Who doesn’t know entwining, embracing,
like roots? And cuddled secure
in their mother’s dewy-damp soil.
It’s the psilotum, anchored by creeping rhizomes,
like disheveled souls, seeking refuge,
where they’ll not, never,
find any. Keep drifting about,
carried away by sweeping deluges
and nature’s other plans.
But there’s the Peepul in my backyard
on the shoulders of the house’s ruins
clutching it with all its might,
fingers like crow-beaks, roots like claws,
and here and there hollows to breathe,
lest you die in its stranglehold.
Oh, and its leaves? They are
countless hearts to love, and its figs
grow in pairs.
All the village girls are married to the Peepul first.
They tie sacred strings around its girth,
and sing peans to it. When the time
comes to go join their real grooms,
I’ve seen the girls sneak in, become
the Peepul’s prop roots.
And only imitation ones
follow the boy, merrily
down the gravel path.

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