Felling of the Banyan Tree


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My father told the tenants to leave

Who lived on the houses surrounding our house on the hill

One by one the structures were demolished

Only our own house remained and the trees

Trees are sacred my grandmother used to say

Felling them is a crime but he massacred them all

The sheoga, the oudumber, the neem were all cut down

But the huge banyan tree stood like a problem

Whose roots lay deeper than all our lives

My father ordered it to be removed

The banyan tree was three times as tall as our house

Its trunk had a circumference of fifty feet

Its scraggy aerial roots fell to the ground

From thirty feet or more so first they cut the branches

Sawing them off for seven days and the heap was huge

Insects and birds began to leave the tree

And then they came to its massive trunk

Fifty men with axes chopped and chopped

The great tree revealed its rings of two hundred years

We watched in terror and fascination this slaughter

As a raw mythology revealed to us its age

Soon afterwards we left Baroda for Bombay

Where there are no trees except the one

Which grows and seethes in one’s dreams, its aerial roots

Looking for the ground to strike.

– Dilip Chitre

Ecopoems Banyan Tree.jpg

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