Fondly called 'Mohabbat da Boota' (a tree of love), the Gabh tree has been with the family for seven years now. It was gifted to professor Gill, president of Punjabi Sahit Academy, by a gardener of Government College, Lahore, when Gill had gone there to participate in an international World Punjabi Conference in the summer of 2003.
''The conference was held at Falettis Hotel. Afterwards, I was invited to deliver a lecture at Government College, Lahore,'' Gill said.
In the college premises, he recalls standing near the seminar hall when he saw a tree with unusual looking leaves. ''I still remember the first time I saw it. It had maroon-coloured leaves. I had never seen such a tree before."
While he was admiring the Gabh tree, the college gardener ran up and asked why he was looking at it so curiously and intently.
''I told him that in my entire life, I had not seen such a tree," remembers Gill, "and that I wished I could have one back home."
After the lecture, when Gill returned to the car that was transporting him back to the hotel, he was in for a wonderful surprise: the gardener had placed a sapling in the car.
''I told him I could not take the tree for free and tried to give him some money, but he would not hear of it. He said all he wanted was a promise, that I would always take care of this tree,'' says Gill with pride.
Gill's neighbour Ravinder Bhathal said the Gabh tree looks particularly pleasant in the summer. ''It's not like other trees around here. Gill's emotional attachment to it adds to its importance,'' he said.
Bringing the tree to India was not easy. First, Gill was stopped by the customs department officials on the Pakistan side, and then on the Indian side.
''They told me I could not take it with me as such things have to be quarantined. But I told them firmly that it's just a tree and not something to be used commercially and I would take it with me at any cost, to which they finally agreed,'' said Gill.
No wonder then that the tree is special to the Gill family, and they vow to protect and care for it.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
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