A Passenger’s Dream (Part 3): The Old Banyan Tree

“When I was a child, we used to live in a small village around 50 kilometers from Indore. It was a typical Indian village with a few pucca houses, belonging to zamindars, and many mud houses belonging to poor villagers. In the middle of the village was a big banyan tree. It had been there since last two centuries and was the center of numerous village legends and tales.

Since it was an ancestral tree, none of the villagers thought of cutting it down, not even the rich zamindars. Besides, there was a rumor that the tree was cursed and whoever cuts it would bring bad luck to the entire village. So villagers had constructed their houses around the tree in circles. Over the years, the village expanded in concentric circles, with the banyan tree at the center. This gave a rather ominous look to the village.

Since my great grandfather was among the first people who decided to settle in this village, our house was closest to the banyan tree. It also gave us the privilege to use that area as a veranda. It had become a tradition, in our house, to worship the tree first thing in the morning to keep it from cursing our family. My mother woke up at 4 am each day to do it. She would first take a bath then clean the veranda and then go around the tree several times while chanting the Gayatri Mantra. However, even all her worshiping could not protect our family from the ill-fate that that tree brought us.

I had a sister, two years younger than me. She was very mischievous and liked to pull practical pranks on everyone. Often, she would climb up the banyan tree, despite our mother’s several warnings, and tease her. She would then pretend to jump which would make my mother hysterical. I don’t know what kind of pleasure she drew out of it.

Then one day, the banyan tree decided to take it’s revenge. In one of her usual pranks she climbed the tree and as she was pretending to jump, she slipped and fell face down. She suffered a major hemorrhage and died instantly. My parents were shocked by her death. It was then they decided to move out of that village and settle in the city.

It was her laughter that I heard in the dream..”.

The passenger had tears in his eyes. This story had brought back the memories of his sister. But the tears were of something more than remembrance. He felt guilty for her death. Each day prayed to God to let him go back in time and erase that mistake of his. Though what he told Akrit was true but it wasn’t the entire truth. What he, intentionally, left out from the story was the fact that he was responsible for his sister’s death.

To be continued….

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Part 3 of this story ends here. Can you guess what his mistake? How the passenger was responsible for his sister’s death? I would love to read your theories. Do leave them in comments. If you like the story share it with your friends and help it evolve further.