The Banyan Tree
The Banyan Tree4 mins 25K 4 mins 25K
While the old banyan tree stood there since decades, witnessing incidents far more than its age, even those which never saw the light of day, everything else changed. Long hanging roots kissed the loose dust of the ground and some of them had been tied by the little girls of nearby village to be used as swings. As they swayed, the wind sang the lore of old memories.
Under that tree, he kept circling around. He couldn’t conclude on his thoughts or on the factual details. Javed was from the same village which was known for the famous temple of goddess "Vaishnavi". Every year lakhs of devotees gathered there for the annual fair during the peak of winter. The small village was known for the traditional kumkum (the red vermillion) that his ancestors used to make for the deity. The scarlet coloured powder was the symbol of dignity, integrity and prosperity.
He completed his basic education in a nearby government school as his family was very poor to afford his higher education. The zeal to move forth in life was higher and he struggled to continue his education through thick and thin with the meagre resource that was available.
Today after years he stood there, observing the wrinkles of his dying village.
The land smelt the same, the crops grew over the vast fields till the eyes could perceive.Yet the atmosphere was tense and sad. Often the travelling wind brought pangs of sorrow. It no longer gave respite to the bruised heart.
Javed worked with a leading news channel as an investigative reporter and had been sent here.
The banyan tree was quiet and so were the rest of the villagers.
But the restless rustling of the leaves spoke of buried facts. The old tree was getting suffocated in the intoxicated atmosphere. It seemed, the painful anguish was drying, even the branches. The strong hanging roots weren’t that firm as before. The branches and the leaves had started withering.
Javed spent every evening there, beneath the gigantic tree to realize and understand the mute language of the arbor.
That night he could not sleep and before the dawn broke he went to the outskirts of the settlement.
Like an arborist, he caressed the bare trunk of the banyan tree. It had died last night and not a single leaf was visible fluttering in the windy atmosphere. Birds too had left their abode, the huge tree today fell unceremoniously .
It seemed to say, “I have died struggling within, since weeks, dear son. My strong branches, my gigantic structure might have provided shelter to the passersby in scorching heat and rough weather, yet I remain helpless. For years without any discrimination I have stood and sheltered the homeless and tired travellers. While the people fought amongst themselves over religion, or sometimes due to different caste or status, I was unwary and equally caring for each one of them.
My existence on this earth remains futile, as I could not be of any help to those innocent dying girls.
The mob of cannibals wearing masquerade of humanity tortured the girls and tore their dignity away in front of my static existence. Yet I, remained as a mute witness crying and still stationary. The young girls never had known, their home was such an insecure place to live in, which instead of providing security, raped their integrity and dignity. And to worsen more, they hanged the little ones here on that dead branch of mine, where the little girls once climbed and played. I stood as a dead tree, cursing my life and survival.”
Shame on my existence and my life, I feel disgusted seeing those terrible faces who now roam freely and sit under my shade to chat about the inhumane behavior in a lewd manner.
“Their robes, saffron or green, doesn’t matter to me. I see them draped in a shroud of merciless, demonic robe.”
“Beware of these barbarians, mankind! They appear in any form, color or origin”.
The previous night, the villagers had hacked the old banyan tree to pieces announcing the tree was an abode of evil spirits which caused the executions and mishappening in the village and these can be warded off only by cutting down the tree.
Few shadows randomly came after midnight to collect the hacked branches. They piled their homes with the wood to use them as fuel for cooking, it seemed sufficient for next fifteen days.