Sunday, March 16, 2008

It was a big rain-tree. It bore innumerable pink flowers in summer. Sometimes some places get characteristically memorable by virtue of some presence about them. I knew of a place because of an old temple there. The plaster had fallen off from its walls that had long ceased protecting a deity. It stood with a dark hollow, reminding an absence. I heard it had been a Shiva-temple. The place bore an impression of abandonment to me. So was it also with this rain-tree. It gave an inseparable dimension to the railway platform on which it stood. The tree swayed its branches and leaves in nonchalant air to diffuse the hustles of people with the trains.

It stood on the edge of a fencing that separated the station from outside. On a careful examination it would be evident that the tree should have stood on the other side of the demarcating line along the platform. Perhaps the in-charge, an Englishman, under whom the station had been planned and constructed, had fallen in love with the tree. So he had encroached with a little curve, enclosing the tree within the station area. That was fifty years ago.

There was a bench under the tree for the waiting passengers. In summer the place beneath the tree was full of fallen flowers and the evening air carried a fragrance that reminded one of far off places, the destinations of all trains of the world.

I would visit the station of an evening and sit on the bench. It was very refreshing to sit there. The tree was also a habitat of many birds. So in the evening there was loud tweeting and chirping of the birds as they prepared for rest for the approaching night. The night fell on this place from this tree.

One afternoon, in the month of April, the entire sky turned black with clouds. The tree became still - and not a single leaf moved. It was an abnormal stillness. I left the station for home. On the way, suddenly, a violent storm came rushing from somewhere. I began to run. It began to rain also. In minutes the storm and rain made terrible havoc. When I reached home I was completely drenched.

In the morning we found widespread devastation everywhere. I heard that the railway station was greatly damaged. The metal shade on the platform had been blown off. But when I reached the station the first thing that attracted my eyes was a void. The tree was not there. It was uprooted and fell on the other side of the platform leaving a big hollow on the platform.

I went to Ranchi after a few days. I returned after one month and reached the station by 2115 UP in the afternoon. The station wore a new look after a thorough repairing. The curve of the platform had been set right by a straight fencing. There was no trace of encroachment now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This time it's a Rembrandt - no less.

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