V is for Victorious

Pipal tree
The Victorious Pipal Tree, Photo credit : Shubha

Writing prompt: VICTORIOUS

Provided by: Alex J. Cavanaugh, one of the organisers of the A-Z challenge. Please drop me some prompts for  W, X, Y,Z.  I need them all!! Photo credit : Shubha

Genre: Fiction. ( I have added links to unfamiliar ‘Indian’ words. )


The Pipal tree of her childhood stood right where it always had on summer afternoons, when its dry, heart-shaped leaves flapped in the heat and fluttered down, their stalks slender and firm even in death, smelling of the earth and wood.

She dipped them in inks and paints, red and green and blue, and made paper hearts. She left them in books, on her father’s study table, pasted them on the walls of her courtyard, the dead leaves brought to life.

For years after they hacked down the Pipal and placed a tall government building of dark windows and gray walls in its stead, the leaves came to her on moonlit nights, clapping against each other in her dreams.

They fell in whispers on the neighborhood lane where once she climbed trees, scraped her knee playing hide-and-seek, chased after boys and marbles in the red dust, soaked the earth in ochre and cerulean on Holi, helped her pig-tailed friend draw explosions of colored Rangoli each Diwali on pale circles of smeared cow-dung that smelled like swampy mud when wet, and like hay when it dried.

They called to her and spoke to her of withered roots, of a trunk gone mad with grief, of homeless leaves looking for little girls to rescue them. She did not know they spoke of themselves.

When she reached an age when the call of the roots is the strongest, she gave in to the Pipal leaves in her dreams, and sought out that lane.

I’ll go home one last time, she said, I will go look at my old Pipal tree.

But she never made it back home. The country of her birth did not let her in. She was a Pakistani now, and Pakis are not welcome in India.

She asked her grandson to find pictures of her old neighborhood on the internet, but he found none. No one told her of the cold, ugly building that stood in its stead.

So the tree remained where it had always been, in its victory over time and place, its roots like matted hair slow-moving in the breeze, its gray bark pitted, but strong on its immense, tangled trunk.

Its new-born red leaves welcomed spring,  its purple figs fed mynas in the month of May. Its dried-heart leaves found their way to her, and there they remained.


I’m tweeting A to Z posts at #atozchallenge  There is also the A to Z Challenge Daily with links to Tweeted A-Z posts over the last 24 hours.
Thanks and shout-outs to organisers Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) , Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe),  Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) , Jen Daiker ( Unedited), Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) , Karen J Gowen  (Coming Down the Mountain) , Talli Roland ,  Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Add Yours
  1. PencilGirl

    Beautiful, as always… My grandmom would probably say “There’s magic in your words.” I think I’d agree with her.. 🙂 🙂

  2. Priya

    The story only allows the reader to feel the girl’s sense of loss and longing for the pipal tree. And just as well. Though I am from the sub-continent, I could not look beyond her pining. The words India and Pakistan were of little consequence in front of the nostalgia.
    You send me on a free trip to these worlds every time I visit here, Damyanti. You are a writer of considerable value, and that is no mean achievement.

  3. Damyanti

    Thanks to everyone for stopping by, and also for giving me all these wonderful prompts. Who knows which one of them will twist my arm in the coming days to squeeze out a story! Four more days to go.

    In this story, I did not know the old woman was from Pakistan, a Muslim girl who grew up in pre-partition India, before 1947, in a Hindu neighborhood, till she told me so herself after an hour of cajoling on my part. (Because my story stopped with her wanting to see the Pipal tree, and I did know what happened next.)

    Characters do that sometimes.

    I do not know whether it has helped the story that I have spoken of a Pakistani girl, being an Indian author, but I love that so far what has caught the readers’ eye is the theme of memory, loss, and nostalgia and transience, and the triumph over them of the human spirit.

    I hope that is not merely because all the commenters so far have been from outside the sub-continent 🙂

    Thanks once again to all who have commented, and if you’re reading the post now, do drop me a line.

  4. Claire Goverts

    Very poignant piece. Nicely written, I enjoyed how the tree was still there via her memory.

    W – wanted, wasted, worry, wander, wanderlust
    X – Xenophobia, xylophone
    Y – yell, yard, yarn, youth, yodel
    Z – zoo, zone

  5. Jeanne Kraus

    Great mix of memory and story. As I was reading this, my mind did it in a storyteller’s voice, almost a whisper. I attributed that to your descriptive ability and excellent word choice. Beautiful.

  6. Nicole/MadlabPost

    What a nice story. Your can become addictive 🙂 That’s a good thing though. I need prompts myself for W but will offer the following for you:

    W- Wonder or Willy Wonka
    X- X-ray
    Y- Yodeling or Yarn or Yellow
    Z- Zap or Zip Code or Zodiac