There it hung a wooden plank
Beneath me, a maple tree.
A little girl would hop in her pigtails
Swaying her frock, playing with the frills.
She would sit on her majestic throne – a wooden plank!
And in her sweet voice she yelled
“Higher Daddy! Higher I wanna go!”
Their laughs echoed in the valley
As the swing launched high
Towards the infinite sky…
And one day, my dread came true
She fell off the swing and cried all through!
Her Daddy said “It’s alright my girl”
“We fall so that we could get up!”
She smiled and climbed the swing again
And back and forth her pigtails swayed!
The little feet moved round and round around me,
And there I shook my leaves in glee.
She would then brush the green gifts aside
Made a cute face and stared at me with wide eyes
She warned me in her honey tone
“Oh maple tree! Don’t lose your leaves,
You’ll become bald and ugly!”
I used to laugh at her innocence.
The bright black eyes and silky hair,
How I miss the company we shared!
The duo would stand in front of me
Whispered a prayer and then embraced me,
The father-daughter hand in hand
Strolled back to their place and night began.
I would then drift off to sleep
Dreamt about the love they gave to me!
The years rolled by
And the girl grew tall
Seldom she visited
And that’s where it ended I thought.
I started adjusting in the new atmosphere
For this maple tree, now who cared!
I ruffled my leaves with the wind,
Saw the sun rising and setting
Half a century passed like this
Sky, sun, stars, birds and winds
No more little girl bumping into me!
Under the bright glare of the sun,
I was dozing off when a familiar voice hummed
The same prayer she used to sing!
The grey locks sliding across her wrinkled face
The same smile she smiled
The same eyes she had!
I laughed and cried and swelled with pride
Beholding such an exuberant sight!
Her grandchildren ran around me
And she would knit the scarves
Sitting in the shade of the maple tree!
She brought with her a new sunshine
The cheerful laughter : a beautiful time!
The kids pegging stones at me
Were reprimanded by the old lady.
Together they sang a prayer for me
Causing my stomata to leak profusely!
And we were highly honoured
When the heavy clouds felt us and showered,
Five of us would search the azure sky
For the band of seven colours, high and high!
The time sprinted faster than it should
She grew more old, she coughed and puked!
Then one day, an exodus of men
Carried a body on a wooden frame.
A sudden breeze lifted the white shroud
A wan lifeless face I found!
Alas! She didn’t wake up to say the prayer
The children came and did their share
I was transfixed, couldn’t shake a leaf,
Stood there still, moaning in grief.
It was such a thunderclap!
Finally, the men laid her in my lap.
I felt her presence, her silent heartbeat!
Lying peaceful beneath me
Her maple tree!
– Bhavya Malhotra