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
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.
is the horizon of my world
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.