I went to the zoo the other day on a search mission; to locate a mango I had planted by the Karanji Lake some 22 years back. The occasion then was a tree-planting programme the Karnataka Zoo Authority had organized. And I was invited to plant a sapling, along with the then chairman and divisional commissioner Puranik and the zoo executive director C D Krishne Gowda.
While the others planted whatever sapling that was handed down to them by zoo officials, I was choosy about mango. It was in search of this mango that I made the recent trip to the zoo. It was a FORT-Mysore colleague GVK who talked me into looking for the tree I had planted so long ago. It would make a great post for our blog, he said. He even offered to come with me, and help me take a photo of my mango at the zoo. I chose to go on my own,just in case it turned out to be a dry run.
First I had to make sure if the tree was there.I informed my old friend, zoo manager Shivanna, about my desire to locate my ‘sapling’. He welcomed the idea, but he was not sure if it had survived. A pleasant surprise awaited us when we reached the spot. What I had planted has grown to be a big tree, conspicuous in the groove for its spread; its long branches overshadowed the other trees.I stood there gazing at my tree in sheer joy. As I shared my thoughts an accompanying Karanji official Nagaraj mentioned that the tree yielded delicious badami. He added that they do not pluck the mangoes,but leave them on the tree for birds and monkeys. A noble idea.
As I fixed my gaze on the tree, my thoughts went back to school days when I had read Rabindranth Tagore’s Kabuliwala. The trader in the story, from Kabul, spent months away from home travelling in India to sell dates. The Kabuliwala , on his visits to Calcutta came in contact with a “little girl”...after years of absence (in jail) he returned, to be overwhelmed with emotions on seeing his 'little one' grown up as a beautiful woman. She reminded Kabuliwala of his own daughter back home, in Kabul. Well, I some such feelings at Karanji. Seeing my ‘sapling’, after over two decades, reminded me of the grown up woman in the story.
I had not visited Karanji in a long while. Besides it had not occurred to me to look for my tree till now. Those days, when we held our monthly zoo authority meetings on the lakeside there was not as much of tree cover as we find today. We must thank the zoo authority and its employees for the transformation. The whole environ is serene. For book lovers and bird-watchers it is an ideal spot. What with well laid out granite benches facing the lake, and coffee available at kiosk, the setting is fantastic, simply.
As I stood in front of the mango tree I felt humble. Who am I to claim it as my tree, merely because I had planted it. The credit must truly go to the gardeners and others at the lake who looked after it.Above all it is the Mother Nature that nourished, with maternal care, the sapling as it grew into a tree. I couldn’t help folding my hands in gratitude to such Nature’s creation before heading home.