The Old Banyan Tree
October 2, 2011
I still remember that afternoon of my childhood. I cried and ran to the tree in a nearby vacant lot after my mom punished me for pushing my little sister because she destroyed my drawing. The green canopy of banyan was dotted with sparkling sunlight affably shining above my eyes telling me, “Don’t cry! Everything will be all right!”
I didn’t know how long that tree had been there exactly, but it was so big that it seemed to have been for a hundred years. Banyan don’t have flowers as graceful as a magnolia, or as gorgeous as a cherry. Instead, their flowers are white or greenish, and small enough to be ignored. However, that was popular and enjoyed by the residents for generations.
Every day, I played with the neighbourhood kids around that tree— playing freeze tag, hopscotch, jump-rope, marbles, paper doll stickers, red light/green light; it was also the start and finish of our bike racing. We laughed, yelled, ran, chased until the dusk, until the time to go home for watching cartoons, for dinner. Sometimes it was the giant green umbrella when there was a sudden hard short rain shower.
My parents and neighbours liked to sit down and chat under the banyan as well—old men played yueqin (a kind of Taiwanese two-stringed instrument) and sang the old ballads, or talked about their old days while having tea; housewives gossiped and exchanged information with each other, or played with their toddlers while they hung quilts to dry. It was a cool place to relax and be with people.
The banyan was the popular tree and the place where residents loved to stay. One of my favourite things was to join the elders’ group and listened to ghost stories on summer evenings. The most fun thing under the banyan was having special activities—eating moon cakes in the moonlight at Mid-August.
The banyan tree was just like a dad stretching his arms to protect his children, like a mother giving her smile to comfort her baby. It was the place I would shelter from sadness and the one I’d like to share with my happiness. Even though I haven’t seen it since all the residents moved out of there thirty years ago for urban renewal, the banyan still remains in my heart.