Thursday, October 2, 2008

Peace to pieces


The ironies of a day devoted to nonviolence on the birthday of dear Bapu, Gandhi Jayanthi . They cut down the beautiful tall coconut tree grove in our college campus to ‘clear’ the site for another telecommunications department. The justification .. a renowned architect will be designing it! So tell me, who has all the more responsibility to say ‘no, wait don’t raze them down, we’ll take care of them.?’. The architect again.

They were age old coconut palms.. I am sure, much before the campus came into being. And I couldn’t believe my eyes , as I saw the tall ones fall to the ground, stripped of their grace by a neat chop and slice of the running blade. It was the first time I saw a tree being chopped . And believe me it felt nothing short of witnessing a mass execution in the public. There were the librarians who had left their desks to come out in the open to see them. The old staff members winced and shrugged the shame away, while the new staff members reveled in this new human quest.

It reminds me of a poem we studied in school that had sent shivers down my spine with its heavy satire..


How to kill a tree

by Gieve Patel



It takes much time to kill a tree,
Not a simple jab of the knife
Will do it. It has grown
Slowly consuming the earth,
Rising out of it, feeding
Upon its crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air, water,
And out of its leprous hide
Sprouting leaves.

So hack and chop
But this alone won't do it.
Not so much pain will do it.
The bleeding bark will heal
And from close to the ground
Will rise curled green twigs,
Miniature boughs
Which if unchecked will expand again
To former size.

The root is to be pulled out-
Out of the anchoring earth;
It is to be roped, tied,
And pulled out-snapped out
Or pulled out entirely,
Out from the earth-cave,
And the strength of the tree exposed,
The source, white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden
For years inside the earth.

Then the matter 
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,

And then it is done.


Today a thousands sms’s will fly here and there , emulating ahimsa and the likes. For that moment when the person forwards the message, he may feel a hint of being part of larger peaceful collective .Then again, he is back to his daily cribs and his daily worries. It is ultimately a lone journey .Each man to his own. It is ultimately a lonely world. A loner has no right to take another’s right to his own piece of earth , sky, sun and water.


ನರೇಂದ್ರ said...

This recalled me something which I would like to share here. I remember having read this somewhere. People in some part of South Africa go to the forest whenever they need timber and stand near a tree which they think they can cut and use and simply start requesting the tree to die with their killing silence. Believe it or not, the tree will die within a very short period!
We need not take this literally. But just look at the process of killing a tree in this way. Can anybody ever use this for any human being?
Thanks for a nice write up.

ಕಾರ್ತಿಕ್ ಪರಾಡ್ಕರ್ said...

Nice writeup....

naveen said...

its gone? who is the architect who is adding a layer of time by erasing the existing one?

Anonymous said...


Good one Srajana. Kindly read this:

Samvartha 'Sahil'