The pain of Deciduous, with the winter setting in, was growing deep. This was its first winter since it stepped into adulthood. It had been shedding cherries, flowers, and leaves, here and there, all through its adolescence and in a way has been aware of their seasonal departure. This winter, however, it was losing them at a tremendous rate and volume, so it thought. It didn’t know what was wrong but was certain that something was. It had been nourishing its kin too well. It spread its roots into every possible inch of the rock and far into the soil to pull water and food for all its beloved. So much and more only to find them part this way.
Previously, during spring and then most of the summer, Deciduous was intensely absorbed into life. It flourished magnificently and so did its entire kin and the associated kith. The white flowers bloomed and looked fresh in the gleaming sunny mornings, the cherry grew crimson, ripe and pulpy, the bark smelled strong and soothing, the trunk was well built up, the birds sat on the branches unflinchingly chirping in romance, the squirrels playfully ran all over Deciduous tickling it to blush and biting on its cherries, the butterflies kissed Deciduous thanking for the leaves that fed their caterpillars and the bees were hustling around the hive on one of its branches sucking the juices from the flowers. The rains only overwhelmed Deciduous to say the least. Deciduous had just stepped into adulthood and the bountiful joys that surrounded it consumed it completely through all this.
However, the onset of fall had begun to change it all and by early winter the change was complete. It began with the birds flocking away to far and warmer habitations though they promised Deciduous of their return. The butterflies did the same. A few butterflies that stayed back for their caterpillars had to lose their lives to the severity of winter and Deciduous mourned by tucking them under its soil, promising to keep their caterpillars. The little ones innocently dug a space beside their creators as if seeking solace. Deciduous dropped a dozen leaves to cover and keep them warm.
Flowers departed next. One by one they bid farewell to Deciduous. It was unbearable for Deciduous to see the glorious ones having to face such a fate. Deciduous kept staring at their fine petals for long till they were disintegrated by the worms. Their leave led the starving bees to migrate whose stocked honey could only last till autumn. They couldn’t say anything of their return, however. The trunk began to shrink and this was unusual. As for Deciduous the trunk held it firm and upright. Now, even the bark wouldn’t hold and it crippled and peeled away, taking away the brown sheen, and as if reflecting anguish at the swift departure of its tribe. That wasn’t all. Squirrels had holed Deciduous’ trunk in the middle, found a residence for hibernation and stuffed it with Deciduous’ cherries and nuts stolen from the neighboring trees. Deciduous found a lone company in these small furry rodents, though losing away all its cherries at once to them was hurtful and so was this hole in the trunk. The uncountable leaves that winter withered was a disturbing loss to Deciduous. All this, as if, had diluted Deciduous part by part or stolen its essence bit by bit to which it found no expression and the tragedy was complete with the fall of the last leaf when it was gutted to silence.
It was mid-winter, and Deciduous responded in utter pain by tilting to a side slightly, for the first time ever. There couldn’t have been a time, it could remember, of such unease, discontent and longing. Winter was cold always, but only this year could it insensate Deciduous. It wasn’t still sure of what struck it this winter. It felt that it would be fatal and it wouldn’t see another spring or experience such joy ever again. The appealing colors of the flowers, cherries and leaves together, that gave Deciduous a unique charm and beheld many a species, had given way to pale white snow which had covered Deciduous.
Deciduous stood there seeming like a recluse in a white gown under a dark night sky grimly lit by a half moon veiled by a dense cloud. As if, a focus light leapt over it bringing it into the limelight on a stage of life. As if, the whole forest was eagerly spectating to see its response this winter because all summer it was buzzing with activity. Now, it was time! A strange silence out of Deciduous resonated with that of the forest. Not a sound. All life had hibernated and it couldn’t draw any warmth from a single source, whatsoever.
Winters before this one, Deciduous had hibernated like all others. It knew well that neither is winter permanent nor is its change. One wonders what befell Deciduous this winter? Perhaps, it was more receptive and accommodating to the natural alterations earlier or the innocence, with which it experienced the joy showered at it during its adolescence, had given way to a conscious seeking of joy now and so the pondering and realization about the overall loss was more striking and overpowering than any time ever and the desire to experience, but, the fear of failing to experience all of it again made it miserable or the loss was actually so grave that Deciduous’ condition was fully justified.
Deciduous’ naivety of adolescence, and the apathy caused due to this winter, had failed it in one more way, although, it would have been difficult for Deciduous to comprehend the failure in that naivety or apathy. While everything seemingly closed it from the outside, there was an intrinsic failure too, although, it is another matter that all failures can be internal alone, but often made to seem external. It was about Deciduous’ failure in realizing the state of its ‘Root’ and more primarily its presence within Deciduous. The failure was about Deciduous’ unconsciousness of the source that established it, and that which is the most silent among its kin, and the grounding element of its being which nourishes it comprehensively. Root has grown as deeper and wider as Deciduous has journeyed outbound. Both have grown in abundance. The brighter Deciduous has been, the darker Root has become or vice-versa (a comparison highlighted to understand the contribution of Root, leaving aside the literal difference between ‘light and dark’.) It was as if Root imparted all the grace to its dearest. Root was tireless and eternal, and it will survive till Deciduous sleeps off for ever some day. Root will even then continue to live-on flagging Deciduous’ legacy for a greater unknown time. That way, Root is beyond time and change. It is beyond space and place because no matter which locale Deciduous would have grown, Root would have been there with Deciduous while the same can’t be said about most of its other kin and kith that began to depart with the onset of autumn. The Root was its guardian and it’s most trusted kin that it always fell back to. Each winter Deciduous went into hibernation tucked well into Root’s arms. Deciduous, unfortunately, has lost touch with its Root this winter!
It would be harsh to say that Deciduous was not sensitive, but rather, it took Root for granted, after all Root was its own. It wasn’t that Deciduous had no affection or regard for Root, but that, it had been absorbed more by the life outside, losing connection with Root. It wasn’t that Deciduous was unaware of Root’s significance in its life, but that, it was unaware of the power and stability Root offered/offers and will offer. Root had always desired joy for Deciduous, and that is what Root has seen it grow to. Root has weathered it through the storms and seasons, through the summers and winters and through the dry and wet spells. Root has been there unconditionally through every little aspect of Deciduous’ life and that’s its nature. Even at this point while Deciduous is going through the pain at the departure of its kin and kith and struggling to move through this severe winter on its own, Root silently wishes Deciduous looked towards it because that is where it has stored itself and its only there from where it can restore itself. Root hasn’t changed a bit because it doesn’t need to. It is integrated well within the crust of the earth and functions in tandem with it. Its only sources of eternal joy are the earth and Deciduous itself, unlike the abundant outward sources of joy that Deciduous has been clinging to.
It is incomprehensible how Deciduous’ life has transformed from a plant to a tree, just as any other life. There are forces beyond Deciduous that influence it, but there is a force beyond these forces lying within Deciduous that it needs to be aware of. Deciduous has a whole long life ahead to pass through and many falls and winters to be through. Reverence to and communion with Root is all that it would take to sail it through the hardships of winter or any season. Root, after all, is an unconditional companion and non-obligatory guardian. It’s a home that is calling. It’s a call that Deciduous must take from Root. Deciduous has to return to its innocence and connect with Root. It has to let the symbiotic relationship flow. None can enjoy without the other and neither is complete in the other’s absence. Both synergize their joy in the other’s company and can transcend sorrow and joy in other’s presence.