Chinar and the death bed

Your individualistic approach to life has left you alone in the battle against your end years
Chinar and the death bed
Kashmiris have a deep relation to this huge tree, not only because of its history in the context to valley but even the name chinar (which in persian means What Fire) is a question, the people of this land often ask.Haseeb Ibn Hameed for Greater Kashmir

Asalamualaikum, I’m writing this to you as I’m sitting under a massive Chinar tree dressed in orange and blood red leaves, many have fallen on the surface of this earth and are being crushed by masses, walking and taking a stroll in this crowded yet desolated garden.

Kashmiris have a deep relation to this huge tree, not only because of its history in the context to valley but even the name chinar (which in persian means What Fire) is a question, the people of this land often ask.

The mighty tree is synonymous with Kashmir ,but not native to it. It holds a strong sense of identification in the hearts of people here, who choose many mortal and immortal things to define their identity.

Sometimes it’s described by the traditional long cloak, sometimes they choose the wedding feasts, hospitality to outsiders, but it’s usually a laminated card they carry 24/7 to clarify their identity.

But they refrain from making their language a part of it, the mother tongue in this part of the world has been ghettoised, many people take it as an agent of deterioration for their “self-respect”.

Anyway, I decided to write to you when I heard about your withering health. The Chinar trees around me reminded me of you, for you have always thought of yourself as a mighty and strong creature who lived as living was meant for eternity.

Back in summer when this same majestic tree was wrapped in fresh green leaves, it resembled your youth when you had thick black hair and stood strong during winds of life, while you took pride in your physical and mental characteristics.

But What Fire is this, that the unlettered creature shades people from sunlight, and the bustling of its leaves cools them down during hot days. While you, who had been pursuing degrees and “Educating” himself has never provided shade to anyone, or perhaps someday you wanted to, but for some known and unknown reasons you refrained from it.

And now as your season of green leaves has passed, it’s miserable to realize that now even if you wanted to shade someone, you couldn’t.

Across this garden I’m sitting is another garden where over a couple of gardeners are sowing more chinar saplings even as one aged gardener rests his back against a nearby Chinar. Those planting saplings reminded me of your parents, of how they took care while bringing you up and longed to rest their backs against you, like that aged gardener.

Was their longing fulfilled? Or were they longing even on their deathbeds, like you are now longing to shade others but you yourself need something to rest against. Your individualistic approach to life has left you alone in the battle against your end years.

I don’t know the actual age of this tree behind me, but people say most of them here are over hundred years old. Humans don’t last for that much time nowadays, but as a person who is counting his terminating moments, would you wish for more years of life or a life spent in taking care and assisting others?

My long black cloak appears to be red in colour but I’m not sure if it is because of the amber and blood red leaves of this mighty tree or because these eyes have witnessed too many incidents of identical colours.

In both cases, there is a high probability of my cloak turning red in reality and I becoming one of those leaves that are being crushed and thrust into the ground by the masses.

These fallen leaves and tall standing chinars remind me of a story my grandfather used to tell; of how one day all the fallen, but uncrushed leaves turned into a tornado when an unexpected wind united them and what followed was all documented in the history.

Khair, let us not talk about unity, something that has disappeared from our society for now and God knows when it will be revived.

A month has passed and I’m still sitting here under the Chinar that has now been fully deprived of its adornment and wears a naked look. It builds an image in my mind of how you will be when that piece of flesh inside your chest will stop pumping blood and with that your book of accounts will be closed too.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you melancholic by reminding you of the account book, for I know, you never made efforts to make it heavy with adequate deeds.

Another month has passed and I’m still here. Since it has been snowing incessantly all night, this huge nude tree has turned white with a blanket of snow covering it from head to toe, like you will be after your last bath even as people will be lowering you in your grave.

Apparently the difference between this mighty tree and you is that this thing over my head shades and protects people who are in close proximity to it and you by your haughty characteristics pushed all the people away until there was no one in proximity to you, and even before meeting your final destination you were all alone when there were still some leaves left before your final fall.

Not just you but this tree resembles humans vividly, we are brought up with care and love, we grow in a phased manner and while on the journey we collect so many leaves of knowledge, memories, stories which when the time of our fall comes, leave us, sometimes in a phased manner and sometimes very abruptly.

You may ask, then what is the purpose of collecting all these leaves when they are deemed to abandon us at the end of the day? Then what is it that counts? What remains?

I reckon till now you should have realised that. At the end of the day, it is about who we shaded, who we protected, whom we assisted and whom we provided relief when they were struggling during scalding and dark days.

Not only that, but what did we do in our life that is phased and has a definite end.

While this Chinar over my head waits for its last leaf to fall, I will sit and watch it die, because in this part of the world, death is undermined or perhaps it is the most unimportant thing until it comes to one of us.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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