That Indian Sweet Almond Tree

a poem by Christuraj Alex

It stood magnificently in front of our Churchyard
Like the sacred fig tree before any temple-yard
My going to church, as a boy, had no other reason
Than picking all bird-dropped fruits, as a mission
Collecting as many as possible hastily
Pushing them into my knickers-pocket quietly
Thinking of them all through the Holy Mass

Waiting for the priest to say the final grace
Hurrying to a corner where no humans see
Place, as lonely as the very loneliness could be
Savouring the sour-sweet taste spread over it
Then breaking it with stones to get the nuts in it
Quantity of it equaled as little as a butter drip
Or as much as ten mustard seeds put as a strip
Relishing it as though nectar of ancient sages
Coming down to mine tongue from all the ages

In youth tastes changed and matters mattered
And this almond became very old fashioned
Burgers, Pizzas, hotdogs and all tasted well
Though, consuming them, I often was unwell
I saw boys and girls picking almonds as I did
And hurrying to corners and I understood
The ‘grown-up’ in me prohibited me from doing so
It’s hence I hid my child within, as a rainbow

Abroad, I almost forgot the Indian almond tree
As within me, I was bored and never really free
I had my worries of marriage and children
Who’d care for a tree with no monetary gain
It’s when I went to my home town casually
It’s under that tree I found my future lily
We married and got children who grew
Both with tastes so modern and new
Yet, it’s when once we visited the churchyard
My younger lingered over that fruit so thrilled
We offered him sweet almonds from stores
And supermarkets that made him to uproar

He collected for long as much as he could
And each little one he collected for him he hid
He too, later, had his dreams and worries
Sophistications seismically so seduce, seize

Church now demolished and grounds cleared
For newer one to construct all well renewed
I found this almond tree got fully uprooted
And thrown into a corner like an old harp muted
I cried and cried till I could cover the tears
As though I’d hidden my feelings for many years…