Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wishing all my readers a very happy Diwali

A festival of lights
Is an opportunity
To light the dark corners of our hearts
To light the dark lives of others
To spread good cheer among the joyless hearts
To infuse strength among the weak and oppressed
To share what we have with those who are not as blessed
To snuff out the burning desire inside us to harm others
To burn the monsters of envy, greed and anger
To attain peace, contentment and eternal light
To renew our pact with knowledge and wisdom
To make life little more bearable for the ones we care
To serve Him by serving those who are left unncared 
To renew our promise to our Creator
To keep His eternal flame alive in our hearts and minds
To make sure that no heart bleeds in neglect
To make sure that no mind slips into darkness
To live life just the way He wants us to live
To continue to light one torch with another
And spread so much of light through the year
That 'Amavas' is shamed into hiding and quietly disappears.    

By Rana Nayar 

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Song, Unsung

Not very long ago, we had moved into the first floor of this new house. One day as I stood, looking out of the window, a large beri loomed into sight. It stood in one corner of the park facing the house, silently, unobtrusively. Its thick, leafy canopy sprawling over its twisted, angular branches almost had a human presence. I don’t know why, on seeing it, I had been reminded of my overprotective mother who always insists on fussing over me even now when I’m on the wrong side of forty. Perhaps, in this season of autumn, I was thinking ahead of the gruelling summer, when scorched by the heat, the birds shall return to its protective arms. Looking at its strong, brawny roots, a sense of calm reassurance had surged through my being.

A few days later, when I got up one morning, I was somewhat surprised to see a litter of polythene bags around its roots. Rather than become a cradle of the singing birds, the tree had fallen prey to the decaying menace of garbage. Initially for a few days, these questions did come back to haunt me: who is defiling this tree? Why is it being used as a dumping ground? With the stink constantly on the rise, will the birds ever be able to return to its yellowing branches? Disturbed by these simple, rather naive questions, I did make an abortive bid to track down the culprit(s). But was it easy? With each passing day, the bags continued to multiply in number. So much so that now the stink had almost ceased to offend our nostrils. It was as though the entire neighbourhood was participating in a silent ritual of decay.

In winters, when the beri had already shed some of its leaves leaving the branches almost bare, a family moved into a house adjacent to ours. Right from day one, for some inexplicable reason, our new neighbour appeared to loathe this tree. His antipathy was obvious from the way in which he often looked at it. It was as though the presence of beri in direct line of his house, was a thorn in his eye. The day his telephone was to be installed, he was standing and watching outside. Though the telephone wires were in no way disrupted by the spread of its leafy crown, he ordered, rather imperiously, that a few of its branches be maimed to prevent the wires from getting entangled. Being a lawyer and a man of straight vision, he perhaps fears all kinds of angularities and puts them out of sight wherever he sees them. The thought of summer or that of the impending return of the birds couldn’t have possibly crossed his practical mind. After having presided over the chopping of the branches like some dark, sinister priest, he ordered them to be lugged into the middle of the park for everyone to view.

And the branches had lain there for several days, rotting away like the garbage around its roots. Not a single voice tore into protest. Everyone appeared to have accepted his authority rather demurely. Perhaps, this is what had emboldened him even further. One evening, he stepped out of the house along with his brother and son. With murder in their eyes, three of them marched towards the tree. While he stood watching with his son, his brother started hacking at the convoluted roots with a pickaxe, rather mercilessly. Despite repeated assaults, the tree refused to fall, holding on to its right to defend its dignity. After his brother had cut a deep, fatal wound into the main stem, he stepped over it, pushing it down, jumping over the half-cut branch. And when the main branch finally severed itself from the root, an umbilical cord snapped, sending a silent scream up the sky. Standing upon the severed branch, he had flashed a sudden smile of satisfaction, something you often see on the face of a mid-wife after a successful delivery.

Now waiting for the season to turn, each time, I look out of the window; a lifeless lump is what stares back at me. Who knows how many summer-songs lie stifled inside its dried-up sap?