It is still humid , but pink winters are ready to knock on the threshold of autumns door.
A sweet, enchanting and intoxicating smell lures me into its confines, as I step outdoors.
In the dark of the night, something mystical like night fairies allures the passerby .
They are left rather confused, at the mysteries of the night.
Night becomes the messenger of this sweet confusing smell emanating from the hideous
Corners.But during the day nothing strange is visible. Pedestrians walk at their own pace without noticing something strange. As on the wayside we can only see trees in a row.
Amaltas trees stands in all its strength , but without its golden glory , with faded look left only with few clusters of off white flowers . In the scorching heat of the Summers , the brightness of the Sun has taken over the yellow flowers of the Amaltas .
But there is nothing suspicious about them, so I move further, to the next in line, towards the Gulmohar trees to inspect , are they the culprits of the night!!,playing hide and seek and misguiding me.
But soon I realise , the fiery-red nature of the Gulmohar is already on decline, there was a time, once when they dominated the entire landscape with its reddish-orange hues, burning bright like the fire and challenging the dazzling Sun, but now with the fall season , the youthful nature has taken a much mellowed done look.
They are in the act of vanishing now , some still playing a special appearance though ,and still acting as a visual treat for the eyes, even in this act of losing and fading glory.
Soon I realize and come to the conclusion, that it neither Amaltas nor Gulmohar , and apart from these two , there is no one in the close vicinity except for a strange looking single tree , which is hardly visible.
Could this be the culprit of the night, but in daytime it looks so innocent and lonely , and much inferior as compared to the rest of the lot, in terms of the visible beauty.
As the day comes to an end, and I decide to indulge in leisure walks of the night , as well as explore the secrets of the night.
Heading back to the same spot, I visited during the day, I am amused and shocked to confront the same strong fragrance of the night.
I look around , try to figure out the source of the fragrance. And then I notice something peculiar near the lonely tree. In the dark of the night it is no more lonely, unlike the day.
A lot of night visitors were thronging the cluster of the white flowers.
I mistook the flowers ,to be that of firangipani during the daytime ,but soon I laughed at my ignorance and realized that it was not the firangipani but a special visitor/guest of the Autumns . An indicator of the approaching pink winters .
A special guest on a flowering mission for one month and during this phase, it makes its presence felt in leaps and bounds, till it flowers again. Its flowers play peek-a-boo in between the elongated leaves.
But in the dead of the night, the presence of the tree can be felt by its overpowering smell, as I walk on the lanes spread across a few kilometres .
The dense leaves of the tree camouflages with the darkness of the night, the only thing which is registered by our senses is the fragrance spread all around . The dim light of the lamppost acts as a spotlight for the nocturnal beings , who hover in hundreds around the tiny bunch of hiding flowers and enjoy their nigh out thoroughly . The two perform a tango, erupting and buzzing with night life activity.
Yes it is that time of the year, when this tree comes to life . As it is September , and the tree of the night has it performances lined-up for us. The creatures of the night are attracted towards the tree , appearing like night dancers, to many and scaring the rest.
The tree appears to be related to ‘raat ki raani’, but it is rather treated as a poor and inferior distant cousin of it. As despite of the fact, it shares the similar traits with the raat-raani, it is still called the ‘Devil’s tree’.
Yes , it the’ Saptaparni’ tree,(Alstonia scholar is) also known as Devils tree in English. In Hindi it derives its name from Sapta means seven and parni means leaves. But it is mostly associated with evil or horror things. It is considered as the abode of the seductive spirits by many.
The reason much attributed to its stingy fragrance and also due to its nature of being catering to night pollinators .
But in reality, these are just myths which have taken over the actual beauty of this tree .
It actually heralds the arrival of winter season. The strong oozing fragrance like the jasmine , indicates that the winters are round the corner and humidity is about to get over.
It is also known as the blackboard tree, as used in the past for making boards, there is some connection of this tree with dark and black I guess.
But presently, it bears the burnt of step motherly treatment ,as compared to its other night-blooming counterparts.
The Saptaparni trees itself is a paradox, as one side it feeds the numerous nocturnal insects and houses them, on the other side it is charged with scary traits and features.
But off late , I have developed a liking for this tree, but still I dread its blooming season as it becomes the major reason for my daughters allergic cough and wheezing.
I in my poetic strain may admire the leafy canopies of the tree, its shade, the falling of flowers with the slight breeze , but I cannot even ignore its true devilish character , as its flowering and pollination is the major cause of breathing problems of my young ones.
It’s ironical that , I love the sweet smell of the Saptaparni tree , as well as, I dread the odour of the devil tree. Its paradoxical nature confuses me to an extent, where I ponder , whether to call it a fragrant tree, soothing the senses or a devil at work, causing respiratory troubles, but I guess it likes to retain its tag or name of being called as a ‘Devil’s Tree’.