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About A Tree by Romita Majumdar

Art by Émilie Charmy

There was a jungle.

In my backyard.

Or so I believed it to be.

It had snakes, wild boars and the occasional fox.

In the centre of this jungle.

Sat a towering jamun tree.

It was older than time.

And older than the wandering spirits it cradled.

With a penchant for causing trouble.

It would spit purple juice on freshly washed white PT shirts.

Sometimes, it would aim a few of the not-so-ripe berries towards the back of my head while I ran errands.

Once, it trapped my brother as he stumbled into the rooftop to gather berries ahead of season.

He sat there for an hour, surrounded in its gnarly embrace as he waited for dad to rescue him.

It loomed over the bathroom windows, threatening to crack through the ageing glass panes on a rainy day.

It peaked into the kitchen, like a matriarch.

One arm on the hips and a look of absolute disdain at my mother's choice of spices. Often, it would let critters into the house through one of its million tentacles. Quietly slipping a few mice through the ventilator.

Or a lizard through the crack behind the bathroom window.

Once, I caught it trying to nudge a garden snake through the sewer.

If you watched closely.

Like really close and patient.

You could see it giggling.

Unsettling a clump of fat, black berries as it enjoyed it's pranks. It loved chaos.

Unlike its sophisticated neighbours.

The Moringa tree only ever swayed gracefully in the evening breeze. And the teenaged Mango tree wasn't even tall enough to mingle with the oldies.

But Jamun.

It knocked, creaked, cracked and slithered into the house however it pleased. It sat in the centre of the backyard.

Refusing to be treated as a background prop.

It's sinewy limbs and leafy arms danced in delightful laughter. It didn't matter which tenant occupied the crumbling old government home. Whether they had a taste for the tart-sweet fruit.

Or if they liked their white shirts..well, white.

Everyone learnt to live by landlord's rules.

In Jamun land.

Discover more of Romita's work on Instagram: @romitamajumdar


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