‘Felling of the Banyan Tree’ is an autobiographical poem by Dilip Chitre. It deals with a particular incident in a family that led to tragic consequences in the family members' lives. The banyan tree can be considered as a metaphor for the poet’s life. The felling of the tree signifies the time when he was compelled to leave his native place, Baroda, and moved to Bombay, modern-day Mumbai.
The poem presents the poet's father as a typical example of a man belonging to a patriarchal society. He has a destructive nature. He does not want to have trees nearby his house. He orders to have the trees chopped down. The trees were considered to be sacred by the poet’s grandmother. The giant banyan tree, which was older than their family’s age, was cut down in a week by fifty men. The poet thoroughly criticizes this vicious act of felling trees and harming nature. In the concluding lines, the poet mourns the death of nature by his father's evil hands. They move to Bombay, which has no trees; it is a city of concrete buildings.
The poem is a subtle mockery of the people who torture the environment for worldly pleasures. The poet is deeply hurt at the banyan tree's bereavement that was home to many birds and insects and provided shade to the poet’s family for so many years. He treated the tree as a family member. The poem is an excellent take on environmental issues that can have adverse effects on many lives.
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