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The tree beneath my window

Satyendra Srivastava

This tree in front of my window

changes throughout the seasons, but

does not change the way man changes


To change with changing seasons

is its creativity.

I have seen on it

the varying joys and sorrows

of my life become history.

I have found myself dance

with the graceful movements of its leaves.

In wind and rain I have seen

the fearful storm within me

rage in its noise and prospect.

When the first rays of the sun fell on it

I have changed the page on my calendar.

When in it after midnight

the sound of distant bells fell quiet

then I have turned over

a still blank seeming underhandedly departed page

of a day in my life.

When all its leaves have fallen -

and the naked skeleton of branches began to show

then I have felt myself becoming

a stooping old man

but then whenever new leaves appeared on it it seemed to me

that I had been reborn

and as the leaves were growing

so grew my spirit

my body

and every vein of my life too.


When birds came flying

and took a perch

on its branches, some bent some tall

then I felt I was joining a vast world

and whenever the birds flew off again

then the transcience of nearness shook me

and I understood the Mahabharata of loneliness.


In the shade of this tree I

have heard Krishna speak of love to Radha -

dancing gracefully to the sound of my flute.


Under this tree

I have also seen

T S Eliot’s rage

as he rephrased his claims

to give them new force.


When an army at rest surrounded the tree

I shot its soldiers one by one as they were cleaning their rifles.

I have also heard various coarse jokes tried out on girls,

and under this tree

I have found heaps of bodies

of rotting revolutionaries, too.

I have seen

stuck to this tree advertisements, announcements, proclamations

suggesting that however clearly we see the world

it is still more than that

more beautiful more hideous

but however its condition we live inside it

fighting each our own battle.


Right under this tree I have seen

that all humanity

is crammed into a bus

and the conductor is shouting his head off

we are all on the moving bus, all of us

and if someone gets off this moving bus

he is a coward - a deserter.

Above this tree I have also seen

banners being planted

and taken down again

and sometimes also being torn to pieces.


This tree

is the horizon of my world

stretching endlessly

and sometimes it is also a staircase -

which goes nowhere.

This tree is the symbol of my timeless dreams

and the adorned harbour of my thoughts

but most of all

this tree is the friend

who always stands in front of my window

and looks at me.


From Ambit 162, 2000. 

Translated by Jutta Austin.