That kohomba tree…

Have you heard the breeze blow through a kohomba tree? Have you listened to it? You must.

I hadn’t, until a few weeks ago, when I took my tortured soul onto our balcony, sat on an armchair and stared blindly at the old kohomba tree outside, in the opposite house.

It’s tall and gnarly, with spots that belie its age. It’s been there as long as I can remember. When my mother-in-law was alive, we asked for leaves for some medical concoction or the other. I even painstakingly manufactured some foul solution of them to spray on those wretched piti makunas that besiged a plant, I forget which.

But I never listened to it. Or really observed it, as I have these past few days and weeks. Because I hadn’t had the time.

Then, I was told to slow down. So I went outside with my turbulent emotions and stared at the old tree. Slowly, I started looking at it. The way it branched out, like splotchy brown veins, except thicker near the trunk and thinner at the ends.

At different times of the day, various creatures come there. Squirrels, parrots (many of them in the evenings), brown-headed barbets, some sort of eagle that I can’t figure out the name of, black-hooded orioles…

But it’s the sound of its leaves that soothes my soul. It’s unlike any other conversation of a tree that I have heard before. Maybe I hadn’t stopped to listen to trees before.

It rustles with each waft of breeze. Often, yellowed leaves sway downwards, to be swept up and binned each morning. I find them in our garden or balcony sometimes. They’re so light that they float afar. If you close your eyes, it sounds like a million little butterflies flapping their wings.

It’s that rustle. There’s magic in it, I tell you. The mingling of each fragile leaf, whispering secrets to each other. Saying, “Pass it on.” That’s why there’s a melody, I figure. It starts slow and gets louder, only calmly and gently. Never intrusive. Peaceful and pleasant. And I sigh.

It’s the balm I need. It centres me, even if it’s still temporary. When I walk around restlessly, unable to park my thoughts, I look at the old kohomba tree and listen to it, grateful that it’s there.

That tree is always there. I hope it will be, even after I’m gone.