to me: winter is inevitable. Be like us.
Let go of the past. All of it. Just let it drop away, don't linger,
don't try and hold on to it. Don't try to paint it with colours
of hope, cheerfulness, passion or regality. Don't let your heart
linger over its beauty, or ache over its lost opportunities.
Just let it go. The only colour for us is green, the colour
of new life. Winter is inevitable, but so is spring.
It doesn't sound like a very cheerful message. But their winters
are the shortest I've seen, and then they are alive, again and again
and again. They create. They lose. They mourn. They never give up.
I think it is time for me to experience a personal autumn, a mahogany autumn.