Growing under the big banyan tree
“There is always music amongst the trees, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.”
Maybe my grandpa, dadaji, could hear it. He was a farmer, lived in a village, and led a life so vastly different than how we know it that it seems to have a folklorish edge. But for me he was just dadaji.. this striking tall old man with flowing white hair who often liked to sit under the big banyan tree. As a child, during summer vacations, I would spend hours under ‘his’ tree, telling him how hard life was at school, how my classmates were so mean and how this world can be so unfair with homework, grades, and bad hair days. “What should I do, dadaji?”. He would listen patiently and then always say, “Just be and grow.” I wondered if this old man sitting in his remote village even get this world! Now i know that he knew..
Last month I went back to see the tree. A thick carpet of dried banyan leaves crackled loudly, breaking the silence, as I walked around it. Some dead trunks were withering away, with light green leaves sprouting from their roots and tiny maroon figs cocooned in the fresh leaves. It is this tiny fruit that attracts the myriad birds chirping away in the canopy above. They help spread the seeds far and wide, giving birth to thousands of other banyan trees.
I was soon surrounded by the massive tree whose hundreds of aerial roots had woven a spider’s web up above. The tree had sent its branches shooting sideways. These branches had dangling roots that struck the earth to form new trunks.
The entire area looked like an architect’s nightmare, with colonnaded-pillar-like-trunks running amok. Searching for the mother trunk was futile even if it was still there, as scores of trunks spanned the area and had become mother trunks in their own right, letting their wayward roots scamper all over the place.
Size does matter in the world of Banyan trees as this huge tree now towers over its neighbors and is a big tangle of branches, roots, and trunks.
It is reassuring to know that the banyan tree regenerates and lives on for an incredible length of time–the immortal tree.
“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”