Nerala-mane (house of shade)

January 19, 2017 / Raji Sunderkrishnan
Image copyright: Ganesh H Shankar

Shade is why Sonali chooses that large Gulmohar to stand under, preferring to run the short distance to the actual bus-stop once she spots her office bus rumbling down the dusty road each sweltering morning.

Neralu is what makes Basavaraja smile and take off his sunglasses, as he drives through a stretch of highway surprisingly lined with Tamarind trees, which embrace each other across the otherwise-barren route.

Chaaya from the colourful Semal tree is what tempts Bijoya into playing a few more rounds of hop-scotch, not heeding to the sternly clanging recess bell.

Tanal is why Kuttan relaxes under a cluster of Coconut trees when he returns from a hectic morning of fishing, sitting there to eat lunch, keeping an eye on his boat moored on the beach.

Savali helps complete Nitin’s summer afternoon fun, of stealing mangoes from Bhonsle kaka’s orchard and slurping the pulp out of them, seated under the very same tree.

Nida is what draws Gowramma to the Banyan tree for a spot of gossip with friends, after a tiring day walking around parts of Kakinada, selling home-made khajas.

Chaanv is what makes the Banbehi tigress at Bandhavgarh crawl into a Bamboo grove in the afternoon, to escape the unforgiving summer sun.

Nizhal is what momentarily cools down Senthil’s blistered feet, as he seeks refuge after hopping across the scorching stones at the Madurai Meenakshi Temple in the afternoon.

Saaya gently nudges Ismail’s eyelids shut, and he naps unawares, though he only meant to rest under that Neem tree for five minutes before he pushed his guava cart ahead.

Celebrate shade in all its forms. Celebrate Neralu.