Sohail Abid

Writer exploring tradition, art, and music of the people of Punjab

The tree that used to cry

“Was there a tree in the house?” she asked.

“Yes, there in fact was one. And it used to cry.”

She looked at me as if I was indulging in poetry. We were talking about my grandmother’s house in Pakpattan, where I had lived when I was growing up and where I am living these days.

It is a typical pre-partition house, with a baithak and a deorhi on the front, followed by an open vehra, a covered veranda after that, and finally two rooms side by side in the end.

The tree was in the courtyard, along the right wall. It was a sufaida. As tall as they all are. Blessed with a lot of leaves. Whenever there was a storm, it used to cry. The leaves made a sound like someone was crying. A human cry. It was real.

“Why does it cry, Bibi?” I remember asking my grandmother.

“It’s not the tree; it’s the winds that are crying.”

“But why?”

“An innocent person has been killed somewhere. The winds are mourning the death.”

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