Once upon a time
when I was under five,
in evenings, I’d often accompany
Ajiya, my old grandmother,
to a nearby garden
studded with plants and trees of all sorts.
She’d carry a lota, brass pitcher, full of water
and our destination would be
a huge peepal tree.
With childlike curiosity, I watched and gazed
as she poured, emptied the vessel
at the root of the cool, shady tree.
And then touched the spot reverently,
and carried the imagined holiness
to her forehead.
The child in me would ask
‘Why Ajiya do you pour water
at the tree, and why touch its foot?’
To that, her crisp reply would be
‘Because we worship it’.
And before turning back, I too would follow the ritual
and touch the tree’s foot
with all seriousness and reverence
a five year old can put on.
Growing up, it gradually dawned upon me
we actually worship,
whoever give us something,
and trees happen to be our prime givers,
sustaining our very existence.
We are not to cut green trees…,
ought to protect them, and conserve the flora en-masse
Alas, it appears we came down to this wisdom too late,
after vanquishing such a
huge population of trees,
inviting the wrath of Mother Nature.
After all, I’d say, our grandmothers
were not all that dumb, and
the rituals they handed down to us,
not mere rituals!
Not mere rituals!