Translated by Chhavi Nigam
The three months from May to July are the hardest for us, the people of the desert. During this period the sand smolders, and living without electricity for two or three days at a time is not unusual. To add to this, furious yellow-black storms occasionally roar across from Pakistan blurring everything.
In this furnace, amidst all this, if there is cool shade for our sore eyes and solace for our souls, it is these trees. Amongst this endless incandescent yellow sand, even the smallest green patch of thorny trees and bushes like the Keekar and the Khajedi appear like a blessing from God. The result of good Karma from some previous birth.
How wise those people of the Khajedli village must have been, who clung to the trunks of the Khajedis, choosing to have their bodies cut rather than the trees! They must have known that it would be impossible to live without them. It’s true, that I have never seen that Khajedli village, or met Amrita Devi. But whenever I see a Khajedi tree in this barren solitude, my heart fills with gratitude towards them.
Today I will also speak about my home…and the trees that surround it.
There are many Sheesham, Indian Rosewood trees, around. Often on unbearably hot afternoons, or when there is no electricity, or when the blades of the fans barely seem to move in the suffocating heat, you are sure to see someone sitting in their cool shade.
Children playing in the grounds of the nearby school seek respite in the shadow of the twin trees. The two trees that grow there always seem to welcome the little perspiring players into their cool shade with a smile. Yes, a smile! The dancing of leaves in a light breeze must be a smile, what else?
There are other trees as well within the school premises. They are filled with birds. You can hear the melodious kuhu of the koel and the sweet kehu of the peacocks, calling every morning and evening.
Our village bus stop is also near this school. And there, welcoming all passengers, stands a banyan tree. At the hottest hour of the day, when the sand blazes and the roads turn into blinding mirages… this banyan stands like a prayer fulfilled.
In my house, two trees are very special. This little Neem and that Sheesham tree. Both are like family. Both seem to take part in the children’s play, guarding the toys propped up against them in their absence. The children talk to them and embrace their thin trunks when they are happy.
We all need a little bit of love and affection, as do the trees. Though we can’t see them or hear them I know there are times when these trees smile and laugh. After all humans have their limitations.
From my house you can see the ruins of an abandoned home. The people who once lived there must have planted trees as well. The people are long gone, their house has become a ruin, but the trees? They are still there, growing greener and more beautiful with each passing year.
When there is nothing left, there will still be trees. Before all ends, we must save trees.
We must grow trees so that children swinging from their branches can experience the touch of the leaves as their bare little toes brush against them. We should grow trees, so that some old farmer can sit in their shade to tell a story. We should grow trees so that red threads of wishes can get tied around their sacred trunks. And so that sparrows don’t need to look for wires to perch on.
Read more from Deeksha Chaudhary here: