Story of a Tree...

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On the day of my birth my father planted a plant in front of our house. Reason behind this act of nobility is still mysterious to me because when I was ready to ask questions he went in other world with all answers. He died when I was about three or four year old. I don’t remember the exact date of my father’s death because we can’t afford calendars. And by the way hungry stomach don’t let mind to care about days and dates. Mind is significant for rich people. Poor lives for stomach. Spirituality, god, religion, Geeta, Quran, country, terrorism, love, hate are the things for people who sleep after having a nice dinner. There is only one word for the people who sleep without dinner and that is ‘food’. 
“Raju come inside beta. Eat something. What you always keep doing with this plant? Why don’t you play with your friends.” My mother called me from inside when I was cultivating the land the roots of that plant with my fingers. She had boiled some rice in the name of dinner. Someone gave her these rice in return of work she did from them. She kept moving in village door to door asking everyone to give her some work in return of which she can get something to eat for her and for me. Sometimes she sweep, sometimes wash clothes. But every day she got some work and we got something to eat. And sometime clothes also. 
I ran inside home to eat, I was hungry since morning. I got to eat twice a day. Morning and night. Meanwhile I keep looking at the faces of people passing by side of me and my tree. And my face and smile was enough cute to compel people to give me something. 
“Ma! I don’t like others friends. I like only this plant. He is my friend.” Actually I don’t have any other friends. People don’t let their kids be friend with me because I am son of a widow. And better say son of a poor widow. Otherwise the women living next door is also a widow but she is a widow of richest landlord of village. People even kiss her feet to borrow money. 
Wheel of time kept rotating. I grew up from kid to a 12 year boy and with me my plant grew into a tree. But tree grew faster than me, when I just get the sign of mustache on my face, it became huge, old and mature. Its trunk was so huge that I can’t hold it in the circle of my arms. Its leaves were so dense that no was able to see me from outside when I slept on its branches. Its branches were stronger now. Stronger with same flexibility. Not stiff but stronger. Like a man should be. Strong but flexible. Being strong doesn’t mean you can’t bow, being strong doesn’t mean you can’t listen anyone else, being strong doesn’t mean you can’t change. A weak person can bow because he know he can’t get up again. A weak person can listen because he know everything will affect him. A weak person can’t stand any change. Weakness is not illness. Even it has its own beauty. But when a weak pretend to be strong or try to be strong become ugly. That tree was my friend then became my brother and now it was looking like my father and soon it would be my grandfather. It was ageing fast. 
And faster than it, my mother was ageing. She was not even thirty but wrinkles on her face made her look above sixty. Weakness in her body was like if she was suffering from some incurable diseases. Then I was kid to understand her diseases. But now I can understand. Her illness was more mental and emotional than physical. God had taken her life many years ago now nothing left in her body and which was left, was taking by people in village. Men raped her with eyes, with hands and with everything a man can rape a woman. If she rebelled against it then they wouldn’t give her work. And to how many people she could fight! There was a Ravan in every house. If not father than Son. Either of them may possible but not neither of them.
Her tolerance came to end.
“Raju beta came here…” it was my birthday. It was my first day of my tenth year, I was telling my tree what my mother told me last night…
“Listen Devta babu, Ma told me last night that we are grown up now. We both are 12 year old.” When I asked my mother to name the tree also then she name it ‘Devta’. Its mean ‘Giver’. Because this tree just gives us and to everyone whatever he has without asking anything in return. I told Devta babu that we need to start doing some work as my mother told me last night. 
“Raju beta came here fast…” she called me again. I left my conversation with Devta babu and run inside.
She was trying to get up from cot but was not able to, that’s why she was calling me. Seeing me she stretched her hand towards me asking for help to get her up. 
“I have to go to work Raju, help me to get up. There is nothing left in home to eat. I have to get.” Seeing her helplessness, first time I was feeling that now I should earn something to eat and Ma should rest. May be Ma was saying right that I was grown up now. 
I held her hand and help her but not to get up but to rest in her cot more comfortably.
“No Ma, today you are not going anywhere. Just take rest. I am going to do some work. You said na I am grown up now. I will take care you now.” I don’t know what changed that night but I was feeling different. I was feeling responsible. So I left that morning to find a job…to earn food so my mother can rest in rest of her life. 
When I was going out I looked at my tree, and believe me he was also looking at me, he was said like he wanted to say that he also want to go and earn food. He also wanted to take care of my mother. Actually her mother also. And after all he was 12 now, a grown up like me. So I can understand his excitement to have something to do with responsibility. 
“Ok listen Devta babu…” I went near him to console his misfortune. “I am going out to find some work so your work is to take care of Ma. You also take your responsibility, you are also a grown up now like me.” First time I was feeling elder to him.   
I got work on a tea shop, he was agree to pay me 60 rupees per day. I knew the counting but didn’t know what this amount can or can’t do for us. The one thing I knew is I was working now, I was being useful. 
Excitement didn’t let me took break. And love for work taught me to work excellently. I never cleaned plates at home but here I was doing it properly and washing tea glasses also. Shopkeeper was so happy with me that he gave me 65 rupees.
My feet were not touching ground when I was running home back. I didn’t even waste time to put money in my pocket, I was running with holding them tightly in my fist. Laugh on my face could tell that I was holding world in my childlike fist.
In the way I saw a medicine shop. I U-turn myself rotating my hands like I am turning stirring wheel. 
“My Ma is ill please give me some medicine kaka…” I opened my fist and put the whole world on his counter. 
“For what disease..?” asked He looking at me from toe to head.
“I don’t know kaka but her hand are burning and she can’t even get up from charpai”
“Ok I am giving you some medicine but call doctor also.” He hand over me some medicine and took five rupees from my earning, returned remaining to me.  
I again started running towards home, but this time on earth, not on clouds. Smile on my face was defeated by worry for my mother.
My tree was not looking at me when I reached home, he turned away from me trying to hide something from me. I didn’t go near him. I didn’t ask him anything. 
“Ma…” I called her when I entered inside. 
There was not any response. 
“Ma… see I earned money today… I worked today Ma…” I don’t know why but I don’t want to enter inside the room. I was afraid. I was calling her from outside.
But she didn’t replied. Letting my fear damaging inside me whatever it can damage, I went inside. 
My feet were not listening to my mind, I forced them physically to go inside. 
“Maaaaaa…!!!” I tried hard to scream but voice didn’t come out my mouth.       
 She fell from charpai, she was lying down on floor…
“Maaaa…!!!” This time scream came out of my mouth. I rushed to her, I turned her face up and placed her face in my lap. She was breathing very slowly and very softly. Gap between her breaths was decreasing. Those breath were not in pain. They were in peace. In so much peace that I didn’t even shake her to wake up. I could see she wanted to die, and I let her. Before her last breath she opened her eyes wide, she was looking at me. Her gaze was giving something to me. I don’t know what but her eyes were filling me with something. 
I didn’t cry. I was feeling fulfilled. I just came out and hugged my tree
“Our mother gone Devta babu…” he didn’t said anything but I know he was hugging me. He was not crying like I was not crying.

I didn’t go to work after that day. I wanted to be like Devta babu, I wanted to live with him. I wanted to be like him. There was no one to tell me not to, so I did what I wanted to. 
Whole days whole nights I been there. People who murdered my mother were enough kind to give me things to eat.
Devta babu taught me well. I been like him. I learn to live on one place. I learn to see everyone with same eyes. I learned not to be judgmental. His shades are same for everyone, for saint and for sinners… he taught me to watch duniya from distance. He taught me never to interfere in others being. People committed crime in front of us but we never felt like stopping them. We both let the world whatever it want to be. And we have been what we are. 
Duniya ke bina zindgi chalti rhi…
Hummare bina duniya chalti rhi…
Jaise aaye the wese chal diye…
Na kuch sath liye chal diye…
Koi yaad kre bi to kya…
Koi na kre bi to kya…
Ab to hum alvida khe chal diye…
Hum jaise lakho hai...
Lakho jaise hum hai…
Unn lakho jaise hum bi chal diye…
Koi rooke bi na rookenge…
Na jaane kis k khene se chal diye…
Jis ne beja tha ussne bhulaliye…
Hum se pucche bina hi le chal diye…

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