It was a cool, crisp, unruffled afternoon. Autumn had already set in, and the wind was adamantly chilly.
A sumptuous luncheon at my cousin’s house, with his heartwarming hospitality left no scope for a siesta. In fact feet had to be dragged out, enforcing them to take a short walk down the edge of the avenue.
With a thin overcoat on and a soft muffler wrapped around the necks to protect from the chill, we left.
As we got down the stairs, my cousin exchanged a few “good afternoons” to his neighbors he met downstairs. Later I joked about his smirk, saying it looked more like a “plastic smile”, than a genuine one. He didn’t seem to be bothered though about my comments. On the contrary, he just shrugged his shoulder and gave me a “never mind” kind of expression. So I too left my pursuit of bothering him unnecessarily and left those pranks aside.
As we walked aimlessly, I noticed that nobody seemed to be in the mood for a snooze in the middle of the day; for the street was alive, with people scattered all over. Somebody getting a quick bite, somebody walking their dogs, somebody engrossed in a novel on a wooden bench, yet each one appearing so laid back…..so in sync with the surroundings. It was I who was feeling out of sync; especially because of the heavy power packed lunch that I was hosted.
The breeze was bitter and dry, as if sending messages and soft swishing whispers about the furious cold which was to follow few weeks down the line.
Two blocks away we were greeted by a huge canopy of vivacious and the most fascinating tree line on either side of the road one could ever view. Leaves were multi colored—with random shades of orange, red and yellow. It was picturesque!
Just as we entered the shade of these trees, the coolness felt on the skin all the more. The sun was trying hard to pierce through this thick tree cover; and as a few rays shone through, the hide and seek looked marvelous.
Any other road and I would have definitely started walking back. But somehow I didn’t feel like reverting to the comfort of the house with this spectacular sight unraveling in front of me. Nor did my cousin insisted to go back home; in fact he silently kept trotting along.
And then suddenly as we found ourselves in the middle of this tree cover, something fell on my head—it was a red leaf with an orange tinge. It swayed to the breeze, floated on the air and dropped itself soundlessly on my head. My cousin, who apparently watched the leaf settle down, rubbed my arm and asked me to hold the leaf in my hand. He remarked that the fallen red leaf was a sign of good luck and good charm. He mentioned that I should preserve the leaf carefully with me forever.
My eyes blinked twice as I heard him. Then I watchfully admired the leaf. It was the most attractive shade of red-orange. Till a few months back, this very leaf might have been dark green, full of chlorophyll. And now with the sweeping autumn, it had turned deep red, with shades of orange thrown in; now having fallen from one of the majestic trees, making some room for newer shoots of green leaves to reappear on the tree once spring comes back.
Every step of the way there was Nature’s surprise waiting, in every moment that was unfolding before my eyes, I was visualizing Nature at its best; autumn at its peak. And I quietly saluted the mystical beauty of Nature.
I didn’t pass on any reaction about the “good luck” aspect that my cousin spoke about. I simply tucked the leaf in my overcoat pocket. Half an hour later, we headed back home.
I don’t know whether it was the superstitious remark, or mere love for Nature—what exactly made me preserve that red leaf. May be it was his “luck” remark; or may be the fact that every time I flip through the pages of my “Thoughts to Remember” booklet and see this lovely red leaf intact, I go back down the memory lane, vividly recollecting that enchanting autumn day I lived (in true sense of the word), every moment of which I breathed in, I felt like I was breathing Nature’s fragrance.
Whatever be the reasoning, the actuality prevails that the picture perfect enthralling autumn afternoon few years back in time gave me the most precious gift I could ever hold dear—a beautiful red leaf.