The Lal Badam Tree

December 30, 2015

One of the projects I’ve finished at the close of 2015 is a book called ‘The Lal BadamTree’.  This is my second project that’s set in Pakistan; the first allowed me to explore village life, and this one has let me glimpse the life of two children in the city of Karachi.

Little Rashida and Anwar live a modest, happy life, and one of their simple pleasures is to eat the fruit of a tree in their courtyard and watch the parrots who are regular visitors. At home, we call it the Badam tree.

I love this tree, it really has character, with its broad, round, happy leaves, the red peeping amongst the green.  I think it was perhaps one of the trees I could identify easily as a child, along with mango trees and coconut trees, long before I was interested in learning about plant life.

Rashida and Anwar have a love for the tree and its tasty fruit that their mother does not share. Ammi is annoyed by the screeching of the parrots on the tree, the dirty fruit the children pick up from the ground, and the mess they consequently make breaking open the seed! 

‘Why does she not understand?’ wonder the kids, ’Could it be because Ammi did not have a Badam tree in her house when she was a child?’

It is a heart-warming story of innocent childhood, of not just the bliss found in simple things, but the hope and eagerness to share it with grownups who cannot see it.

The book is published by Pratham Books (do take a look at the wonderful work they do) and is written by the lovely Rumana Husain who lives in Karachi. As soon as we began emailing, she showered me with information about Karachi, lots of pictures and generous descriptions of life there. Shortly after being introduced to her, I came across her brilliant blog ‘Karachiwali’ and was instantly warmed by the bright, creative, cultural side of our neighbouring country that we barely see.  Once seen, it is hard to ignore the deep cultural and social roots we share with this estranged sibling, and I hope we see more and more of it.  

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