‘Appa, did you hear how loudly that crow just cawed?’
‘Appa, why does the sky change in colour so many times from morning to night? Do you think it likes to change clothes like us?’
‘Appa, why does it rain? I like rain because then my friends and I can splash in the puddles in school and Amma makes special bhajjis.’
My father would listen to all this chatter patiently, with a smile on his face. We walked to the end of the road, went by the mosque, past the famous Rameswaram temple and then took a route to his coconut grove. There, I sat by his side and listened to him talk to the caretaker about soil and manure and rains. I loved standing under those tall trees and looking into the swaying fronds. The light would flicker in and out between the leaves, teasing my eyes. I would close one eye and the light would seem even brighter, as if the morning sun was winking back at me, telling me to have fun through the day.
It was thrilling when someone climbed up right to the top of the tree to cut the coconuts. This could only be done by skilled climbers. They climbed up the straight trunk as easily as if they were walking up a gently sloping hill. With a cleaver tucked in his belt to cut the coconut with, the man hugged the tree with hands and feet in a swift practiced pattern. Once at the top, he cut the coconuts and they fell below the tree with loud thuds. For a while, before I wanted to be a pilot, I was sure that being one of the tree-climbing men in the coconut grove would be a wonderful occupation when I was
older. After all, no one can climb higher than that and you could look far into the distance from the top of the trees.