……..Whenever there is any ritual or pooja that need to be done in our house, all the men would sit in the front room. Ladies and children used to sit in the middle room. When the middle room when out of space the children would rush to the room that was in the left corner of the house. It was the third and the last room of our house and we used to call it, “The radio room”. Because at that time during the old days a very few people had the radios and the people who had the radios they carried the license of having the radio. In the past days, you need to have the license even for the radio. After every six months, we need to renew the license of keeping the radio and it would charge us a considerable amount. My father used to sleep in that room. The radio was kept on the rack which was fitted on the wall. The radio was kept there because children couldn’t reach that radio. The songs used to play from the radio all day making the house alive.
Our house was in the countryside, where no other house was in close vicinity. All the houses were in the main village. So, it was a mesmerising and a calm place. Our house was the only one standing away from the others. Our house was the secluded one. At the night, few dogs along with their puppies would come under the shelter of the tree and would sleep there without any worries. My mother used to feed them the leftover food early in the morning. The very first flatbreads would go the cow and the last flatbreads would go to the puppies and dogs. My mother learnt all this from my grandmother and now practice it.
Because it was a dreary and secluded place if ever there would be any unfavourable circumstances the dogs soon get aware and will start barking. Knowing or unknowingly the dogs were attached to our house and even with that banyan tree. The birds living in their nests on the banyan tree slowly became a part of our everyday lives. When the birds came to their nest in the evening my mother would burn candles, lanterns and diyas near the tree. The birds had started becoming a part of our daily routine. Whenever my mother used to enter the home after visiting the market, she would take a deep breath before entering the home. It looks like that she wants to take in all the air purified by the tree in one go. She would take in the exact amount that she needed. Besides giving the fresh and purified air to mother the tree still had enough pure air to give to every member of the house.
My father came back from the work at that time only on the cycle. The Banyan tree got the news of him returning to home before anyone else in the home. We then tell us to our mother that our dad is back! And when my dad parks his cycle in the verandah of our house, then all the children of our house would surround him. This was a ceremony that we started doing when we were too little to welcome him. He would then bless us by moving his hands on our heads. After all this, we would rush to the radio room. He would then go to the bathroom to freshen up a little bit. He used to be his hands and face. I along with my siblings would open our books and started studying before he came to that room. He had a satisfying look on his face when he would see us studying.
We would make our both ends meet in studying to make him happy. We used to play around that banyan tree during our holidays. It was very peaceful. In vacations, every day I would practice it hard to climb on the branch of Banyan tree but could never make it. My younger brother would climb up that branch in a steady manner without having an inch of fear. We all grew up in the shade of Banyan tree. The banyan tree was playing a great role in our education too. Up to higher secondary school, we never study with a new book. We used to get second-hand or third-hand books because they were available at the half price. The Banyan tree shade made the old pages of second or third-hand books rigid in our education. The Banyan tree shade showed us that either the paper is brand new or wrinkled with dark shades, it doesn’t matter. All that matter is what knowledge the inked paper gives us. We always felt that The Banyan tree is present in each page of our books.
The Banyan tree which was residing in every corner of our house. The Banyan tree was with us in all ups and downs of our life. It was there with us in every moment. We came to know all this about the Banyan tree when our grandfather died and went to heaven. The neighbours and the people who pass by the tree started saying “… Grandfather of the house with Banyan tree is no more.”
Some people started saying, “The father-in-law of the lady who lives in the house with Banyan tree is no more.”
My friend Rutan was saying to friends of our group that, “Do you know my friend who lives in the house with Banyan tree, his grandfather is no more.”
My father’s friends were telling their friends that, “Our colleague who lives in the house with Banyan tree, his father is no more.
That day we all felt that… Banyan is not merely a tree. The Banyan tree is one of the most lovable, valuable and the respected member of our family. The is the constant in our family. The tree is the eldest member of our family. This banyan tree is revolutionary. This banyan tree is the one and our only one recognition.