The Climb

I wouldn’t want to make a personal diary of this place, but this morning was unlike any other. And hence deserves an exception. 

It begins at 6:10am, with the sound of the standard nokia alarm clock. I slowly pull myself up for my morning ablution. The role of Fajr namaz is usually underrated by writers world over. It gives you a strange but beautiful feeling of spiritual esctacy for you have begun the day on the best possible note.

Our university football team is called ‘Tuskers’ and today, we have a farewell match dedicated to our outgoing captain Mr Haneefa. This is the WhatsApp post updated by team cordinator Iqbal that was doing the rounds yesterday.

*SUNDAY BIG MATCH*

*MALAPPURAM VS THE REST OF THE WORLD*

*FAREWELL TO HANEEFA*

● Reach by 6.45

● Please bring a bottle of water

● Come on time to set the field, mark lines…

The match went well but due to the size of the post and due to the increased turn out (mainly due to the beef promised after the match), the topsy turvy, thrilling and well contested match ended 2-2 after almost two hours of football.

I got to ride a 1984 model bullet freshly off the garage, after the match. It felt good though it does not come close to what my 2011 maroon classic 350 makes me feel. We are off to Jhelum lawn for some eagerly anticipated porrotayum beefum! 

Haneefa had cooked it with much love and the post breafast energy was spent with a little juggling competition and a golf like ‘hit the target’ with the football. As we walked back, there was a plan to hijack the jamuns (black plums) near Ganga. The best part of the morning yet.

I had always loved a good climb but never did I expect to find myself so high up the tree. The tree must be at least two or three decades old by the looks of it, and has spread out its wings in unimaginable ways. As I jumped for the initial thrust, my mates pushed me until I could rest on the first splitting of the branch. I see that it branches out into two main branches. From popular opinion, I decide to take the broader and higher one. The one that has scope for a bigger catch, of the small black fruit. 

I immediately reached out to the next branch and stationed myself at a position hugging the tree, for the first few minutes. I had imagined myself hugging a tree properly, to feel what is inside of it but due to the immediate concern of avoiding a serious fall, I just about managed to hold on to a strong branch. At the next stage, I popped in a couple of plums and threw down a few to my mates. It was ripe and delicious, even better than the ones we plucked the other day. But the problem is, where and which branch to give a proper shake, so that the ‘lungi’ that Salih would get can collect the lot.

The first shake was greeted with a few cheers but that was just not enough. It was ripe too but there was a need to find a good branch. PK by then had climbed the smaller branch on the right and managed to shake a few to the lungi. That gave me some time for a breather. To shake a branch, no matter how small, is not as easy as it seems. I decided to climb a notch higher, every step taken with care and precision. The kid below was tensed and was shouting that I might fall. Hearing his cries makes me cringe on the inside. A fall from this height would at least mean 2-3 fractures, and no forseeable football. 

I had to place one leg or one hand with balance. Or else, that might move towards being brash and a lack of respect towards the tree and its growth. The tree did not grow in a day, did it? Should I not take my time to make my way up? I do make my way up with a minor leap and a firm hold of the next branch. There are many jamuns visible from here. There was a lot of shaking and falling. The lungi was filling fast! I broke a twig and threw a bunch of jamuns in between. I throw down a couple to my climbing partner on the other branch as well.

After getting a satisfying fill, the call from below was to call it a day. The climb down now requires a different strategy. One cannot use the same strategy that one uses to climb up. It requires you to turn your body at certain places where you cannot reach out and feel the connecting branch with your legs. That moment when you land is something from the next world, indeed! You are making your way down to the ground before you know it. The last climb down might require a jump or a coconut tree like grasp and slide down. I did not need to worry, couple of mates are already offering a shoulder down. 

High five, mates! The task is done.

Jamuns/Black Plums
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