City Season – Amaltas & Gulmohar, Around Town
Shades of summer.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The world economies are in shambles. Untold number of people worldwide have lost their jobs. A great many are dead. The pandemic is transforming the world. There’s no knowing when the nightmare will end. Everybody’s life has turned upside down.
But one thing has remained unchanged. The blazing summer has begun and the amaltas has returned like a steady and steadfast guest. It is again starting to bloom, a brilliant, defiant yellow. As if its flowery branches were trying to whisper to these catastrophic times, “You can’t beat us.”
Just yesterday morning a small amaltas tree was spotted in a south Delhi neighbourhood, its branches newly loaded with bunches of golden-yellow flowers. And in a coincidence too fantastic to be believed, a young man was seen standing directly under these flowers, wearing a mask that had exactly the same shade of yellow.
The sight was indescribably heart-touching.
Throughout the year, trees of amaltas look rather unremarkable. But in the summer months, when the city gets so hot it is almost unbearable, they suddenly get sheathed with layers of shining blossoms, and their flowers keep falling on the ground in a kind of silent and magical shower.
To experience amaltas at its most divine, a walk through central Delhi avenues such as Hailey Road and Amrita Shergill Marg makes for a necessary pilgrimage. Then there is North Delhi’s Bungalow Road… but sorry! The world has changed. One cannot freely navigate through the city any longer. Who knows when the coronavirus crisis will come under control. It might happen only long after the amaltas bloom is over, and that is June.
Do not despair, however. Many of us are now obliged to start going to our workplace following the lockdown’s partial relaxation. And one anyway still has to walk to the shop around the corner to get necessary groceries. And each time you step out of the house, you are likely to be reassured by the sighting of at least one amaltas blooming in your area.
And it’s not only about amaltas.
The day a young man in a yellow mask was spotted admiring the yellow amaltas, The Delhi Walla also spotted a woman in red mask admiring the red flowers of a gulmohar (coincidence!).Those trees are in bloom too, and their beauty is as uplifting. And, much like the amaltas, the gulmohars are also popping up in various parts of the city—each tree looming up like a flame. The woman was staring up at the red flowers for a long time, while the late morning sun was tucking itself behind the foliage, its blinding glow as focused as a reading lamp. It was difficult to discern the woman’s expressions because of the mask, but she must have felt moved. For she took out her mobile and clicked a picture before moving on to a supermarket ahead.
Indeed, some of these blossoming amaltas and gulmohars of Delhi’s are so overwhelming in their bright colors that a chance encounter might make the spectator momentarily forget about the everyday tensions, even about the raging coronavirus. And that must count as winning a battle, if not the war.
Masks and blooms