It was my first day at school, and I couldn't wait for it. So, my elder brother took my hand and escorted me to the school, very early in the morning. The school was in the compound of the Customs Office.
We went through a large gate. Walked on a concrete road, as commonly found in government offices. And then, suddenly, wonder of wonders! A tree with fruits like local dates, yet the leaves are like ice apple trees! I gasped. It was actually a palm tree. Then we crossed a small clubhouse, officers in white dresses were playing table tennis there.
Leaving those behind, we took a turn, and we were in an English Forest of Eucalyptus, and Mahogany with a tennis lawn embedded in its bosom. We went through it, following a brick walkway covered with fallen leaves. The fragrance of Eucalyptus, the intermittent rays of the morning sun dancing through the thickness of the leaves blended so much that it felt like the rays are fragrant themselves.
Then, there were Indian Mynas. We used to believe that seeing an even number of those birds brings good luck while seeing in odd numbers is a dire omen. But, hundreds of them, practically uncountable to me, caused exasperation at first. Being just a child, I was incapable of fixating on a fearful idea for too long. Therefore, I stopped counting totally. I found this resignation, particularly peaceful. Life, in a nutshell, always has been a menagerie of infinite Indian Mynas. All our effort to divine our little concerns from such intricacy is wastefully futile.
All of it made a lasting impression of wonder I never overcame. Times and again, I visited the place. Only in memory, of course. Partially due to the fear that it will not be the same, partially due to the notion that I might have already lost the innate sense of wonder I used to have as a boy.
But, visiting it in my mind is like living with all my being, like being happy, calm, and content.
English Forest is a forest that is, in its heart, a forest (not a garden) yet quite well-maintained. I made up this term after reading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. ↩︎