ONCE there was a sweet tamarind tree in my front yard. Its branches
stretched out far and wide, creating a cool shade on hot days. I myself had planted it
many years ago. Originally, it was inside the fence, but later on, when the municipalitys
Construction Department expanded the roadway, I moved the fence in a few feet, which left
the tamarind tree out by the sidewalk. I was very pleased with this tamarind tree
because its pods were so sweet and its leaves so green. It was a decorative tree that
brought life to my front yard. When the monsoon season approached, its red blooms covered
the ground. Then tiny pods appeared on its crown and over all its branches. Everybody who
walked beneath it looked up in awe.
Besides the passersby who paused to enjoy its shade, a number of
schoolchildren waited underneath for their parents or guardians after the nearby school
let out. These young people were in uniform.
They were bright-eyed and lovely. Some stood. Some sat and some of
them chased one another around. The sight of these children--their happiness, smiles, and
jokes--is something Ill always remember. Some days I spent a few minutes, even as
much as half an hour, looking at them, at their black hair and red, sometimes chubby,
cheeks. I found happiness in their innocence. There is a saying that no sight is more
pleasing and precious than that of children playing carefree. I agree wholeheartedly and
if I owned a camera, I probably would have wasted more time trying to take some candid
snapshots. Their songs, their laughter, their jokes, and even their cursing and
sneering at one another as they squabbled over tamarind pods reminded me of my own past,
when I was ...........