The Peepal Tree – Usha Chandrasekharan

The sun shone through a watery curtain of peepal leaves that shivered deliciously,spraying the rain water collected on them with each shiver.A golden light bathed the leaves making them look like coins shimmering in the sheer joy of being alive.One such drop escaped and fell on the smooth forehead of Jenny waiting patiently under the tree.She playfully allowed it to run down her long nose and careen down to the ground.

This was Jenny’s favorite haunt in sun or rain.The shade of the peepal protected her from heat and rain.She hated going indoors with its strong musty smell.She sniffed daintily at the evening breeze,recognizing the aroma of Murugesan mama’s evening porridge cooking on the open hearth in front of his thatched cottage.She even could tell the source of the twigs he used as fuel by their peculiar smells when they were burnt.She could never decide whether she enjoyed the smell of petrichor or the smell of burning timber.But then she was afraid of fire.So she decided petrichor was her scene.She was so afraid of fire that even when distant hill brush burned the evening sky,she would rush to the peepal tree and seek refuge there.

She remembered early spring to be the time when the numerous birds made their nests, in its leafy branches.The tree had set down a lot of secondary and tertiary roots that fell to the ground from great heights.They steadied themselves in the hard ground before growing new branches and spreading their girth in an ever widening circle.The thick foliage with their fruits that the birds feasted upon housed many birds,squirrels,bats,owls,big red stinging ants,honey bees in their combs,and the weaver birds in their stitched wonders.

The children playing in the gardens would come there for a game of hide and seek.The large tree bases and gnarled roots were shaped by rain and sun into huge hiding places,which were good places to hide in.The biggest and oldest peepal tree Jenny had heard the kids say was in Kolkata in the Botanical Gardens.It was supposed to have grown big enough to cover nearly an acre in area.Jenny sighed peacefully and looked around her in great glee.How she loved this peepal tree.

Poor Jenny did not know the difference.She enjoyed her daily siesta under the huge banyan tree,little knowing that it was in fact a Banyan Tree.She was after all an ass!!!

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One Response to The Peepal Tree – Usha Chandrasekharan

  1. Lovely story Usha! Very innocent.. and brings out the endearing quality of the tree so well..

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