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The Couple Trees

I grew up in Bhubaneswar, a city which is only 90 km away from my coastal ancestral home, which, I call as Gaan. It is a small village, surrounded by coconut trees, mango orchards, bamboo bushes and lush green paddy fields. The most remarkable feature of this small village was the couple trees - A Banyan and a Peepal tree. Everyone called it as couple trees because they were ritualistically married by Hindu rites, many years back when they were only  a year or two years old saplings. I always had a query in my mind, for which I never got a justified answer, is that among the trees who was the husband and who was the wife?

Both the trees were separated only by three or four feet. A neat elliptical cemented platform surrounded the trees which made it a perfect destination for young & olds to pass off their leisure time. Even it was my most favourite place during my stay in the periods of summer vacations. The olds seated on the platforms liked me most, as I would boast of my life style in the city, how I go to a convent school, wear a tie, speak in English…. I also even sing the English prayer of our school which neither I nor they understand. But at the end, they all would clap, as they do after a tamed monkey ends his show. The only difference is that, the monkey performs with a chain around his neck and I performed without it. After my performance, they would ask a village girl of same age as mine, to sing the popular school prayer in Odiya – Ahe daya maya biswa bhihari…….
She would sing it in joined hands, closed eyes and in such a beautiful tone that she would steal the show from my hand.
Boys & girls of my age also liked me, as I taught them the train train game by encircling the both the trees in an “8” shaped track. I would become the engine and rest would follow me as bogies cheerfully.
As I grew older, my frequency of going village reduced. But whenever I went village, I spent of most of my times around the trees, especially during noon when no one were around, and read my favorite authors leaning to one of the trees. I would often see people passing by and astonishingly gaze me for a very uncommon sight around the trees. When I get off from the readings, I would often gaze the trees, their branches interlocking each other, as if embracing each other in full passion. Then the old question would pop up in my mind – among these who is the husband and who is the wife?
In October 1999, when I was in 10th Standard, Super Cyclone hit the coast of Orissa. Life and property were highly affected. And my village was also engulfed by the cyclone. After my matriculation exam, when I went to my village, the very first time to observe the aftermath of the devastating cyclone, my village looked different. The coconut trees were nowhere to found. The mango orchard left with two or three trees. I was more concerned of the couple trees and rushed to site as I reached there, my heart cried with pain when I saw the scene. The Peepal tree was completely uprooted, and but the banyan tree has survived, but was leaning towards the ground. The prop roots of the tree probably helped it to withstand the severe blow of the cyclone. I found thousands of new prop roots sprouting from the branches of the banyan tree and resembled as tears oozing out for the dead spouse. The platform around the trees was also destroyed due to the uprooting and the place around it was covered with wild grasses and shrubs. And the place seemed abandoned for years.
In-between more than a decade has passed. Now I am at some 1600 KM away from the city, busy doing 9am to 6pm job and I rarely get a chance to visit my village. Early May of 2010 during my elder brother’s marriage, when I was asked to go the village with one of my cousin to give invitation for the marriage to the relatives there, I was excited to give a visit. After giving the invitations while returning back, I thought to walk to the site, which was my most favorite, around which I have spent all of my school days summer vacations. As I reached there I found the same leaning banyan tree with lots of prop roots in it, resembling an old widow with disheveled hairs still mourning over the death of her husband. I didn’t know why I felt liked that, but as if intuition, I realized the Peepal tree was the beloved husband and Banyan tree was the loving wife. As I was thinking thus and was immersed in my thoughts, my cousin came running in search of me.
He said, “I knew you were to find nowhere, but here………let’s go”
I smiled and said ok, and bade farewell to the banyan tree and it waved me back as her leaves rattled with a sudden gush of winds then.

Added on 31st Dec 2016.

Had been to my village recently on November of 2016 with my parents, my wife and my two year old son Rishab. Now there goes a concrete road and I just tried to imagine the couple trees at the spot.


nrusingh said…
nice creation gyaan. it made me think my native village where i go frequently.
sareeta said…
Many times in the hustle bustle of life we tend to forget to pay attention the most cherished moments, persons, things that have shaped up or lives.Your precious words teach us that no matter how far we go or hor long we grow we should always pay respect and remember the precious aspects of our life.

The story is also a practical expression of thought differences accross cultures and distances. It is sooooo true that though a husband and a wife marry and remain together in terms to the physical demands of life but their souls are immortal and immortal is their sacred bond too.

Great work brother. Please keep on enlightening us with your magnificent words :)

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