Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Cherry Tree ( 1967-80)


There was a cherry tree in my backyard. When I was ten years old, I learned to climb it. Me and couple of my friends. Some didn't, and I thought not because they feared climbing, but to avoid the scolding they might get from their parents if they were found climbing the tree. The tree produced quite juicy cherries and enough to tempt us to climb, so they always told me, since I never tasted them. I climbed for the sheer thrill of it. I felt I might not like the the taste of those 'too sweet cherries' and that would eventually put me off from climbing the tree again. We climbed right on top, at least twenty feet high to get those cherries. Then we filled our pockets and I would give my share to the boys who waited down anxiously. These boys were called 'The Watchers'. Their job was to watch out for people who were likely to stop us from climbing the tree.

There was this old lady or 'The old witch' as we used to call her. She would scream her head off if she saw us climbing the tree as if she owned the tree or us. And so, one 'Watcher' was specially recruited to watch out for her. All the watchers were given equal share of the loot. And they were quite faithful. They never ran away or scampered leaving us stranded. Yeah, they would warn us well in advance and it was our job to climb down fast and run. If they failed to spot or warn us in advance, they were given a mild punishment like, they were to miss their share next time.

There was a wall of about twenty feet high, almost hugging the cherry tree, which separated the neighbours' backyard from us. Top of the wall was covered with sharp pieces of glasses which were dug deep into the wall. so one could not stand on the wall for support. Few branches of the cherry tree crossed over the wall and reached the neighbours' side. So sometimes, while on the cherry tree, we did back and forth across and over the wall from our backyard to the neighbours'. And on one of the off days when 'The watchers' couldn't warn us in advance, we would jump over to our neighbour's compound. It was risky since those branches were thin and not capable of taking the weight of two people, specially when we would be in panic state. But we felt safer doing that than getting caught by ' the old witch'.

And one day one of my friends fell off the tree and broke his arm. I bore the maximum brunt of the shouting, second only to the boy who was badly hurt and in pain.
We stopped climbing the cherry tree till the boy recovered and was ready to join us again.

This went on for few years and I never really became old enough to stop climbing.

When I was thirteen, the cherry tree was finally cut down. I had climbed the evening before not knowing it would be my last climb. I remember, for some reason I sat on the tree for a very long time. I had not filled my pockets with cherries for 'the watchers' since that day there were none. Next day, the tree was razed. But not from my memory.

I still suspect ' the old witch' had something to do with it....

1 comment:

Kay said...

Childhood!!! I wish I could go back in time....