Larger than death.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Life is a series of disappointments. And then you see something grand and noble, which surpasses life.
One ancient morning, a couple of seasons ago, The Delhi Walla came across a giant pilkhan tree, Ficus virens, in Deer Park, Safdarjang Enclave.
In his landmark Trees of Delhi: A Field Guide, author Pradip Krishen said of Pilkhan: “A fairly common strangler fig in Delhi with an immense, spreading canopy that displays wonderful changing tints when it renews its foliage in spring. It has long aerial roots like the banyan’s but they tend to wrap themselves around the top of the trunk instead of becoming dangling prop-roots. One of Delhi’s most beautiful shade trees.”
The tree at Deer Park was a forest. Its thick branches were sheathed in dead leaves. The still leaves looked red in the sunlit portions of the tree, and were black in the cool shaded parts. Many of these brown brittle leaves had fallen on the ground. A few fresh buds, however, grew on the upper branches of the tree as if to offer some sort of faint hope. The spectacle of both death and new-born life sharing the same space sent forth a series of sentiments that went unnoticed.
The morning walkers walked past absorbed in their thoughts, and a beautiful woman stood under the tree, absorbed in Madame Bovary. The tree seemed absorbed in all the life and death around it.
I will visit this tree again, now, when it is a different season.
Watching the ninth symphony