Memories of a Tree with Tiny White Flowers
Certain images invoke such nostalgia. Its like being battered by a barrage of memories. Of images from a distant past. Sometimes it can be a smell or even a texture that will evoke this trip down memory lane. There is this tree with tiny white flowers. (All my internet searches have failed to give up its name. So I will refer to it as the Tree with Tiny White Flowers.) It used to grow abundantly on the tea estate where I grew up as a child. During the flowering season the tree would be full of these tiny flowers that would bloom for a while and then fall to the ground to be crushed under foot. It is then that the magic happened. They gave out this smell both sweet and musty that rose up from the ground and wove itself around you. It’s a smell that till today takes me back in a flash to romps through wet forest and plucking flowers into cane baskets. I remember drinking juice freshly squeezed from oranges that were plucked from our fruit groves and adventures of visits from elephants who invaded those very groves. All seen and registered through the wonder struck eyes of a 4 year old. I have some very vivid memories of those days. For instance there were snakes to be found in abundance and I used to collect the skin they shed cause I thought it had a fascinating pattern. There was also the hoard of leeches that used to fall on you during the rainy season, to be removed by sprinkling salt or tobacco. A bloody gory sight they made too. Not all memories are pleasant because there was danger to be found in the forests around. My first dog Dippy (named after a brand of tomato sauce) was eaten by a Panther that stole into the grounds at night fall. Poor Dippy was tied and could not escape.
When I think back on those days so many visions come my way. But the smells that come to me are those of the crushed flowers of the Tree with the Tiny White Flowers and the smell that greeted me every time I jumped into my fathers arms when he came back home from work…of tea powder, old spice and the cold cold breeze.