~”Life is like a tree – it goes on, no matter what the season.”
In the middle of the campus, ensconced between red-bricked buildings, there stood a huge lake. Across the lake was a lone tree. The tree – it had silently stood there for over fifty years. Thousands of students had come and gone. Batches after batches of students from across the world. It would look down at all those bright faces – ambitious, high on life, their entire lives ahead of them. They always looked so fresh, the glimmer of a bright future clear in their sparkling eyes.
Each September, a new batch would arrive on campus. They were always excited, looking at the tree and the campus in awe, taking pictures by the lake, feeding the ducks, and basking in the beauty of it all. The tree would be in full bloom now – at the peak of summer – its leaves plenty and a lush green. During the first month, there would be many visitors – young groups of students, walking by the lake, their lives yet unencumbered by the burden of academics.
Then, as they made more friends, their lives got busier. They would spend less time noticing the wonders of nature, and more in classes. Occasionally, a single student would come with a book and sit under the tree for a while. Autumn was here, and the tree was beginning to lose its leaves, which were a tawny yellow by now. They were drying up, and fewer than before. The days were shorter, the nights darker, and the tree grew lonelier by the minute.
And then came the frost, like powdery dust. The crunchy specks on the grass gave it a whitish ethereal glaze. The students were far and between, their voices came from far. They sounded buoyant, now settled in this new country, this campus no longer new to them. The lake had lost its charm, they’d rather be indoors – in the warmth of yellow lights, preparing for their end-Sems, drinking warm cider by the fire. Gradually, even the ducks left for warmer areas, and the lake began to freeze. The tree observed it all from its place across the lake – its leaves were all but gone by now. Its trunk now hardened, the branches bare. Winter was coming.
And then came the snow. It fell in thick white clumps, like manna from the sky. In a matter of a few hours, the lake froze over, now covered in thick sheet of milky white snow, inches deep. The tree shrunk, now ready to weather the storm. All night the snow fell down, relentless and unending. Not a soul was in sight, and none came out to the lake.
By dawn, the entire campus stood still, covered in a thick white sheet of snow – untouched, untainted, and pure. When the first flocks of people woke up, they came out and played in the snow – building snowmen and throwing snowballs at each other. But none cared to look at the tree, which stood silent and tall, a lone black silhouette in a background of white.
As the months went by, it became warmer again. The campus came back to life – the ducks and swans were back, the hue greener and brighter each day. Tiny green leaves started to appear on the tree. But alas, it was time for the exams. And no-one had time to visit it. Disappointed, it resigned to its lonely fate and stopped waiting for them to come back.
Eventually, summer arrived. The air smelt fresh, with the frequent smell of barbecued chicken in the air – for summer was arriving, and what better than an open-air barbecue? the students came out in droves – they sun bathed and threw frisbees around on sunny afternoons. The days grew longer and the air balmier. Flowers bloomed along the lake, and the ducks walked about the green grass. The tree had a set of new leaves and showed off its splendor to the students below. They came to it in groups now and talked of jobs, interviews, and dissertations. their faces seemed tense, for it was time to leave. Once again, they looked around the campus in awe, for who knew when they would see it again (or would they at all?).
As the semester came to a close, the tree stood alone once again.
Note: When I was in UK, this was the view from my room. I loved the tree and captured it across the seasons. I saw it last in January 2013 (pic below) – when I went back to Warwick for my graduation ceremony. I miss this tree.
Did you like this photo-story post? I plan to write more about the seasons and share pictures from my campus. Would you like that? Let me know!