Poem: Gulmohar Tree

Shyam and Bunty
Sucking on ripe mangoes,
Skipping school
And so, in the cool shade of the Gulmohar tree,
They bend and break their first ever rule.

Artwork by Devika Menon

On the outskirts of a village,
As tiny as can be
Stands a red, tall Gulmohar tree
And in the cool shade of this Gulmohar tree,
Everything is as tranquil as can be
For the sun doesn’t shine
And nothing really matters.

And here they meet,
Shyam and Bunty
Sucking on ripe mangoes,
Skipping school
And so, in the cool shade of the Gulmohar tree,
They bend and break their first ever rule.

And red flowers, they fall
On minds too young.
The Gulmohar tree stands tall,
Watching them learn to love.

Making paper boats in the grey of the rain
Just two boys playing around
Scraping a knee their version of pain
Their yells of delight, hide and seek
The only sound.

And when teenagers they become
In the cool shade of the Gulmohar tree they talk
As the birds and bees hum,
They carve their name into the tree with a rock.

And they grow into young men
There’s taxes, and jobs to find
But when they come back to the Gulmohar tree,
It’s like going back in time.

It is there, in the cool shade of the Gulmohar tree
That Shyam kisses Bunty one evening
And Bunty, he almost jumps with glee
He’s never been happier, oh, he must be dreaming.

But the world isn’t a good place
And happiness is fleeting
Their love is a secret, without trace
The thought of it—defeating.

And they love so deeply,
Dream of a day when that’ll be okay
They’re each other’s completely
And they plan to run away.

And one night, when the sun is gone
Moon high up in the sky
Bunty waits under the Gulmohar tree, all alone
For Shyam to come by.

But the night fades into dawn
Shyam never appears
Bunty doesn’t know he’s gone
Alive are all of their fears.

For they chase Shyam down,
He cannot love a man
In his own blood he drowns
For believing that he can.

And they find Bunty the next morning
In the cool shade of the Gulmohar tree
Body limp and cold, sky storming
He’d hung himself, for everyone to see.

And the tree—it stood there
For ages and ages to come
With their names carved into it, a prayer
A reminder of love
And how hate made it gruesome.

But on nights as lonely as cold
As when the two lovers died
Their laughs are still heard, I’m told
Mixed with Bunty’s cries.

And little girls and boys,
They don’t go to the Gulmohar tree
For paper boats and wooden toys
And grey shadows they see.

And the laughter of two men
Who once dared to fall in love
Two men who could, again
Be together in the heavens above.

Artwork by Devika Menon

But they choose, instead, to stay
In the cool, shade of the Gulmohar tree
For here they loved to love,
And here they loved to be
And in the cool shade of this red Gulmohar tree,
Everything is still as tranquil as it used to be
For the sun doesn’t shine
And nothing really matters.

About the author

Saachi Gupta

Saachi Gupta is an LGBTQ+ activist, animal lover and the author of 'With Love, or Something Like That.' She is a strong believer in equality amongst mankind.
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