Sydney

When the jacarandas bloom

These few weeks at summer start, 
I gaze outside my window pane,
And a spray of violet paints the world,
Colours, despite the brooding rain

The cherries, wisteria came in spring
But summer was purple all along –
The Jacarandas’ bright – though deep within
You can see a tinted, pensive song

That of a traveller from far away,
Moving to where the winds take them,
The past now all but a distant dream,
Hidden just in that native name

But it has lived, and thrived as well
So much the city now waits awhile,
For the violet bursts in the summer heat,
The folks look up, the jacarandas smile

This journey far, you have done well,
In a newfound home, I smiling say,
For despite the emptiness you faced,
There’s Peace today – you’ve come a long way…

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I remember flipping through an alphabet book for children in the local library, named the Sydney A-Z book. Flipping backwards, O was for Opera House, H for Harbour Bridge, while J was for Jacaranda. I thought it was a native bloom, just like the spear lilies and the golden wattles, for jacarandas becomes a much talked about subject come early summer. Its sober, light- purple pastel colours, framed in dark branches, unadulterated by any green foliage makes the blooming jacaranda a sight to behold. Imagine then a row of these trees sparking up a boulevard or backyard. When viewed from an elevation, the city seems to smile in paroxysms of jacaranda outbursts, while their memories get instagrammed year after year. Not just Sydney, Brisbane and for that matter, many parts of NSW and Queensland celebrate jacaranda-mania. Grafton even has its own jacaranda festival.

And yet, like a large part of the country, it is not a native but a migrant, trudging over its weary way from South America in the 1850s. The Botanical gardens in Brisbane and Sydney took it on themselves to spread this violet joy, and after decades of evangelism, civic bodies saw their beauty and began decorating their suburbs with jacaranda. Yes, it has taken its fair share of time to be such a celebrity, but today, many a street in Sydney seems to be bedecked in its lavender beauty, and is perhaps even more celebrated due to its ephemeral smile that lasts a few weeks. 

Perhaps then, the secret is a combination of value and time. If you are valuable, the world will respect you, beyond boundaries, sans frontieres. And if you give it enough time, the rough edges of acclimatization will be sandpapered, and emptiness will give way to liberation. Everyone will have experienced this in his own chapters, be it settling in a new job, in a new way of life, or even in a new city, a country or a continent! It starts with so much unfamiliarity, that you can feel melancholic even on a sunny day, yet give it time, the colours will smudge, the rains will rejuvenate and you will find both reason and will to rejoice. 

Perhaps then, we are euphoric of the jacaranda because subliminally we see in this small flower, a part of ourselves – a wreckage, a struggler, a fighter, an upstart, and then, a champion. We find in it, the will to start all over again, and win bit by bit, suburb by suburb, city by city. And as we walk in that boulevard of amethyst blooms, a part of us smiles with Ulysses-ian zeal, to strive, to seek, to find – and not to yield…

11th November, 2020 / Photos taken at the Parramatta Park, Sydney