There’s a palm tree about a kilometre away from the house I grew up in. It belongs to someone else—not that anyone owns trees. They just happen to find themselves within walls of someone’s property. Then, if they’re not chopped down for reasons beyond their comprehension, they continue growing there. They didn’t need to be taken care of often; they were capable of looking after themselves.
I often walk by this lone specimen. It stands by itself, proud and tall, almost as if it were challenging the sky behind it. I was too small to intervene. All I could do was walk by it and stare in awe at its reluctance to bow to anything, at its constancy, the permanence of this slender silhouette, unwavering. So, that is what I’ve done year after year.
When I find myself in the street it calls home, I look up at it like we looked at a friend who has always been around. Perhaps, not in the most active role, but their presence is what begets respect. In the same way one caught up with a friend, I reflect on my life when I walk by it. It does not take me long to say hello and leave—I am a fast walker. But, there is a camaraderie in the moment, a familiarity one would never understand by mere words.
The palm, standing tall still, has been a silent spectator of my life for long enough; I have reason to believe it might just recognise me as I recognise it too. I gave my heart and soul to someone on this precise street—in an event as simple as running into them. The phone call for my first job was answered on this street, in front of the very palm. This was where I fell in love with the rain again, learning to choose happiness.
In times of uncertainty, you needed a reminder to stand your ground. The tree is one of the few things in the neighbourhood which reminds me of myself through time. I walked by it again yesterday. I looked up out of habit, and it was there, as it always has been. I thought of the first time I had walked by it almost over a decade ago.
Not much had changed, and the little that had did not stand ground in front of its endless continuity.