Here is an attempt at translation into English, of a Telugu essay, “Prayanamu – Pravaahamu”, (A journey – a stream ) by the eminent Telugu poet SriSri about seven decades ago.
“This is why I like a tree. Because a tree never goes anywhere.
It’s morning still today as I stand beneath the tree, in penance for the arrival my tram..
“Where to, my friend ? ” the tree seemed to be questioning me. Had it been some one else, that made the enquiry I would have replied, ” to Mylapore”.
In terms of mundane lengths and breadths by which which we conduct our measurements, my response would have looked appropriate. But since the enquiry appeared to have been made by the tree, with what face can I reply, ” My destination is Mylapore.” ?
What If the tree in turn sneeringly demands , ” Is it for that silly thing that you are standing here right at dawn?”
You can never argue with a tree . In however cautious and sincere way you may reply to the tree, it would smack of a lie. You can not estimate, measure or determine a tree, the way we can determine our wealth. We can not determine and honour the great tree, the way we determine and adore this God or the other on this festive day or another. Who can measure or determine the green nonviolent universal kingdom of the tree !
The tram has arrived. Space enough for me to stand. I reached my destination without having to move an inch from where I stood. And all my thoughts while I stood rooted like that were about the Tree. The immovability that you find in theTree is not that you find in a rock, neither is it that of a cadaver.. To even say that it doesn’t move is a delusion. It does move, at every instant it moves. And its movement is towards greater, yet greater heights. Its endeavour at every moment is to reach out to the heavens.
An aeroplane which travels at an ultrasonic speed is no doubt blessed. But how can One not but feel amazed at the speed at which a wet yellow-gram seed on the festival day of Sravana Mangala Vara Celebration, goes about sprouting ? My thought that the offspring of the tamarind pits that I threw off carelessly in my childhood may be pervading well across the whole world can not be entirely without foundation. Why,- for that matter, do I need to tell you separately, how and how swiftly, the grass grows even in graveyards, when it rains.? For each example that you cite you can find a tree.
Here is what a poet wrote,
” My hopes lie wasted in the dust, I look all around with vacant stares,
I am a tree. I drag on this heavy burden of a purposeless existence in this autumn of mine. ”
“As their hearts richly blossomed out , the Chrysanthemum-ladies exceedingly eager, waited for their lord the Moon The rows of flowers of numerous hues looked alluring like rubies, emeralds, diamonds and hessonites. They seemed like jewels that adorned the Earth.” another effused thus,
In my view, ‘ a twig, a branch, a bud, a thorn, leaf. All are Tree.’
And here is the reason why I like the Tree. What if it does not travel anywhere.? For that matter even when we board an aeroplane do we really go anywhere ? The Tree that doesn’t travel anywhere stays with us , remains within us anywhere, anytime. This is why I like the Tree. ”
To be continued……
Ps: when I read this, I am reminded of this quote by Willa Cather,
“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. I feel as if this tree knows everything I ever think of when I sit here. When I come back to it, I never have to remind it of anything; I begin just where I left off.”