Monty rushed home from school, all excited with his backpack slinging from his shoulders, his shirt half tucked in and half hanging out. He threw his bag into a corner, and quickly got out of his school shoes, and still dressed in his uniform he rushed out as his mother kept screaming at him to eat something before going out.
Naina and her husband, along with Monty had recently come into this new country. Her husband had finally got the elusive job he was looking for. They had moved from the chaotic locality of suburban Mumbai to peaceful suburbs of a major automobile hub.
Naina had been married for 10 years now, and she had adjusted to the lifestyle at her in-laws place, yes they did live together and she had loved every moment of it. This trip across seas meant that she had to now do all the work, including those which she shared with her mother in law. She was not cribbing about it though; the prospect of a new country and a richer lifestyle excited her. She found herself more in the kitchen these days packing lunch, substituting things which she could not find in the new city and making sure the taste still remained the same, Now that there was no maid, she had to clean everything herself, that meant more work at home then she had ever done, and there was Monty as well, his studies, his assignments. Monty had continued to be his usual best at his studies, she had heard good reports from his teachers, and he continued to do most of his study work without much fuzz.
Naina had begun to notice changes in Monty’s eating habits, he no longer hogged on those favorite sweets of his, and he seemed to be less interested in his favorite rasam which his granny made for him everyday. Even as a toddler Monty never finished his dinner/lunch, without the rasam specially made for him by his granny. Monty seemed to be missing that taste, or may be he was missing much more than taste. Naina ignored this thinking he does not like the substitutes she had been using in her cooking.
As Monty had left home already, Naina having not much to do, decided to take a walk around the block, she wanted to catch Monty playing with his friends. She locked the door, put on the coat and slowly started off in the direction of the playground. As she began to walk, she noticed how different the place looked, the crowded gullies from Mumbai where one could catch children playing cricket, and here she was, almost deserted roads, with no living person in sight, with cars parked neatly in front porch of every house, with total silence all around.
Naina noticed a lot of trees around, trees which seem to have impressed Monty a lot these days, All his essays at school found a mention about a tree, and how much of a friend it is for the mankind, even his art work kind of showed him around a tree. She had been really happy at young Monty’s concern for the environment. She wondered how quickly Monty was growing up and how fast his thoughts were growing.
Naina reached the playground, to be kind of shocked, there were not many kids around, and she could find some parents with their babies in those trams, and very few toddlers again with their parents. She could not spot Monty anywhere, nor anybody of his age hanging around, though a little worried, she thought he might have gone into the woods nearby with his friends. She started to walk back to her house; the playground was sort of towards the back of her house, so she preferred to go via the side walk to her back yard. As she neared the house, she found a large tree with wide branches right behind her back fence, and she could spot someone there. She came near the tree to find out it was Monty.
Monty was simply sitting there, with his hands crossed on his knees, there was a board hung to the tree, it read “The Gulmohar”, and Monty was just sitting there watching the sky. Naina had tears in her eyes, she had realized what Monty meant by tree being the man’s friend, and she had the picture in her eyes, the picture of the Gulmohar under which Monty’s herd played back in Mumbai, and she had found out why his study work had so many mentions about the tree. The Gulmohar is all Monty had from last couple of months. Tears continued to trickle down her cheeks.