What’s the song in your heart…

By Amrish Shah

What’s the song in your heart…
Do you have a hidden story to part…

On a warm summer day, I saw a man standing in his 50’s in front of a lush coloured Gulmohar tree. He was talking to himself. It seems as if he was reciting a piece of poetry to himself. And then he smiled as if nature has kissed him. Curious to understand his state of nirvana, I went and stood next to him and asked him the reason for his blissful expression. He looked at me in wonder and said “this tree and I have a special bond. In my schooldays I would steal a mango from the neighbor’s garden and come here and suck on it for hours. I would witness a few other kids smiling at me while my face was decorated with mango juice. Later when I was in college I would sit and chat up with my friends. We would count the fallen orange petals every summer and stare at young girls. Then I fell in love with a likeminded girl from the neighborhood. I used to get my girlfriend here and we would exchange sweet nothings. This was followed by the days of job struggle. I was interviewing for various jobs. Most often rejected and dejected I would come back and sit under this tree to catch a fresh breath. When I got my first salary I came here with my girlfriend and proposed her marriage with a silver ring. After our honeymoon we would hang here with our other married friends and discuss movies. When your first child was born I would get him here for a stroll wrapped in my arms. However cranky he would be, as soon as he would feel the shade of the Gulmohar tree, he would get pacified. I would pay my gratitude to this tree by blowing a kiss in the air. That’s how my son learnt to blow a kiss. Days passed and all of a sudden he grew up. He was out most of the times. I started feeling lonely. My wife was too busy with her household activities and social commitments. I started coming here by myself. With headphones attached to my mobile phone I would have FM music for company. Untill I met with this slim and tall lady who would also come and chill here. She would love to spend time amidst nature. She was a schoolteacher in a public school and a spinster. She was in her thirties but could pass off as a college student. I got interested and I threw in a hello. We began talking. We started with the Gulmohar tree and spoke about stories form our respective childhood. We had the chirping birds as our witness to this growing friendship. I grew terribly fond of her. She developed a soft corner for me but practiced restraint. She knew I was married and therefore she was always at some sort of discomfort. But we would still land up meeting under a tree at least thrice a week. The rest of the days we had chores to do. We started missing each other. I was married with a child, and she was a devoted school teacher slated to imbibe knowledge and culture in her students. We knew we could land in trouble. One of us had to draw a line.

Ironically both of us stopped coming to this tree. There was no conversation between us about our separation. It just happened. One evening we came here, both of us speechless and we left without uttering a word to one another. It’s been twenty years since then. I haven’t come here since then. But today my nostalgia got the better of me. I had to talk to this tree about what had happened in my life in the last twenty years. I came here last night but saw my young son locked in the arms with his girlfriend right under this tree. I felt embarrassed and walked away. But right now is a good time. Now is what we have. Cause I don’t know maybe it will be another twenty years when I come back to this Gulmohar tree and pour my heart out. On second thoughts I don’t know why we wait for twenty years to bring out the story in us. And he finished pouring his heart…his hidden song. I stood their in stoic silence. The birds started chirping in the background, as it was time for them to come home. They were calling out to their loved ones and probably sharing with their fraternity about their story of the day. I saw a couple of Koel’s singing on the orange branch of the tree. Maybe they like to sing their story. I looked at the man whose eyes were glowing with the setting sunlight. I patted him with affection and with a knowing smile, I walked away into the sunset. But while I was whistling away to eternity, from the corner of my eye I could still see him talking to the tree. Maybe he has a long story to tell…may be he has many stories… Many a song in his heart… the birds fell silent…maybe for a moment they forgot their tale and were interested in listening to his saga… I guess we all have one… a song in our heart… a hidden story to part !!!

Amrish Shah’s novel Tiger Mates available @ tigermates.com, amazon.in, flipkart.com

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