|The old Rain Tree ( Samanea saman ) - which was trimmed not long before and is seen covered with wild vegetation - Picture taken recently around noon time.|
To the east of my childhood garden, separated by a wire mesh fence, a shallow drain and a narrow, tarmac car lane, there stands an old Rain tree ( Samanea saman ). Ever so mighty and unmoved by the many vegetation that grow wild on and below it. It has been that magnificently big for as long as I can remember. It was under this tree that I was first introduced to and picked Daun Kadok ( Piper sarmentosum ) vegetables. One of the most delicious wild growing vegetables which I still love to pick every time I go back. And it was under this tree that I had had my first encounter with a blood-sucking leech as a child.
While it is a norm that Rain trees have beautiful, symmetrical, umbrella-shaped crowns, this particular Rain tree somehow differs. It has a crown that surprisingly tends to tower to the west. Overshadowing our east-facing garden. More so during the rainy season. When its growth speed escalated exponentially. Its shape resembles an unfinished, odd-shaped, half-round umbrella.
" Perhaps it loves human companions, " Mum used to say. " That's why it grows towards our house and garden. And not towards the vast empty space on its other side! " Which seems very likely to me, until now. As I could not find any possible factors or reasons that could have made it behave so.
When Mum was still around, she used to carry out her morning routines; harvesting, sorting and washing vegetables out in the garden. So, she especially loved this Rain tree. She enjoyed its most cooling wide canopy that provided shade to more than half of our over 5000 square feet garden area till around noon time. Though we did have a few mature trees in our own garden back then, they were not as good, or so she thought. And I think so too.
Growing up, I had had many lazy mornings, waking up late - long after the sun had risen. Had it not been for this cooling Rain tree's canopy, I could not possibly have slept so soundly past breakfast. And only waken up prior to lunch during the weekends and on school holidays. The sun would have entered, shone on and burnt me alive through my east-facing bedroom's windows. Not that I underestimated our own garden trees's ability though.
Most people in our neighbourhood know about this Rain tree. Even students from a nearby secondary school know about it. They always come and sit under it after school every day. Along the edge of the shallow drain right outside our fence. Its shade is so comfortable and cooling that they would usually hang around for an hour or two before going back to their own homes. They often make a lot of noises. I dislike them. As I feel they disturb the peaceful silence and privacy of our garden and home. I have to stay indoors whenever they come. Not only that. Some nasty ones ( all boys ) even smoke and fight under it at times. While some playful ones ( also boys ) purposely set fires to the tree. Just for the fun of it. Once, the fire spread so fast that we had to call the Fire Brigade. Poor old Rain tree! It was quite badly burnt. Luckily, before long, it grew back again.
So, though I love this Rain tree for its shade, I also dislike it at the same time. Because of those nasty boys ( trouble makers ) it attracts until these days. More so when I was still a child. When my everyday chore was to sweep the outside of our house. Since our garden was a part of it, I had to also sweep all those ever falling flowers, leaves and twigs from the Rain tree that landed on our garden. It was not easy. I remember always complaining about it. As it did somehow, significantly increase my workloads. Especially on those days after storms.
Talking about storms, I really feared them whenever they struck in the past. Not only that they left me with a lot more work. But they made me ( us ) fearful on most days when they struck. They caused the Rain tree to sway. So furiously that it hit at and resulted the adjacent electrical wires to brush against each other and send out sparks. A series of explosions actually! The explosions were so massive at times that we were afraid the sparks from them would touch our house and burn it down. But luckily what we feared never did happen. Every time we complain to the local authority, they would just come and trim off a few nearby branches. They never resorted to do a bit more. Like making sure that the electrical wires would not get to touch each other again.
Nowadays, Big Bro ( my eldest brother who is still staying there ) would make a complain long before a tree branch gets near the electrical wires. I wonder why we never do just that in the past. Before the problems came. That would have saved us from all those unnecessary fears! Though we have less hours of shade now, it is very worth it. At least we are fear and worry-free! And we have much less debris on our garden and so, less work! If only the boys who come for its cooling shade are more well-behaved, I guess we would have nothing more to complain or worry....
And the old Rain tree, I suppose, would be much happier to be of service to us too!