It was hardly a wind, not a storm of course
That flew by the old mango tree.
I knew my time had come
But waited; lest they mock
That I fell on my own.
In the convenience of the breeze,
That hardly made my branch sway
Let alone shake the tree – I fell.
Detaching the last sinews
Bidding goodbye to the ants
Who looked surprised
And the Woodpecker, looking guilty.
Oh! To fly! I would like to think
I am flying, though I am falling, gently downward.
Passing, I see the termites busily building
The squirrels hoping up, skirting down
And the lone kite preening
And the Kingfisher, intent
On the gecko, slinking by.
The leaves of the Money Plant
Grappling up my tree
I am falling, I am falling
I see a butterfly fluttering by
Oh, I feel the rain, the wind!
I am going there – now here,
Oh, now thither –Ow, whoosh! I am taken-
I swing, I sway, I dance till my heart is full.
Oh, what a ride! I never knew what it is
To be free!
I see earth coming up, welcoming me,
So brown, so dark – ah, my old friends
Huddling, to break my fall.
I see them, the young, so green, so fresh
Waving goodbye at me.
‘Goodbye, goodbye, my dears, take care!
Take care of the flowers; shade them from heat
Let the bees rest on you!
And if a squirrel comes, tremble, make him jump.
Make sure that you bend hard when it rains,
Make sure the morning dew fall at the foot of our tree.
When day breaks, when light comes
Turn as much as you can, let no light
‘Begging your pardon Sir, you are wrong,
The young ones, they do not
Laugh at me; that’s your tale, Sir!
We leaves wait for our death since birth –
That’s when we really move, you see
That’s when we are really free!’
********** Balachandran V,
The Falling Man by Tom Junod, Esquire, Sept 2003
In the picture, he departs from this earth like an arrow. Although he has not chosen his fate, he appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it. If he were not falling, he might very well be flying. He appears relaxed, hurtling through the air. He appears comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion. He does not appear intimidated by gravity's divine suction or by what awaits him. His arms are by his side, only slightly outriggered. His left leg is bent at the knee, almost casually. His white shirt, or jacket, or frock, is billowing free of his black pants. His black high-tops are still on his feet. In all the other pictures, the people who did what he did -- who jumped -- appear to be struggling against horrific discrepancies of scale. They are made puny by the backdrop of the towers, which loom like colossi, and then by the event itself. Some of them are shirtless; their shoes fly off as they flail and fall; they look confused, as though trying to swim down the side of a mountain. The man in the picture, by contrast, is perfectly vertical, and so is in accord with the lines of the buildings behind him. He splits them, bisects them: Everything to the left of him in the picture is the