Monday, October 20, 2008

In Memory of a Departed Tree in our Neighbourhood…

from a letter to a friend:

LAST TIME we met I wanted to talk to you about my life, my work, my home and so many other small things which I wanted to say to someone who can understand me. But somehow we are all drawn uncontrollably into a huge current that is life and I was unable to bring myself to a mood where I could talk, without any inhibitions, fears, hindrance...

I hope one of these days I would be able to unwind myself and keep talking and talking and do nothing but talk. As you can see I am always keeping myself busy, doing so many things at the same time, engaging with so many tasks so that I do not have to think of myself and my life. Perhaps this is what they call a great escape. Escape from one's own shadow.

But still there are moments when I do get a chance to look at life, its simple beauties and wonderful colors that often escape me. Most of the days I used to wake up so early in the morning when I heard the cuckoo sing as a bird seems to have perched somewhere on a tree in my compound quite close to my bed room. It sings so well, it has a friend keeping him (I suppose the habitual singer is a male) company and I used to watch them play in the yard...

But I miss them in recent weeks after the rains and I don't know where they have gone. I thought they would come back once spring is here and I was looking forward to their company during the Onam days. However, they were missing. Now even after Puja, they are still not seen. Do you think they might have shifted somewhere, may be they found a better place to spend their lives?

The mango tree in my courtyard sheds its dead leaves in plenty and it keeps the terrace and compound full and people say my place looks a bit untidy. Our neighbour, who came from Chennai after a long career as a successful businessman who keeps telling me about the wonderful job his son has in Sweden as an info tech expert, has a fine jack tree in his front yard, a huge and majestic tree that is bigger than any in the lane, and I was pained to see that today workers came to cut it down. When I was leaving home this afternoon I saw them cutting it down branch by branch and I am sure, by the time I go back home tonight, it would no longer be there.

Somehow, this tree has been something more than a mere tree to me; it was a friend for over fifteen years when I lived there, my life going through many a twist and turn in the meantime; often I was alone, looking blankly to the world outside, talking to myself, ruminating about my life and this world, dreaming up the scenes and characters in my novel, watching the still and imposing figure of this tree in the twilight and in the gloomy darkness, which stood there like a magnificent presence of a celestial being, giving me hope and a sense of the immensity of our universe in my despair reminding me how small and insignificant a thing I was.

Well, now it is gone. This is just an ode to a departed friend written in a hurry...


Anonymous said...

Dear Chekkutty Sir,
It was a horriplilating experience to read you article about departed tree..
I like your way of writing..

Best wishes

JS Adoor said...


Thanks for this sensitive and contemplative piece....yes...when we can connect with the trees, leaves, grass and the songs of birds and flowing river...we also listen to us...and deep within identify with something larger than us.

Look forward to have more of this from you...


Unknown said...

Jagan Narayan writes from Los Angeles:

Hi Chekutty,

I read your blog about the death of your friend ... The jack fruit tree !!!!
You should send it to LA Times or The New Yorker magazine or some place like that.



Unknown said...

K Satchidanandan writes in an email:

Dear NPC,

As it is it is fine.Supplementing it with a few personal memories you associate with the tree would make it even better and consolidate the concept of the fraternity of man and tree.

I remembered Edassery's poem,PULIMAVU VETTI.I have two poems on trees, ENTE VRIKSHANGAL and the more recent VRIKSHANGAL.


Unknown said...

Susan Teskey writes from Toronto:

Dear NP,

Thanks for sending these beautiful and sometimes disturbing articles. Its hard to believe, but it has been a year since I was in Kerala. I think of it often, especially the wonderful, passionate people and their "agitations".

I too just lost a tree, a twisted eccentricity that had been part of my life for 30 years but had achieved a slant almost parallel to the ground and becoming dangerous, so I had to have it removed. But it was surprisingly painful and has changed my environment much for the worse.