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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 3, January 7, 2023

The Tree’s Gift | Sagari Chhabra

Saturday 7 January 2023, by Sagari Chhabra

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One day the tree tired
of staying rooted
on the brown soil,
decided to foil,
the onlookers,
who rushed by
in the traffic of haste,
leaving footprints of waste;
never paying any heed
to her inner beauty.

She saw her fragrant pink pistils
discarded for pistols,
her stamen stamped
by men in boots,
who climbed up
constructing a security hatch,
sensing a plot
to kill a dignitary;
all this damaged her dignity.

She stood alone,
quite forlorn;
stopped her offerings
of flowers, shoots and leaves in abundance,
watching the armed commandos
take over with abandon,
what was once a free and green land.

No one noticed that the tree
had stopped growing;
there was no knowing
her roots had been snarled
by the concrete,
onto which were parked a fleet
of fossil fueled cars.
No one gazed at the stars,
there was so much smog,
nor could they see beyond the fog,
of dirt and pollution,
their very own creation;
nurturing nature was
just an ideation
of the past;
they were hurtling so fast,
watching the Sensex rise
amidst towers of glass and steel,
no one could feel
the temperature had risen as well,
no one could tell.

The tree could not speak
the language of men;
she only knew the birds had stopped flying,
this was not yet summer,
but the men were marching
to the roll of a distant drummer.
When the avalanche occurred
mountains away,
burying many in the snow,
the sea waves rose
a formidable foaming foe;
coastlines were flooded,
homes inundated;
but no one could hear or even feel
the language of the tree.

She seemed to be telling humanity:
let the stamen and pistil stay fragrant;
stay your flagrant hand, O man,
you do not own the earth,
you belong to it.
Then she shed her leaves as a gift,
Creating a mound,
For a grave, unfound.

Sagari Chhabra is an award-winning author & film-maker.
She is director, ‘Hamaara Itihaas’ archives

28th December 2022

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