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How I Became a Tree – Sumana Roy

I am quoting my words from my poem Azaleas posted a week before in my blog.

“I still have that old photograph

Me and my mother beside

That new mother happily

bursting with pink azaleas
It was last winter, 

Grandpa had to cut it short 

I still remember that expression

Of discomfort and regret

“Don’t be disheartened baba

They will grow again”, I said.

But his reply gave me a shock

,“They knew I would cut them.

 It gives me much pain to inflict the same upon the plant I planted and nursed.”

“But they will grow next year”, he consoled himself.

Weeks haven’t past

My mom sick and in pain,

Tortured me more…

Yes, there is a strong connection

Between a mother and her child

It was then I realised

My grandpa though a Father figure

Had already become a Mother 

To the plant life he was giving birth

With every passing year,

Trees,plants,orchids and so on…”

How I Became a Tree very much reminds me of my Thulobaba, baba and boju who are very much one with the green friends growing around us- pines, Azaleas, orchid trees( bahunia.sp), bottle brush( my favourite), Oranges (tall and dwarf), lemon, roses, lalupathey,chinaroses, Gauva, orchids and many more I cannot name.I have grown up with the hills, the trees around me, soaking in the aroma of the fresh tea leaves.I have grown up with the orange trees in our orchard. Some are of my father’s age, some even older than him, some are of my age and others are still younger and growing, all so very taller than me. Each winter, they bless us and when we were kids we would spend the whole day in the orchard, often skipping our lunch…

And reading Han Kang’s novel The Vegetarian, “set in modern-day Seoul,tells the story of Yeong-hye, a home-maker, whose decision to stop eating meat after a bloody, nightmarish dream about human cruelty leads to devastating consequences in her personal and familial life”. What struck me more are the lines in part 3.flaming Trees where she explains her dream“ 

[…] “Do you know how I found out? Well, I was in a dream, and I was standing on my head…leaves were growing from my body, and roots were sprouting from my hands…they delve down into the earth. Endlessly,Endlessly…. yes, I spread my legs because I wanted flowers to bloom from my crotch; I spread them wide…” . 

This description goes so well with this amazing book cover.Isn’t the cover amazing ?

And here is the book with its subtle contemplative narrative “Among all desires to become a tree, the most urgent was the need to escape the noise; one was the noise of the humans, the other was the vocabulary of silence of the active life of trees” How I Became A Tree by Sumana Roy is one remarkable book you never want to lose at any cost. I ordered this book from Flipkart (Of course it is available in Amazon). The more you read the more you get absorbed into the detailed photographic experiences and glimpses of the authors’ life. The more you read, the more you feel trees and flowers becoming more alive before your eyes. The way she thinks is unmatched and unparalleled, with her unique comparisons and interesting terms like the “tree-time”. There are chapters like Women as flowers and Women as trees.  This is an exceptional book where one is awestruck and mesmerised at the same time. This book helps you come a hundred steps  closer to the plant kingdom  and feel each senses of a variety of flora breathing together with us. This is a book which is not hard to understand. Written in a simple lucid manner, we are sure to explore every flavour of memoir, literary history, nature studies, spiritual philosophies and botanical research. 

I am still reading this book and by the end I am sure I will understand more and discover the heart beating inside every plant life.I hope I am not the same person after finishing this book.

Since I haven’t completed the book, I cannot produce a full book review. But below 👇 are the few links where you can read the full book reviews-

1.world literature review of How I Became a Tree

2.7 Reasons Why you should read ‛How I Became a Tree’- Sumana Roy

3.https://cafedissensusblog.com/2017/04/29/book-review-sumana-roys-how-i-became-a-tree/

This is my copy of ‘How I Became a Tree.’ Isn’t the cover Beautiful and expressive?

Well not every one is blessed as I am right now😇😇😇. 

My copy signed by Ma’am Sumana Roy

Well I got my copy signed by the author who fortunately turns out to be our beautiful Teacher. She is one of the best teachers on Earth with a beautiful heart and a gorgeous smile.A picture with our Dear beautiful Ma’am. How can I miss this opportunity…

From the Aleph book publisher-“In this remarkable and often unsettling book, Sumana Roy gives us a new vision of what it means to be human in the natural world. Increasingly disturbed by the violence, hate, insincerity, greed and selfishness of her kind, the author is drawn to the idea of becoming a tree. ‘I was tired of speed’, she writes, ‘I wanted to live to tree time.’ Besides wanting to emulate the spacious, relaxed rhythm of trees, she is drawn to their non-violent ways of being, how they tread lightly upon the earth, their ability to cope with loneliness and pain, the unselfishness with which they give freely of themselves and much more. She gives us new readings of the works of writers, painters, photographers and poets (Rabindranath Tagore and D. H. Lawrence among them) to show how trees and plants have always fascinated us. She studies the work of remarkable scientists like Jagadish Chandra Bose and key spiritual figures like the Buddha to gain even deeper insights into the world of trees. She writes of those who have wondered what it would be like to have sex with a tree, looks into why people marry trees, explores the death and rebirth of trees and tells us why a tree was thought by forest-dwellers to be equal to ten sons.

Mixing memoir, literary history, nature studies, spiritual philosophies and botanical research, How I Became a Tree is a book that will prompt readers to think of themselves and the natural world that they are an intrinsic part of, in fresh ways. It is that rarest of things – A truly original work of art. How I Became a Tree a book that will prompt readers to think of themselves and the natural world that they are an intrinsic part of, in fresh ways. It is that rarest of things – A truly original work of art.” (Blurb)

Book – How I Became a Tree

Author- Sumana Roy

Genre- Non-fiction

‛How I Became a Tree by Sumana Roy’ is available in Amazon or other online book stores by Aleph book company For only Rs.599 (discounts are available)
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/farce/

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The Lost Generation

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( pic source: google)

  I was studying in class five or six, I guess. Vaguely do I remember the exact year when I first saw her. We used to look at her with a steady gaze of wonder and curiosity. Of course we laughed seeing her and then we would say ,”bichara ka bata aako hola ,  Ko holai? Usko parivar tai ka cha holai? ( where on Earth has she come from?  Who is she? Where is her family? ). And so on our quieries would bundle up unanswered. It definitely was not the time of social selfies or famous facebook and although I have no picture of her I hold a very clear vision of the woman deeply engrained in my memory.
Her uncombed, tangled, dry and dirty hair was cut short perhaps by the local people around who rescued her from her long battle against the tiny mighty mischievous minions sharing their long habitat in her head which was their home .  Most of the time, she  always wore a smiling face, giggled when someone teased or called her with her single” bugs bunny” teeth protruding out her dark lips. She didn’t have a sharp nose nor did she have big eyes, but her small tiny eyes seemed heavy with lines lined up with her ascending age ; her features familiar to the faces around. If an artist had used the earth to create an exact figure like her, then her skin color would be no different than the earth used. Apart from her face I do not remember because most of the time she sat in a yoga position with an old rugged  blanket covering her whole body except her face. Her dark tanned face did attract a hundred curious eyes. So not everytime is fair and beautiful attractive but her attraction was far different from them.
In a time when dark clouds hovered above, tempting the Earth to drink more of it, when road pits seemed more like tea pots containing milk tea, and the drains seemed cooking something awful , I saw this woman in the same place beside the same old yellow building, this time with a yellow plastic shielding her from the continuous rain,  and she looked more  like a  chameleon as if absorbing the yellow colour of the that building. It was an amusing sight for us as children and we laughed looking at her and she in turn laughed looking at us.
I have no idea exactly for how many days or months and years she became a parasitic part of that place. There were  rumours in the air about her history that she belonged to a good family and it was only after the death of her husband that she was degraded to such a beggarly state. But only God witnessed her past. Perhaps her family still existed or perished away or perhaps she did not belong to where she was now, no one knew. Whenever we passed by her she always exchanged smiles with us. Her eyes glowed with joy with her rich smile; her smile being the only makeup she could apply. Nowadays people carry smiles in their wallet I suppose.
We were used to seeing her in the same place posing like an ascetic but she did not stay there to gain enlightenment rather she was deprived, deprived of everything,everything that a normal person enjoys.  But she was not like other beggars in the street because she never begged and to her fortune the local restaurants did help to fill her appetite and other than that she  wanted none except a home but not a single person came claiming a relationship with her.
We know there is a lack of old age homes in our country and admist us lives people without any shelter. Her family abandoned her ; I abandoned her ; the society and the world around abandoned her, except the street dogs who themselves were abandoned and homeless. Her presence was  lost among the generation who were lost in their complex cultivated universe.

Years after when I passed  by the old corner where once she breathed the impartial air with her rich smile, I saw the vacant space, the yellow wall renewed and refurbished but still missing the presence of the same old frail and fragile figure which once had been its Sunakhari (wild orchid) and now a part of ”the lost generation”and only a subject of my writing. At least the wall did not abandon her.

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