Friday, April 2, 2010

Thank You, Tree

There is a man I know, who is closer to the earth than most others. One could even call this man a child of the earth. Deeply, passionately in love with everything the Mother has to offer – this earth baby is as unbiased towards everything living, as a mother is towards her many children. I have seen him remove crawling snails from paved cement paths, lest wheels or feet crush them. I have watched as he gazed longingly at trees for hours at end, their leaves swaying gently in the breeze-the same breeze that later kissed him on the cheek before passing by to other pastures. I have observed him speaking volumes with the verbose sparrows and mynahs which frequent his earthy home each day. I have noticed the awe inspired look on his face as and when he comes across earthworms in his flower pots or butterflies on his flowers. With renewed amazement everytime he comes across a dragonfly or a spider, his pristine view of the world never ceases to touch my heart. The gentleness with which he caresses a dog, the care with which he tends to his garden plants, the pain he feels if anyone hurts an animal even unwittingly, his unbounded joy when seasonal fruits burst into the world – they all convince me that this man is like no other – at least no other that I have known.

When grey clouds gather overhead and the sky begins its gallant rumblings, he steps into a world of his own. And oh! When the first monsoon showers grace the earth, his joy knows no bounds. When all the world tries to shelter itself from the downpours, this man in all exuberance jumps onto his bike and cycles in the rain. When the bicycle tyres gasp for air, he lunges forward on foot-drinking in each drop of the rain with all five senses – possibly even more.

And yes, when the sun shines bright in the sky and the world is aglow with its radiance and when people cringe in the heat and beg for respite, the sun child breaks into a benevolent and devotional smile. He offers himself to the sun's rays, as a devotee would to the Lord above, soaking in all its goodness till he's saturated. And then he drenches himself in the sun's good light some more.

When there is some space in the day left over from the turmoils of earning the daily bread, this man walks familiar roads with his favourite canine who is indeed more than his child. He walks the road which leads to the oceans, for after a day's hard work, what better therapy than the soft sounds of the waves beating against the seasoned shores? What better respite than sitting by the sea's many waters and water creatures, on the sand-the coarseness of which is so much better than the vagaries of life? What better way to spend his hours than staring out not AT but INTO the horizon – looking through the many ships scattered on the waters into the warming vastness and openness of space which his heart always yearns for?

And of course, one cannot forget the mountains – that one singular creation of the Lord above which is unparalled in almost every way to any other – a genius of the Mighty Mind. Even during the day, amidst the loud chaos of life, he searches for the silence of the hills and the vastness of the mountains and it fills him with a strange combination of yearning and contentment – yearning to visit those snow-clad and green layered peaks – reminders that the beauty of God's creations still persist and contentment at being able to revel in these dreams and visit his mountains even as he goes through the day's money making drudgery. In his mountains, he finds the much desired peace for aren't mountains the gateway to paradise? Where else have ancient Himalayan yogis attained nirvana? Where else can one feel as close to the Maker than at the zenith of existence?

This man roams his neighbourhood and enjoys the trees, their fruits and flowers, the creatures that have a complete social system in these settings, marvelling at the tiniest of ants and largest of cetaceans.

One day, I spoke to this man, when the sun had finished lighting the world for the day and had retired into the horizon. As we sat in his verandah, relished pepper tea and watched the leaves sway in the distance, he asked me if I had seen the jamrul tree outside the house. I had in fact seen it and throughout the years, very often had been priviledged to partake of some of the fruits strewn on the carpet of grass underneath. So, I answered in the affirmative. He nodded his head and repeated the question, stressing on whether I had seen the tree lately. “Oh no,” I told my friend, “I haven't – I've not had the chance to go around to that side of the house – way too busy with work and all you know.” He nodded appreciatively again and sipped his tea some more. “I've just seen it, it's jamrul season and the tree has exploded into bright pink jamruls,” he said. I could sense the awe filled excitement in his voice. “I have never seen it like this before, I kept staring at it.” What could I say? He had taken the time to witness a miracle and I hadn't. It was unfortunate for me. But what he said next, hit me like a boulder in the dark. “I just stood there and thanked it,” he said. What? He thanked a tree? Was I hearing things? “I thanked the tree-not for the ample fruit it bore to cater to someone's relish, but just for being the beautiful life it was,” he said. “I thanked it profusely for being a tree and for letting me witness the glory of God in it.”

Such is the power of love for God. When you love God, love for all of God's creatures enters your heart uninvited and stays there for good, growing each day till you feel that you can't really hold that love in you anymore. Every now and then, this man gives me a glimpse of such undiluted love. And I thank God for him. For you see, this man happens to be the one gift from God most precious to me – my husband.

---------Shreyasi Majumdar.


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