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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Delhiwale: Death’s blazing beauty

A dead tree’s haunting magnificence

delhi Updated: Jul 19, 2019 16:08 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
This tree once shaded the windows and balconies of the adjacent multi-storey apartment complex here on a lane near South Delhi’s M Block Market.
This tree once shaded the windows and balconies of the adjacent multi-storey apartment complex here on a lane near South Delhi’s M Block Market.(HT Photo )
         

Nobody links the cold fact of death with beauty. But, there are exceptions.

Such as this tree which, some locals say, died about a month ago.

It looks divine. Breathtaking.

You have to offer your respects to this grandstanding monarch.

The trunk shoots up into a multitude of branches, which themselves bifurcate into a jungle of bare twigs. Indeed, the entanglements at the very top of this large tree resemble the wild hairstyle of novelist Margaret Atwood.

Gaze longer at this network of intertwined twigs, and you might then feel as if you are studying the detailed street map of a dense metropolis.

This tree once shaded the windows and balconies of the adjacent multi-storey apartment complex here on a lane near South Delhi’s M Block Market, “but somehow didn’t survive the basant... other trees grew new leaves after their annual leaf-fall but it didn’t,” comments a nearby security guard. He doesn’t know the tree’s name, however. Gazing upwards, he mutters, “Kitna khubsurat (so beautiful).”

A few other gatemen playing cards beside a guard’s cabin, too, are unable to identify the tree.

One naturally wonders whether the apartment residents are missing the leaves and the shade? Or perhaps they actually prefer the bareness of their mighty tree.

But, of course, the tree isn’t completely without life. Its fate, in fact, has become like that of an anonymous grave claimed by wild grass and squirrels. There’s a beehive in an upper branch, while the base of the trunk is decked with potted plants: a bit desperate, perhaps, as though trying to revive the victim of a drowning with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when it’s already far too late. Watch the tree from across the road, and you can see it in its entirety, the leafless branches shooting up royally towards the sky, dead but unbowed.

First Published: Jul 19, 2019 16:08 IST

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