Eulogizing a brook, Tennyson wrote, 'For men may come, and men may go, but I go on forever '. Same can be said of a tree, though the sense of motion is absent in this analogy.
Like that tree outside my grandmother's house, a tree sees the passing of generations, father to son, son to grandson and so on, even ages, like in the case of those long standing river-bank Banyan trees of Vrindawan where once a naughty Krishna made out with the fair bodied gopis. Yet a tree remains standing still, un -pompous, inconspicuous, fixed to its place, constantly pumping oxygen into the atmosphere.
I don’t clearly remember which tree it was, but what I remember is that it was tall and broad, climbable with big broad thick leaves which bled a white syrup on being broken. I remember it was right next to the main gate of the house and though its foliage wasn't very dense, it gave a pretty good shade.
The tree looked like a straw hat wearing china man and I loved climbing it. It had a light grey trunk and branches and leaves of different shades of yellow and green. It was very easy to climb, in fact it seemed like the tree was ready to gather one on its lap.
Every time I went to my grandmother's house, it was a ritual for me to spend almost half of the waking hours somewhere in it. I read, dreamt, wrote, even tried to sleep on it, all because there was a sense of security and calm once you climbed the tree. Sitting six feet above the ground I felt safe and secure. It was like after so many years I was being pampered by someone again, by letting me climb in their lap. In that moment the tree was like my father as I saw him in my childhood, huge, strong, serious and invincible. Someone I could run to and find a safe refuge in, in troubled times, someone who would always be there, whether rain or snow, thunder or storm, no one, nothing could stop him from being there, cradling me, protecting me.
Also not absent was the fact that mamma gravity was not working so much on me. I felt free in a certain way, like I was ready to take flight or something. It was sitting on that tree at my grandmother's place, that I first saw life from above the normal vision level, sitting on it, I had a generalizing vision, a vision, a perspective like that of a hawk, say, flying so many miles above the ground, seeing everything small, petty, compartmentalized, like, say, even god, sitting somewhere in the sky, above our heads, spying and eavesdropping, to find the sinners and punish them.
And then one winter, when my grandparents were renovating the house, they cut the tree down. A light grey walkway leads to the house now, with no tree there, and if you are lucky, you might still find a big broad yellow leaf in the garden next to the gate somewhere.

P.S- Please share if you like the piece.

Tags: WBC, Short Story

Sign In to know Author