All around me I see the beauty of May. In my recent walk through Leigh Woods, I noticed that the meadows of wild garlic and bluebells have created a secret paradise amongst the tall beech, birch and redwood trees. Soon they’ll be gone and the ground will be just the usual grass and mud. The just-sprouted fresh leaves on the trees are still a sharp green and will become darker by next month. I remember a friend pointing that out to me many years ago and I failed to appreciate it then. The flowers everywhere put any dream sequence of an Indian film to shame. They fall to the ground as the strong wind shakes the very strength of their being and carpet the grass and are so careless with their generous abundance. I’m happy I’m able to notice this because for years I would only be vaguely aware but not register much.
This is partly due to my split background of course, coming from a part of the world where change in seasons is not obvious. I’m aware that the seasons get talked about in ancient Indian literature. The Sanskrit poet Kalidasa (5th century) has written about six seasons in Ritusamharam – apart from the usual four there is monsoon and cool too. But the fact is that I’ve never seen a tree in India going up in flames of yellow, orange and rust, shed all its leaves in bleak despair, remaining bare for months and grow them all back in amazing profusion as if the whole thing was all one big forgettable tantrum. This to me is drama – where the trees are temperamental catwalk models and us, bemused onlookers.
This country is Swargalokam (paradise), my mother said on a visit, seeing all this green. It used to hurt to pay attention to all this – not just emphasising my alien presence in a foreign land but a real inability to accept it. After persistent effort, I have now allowed myself to be calmed, soothed and nurtured by the lush nature around. And learnt to recognise that being lost in the wilderness has always been the path to greater enlightenment!