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3 years ago the trees transformed my life. It didn’t happen overnight, like a military coup or a revolution. It gradually grew in my heart, in my sub-conscious, and by the time I started realising it, the transformation was well under its way. I consciously allowed it thereafter…pushed it along and am still doing so. It started off as a simple poetry presentation program, one that I was even slightly reluctant to be a part of initially, since till then poetry had never excited me at all…perhaps I hadn’t taken the effort to understand and appreciate it.

My dear friend Aa loves poetry. He researched Marathi poems for the last 100 years and selected poems related to trees. Then he went through the arduous task of sorting them and aligning them in a theme. He shortlisted 51 such poems and wove them in a theme. There are no narrations. Each poem is itself also a connector to the next poem. We didn’t want it to be just another poetry recitation program. We wanted it to enter people’s hearts and minds, create an impact. We wanted each person who watched our program to deeply feel it…and we had absolutely no idea how we were going to approach this ! So we, a group of 5 performers launched ourselves into a process. Eventually 1 flautist and 1 percussionist joined us as well. We began by just playing around with the poems…we played a lot of theatre games, did some intense theatre exercises, did some movement work…talked nineteen to the dozen on some days instead of rehearsing and finally came up with a structure for the program. As a part of the process, we visited the hills and did some work there, learnt about trees, planted saplings, went to Pune University to look at trees, shared our tree memories etc. We kept on experimenting and went on putting the jigsaw pieces in place. We finally had a one-hour poetry presentation program – Zaadé…maateechya manateel kavita (Trees…poems from the heart of the earth). It has some singing, some choreography, some body sculptures, some plain recitation (memorized, of course!) and some dramatization. The flute, percussions and lights add to the effect. It tells the story of trees. It is multi-layered and very simple at the same time.

All this is just a brief description of what happened at the surface level. At a spiritual level, we all experienced great changes within and around us. By the time we were ready for the first show, it no longer was a program for us. It meant much more. To date we lovingly call each other “trees”. We are all very finely tuned to each other even if we do not meet each other for long periods of time.

We went on to have a run of very well appreciated 25 shows. This journey was quite eventful. Thrice we came to a point where we told each other that for lack of funds the next show would be the last one…and miraculously, each time, somebody would, without being asked, give us a donation or sponsor a show ! Aa had decided that we would stop at 25 and thus we did.

Since we stopped, many of us ‘trees’ have been longing to experience Zaadé again. Even when we stopped at 25, some of us were reluctant. Every now and then one or a couple of others would bring up the topic of its revival. Somehow it never materialised. Since the last month, all of a sudden, I started feeling a pressing need to revive Zaadé. Surprisingly, at the same time, 3 others too expressed the same feeling. We started touching base with the remaining. They are taking a little longer to sprout.

Day before yesterday we “trees” decided to meet to discuss this. One didn’t turn up and also conveyed some reluctance. One did turn up and conveyed some reluctance. Another who is out of the country but will be here shortly for a short duration conveyed a negative response. The rest of us are ready and raring to go. I was bordering on depression when I heard this. But I allowed myself some time out and thought back to the time when we first put up Zaadé and I recollected that some trees will take longer to grow, but grow they will. Persistence and consistency. That is the key. And hope. And above all, love. I grew calm as I realised this. I consciously decided that I am putting my faith and love in this.

The one who came but conveyed reluctance had some questions. We spoke. While speaking, we, the ones who are raring to go, were telling about our respective motivations to revive Zaadé. I said, “For me, Zaadé meant much more than a theatrical presentation. It is spiritual for me. I have done several plays and have experienced transformation as an actress and as a person but none as powerful, none as magical, none as calming as Zaadé. I don’t know why but I feel the pressing need to experience that magic again.”

My all-time favourite book is “The Little Prince” by Antoine Saint d’Exupéry. Each time I read it, I find new meaning in it. My sensibilities are renewed and enriched and I move ahead with them. With these I read it again and yet once more I find new meaning in it and my sensibilities are renewed and enriched and I move ahead with them…the journey is yet on. Zaadé is like that for me…perpetuity...the never-ending story in my life :)

As I write this, the one who conveyed a negative response has communicated and I sense that this one is going to sprout soon :)

Faith, and love, works :)


Anonymous said…
Hello Wanderer! I am Ujwala, the programme coordinator at Open Space Pune, and we were wondering if you would be interested in reviving this performance of 'Zhaade'? As part of an urban tree festival? Someone just mentioned it to me. Please do mail me at

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