Three cows and a bull standing under a majestic Banyan tree with its roots kissing the ground. I move directly under its canopy and look up. My heart skips a beat and a gasp escapes my throat as I feel its very paternal embrace touching my shoulders with heavens gaping through its leaves. I keep my palm on its trunk which is adorned with a red cloth and orange threads. It is pulsating, alive and narrates a story. A story from the yore, a story for the morrows. It stands as the guardian, witness, confidante and custodian of many ecstasies and many griefs, many prayers and many laments, many springs and many autumns. The cattle settle down except one cow which moves closer to me.
I extend my other arm and it bows its head, welcoming my touch. A tear eases itself down my cheek as the Banyan, the cow and I are connected in this moment which sings of an eternity. The branch farther up shakes and welcomes a family of birds who cannot stop chirruping. The sky in front has turned an amber glow, maintaining a proud indigo overhead. The Sun melts away gradually, spreading its golden paint through the horizon straight into my soul. I invite it to stay a bit longer, but it promises to return next morning and weighs down a gentle starlight upon this little village. Mud lamps flicker under Tulsi plants and a temple bell echoes off in a distance. Few elders settle down to narrate some anecdotes from the folklore of this land. I wonder which of many million Gods is it today. Or is it some profound philosophy ensconced in their daily life? I have to leave even as they call out for me to participate in their chit chat.
I move out of the village, passing the fields. Parmaram raises his hand and complains, “You never stay to eat. What kind of Moong should I pack away for you?” I decline his offer, thinking of the haggle that awaits him at Krishi Upaj Mandi coming November. The next field is Seni Devi’s. She notices me and sends her son running to me. He pants and points to the little fire further in their field. “Harvest of Tilli and Raida has been good. We finished just now. It is an auspicious time, come have some prasad.” I decline this offer too and ask him about the fire. “Oh that! We have to thank the soil and Earth now, haven’t we?”
I come here to “give”, to share my “riches and education”. I return having “received”, having shared their poverty and timeless wisdom unfolding flawlessly, humbly, generously.