I am an old Banyan tree and I am writing my autobiography. I was born on 26th January, 1814. I have a faint recollection of my infancy. Actually people fail to imagine the age of a Banyan tree like me because they generally fail to calculate it as they lack knowledge. I don’t like to accuse them, instead I would like to inspire them to take preparation to celebrate my bi-centenary.
People say that only great men can think of writing autobiographic. If goodness is also greatness, I can, without pretension, justly write the story of my own life which will interest my readers.
First a tree cannot be sure of anything about its birth. If is said that a certain bird while eating a bunch of banyan cones dropped some seeds on the ground where I stand new. I was born of one of those seeds I remained cold and low throughout winter and one fine morning, in spring. I opened my eyes and smiled upon the sun. Gradually, I grew into a plant a young plant to sustain life upon earth in a fully fledged manner and contributing whatever I can for the society and the environment.
I have gathered varied experience in my long life. On a fine summer day, I felt a little puzzled when I saw myself being worshipped by some village women; but I do not know what holiness they found in me. I am now a stout and strong Banyan tree deeply rooted to the ground. Once I saw a weeping woman following the pier of her husband to the cremation ground with a child in her arms. Her eyes were red and her cry, seemed to reach the sky. It was a great tragedy that took place fifty years ago. I have also seen many happy sights like wedding processions, pilgrims going to distant alters, processions of young people celebrating their victory in tournaments and the like. On the last day of Bengal year, a village fair is held in the place around rue and the people of the neighborhood come to join it.
Several generations of men of this place and its adjoining areas have come in direct contact with me. I have seen them come and go, but I am still living. Generations of monkeys, countless generations of birds have lived upon my branches. People, birds and other animals are still with me, fairs and meals are still held and I may have another hundred years’ life unless I am struck by a deadly thunder or uprooted by the violent storms or cut by man. But in any case I wish to die with mental satisfaction that during my long tenure of life my enemies were directed towards rightful actions and duties worth living.
Category: Essays, Paragraphs and Articles
Imagine the body, this body, in it’s true form. It is not a skeleton. Not a skeleton over-layed with muscles and tendon, whizzing nerves and electrical impulses. No. The body, this body, is every story handed down from Eve, passed mother to daughter and then the daughter becomes a mother, to hand the story down again. The body, this body, does not weigh in pounds or kilos, a measure of the inescapable pull of gravity. The body, this body, is borne upright, to walk, to run, in dreams to fly, borne upwards, ever upwards, forwards and forwards, by all the stories first born and then carried within.
There are no skeletons here.
There are trees.
There are trees with their great roots stretching down, down, down. Down so far, the roots come up again in the south pole. There are trees whose trunks arabesque forward, a sun salutation. There are trees hidden, deep within the old forests, sheltering the crone. There are no skeletons here. There are branches waiting to bud, branches clothed in leaves and some branches, naked- hibernating.
These are the truest stories I’ve ever told. They came to me by my mother. They came to me in whispered lullabies and soft caresses. They came to me in dreams. They came to me carried by hushed voices when no one thought I was listening. These truest stories are the ones I know in my tree trunk-tree-branch-tree-root bones. These truest real stories are the only things I really own.
Who tells the story of fleeing?
Who tells the the story of being transformed?
Of being chased by man, by god? Of being rescued by their own miraculous transformation? Who wrote the stories of Daphne, of Lot’s wife, Edith, not them.
Laurel tree, salt pillar.
I have a picture of someone holding my son, Joseph. Their arm is curled around all his week old newness, pulling him tight against their body. He is so new that he still looks like a little gnome. Sunlight must have been flooding the room; the photo is washed out from all the light coming in. I can’t tell if it’s my arm, or my mother’s.
Who owns these arms? Even if they’re mine, they must also be my mothers. Her mother’s? Eve’s? There are no skeletons here. Only stories and trees. Baby in a bough.
JonBenet Ramsey was six years old when she died. She’s buried next to her mother, who died ten years later. Of ovarian cancer. (I do not want these words on this page. On this page, the same page where my son is named) Who invites tragedy in? Lock your windows, lock your doors. It won’t keep the monsters away, but maybe you can then, sleep.
Odette the swan princess. Odette the woman-girl under the spell, the swan, the daughter who lived beside a lake full of her mother’s tears. Tears for a daughter transformed to an unknowable swan.
A Memory: I was ten when JonBenet Ramsey died. Old enough to know that death and murder was terrible, terrible and so very sad. But I could not stop being envious of her beauty. Of her white blondeness and wide eyedness that did not protect her. Her white golden beauty that made her vulnerable to exploitation- first while breathing, then dead. As a child what did I know of the deep divide between envy and the appearance of grief?
What do we take from our mothers, given or not? The crook of the arm that rocks us? Sharp words forgotten except for the sting? The dreams of beauty from a hollowed out womb?
When I was pregnant I didn’t know if Joseph was a boy or a girl. When he was born the midwife held him, naked and bloody, umbilical cord still stretching towards me, in me, so that I could see my son. Over and over I said, “It’s a baby! My baby!” as if I had expected puppies. It was another ten minutes until I realized I had a son. My son, Joseph.
A Memory: I am in a meeting and I have something important to say. I keep trying to speak, but as half a word comes out, someone else speaks over me and the second half of my word, my voice, trails off into silence. I keep trying but the more it happens the quieter my voice comes out until I go to speak and there’s no voice there at all.
This is the story of the lost girl, I heard it when no one thought I was listening. Who can listen to the news and really hear? Who told her story? Not the little girl unformed, still plastic, still so new that her newness was like the egg yolk of the sun breaking across a new sky. Not the white gold blue blonde who smiled and smiled and charmed and charmed, giving all of herself away, even her stories. Her story was shouted by men behind counters behind fake tan and bleached smiles who smiled and smiled at the camera as they described the deaths of the wide eyed blonde girl while mothers wept tears that no one filmed.
It’s A Baby! It’s a Boy! A beautiful, bouncing baby boy. I was flooded with relief.
I don’t watch the news. I listen to NPR, in the truck, while driving away from home. Lock the doors. Lock the windows. Don’t invite tragedy in.
Lot’s wife, Edith, is never named in Genesis, instead named by the historians who came after her, who never knew her. Fled her home, and looked back once. Furious God, old testament God, God of vengeance and destruction, the same God who flooded the earth, transformed her to a pillar of salt. His angels had told Lot of the coming destruction, the need to flee but had anyone told her, asked her if she wanted to leave?