The Sumbal Trees

Late January and the sun feels warm
On my face and I watch out for
The red of the Sumbal trees. Last year
I said goodbye to the trees that
Lined Ferozpur Road, that lit up
The sky with their flaming blossoms
Dug up by heavy machinery leaving
Bare sky in their place.
The heavy machinery is back again
To finish what it started
Tearing up the earth to extend
The road but where will I see
The Sumbal flowers and how will
I know that spring is here?
How will I shed the heaviness of
Winter and welcome better days
Ahead? How will I feel the joy in
My heart when the flowers reach out
And touch it? Spring is almost here
But sorrow still envelopes me.
Where are my Sumbal trees?

by Tanwir Shah


Lahore was once called the city of gardens. When the city wasn't as large as it is today it was surrounded by trees and orchards. As the city has expanded almost all have disappeared and the denizens of the city had to content themselves with the many tree lined roads with their brilliant display of flowers at different times of the year. These too have now been threatened as the city seeks to solve its traffic problems by widening roads for spiralling numbers of road users.
The first victims of this expansion are the trees. Trees along the Canal Road were downed to make way for a series of underpasses constructed a few years ago. The most recent victims have been the Sumbal trees on Ferozpur Road just after it reaches Chungi Amer Sidu. A dual carriageway is being built to link the city of Lahore with Kasur and eventually with the Indian border. The aim is to create a good trade route between the two countries but I wonder if they will replace the trees. (6 million trees to be planted)
If you would like to find out more about the Trees of Pakistan, a book of the same name gives an in depth study of the trees of this region.

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