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Back home, in my mother’s garden in an equatorial country, there is one small deciduous tree planted alone in front of the porch. Its large almond shaped leaves look chewable, and its slim trunk had glints of grey when the sun hits it hard. I never asked what kind it was, and I never touched its bark or leaves. Dry and rainy seasons pass unheeded by the evergreens all around. However, this tree leaves redden before falling on the grass. No one wondered why this plant was so different, but I did, obsessively so. At times, I’d talk to the tree. “Why are you so different? Why are you deciduous, when all the others are evergreen?” I’d say, as if I tried to shame it.
The last afternoon before I left my country, my brothers were playing football in the garden with their friends. Sitting on the porch, I could hear the stomping on the grass, the kicks on the ball, and the few cries. A cousin was talking to me, but my eyes were focused on the tree, with its red and purple leaves. A few had started to fall on the grass. Under the shadow made by the branches, a big hen and its chicks were cackling. In my head, I started talking to the tree. “Why are you like this. How silly? Last time I checked, you live in a country with dry and rainy seasons. Hell, you are in a garden full of evergreen trees and here you are, trying to draw attention to yourself.” My rant was interrupted by the ball hitting the trunk, causing a few leaves to fall fell slowly; they looked like ripe fruits. The hen and its chicks cackled away, offended by this intrusion in their little paradise. One of my brothers ran towards the ball resting now on a bed of leaves. My cousin started giggling with her hand in front of her mouth. Another simple afternoon tinted by the deciduous.
The next day, I left my country and moved in regions where there are four seasons and where most trees are deciduous, like the one at home. At times, I imagine that I am back on the porch staring at my childhood tree and I realize that I loved that plant, simply its uniqueness seemed a beckon to abuse.
Here, as I walk among the deciduous, aware that I’m the one of a less common variety, I fear listening to the trees. What if they are speaking to me the way I spoke to the deciduous back home? But maybe they have more sense than me. Maybe tress have more sense than humans overall. As I walk here, I make myself inconspicuous enough to be beyond reproach.