For my friend Kamlesh
"The measure of your life is the amount of beauty and happiness of which you are aware."
You have been exhausted, pulling through trying times. But on your morning walks, along the same road you have walked for 4 years, you suddenly notice these beautifully patterned Bauhinia leaves under a particular tree. Only under this one. You stop every morning, unable to take your eyes off, each discovery filling you with amazement and wonder. Every year, something new in the same old streets, in the same old people...
A few days ago a gentleman out for his walk stops and asks, "Have you lost something?" You realize you have been bent over, looking down at the ground. You show him the leaves. You haven't lost, you have found. You tell him about the Bauhinia Purpurea lining the entire street, alongside so many other species. That it is called the Camel Foot tree because of the shape of its leaves. How the street has at least 3 shades of pink and purple Bauhinia flowers. And the leaves. How only this tree has these beautiful spots on its fallen leaves, each one a different pattern. Maybe it is entering Autumn earlier than the others?
You get carried away, as usual. This is just your thing - unexpected interactions with strangers, random connections that make the world a less lonely place. You would like to believe that there is still warmth despite all the distrust, and kindness despite all the cruelty. Every positive interaction a renewal of this faith.
He looks at you in amazement. "I live on this street and I never noticed any of this!" The tree is right in front of his house. He asks me whether I am in some field connected to the environment. No, I say, laughing - I am just in the field of looking, of taking photos of trees and leaves, for no particular reason. :)
And then he made my day. He started looking down and pointing out leaves for me - "Look at that one, so beautiful!" I take pictures of all of them. We are in this together now, strangers who have chanced upon jewels on the street. That don't have to be possessed to be enjoyed.
And then you part ways, getting on with your busy day where you drown yourself in work while the world outside breaks down, heals, renews itself, again and again.
And every day, the tree continues to strew down its paintings, carelessly, all over the ordinary street.