The Banyan Tree by Rabindranath Tagore

O you shaggy-headed banyan tree standing on the bank of the pond,
have you forgotten the little child, like the birds that have nested
in your branches and left you?

Do you not remember how he sat at the window and wondered
at the tangle of your roots and plunged underground?

The women would come to fill their jars in the pond,
and your huge black shadow would wriggle on the water
like sleep struggling to wake up.

Sunlight danced on the ripples like restless tiny shuttles
weaving golden tapestry.

Two ducks swam by the weedy margin above their shadows,
and the child would sit still and think.

He longed to be the wind and blow through your resting branches,
to be your shadow and lengthen with the day on the water,
to be a bird and perch on your topmost twig, and to float like
those ducks among the weeds and shadows.

I have always loved this simple Tagore poem ,so full of pretty images. Nice to think of the birds that have nested in the shaggy hair of the banyan and left it. Come to think of it ,the banyan has lost count of the birds that have nested in her hair,made it shaggy and left for other trees,other skies. The banyan has forgotten all of them,standing on the bank of the pond.

But surely it cannot forget the little child on the window who admired her tangled roots and plunged underground (jumped from the high window). Surely not the women who would fill their jars in the pond,as the banyan’s shadow would wiggle on the water making indecent passes at them. “sleep struggling to wake up” is a delicious image !

The most brilliant image is that of the sunlight dancing on the ripples like a weaver’s shuttle weaving fine golden tapestry.

Two ducks swam by the weedy margin above their shadows (imagine this scene as a photographer’s composition and you will love it) .

The child would sit still and think. Think what? How would it be to be the wind and blow through her branches? To be the banyan’s shadow on the water that will lengthen as the day progresses. To be a bird that perches on the topmost twig of the banyan and survey the pond . To float like the ducks among the weeds and shadows..

There are still countless ponds and banyans on their banks where time stands still in the Bengal of Tagore.But the child is missing from the window. He is now playing video games in a hole of an apartment in Kolkata.

Advertisements