There was a banyan tree in the middle of the park. Nobody knew how long it had stood there. Its branches had spread in all directions, embracing the universe. And, as is typical of banyan trees, its roots have sprouted down from its outstretched branches, perhaps to retain and strengthen the wisdom that the tree has collected over the years. Legend had it that the tree had seen more than two hundred summers. Perhaps, that is the reason the resort people left it untouched, as an ultimate symbol of legacy, when they renovated the gardens.
Maya was sitting under the banyan tree. It was an early summer evening and she had been sitting here almost the whole day, alternating between reading a book and napping. She had chosen to sit here and ‘waste’ her day doing ‘nothing’ while her husband and twelve year old daughter were out, exploring the countryside. And as she sat, the number of missed calls in her mobile went on increasing, but she wasn’t bothered, she did not even care where her mobile was. She had carried her laptop into her vacation as there were urgent mails to be answered and clients who needed to be addressed. But now the laptop slept peacefully under a pile of folded clothes in the wardrobe of their hotel suite. On any other day, Maya would have bothered about how her daughter was getting on, whether she had eaten, whether she had remembered to put on her hiking shoes, but today she trusted the moment and forgot to invite the worries in her mind.
She sat, complete in herself, embracing everything and everyone who had ever been or ever will be a part of her life. She was light of the baggage of her past, and of the illusions of future possibilities. She was living the only time one can live...that is now.
And the banyan tree provided her shade and silence. After a long while, Maya became aware of another person approaching her space. It was a woman. She was wearing a pair of brown trousers and a cream shirt with soft, brown buttons. The woman was taking a walk through the garden paths in and around the banyan tree. Something about her struck Maya as vaguely familiar. Just then, a breeze blew as if on impulse, scattering the leaves of the banyan tree all over. One leaf gently landed on the woman’s hair and at that instant everything was clear. Maya realised that she was looking at none other than her own self fifteen years ago.
The woman was crying, inwardly. She was drowning in an unfathomable sea of pain. She had just lost her three year old son. It was one of those intrusions of fate which come without warning, when there is just a pause, a blink of an eye, a single breath between the smiling face of the baby she was feeding and then...a pool of blood on the floor, and her baby, no more. There may have been a small yelp, a last cry, but she was not sure, it had happened so fast.
Maya longed to reach out to the woman. But there was a wall that shielded her wherever she went. The wall would not let any small reason enter that could inspire any meaning in her life. The woman screamed, inwardly. “I have lost him, I have lost my baby.”
“No you haven’t”, said Maya, quietly. The woman, startled, looked around, but could not see anyone. Maya smiled. She could penetrate the wall.
“Your baby, like you, is a child of the Universe. He is here, he is happy.”
“But where is he? He is no more with me”.
“Oh, look around, will you? What do you see?”
The woman looks around quickly.
“Okay. I see a tree, a banyan tree. I see green grass, some flower beds which I suppose are pretty, over there in the corner I see a swimming pool, some shades, and I guess that’s it.”
“Okay, close your eyes and see again what you have just described to me”.
The woman, intrigued, shuts her eyes.
She remains like that for a long time and finally speaks. “Yes, I see him now, my baby.”
“Why here, of course, running around the tree. And there, splashing in the pool and here again, rolling on the grass. He’s so happy.”
“Of course, he is. What made you think that he would not be happy? Just because he chose to end his play in one place and run to another?”
“But he is not with me.”
“Don’t you see? He was always with you, like the stars and the rain, and will always be there with you. Both of you are strands of the different threads that are woven together, with each other, to complete the blanket of the universe.”
“But why was his time with me so less?”
“That is only your perception. Your time here is no more or less than your baby’s or anyone else’s for that matter. There is no time. Just intensity. Feel it. Can you see? The time that is fleeting is elusive. Withdraw from it, and what remains is eternity. That is where you just saw your son, that is where you can find him, always.”
“But I long to touch my baby, hold him, love him.”
“You can do that only when you get rid of your useless pain. Your pain takes up all your space, you whole being. It makes you an invalid. It cripples you. Throw it away, and all you will have left is pure and joyful love. Share it with all forms of consciousness, and you will feel your baby in your arms, always.”
“Who are you?”
“I am you without your ego.”
“How can you be me? You don’t even feel my pain.”
“I understand your pain. Your ego feels it, not you. You know there is no pain. That is why I am here.”
“Why can I not see you?”
“You will see me only when you chose to, but for that you have to first die.”
“If I chose to die, will you take me where there is no pain, where I can see my son happy?”
Maya sighed. She knew she had no choice. She had to kill the phantom which believed it existed. She slowly got up and left the shade of the banyan tree to stand in the glow of the evening sun. As she did so, the banyan tree bowed and whispered a few words of wisdom.
The woman looked up and saw Maya for the first time. And as the light of recognition dawned in her eyes, she surrendered her life with the full force of her acute will and felt the shadow slip away with the pain and the hurt and the anger, all useless remnants of a useless ego.
When you belong to the Universe, and the whole Universe is contained in you, how can you ever lose anyone?
Maya brushed some leaves off her dress while the sun set in the distant horizon as it should.
Half-way across the globe, the first rays of dawn woke her up with love. It was time to embrace another day.