“Gulmohar gar tumhara naam hota, Mausamay gul ko bhi hasaana hamara kaam hota.” (An excerpt from a 1970s Bollywood song). It took me a really long time to complete Another Gulmohar Tree due to my other commitments which sadly don’t wait no matter what. But I am glad this weekend served to be fruitful enough that finally I succeeded in turning over the last page of this beauty by Aamer Hussein.When I first started reading this novella, which is hardly a 100 pages, I couldn’t relate much to the translated folk tales mentioned at the beginning (before we are introduced to the plot and characters). But as one proceeds, it all makes sense, even the Gulmohar tree. The novella is divided into three parts: first is a collection of traditional folk tales, second is beginning of the actual plot that takes place in London and the third is the journey of characters in Pakistan.The book opens with collection of Pakistani traditional folktales: first one is about a boy Usman who feeds an eccentric frog beneath a Gulmohar tree and gets a gold coin every time in return; second is about, a girl who is sacrificed to crocodiles and becomes bride to the Crocodile King; third one is about Rokeya, who finds and befriends a wild deer in her front yard and decides to keep it until one day the deer is gone leaving her in dismay. All these folk tales somewhat link themselves to the characters, who are introduced later on, referring to their cultural identity and displacement crisis. Lydia travels all the way from London to the periphery to become a counter-version of a Pakistani woman as RokeyaAnd then we are in London, around 1949, where we are introduced to Usman (40 years old) and Lydia (10 years younger) who meet at a symposium held at University of London. Though Lydia is married to Jack and Usman to Naimat Bibi, yet they feel a strong attraction towards each other. They spend time together in London. Finally Usman has to return to Pakistan leaving Lydia behind. However, they stay in touch through letters.One day Lydia follows Usman to Karachi, leaving behind postwar London’s grey and embracing the colors of Karachi. What follows is an account of how this unlikely couple settles down together, and how Lydia comes to terms with her new home. Usman quickly marries her; she changes her name to Rokeya, and converts to Islam. Soon, she abandons the traces of her former life by shedding her English clothing for Pakistani garb. Yet at the same time, she continues to pursue her interests in painting and writing. Her husband also continues his work as a writer. Flamboyant, flame tree, peacock tree or whatever you may call it, the Gulmohar Tree has close affinity with Lydia aka Rokeya; whether in Madagascar or Pakistan, Gulmohar Tree would look exactly the same. But its real roots lie in Madagascar, where it truly belongs. Yet it learns to put its roots down in another soil (like Lydia does in the novel). Even settling here, she remains an Englishwoman but picks up the Pakistani lifestyle along the way. She is not the Gulmohar Tree. She is only another Gulmohar Tree. She is not thoroughly transplanted. Her life in Pakistan involves painting, teaching, a little bit of writing and journalism, and her children. “She has been living in Pakistan for ten years and at one point she asks herself what her life would have been in England had she stayed there. And the answer she comes up with is that perhaps she wouldn’t have been able to do all these things which she was able to do in Pakistan. She lives in Pakistan a life that is very, very full.” Lydia travels all the way from the British Empire to the periphery to become a counter version of a Pakistani woman in the form of Rokeya. She is interested in the local culture and the local people. Pakistan gave them both a home and a space to nurture their talents.The author also mentions renowned 20th century Pakistani painters, Anna Molka Ahmed and Esther Rahim, who have made their mark on Pakistani art. They are related with Lydia in their feelings of displacement like the language barrier and their talent in painting. As we reach the end of the story, Usman realises that his wife has been away from her homeland for 10 years and suggests that they take a holiday in UK. But surprisingly, Rokeya has penetrated in Pakistani culture so much that she recalls never ending list of things that needs to be done for their home and children and so ends her speech on following words: ‘Would you mind terribly if we just stayed home this year? We could always wait and visit the hills next year….?’And the meaning of the opening fables is revealed to us the moment Usman sees his children gathered under the Gulmohar Tree, playing in their garden. The novella is a thought provoking piece of writing on displacement. And here, I’ll leave you with a question before I stop typing: Can’t we make an effort in knowing our actual roots – in discovering our cultural identity – not to be another Gulmohar Tree, but to be (our very own) ‘The Gulmohar Tree?’ Published in Daily Times, August 25th 2018.