The Banyan Tree
Not very long ago, there used to be an open field in my locality, in the centre of which there stood a huge Banyan tree. It stood there since years long before I saw it for the first time. It had long arms, clad with large green leaves – spread enough to cover a large distance. Several years had gone by, several seasons had passed; the tree had stood there battling even against the natures might.
Its broad and powerful branches were houses for several birds irrespective of their caste, color or creed. Be it the little Sparrow, or the beautiful Dove, or the evil Crow and even the mighty Eagle, all resided together on the tree. The cacophony of their chants greeted the sunrise every morning.
Squirrels where its best friend – every now and then you could see one hugging close to the tree then climbing its bark and delightfully jumping on its branches. The Banyan tree had lived happily for years, with all its mortal friends.
Even the passerby found its shade, a respite from the scorching sun of the summertime. Or when the rain pelted the earth, the Old Banyan Tree would provide them a shelter to keep them dry. Some used its fallen leaves and withered twigs to cook their food. Some even used to worship it, tying vermilion thread around its bark and lighting the incense stick at its feet – even offering it sweets. I used to wonder, how the tree would eat those sweets. But every time after a little while, the sweets did disappear. One day I decided, I would see how the Old Banyan Tree would eat those sweets. And yes I was right; the poor tree never ate those sweets. It was the Squirrel or the Sparrows who would come down the bark and eat it.
Time passed by I grew a little old, from a toddler to a young kid, now I was able to reach for its roots, which hung from its branches. Clinging to them I used to swing to and fro, I felt like Tarzan while doing so. A couple of years passed, I no longer wanted to be a Tarzan – he was just a jungle boy and he never went to school. Also now me and my friends were big enough to play cricket – all big boys used to play cricket, everyone wished of becoming the next Kapil Deo.
We had selected our pitch underneath the shade of the Banyan tree, which stood right in the middle of our playing area. By no means, we could have avoided the tree from our play. For bowlers the tree became the most reliable fielder, for the batsmen it proved to be an object of annoyance – a lot of time, when we thought we had hit a certain boundary the ball was stopped by the trunk or the branches of the mammoth tree – it was then for a moment that we used to curse it. But it was for the shade it provided, that we could play even in the scorching summer heat. Also it protected us from the unpredictable rains of Ranchi, whenever it came without a warning. Even our breaks during the play we used to sit at the foot of the banyan tree and discuss the game – it was our pavilion.
Time passed by, rather flew by, with every class the books were getting bigger, studies had replaced most part of our play and the evening tuitions kept us away from the ground and the tree. The only time I could meet the tree was while walking past the road beside the ground.
The time had come, parting time, from our parents, friends, from the place we spent our childhood – the best part of our lives, from the ground we used to play in and from the Banyan tree that stood there. It was time to go to a different place, a different life in a professional college, in a different part of India, to start a new chapter of our lives.
We used to have very few vacations. It was during one of those holiday trips, while returning back home, as I passed the road alongside the ground I saw something different. Something was missing, the shade was not there. The Banyan tree was not there. It was sacrificed to pave way for a new apartment complex coming up on what previously had been an open field occupied by the Banyan tree. Like many other trees the old Banyan tree has also met its fate. Its wood would have been used as timber, its leaves transformed into manure.
‘It’s just a tree’ as many would say, not realizing that during its life it provided them shade and purified the air they breathe, and even after its death provided them with timber and manure and sacrificed itself to make room for the ever growing human population, which would one day sacrifice all the trees to meet their need and may be then wonder what have they done.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Harsh Vardhan.
Published on e-Stories.org on 27.11.2011.