It is unorthodox really.
To plant a rambutan tree right at the corner of the garden of my house.
Add it to the various other tropical, local fruit trees around the garden of my childhood home. Which is smack in the middle of a housing area, whereas usually here we plant the trees in an orchard, somewhere in the middle of nowhere where it can grow like Nature intended it should.
2 banana trees. 4 mango trees. And the rambutan tree. All growing around the one-storey house. To think about it, it seemed like a lot more back then when i was younger. To think about it now it seemed like a mad idea back then.
But then, a lot of great minds were not appreciated in their time. My father was one of the greatest for me.
The architect and engineer of our own private Eden.
Abah, as i fondly called him, was not one of the talkative ones. He was more of the tough love kind of man. Someone back then who had met him back then would had said he looked fierce. I thought to myself he looked darn dangerous.
When he narrowed his eyes and made his stony face, i wished i was not the one who kicked the hornet’s nest. But when he laughed, you could not help but laugh and smile too, because he had those unique laugh which is really sounds “hihihihihi!”. He loved Elton John so much that i can remember him singing clearly to the words of ‘Sacrifice’. Although “cold, cold heart” sounded to me like “coco heart” and i wondered about it for years.
He passed away when i was 10 years old.
The trees around the house kept growing as the three of us siblings gets older. Sometimes it sheds browns leaves as we left for school, left for University, left for work somewhere else. Sometimes when we come back to the house, the banana tree and the rambutan’s fruits ripen accordingly. 3 of the mango trees were cut down as my Ma could not take care of such many trees shedding leaves and fruits without us helping her around to clear the garden.
The grass garden was replaced by cement paving for parking spots for our cars. But the rambutan tree stood steadfast throughout the changes of the house and the garden. Like a paternal figure , like my late father, looming over us as we go through each holidays; sitting on the swing, chatting by my mother’s flower shrub or just plain watching the day begins or ends. It soothingly brings comfort to me.
Lately for the past few years, my family always held “open house” on Eidilfitri and we always use the rambutan tree as the main background of our family pictures; unconsciously maybe as a symbol of the person who once stood there.
I decided to hang paper lanterns to the tree during our ‘open house’ recently. As i gazed mesmerized at the genius’s of ALLAH’s power of this huge tree, i wondered whether my Abah thought of us as he planted this tree. So that we can be protected and be happy under the wonderful tree, whether he is there or not.
After the open house, my sister-in-law bathed my nephew in a small tub under the tree, under all the colourful paper lanterns. My Ma, brother, sister and sister-in-law watched with all our loves in our heart, my cheeky nephew frolicking naked in the tub while being sprayed by the garden hose.
Then i realised the tree meant much more. Abah meant it so much more than just for us.
He wanted us to remember that his presence is as everlasting as the generations of Ahmad Zaki’s clan to come.
My father, the visionary.
May Allah bless his soul. Al-Fatihah.