Like a gorgeous, aged tree in my eighties now
I reach for the sky,
inch by inch.
That branch at the top standing up against the sky
with that little twig at its end
and at the end of that twig
the new, just born green shoot that shouts
“Hey, look! the sun!” in excited voices,
and stands on its toes
taking a smiling twist towards the light
holding on its slightly jaggy tip
a shimmering bright naked emerald
that emerald green…
And buried deep in the dark, dry-moist vastness of my land
that gigantic net of roots
with its far reaching taproots
and at the tip of the taproots
that fine root hair —
“there…there is water there,”
as it gently pushes away
an obstructive stone in the path
with its long fingertips and moves ahead
deeper and deeper–
its indiscernible brownish red
that dusty red…
In a way there is hardly anything left between
this emerald green and that dusty red.
This torso feels rough like an old tree trunk.
The shoot and taproot are so far apart from each other.
And I have been aware of this for a while now.
The branches at the top spreading this way and that
Are still strong as they used to be – a safe haven for birds.
But no longer do you find hanging from these branches
luscious beehives buzzing with sweet pollen
from faraway flower gardens.
The thick, sticky sap doesn’t ooze out
as peasily from my trunk anymore either.
I have lost many relations.
One hell of a gigantic tree I am, I know.
And yet why do I feel that the taproot and the shoot
are so far apart and yet so close to each other?
I sense the approaching storm in the winds from distant lands,
is it because I am a tree?
Or there may be roads inside this eighty-year-old
all-knowing and mysterious body
roads: public, private, secret,
underground that allow those two —
that jaggy tender shoot and that coarse tap root
to go away from each other
and slide so close to the other at will,
without ever waiting for my consent?
With that thought a deep joy comes over me
and like a little laugh
that noisy pandemonium of bright green parrots
holding red fruits in their beaks
suddenly fly off in the sky.
Read the original Gujarati poem here.