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An Earth Day Under The Trees

By Anitha.S

25 April, 2014

I am Surya, 14 years old .I live with my brother and parents in the city of Thiruvananthapuram. Two days back I attended the Earth Day celebrations in a school- the Attakulangara Government Central High School in one of the most crowded parts of the city. It is so hot there with many buses and cars, not to speak of the number of people coming to visit the famed Padmanabhaswamy Temple, to shop in the Chalai Bazar and so on. But we were amazed as we entered the school which seemed like a green oasis in the heat, dust and din of the East Fort area. There was such a vast expanse of soil and wet earth, unlike many schools where there is concrete and tiles. The summer rain which blessed us the previous evening had washed the trees green and as the sun shone the leaves sparkled.
My mother took me and my brother for the program on Earth Day titled “Draw For Trees, Under the Trees”. We both love to draw and we have attended many programs since childhood. I love to imagine various things that surrounds us and then transfer the image into paper. The strokes of the brush and the way I can direct my fingers and hands reflect the skill of the artist. I would like to be an artist when I grow up. My mother sings very well. But she feels we may not be able to make a living with art. The organizers of the program- Tree Walk and the Attakulangara School Samrakshana Samiti had arranged carpets under the trees for us to sit and draw.I found a nice lighted place under a huge mango tree. My brother spotted a hole in the bark of the tree where a mynah and barbet had a nest- he was excited with the thought that there could be eggs or chicks in the nest.

We recited a Pledge for Mother Earth. Since the theme of the Earth Day this year is Green Cities, it seemed so appropriate that we sit under the trees in this green lung of the city and enjoy the clean air and coolness. Some of us had noticed as we waited for the program to start that many trees were marked with a yellow square and numbered. What did it mean- numbering is usually done for cutting. There was a short brief by an organizer who explained that a bus bay and shopping complex are being planned in 2 acres of the school which will destroy 48 trees which we saw marked, not to speak of the pollution and heat that concrete and buildings will create.

I looked up at the huge branches of the Raintrees and the green canopy that was filtering the sun’s rays. My father says that trees which take on so much – the heat, the pollution, absorb carbon-dioxide and release life giving oxygen are God’s closest creations. When I see the different and diverse patterns on the leaves and flowers, it fills my mind with the wonder of creation. As a child, it used to surprise and shock me that from a tiny seed a huge tree will grow. I used to spread mustard and coriander seeds just to watch them grow, angering my grandmother as her kitchen supplies would deplete fast with my experiments.

The topic for us in the High School section was Tree: A Blessing. It fills my mind with awe when I think about the various ways in which trees enrich human life and life on Earth. I do not quite like to list the benefits of trees that we are taught- food, fuel, fodder and so on. Beyond all that there are so many ways in which the very presence of a tree makes our life better and beautiful. As we sat under the trees and started drawing that morning, I looked across at the green, verdant space that the school is and could not imagine buses and cars there instead of trees, barbets, herons and butterflies. As I looked up at the mango tree marked 27, I saw a squirrel scampering up and a barbet flying into her nest. It was so cool there in the shade that though we sat for 2 hours we did not feel the heat or even feel like drinking water. I wondered how to put the blessings of a tree – the real ones like oxygen, coolness, comfort and serenity into paper. Maybe this can reflected in the happy and calm faces of the people I draw on my picture. I love peacocks a lot – so I drew 2 of them on the tree branches. I get extreme concentration reading under a tree- so I drew a boy reading under a huge tree. It always amazes me how the brush moves as I dip it in paint and outline the tree- it just takes the shape and moves on its own.

My brother who is in the Upper Primary section got the subject Tree: My friend. He was very happy and started drawing immediately. There were many children in that section who were just sitting and looking up at the wind and sun. I felt that during this program what was more important is to be able to participate and feel the ambience of the school with over 100 trees in 32 varieties. My father said that there was news a few days back that a survey revealed that this school is home to 70 herbs, 30 species of birds, 25 species of butterflies and 12 dragonfly varieties. My brother wanted to see all of them on that day itself. We did see a green lizard following a zig zag path up a Casuarina tree’s gnarled bark, If I had not closed the paint box I would have tried to draw that too.

As I finished the drawing and got up, I saw my father coming in to take us back. We walked around and saw all the paintings. For me , any drawing is good when I think of the hands that hold the brush or crayon and moves it in accordance to the image in the mind. Judjing the works of art is not an easy job. Especially when it has been born out of the mind of a child. I saw some of the works of the little ones- the butterflies and flowers they drew were so special.

As we parted, I thought of this nice Earth day under the trees with so many children and birds. It did not matter if we got a prize or not. But this opportunity in the open with a pledge that dedicated to protecting trees was so unique.

Anitha.S in conversation with children who participated in the DRAW FOR TREES, UNDER THE TREES- Earth Day 2014 Painting Competition held on April 22 in the Attakulangara Govt Central High School by Tree Walk- Thiruvananthapuram and Attakulalangara Govt Central High School Samrakshana Samiti.

Photos: Suresh Elamon, Rajan Robert and Balachandran, V



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