A Small Story…
I remember when my uncle Suresh planted that tree,
I must have been about five years old.
He took my fat child hand in his big wide one and
walked me to the fields where an ancient-ruined
shrine to the gods stood in a sea of green rice plants.
“Here, Sunil,” he said, “Here we plant this tree sacred
to all Indian people.”
Five years later, the banyan tree stood several feet over my head,
many arial roots already touched the ground. It was a hot day –
I remember it was the day our well ran dry.
We stood looking at the tree and my uncle said,
“See Sunil, see how quickly this tree grows. Here is a place you and all the
villagers will come to pour out your troubles. Here you will laugh, cry and reflect –
protected from the hot sun by the shade of this giant tree.”
“Sunil, some of these trees grow so large they say
10,000 people can sit underneath one.”
“Really Uncle? So big?”
“And you Sunil, you can grow like a banyan,
you can give shade and comfort to many many people.”
“How is that possible Uncle? Like you do Uncle,
always making people laugh and smile?”
“Sunil, when you sit quietly within yourself, you will discover how you can
become like a giant banyan tree. You may realize that all of nature is inside of you.
And like a tree, you will naturally radiate peace,
a peace much like the cooling shade of this banyan tree.”
I’ll never forget Uncle, he always had a ready smile for everyone –
he always shared the little he had. He didn’t speak much, but when he talked
his words stirred something inside of you.
He died a few years later, but before he left this earth he made me
promise to put his ashes in the ground at the base of this tree.
Yep, that was a long long time ago, about eight-two years ago today to be precise.
I’m an old old man.
And now look, look at this banyan tree, I have to crane my bald head
all the way back to see the top – look at those roots hanging down. And I can tell you,
many a villager has laughed and cried here, many a love-story has blossomed
around this tree. Many a sadhu has taken rest here on his wanderings.
And me, well, that “me” climbed this tree as a boy and later climbed it in my mind trying
to understand what my Uncle meant. Day after day I would come here and think
about Uncle and his kind words and loving heart. And then it dawned on me, he was right
you know, when we realize we are not our stories, our beliefs, our conditionings and
recognize we ARE that peace, peace just spreads itself around – naturally.
And so even though I left this village many years ago,
I keep coming back to sit quietly, in peace, under the shade of this banyan tree.