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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

To walk under a huge banyan tree

Love for trees is a natural thing but here I will share with you a fascinating story from the heart of Lahore. I have read it in the Daily Times, now I am sharing it here.
Its about love for trees, its about love for Banyan Trees.You can read the full article here.

LAHORE LAHORE AYE: Lahore radio’s lovesick trees
By A Hamid


I was associated with the Lahore radio station for close to forty-five years as staff artist. My friendships were mostly with singers, composers and instrumentalists. Those radio years gave me the opportunity to get to know artists who had few, if any, equals. They were such nice people also, seldom asking anyone to share their burdens, which were considerable. They were people of such childlike simplicity that even inconsequential things would make them happy. They were also very tender-hearted and sometimes a single note of music would bring tears to their eyes.

The famous sarangi player, I remember was Ustad Ghulam Muhammad of Kasur, who had accompanied some of the most famous classical singers of those times. He would always accompany Lahore’s great classical vocalist Ustad Kalay Khan. In his later years, he had come to be associated with the Lahore radio station, which afforded me an opportunity to observe him closely. He was thick set and his hair had disappeared except from over his temples. He had a peculiar walk, weighted somewhat to one side. The station had moved into its new building by now. Behind the canteen, they had set up the central production unit and the recording studios where classical, semi-classical and Punjabi folk music was recorded. The musicians associated with the central production unit were a separate group, and they included Ustad Ghulam Muhammad. He would also, when needed, provide accompaniment to performances being broadcast or recorded for the main station.

To go from the central production unit to the main station, you had to walk under a huge banyan tree. Ustad Ghulam Muhammad would always look up at the tree’s thick branches when passing under it. There was another banyan tree facing the engineering rooms, which was not so thick-leafed as the big one. The two trees were a hundred, may be, a hundred and fifty yards apart. Ustad Ghulam Muhammad once said, as we sat in the canteen sipping tea, that the tree next to the central production unit was female and the one facing the engineering rooms was male. “When the wind blows, that is when the two of them make contact. They are very much in love with each other,” he told us. We loved his childlike talk - a hallmark of the Ustad’s personality.

It so happened that the engineering people decided to build a few more rooms but this could only be done if the smaller banyan tree was chopped down. Little did they know or care about male and female trees and so they sent for men who began to hack the tree down. When Ustad Ghulam Muhammad learnt what was going on, he rushed to the chief engineer’s office, begging him not to bring down the tree. He argued that if this tree, which was a male was cut down, someone would lose his life. But he failed to convince him. The tree was brought down and construction got underway. I witnessed all that with much sadness. Now whenever Ustad Ghulam Muhammad would pass under the remaining tree, he would look up and say, “Its mate is dead; this one is not going to survive long.” While the tree did not die, Ustad Ghulam Muhammad did. It happened one day when he was walking under the lone tree. He shuddered, fell to the ground in a heap and died.


A Hamid, the distinguished Urdu novelist and short story writer, writes a column every week based on his memories of old Lahore. Translated from the Urdu by Khalid Hasan

2 comments:

Grumpy said...

What an incredibly beautiful story, sad but lovely.

mania said...

yes, indeed.

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