A poem by Anand Vishwanadha

The 'Save the Banyans' campaign stirs hearts and inspires creativity. Here's a poem by Anand Vishwanadha.


Like a Dhaman that keelbacks,
a languid green Konda Chiluva Paamu of coils
wearing dapples of shade and sun on its back,
this road snakes back into history.

How many years? How many?!
Has it seen...whose were the hoary feet that trod
on this ageless dust -- in years and epics past
of which the only sentinels that remain are

The thousand Banyans of Chevella.

Whose Kathas and what Jathakams
can these great grandfatherly trees tell us
if only we could hear?

The thousand mute Banyans of Chevella.

Did the Pandavas walk on this road
Did the Satavahanas, the Vishnukundins,
the Kakatiyas? ...the Qutb Shahis, the Asaf Jahis...
if only we could hear,

The thousand mute Banyans of Chevella.

Thirty Kilometres from the last Banyan
the road hurries and hurtles to Hyderabad,
the city of Sarojini Naidu, once the city
of Bazaars, Cafes, Parks and Trees...

(Surely, it must have all been so - once?)

Now, a sea of concrete buries everything;
and like an angry tide - the floods come every year
sometimes in September, sometimes in October
Dekho, Climate Change is now here!

(Bhaago, Tank Bund Toota Katey! Bhaago, Gandipet Toota Katey!)

A new rumour is now all over the news --
the thousand historic Banyans, and
another nine thousand or more trees,
and the old road itself, they say

Will all soon be history.

They say...approvals are bagged,
budgets are passed, (National Highway Katey!)
twenty crores for every kilometer, soon, they say,
money and concrete will get poured here…burying

The thousand mute Banyans of Chevella.

Only Rupees twenty crores per kilometer? -- who did this math...
do they even know… each of our Banyans is as precious
as a hundred mature trees, worth a million litres of Concentrated Oxygen,
as irreplaceable a habitat as, any mythical old-growth forest?

The thousand Banyan sanctuaries of Chevella.

What axe dare cut these gentle giving giants?
These great grandfather trees?
These silent sentinels of our history,
our last frontiers and refuges, where…

An entire harried and hurried city,
finds tree fortunes of calm and peace
finds friendly squirrels and birds in flight
finds childhoods and other priceless dreams

Mana thousand beloved Banyans of Chevella,
Hamare thousand beloved Banyans of Chevella,
our thousand mute Banyans of Chevella,
why can’t they be just left in peace?

© 2021 Anand Vishwanadha

Photo credits: Sanjay Borra (top) and Lakshmi Prabhala (above)