Good evening my friends, enemies and other most dangerous creatures that includes the indifferent people of the Living Planet. Before I am carried into the dusk on the bed of my yellow and green painted coffin, I wanted to reach out to you all and share my life’s experiences and wisdoms. My autobiography so to speak.
Let me start by introducing myself. I am a TREE. Yes…yes…the same long limbed and green fingered creature that you see residing wherever I can get accommodation in the fresh soil of the Living Planet. Once every year I paint my fingers bright with dabs of red nail polish and attract a large number of suitors. Oh.. I forget to add something- I am an urban TREE. And let me tell you life is very hazardous in the City. It may seem exciting to the uninitiated but it is only a matter of time before any self respecting Tree longs for the pristine natural conditions in the rural or forest areas. As my story will tell you.
I was born in 1995 to a fine Parent TREE , big and strong, living in a large and well cared for private garden with a plentiful supply of water. TREEs are simple creatures you know; we need only food to survive, grow and fulfil our purpose in life. No clothing or shelter is required. Our dietary requirements are also simple and freely available. We eat a whole meal where we cook the carbon dioxide available in the atmosphere in water from the soil. We add spices in the form of nutrients from the soil. All this is cooked in a base of pure refined (by the atmosphere) sunlight.
When I was about 4 weeks old, I was separated from my parent. A kindly soul who wanted to save the world decided that I should grow by myself out of the shadow of my parent. And just by doing this I would be playing my part in the Grand Scheme of Saving the World. I can almost see the disbelief and incredulity in your doubting eyes. Save the world just by eating food and growing fat! All you doubters please hold on for just a few more paragraphs and I will prove my worth to you. Just be patient at least in front of your computer screens which would be more than you are in real life with my tribe.
I was taken and given a place to stay in a fine open plot just a few meters off the main road of one of the numerous city colonies. I had a fine red soil home and fresh water lovingly supplied by the Kindly Soul to drink and cook my food everyday. Plenty of Carbon Dioxide was available freely in the atmosphere or about 300 ppm of it in scientific terms. In fact there was a steady increase in the supply of this commodity and after a while there was a situation of oversupply and even we TREEs could not do much about it. The sun is always bright and kind in this part of the world and I was rapidly ascending on my growth path. The vacant plots on either side of me were soon populated with a few other TREEs all brought in by this Kindly Soul.
Within a couple of years I was a fine mature young adult, big and strong like my parent. I also had my growth pangs. There was a period in the hot summer when I would get water only every 3 days or so. Boy, was I starving. A few of my leaves withered and fell away. But I survived. Luckily I was protected in the first year by having a strong boundary fence to my plot. But one day a careless driver grazed his big car on it and it broke in two places leaving a gap. And this gap never closed in my lifetime. But I survived.
Little boys would come and pluck a few leave sometimes just for their fun and games. Every morning I used to receive an additional shower of water from some fine dogs. There was a jet black friendly retriever who used to un failingly water me between 7 and 8 am. Then a stately Dalmatian at 9 am. There was the occasional stray or visiting dog during the day. As I grew bigger I used to receive the same but unpleasant gift from grown human men. And some of these creatures used to stand next to me with a foul smelling stick in their mouth which they would often flick at me singing my leaves or soiling my home with burning paper and ash. As I became older my experiences grew more varied.
Once a year the humans used to go mad filling the sky with coloured sparks of light accompanied by loud noises. These were nice to watch but the fallout was horrible. Burning hot rolls of paper used to fall on me from the sky or kicked on to me from the road beside my home. They would be collected near my base and burned again suffocating me with foul smoke.
Another time of the year was also strange though a lot more bearable. Coloured bits of paper called kites with long string attached to them used to descend on my uppers and get caught in them. Sometimes by their strings. Hordes of boys running around on the road shouting used to try and climb onto me to recover these kites. Or they would push a long pole like stick and try and dislodge the kites.
And then my torture began. I was now four years old and my limbs were still growing. One day a man came with a loop of black wire hung over his shoulder. He had a ladder with him. Climbing onto it he entwined the cable on one of my upper limbs and passed it through a nearby building. I was still whole at this stage having no premonition of the horrifying acts to follow.
The cable stayed close to my neck for months to come, like a hangman’s noose, promising a sudden and quick death. Meanwhile I continued to grow, though only smaller limbs sprung forth slowly from my branches. And then it happened on a hot August day following a long lull in the monsoon activity. Dark clouds the colour of tar on the road beside me gathered overhead. A howling wind tore through the land threatening to take my limbs apart. It was all I could do to remain standing in my home. Gusts of wind swept away my beautiful yellow flowers and green leaves. This was followed by….rain which started with a sprinkle and soon gathered force till it poured down. It felt like all the Gods in the heavens above were collectively mourning the state of affairs on our Living Planet and the copious tears flowing down their faces just kept falling on us. For what seemed like hours. By night I was immersed in water. But the next day dawned…cool and clear, announced by the chirping of my feathered friends, the sparrows. Was I happy to see them back! It is always so nice and comforting to have someone you know close to you and keeping you company through good times and bad. I had really missed them through the long extended summer.
Just before noon, the cable guy came to the house next to me. He was inside for sometime and then came out with the owner. They had a folding ladder with them. Placing it next to me, he climbed up the ladder. I watched him but could do nothing. Because you see, though God has given us trees the gift of Life, we have to live rooted to one spot. We have not been given the power to use our limbs or the vocal chords to voice ourselves when we have to. In other words we cannot express ourselves in anyway other than just by our existence and growth. And so I watched helplessly as he hacked…and hacked and hacked with a sickle and my limbs with their leaves and flowers fell and lay inert on the ground beside me. Oh God…the pain was excruciating… as gashes opened up all over my main limbs and trunk…I felt a burning sensation all through my body. How I wanted to cry. But I just could not. Because I have not been provided the tear ducts to give vent to this emotion.
So I just stood there and finally he left me with my trunk and two main branches intact…barren and unclothed for the world around to see and mock me. His blasted cable was wound on one of them. I wonder how many of you have ever experienced this sort of feeling with yourself or maybe your loved ones. As some stranger comes and ravages you and hurts you and takes away your limbs…and you have to keep all your emotions bottled up and try to go on as though nothing ever happened! It is not at all easy but that’s exactly what I did. Went on with my life…but that’s another story which I will tell you another day.