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A Tribute to my Father…

We shall overcome

In the last few weeks as I frequently negotiated the commute from home to hospital, and back, a deluge of questions flooded my mind. To some I found answers but most remained what they were – questions. But one realisation did dawn on me, and that was that I must have carried over some exceptional karma from my last life to have been blessed now with the shade of a tree whose strong roots ran deep, whose top caressed the skies and whose dense green leaves never let trouble find me, or the rays of the harsh sun hurt me.

Every monsoon swings were tied on its strong but flexible branches and I swung on them – swishing across the air making bold arcs – fearless and carefree. I had no worries – because I had my tree. Strong and robust, yet gentle and caring. All of us have the blue sky overhead – as do I – but in addition I also had a green umbrella above me – of the kind that not everyone has the good fortune of having.

Year after year, I grew under its shade, made doll’s houses and played silly games – fearless and carefree. I had no worries – because I had my tree. Strong and robust, yet gentle and caring. As I sat perched on its tall branches my tree gave me the confidence to dream – sometimes asking me to go touch the peaks of the Himalayas, and sometimes encouraging me to meet the sun’s gaze. And at his behest cool breeze blew and whispered in my ear – You can do anything, anything at all.

In my tree’s shade I soared, realised my dreams and when the time came created my own nest which I made safe and secure. The way I was nurtured and grew up under the shade of my tree, I wanted my own nest to be the same. To this day, I cannot say how successful I have been in this regard.

Time flew, and before I knew it half my life had passed by. If time had weakened the roots of my tree in any way, then my tree never let it show. With its inner strength, it kept its leaves thick and green, and I carried on under the assumption that this shade will always be there over my head – just like it had always been.

Then one day, abruptly, my tree went away. Without leaving behind a word, or any explanation. Where did my tree go? I was shocked, upset, and worried that if dark clouds were to gather over me, how would I save myself? And where did my tree go, after all? Because a tree never just leaves, isn’t it? It always stays in the same place – anchored, unwavering, stable. So then what had happened so suddenly? Then my mother explained to me, that maybe someone else now needs my tree. Perhaps my tree has gone to green some wilderness elsewhere. Yes, that must be it. Someone else must have needed my tree.

And now my tree must have some other little girl on its shoulders, pointing out to some distant mountain peak, or explaining what lies beyond the big ocean. Holding that little girl’s finger, a cool gentle breeze must be whispering in her tender ear – You can do anything, anything at all.

Yes, maybe today, that little girl needs my tree more than I do. But I don’t know why my heart isn’t ready to accept it – because the truth is that, today, I need my tree more than ever before.

Maybe there is a message underlying my tree’s sudden departure. Maybe the time has come for me to scale the mountain myself, to go across the ocean by myself, and hector the sun myself. Maybe this is what my tree wanted.

And now, when the caravan of my life has reached a point when my tree’s shade has left me, and I stand exposed to the elements bereft of my dense cover, I feel the time has come for me to collect the blessings of each and everyone of you and perform good deeds. And to do this to the extent that I find it difficult to negotiate my journey as I bend over under the weight of my good karma. And then – maybe then – taking pity on me, in my next life, the one with the blue umbrella may give my tree back to me. So that once again I can swing on the strong branches of my tree – fearless and carefree. Laughing, blossoming, reaching out to the skies, secure under my tree. And dream my dreams, small and big, under that green umbrella.

Yes, the time has come.

Dr. Vandana R. Singh
6 March, 2019

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