Kids Corner

                          Gurbilla under the Fig Tree


The author



Our Fig Tree:
On Earth Day 2009



The birds have built a nest on it.

A drama unfolds every morning when I go to collect the ripe mauve figs.

"It's our food, what are you doing there?" they appear to complain.

"There is plenty of food for the both of us,"  I assure them.

The juicy sweet figs with soft creamy flesh and crunchy seeds ... pure nectar! They simply melt in my mouth. I wouldn't trade them for any processed breakfast in the world.

The birds wouldn't either. They probably have a few young ones in the nest at the top of the canopy, the very ones they are trying to protect. As soon as I open the kitchen door in the morning, they start signaling each other, circling around the tree, screaming, hoping I will go away.

I can't help but smile.

They used to scare the cat away. But he has demonstrated to them that he is a gentle cat true to his name (Gurbilla) and will never harm them, that the fig tree can be a refuge for all of them alike.

The sun is higher up in the sky and air is warmer. The birds are a bit quieter. They have made peace with the cat who is lazing under the shade of the tree. I call him inside. He ignores me ... a snooze under the dappled sunlight filtered by the big heart-shaped leaves where the birds dance, hiding and revealing the beautiful sounds and sights of nature, is pleasing to him. The hopping of the bunnies, the frolicking of squirrels and chipmunks feeding on the fallen figs, amuses him through the lazy haze.

He enjoys the celestial drama on the green stage, under nature's canopy.

I have to pick him up and carry him inside as I leave home. The look on his face questions me.

"Why, O why? You, too, could lay here with me; there is plenty of room for both of us."

Sometimes, I join him and accept with gratitude some other bounties of the fig tree. Hariyaa ... my soul drenches in green.


Says Nanak, I live blessed in Naam; my body and mind blossom green.

[GGS, V:1429]


It's a hot summer afternoon when I get back home from work. The cat is at the door, waiting for me to let him out; the fig tree awaits him. He hurries and quickly occupies his favourite spot before it moves away with the setting sun.

The evening winds have started to blow. I can see the leaves swaying from the kitchen window as I get supper ready. Thunder has scared the cat inside and rain has started to pour. There is no site more beautiful than this ... the pitter-patter, shades of green everywhere, seeping in through every window in my house. The fig tree looks ecstatic. My soul, too, rejoices as the rain washes the day's dust off the leaves.

"All Punjabis should sow at least a tree each of Bohar, Pippal and Neem. These trees are essential to our ecosystem."

I think of Bhagat Puran Singh, the great Sikh environmentalist in whose memory I planted this tree almost a decade ago. When I saw this little tree - barely a foot high then - in my local nursery, I thought of the Pippal plant back home. And brought this one home. After all, the two species share the same genus - ficus - (the Pippal is also known as the Sacred Fig).

Every Earth Day, in Bhagat ji's honor, I make a change in my life, a positive change for the environment.

This Earth Day, my home celebrates a lot of birthdays.

The cherry blossom tree turns ten.

The fig tree is nine.

The Apple, Pear and Peach trees has each turned eight.

Bottled water has been out, the water filter in, for seven.

The Blueberry bushes are six.

Packaging out; bulk food bins in - for five.

Toilet paper usage down by 90%. The bidet is four.

The herb garden is three.

Plastic bags out; reusable shopping bags turn two.

The dryer has been away, the clothes line up, for a full year!


And I hope for more to come ...

The other day, I took along some figs for my colleagues at work.

"O, how delicious!"

"I have never had fresh figs before!"

"Exotic! Where did you find these?"

These figs help relieve the day's stress, and also connect my computer-wired friends to nature for a few minutes.

Each neighbour gets a basketful, too. The eighty-year-old neighbour from the South, delighted by her childhood memories of her own tree, brought back sumptuous fig jam she prepared from her grandmother's recipe. I shall inherit the recipe from her!

One tree: many blessings. No wonder Guru Nanak has compared the Lord to a fruitful tree ...


The Lord is the tree fruitful;

It drips His Name, the ambrosial nectar.

Those who imbibe are contented;

I am a sacrifice to them.

[GGS, I:557]


[Gurmeet is a lover of the earth, water, trees and animals. You can read more of her environmental articles at]

April 21, 2009

Conversation about this article

1: Mlle. S (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), April 21, 2009, 11:55 AM.

Beautiful article from a beautiful soul. In Judaism, we call our Torah (holy book) our tree of life - it grounds us to life, and it helps us to soar heavenward. Your imaginary question from the cat, "Why, O why? You too could lay here with me; there is plenty of room for both of us," could be extended to all of humanity. There is room for us all under God's green trees.

2: Parvinder Singh (Alpharetta, U.S.A.), April 21, 2009, 6:10 PM.

We started using tote bags recently, trying to cut down on plastic. So yes, you are being heard :)

3: Dya Singh (Melbourne, Australia), April 21, 2009, 8:54 PM.

At last, we Sikhs are starting to think outside the box. 'The environment is the Guru, water the father, earth the mother...'. Let Sikhi step out of the gurdwara and involve itself in greening the earth, cutting back on emissions, recycling, watching our garbage very carefully so that we minimize it and not litter this beautiful planet. Well done, Gurmeet - beautiful, spiritually uplifting article.

4: Sonny (Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.), April 22, 2009, 12:16 PM.

Beautiful piece that will hopefully inspire more of our community to be thinking like environmentalists which, as you powerfully show, is at the very heart of Sikhi. Every Sunday it diasppoints me to see the use of foam plates and cups in the gurdwara - a practice which I know carries on every day. We need a campaign to go back to steel thaalis in our U.S. gurdwaras. Thoughts?

5: Jai (Lawrenceville, U.S.A.), April 22, 2009, 1:14 PM.

Very nice thought. Hope everyone thinks like this.

6: Karen H. (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), April 23, 2009, 10:01 AM.

I always enjoy reading Gurmeet's articles. The content always brings so much awareness and value to me. It is refreshing to take a few minutes to "go back to nature". Thank you, Gurmeet!

7: Jonathan C. (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), April 24, 2009, 11:35 AM.

A very beautiful article on the wonder and peacefulness of nature, especially given today's fast-paced and silicon world. Who knew figs could be so fascinating?

8: Tejwant (U.S.A.), April 25, 2009, 2:46 PM.

Only if Adam knew the sweetness of figs, rather than just using a fig leaf as his Speedo ... Just kidding.

9: Binder Kaur (Tampa, Florida, U.S.A.), April 26, 2009, 11:09 PM.

I can't wait to see you in the summer and hand pick those blue berries and eat them on the way to Tennessee. Please save some figs for me too or I will stop by and surprise you. Love your article and enjoyed it a lot. Please keep writing more and more because our community is still in a box and they need to learn more about gurubani, as well as the message of Bhagat Puran Singh.

10: Moninder Kaur (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), April 27, 2009, 11:11 AM.

"Harni hovan ban basan" - In Rag Aasa, Guru Nanak urged us five centuries ago to respect nature so that we can all sustain and flourish on this planet. Good effort to practice and share with others. Keep on doing the right thing. God'a blessings to mother and son, and all ... sarbat da bhalla.

11: Pedro (Cartagena, Spain), June 22, 2009, 2:50 PM.

How can one get and grow fig trees of a variety which yields quarter-pounders?

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On Earth Day 2009 "

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