After several days of winter thunder, I finally got a glimpse of the hot sun. The warm sunlight peeped through the clouds giving a soothing warm feeling. The Kelly-green colour of my leaves was turning into the shades of neon. The bole was shining like gold. The branches were stretching themselves as they woke up from an extended sleep. Oh! I must declare I was looking more beautiful today.
I have the widest bole with extended branches densely covered with leaves. And, I am deep under the soil with my roots, which strengthens me. Also, I know others are envious of me, and they should be. Although everyone in this jungle knows, I am the predominant one here. I have more numbers of travellers sitting under my shade, when the sun performs its best and when the cloud cries loud. I like to play hide and seek with the travellers sitting under me; I move the branches from slight left to slight right to give them the sun rays and shade alternatively.
I remember those days when I was an adolescent in this enormous jungle. I had the dream of being the largest tree in the jungle. I nourished my dream for countless years, and today I am here, established. I was happier than ever.
But somewhere my happiness was getting measured. It was a bad day also. As soon as the morning sun made me brighter, as soon as I was in the eye of others, it ended too.
Before the mid of the day, a group of loggers came to the jungle, and I was the selected one. They had their logging tools to tear my joy, break my dreams, cut my hopes, and joggle my strength. I saw my neon shaded leaves converting into moss and scattering on the muddy ground. I was crying, shouting for help, but a tree, a strong big tree-like me cannot even save itself in this world of humans. One by one, my branches were cut into pieces. Long branches were stacked together; small twigs were left disseminated, leaves crushed under their feet, and my heart wept on my demolition.
And they left, they went with my branches leaving me behind as a bare bole. I kept staring at the path they were going along. I kept weeping for the loss I faced. I kept wondering I was not the largest tree in the jungle anymore. Bereft of leaves, I was a standing snag.
Days passed, and the cold breeze of nights killed me almost every time. I was waiting with a hope of life again, a leaf, a twig, a new branch. I was impatiently waiting to be green and emerge out of my deserted existence. But every morning, my optimism was fading out. I saw my regular passers-by sitting under different trees. I could see the envy in others’ eyes had been turned into mock and pity. I was a loner.
I am not able to count days, but I have seen all of the four seasons, and the summer is back again. And, I am still a snag, almost a dead tree.
That evening, the sun was about to leave the sky, making it red. I was trying to feel its losing existence. But it had a hope of coming back tomorrow again, what hope did I have? Suddenly, I felt something tickling behind me. I turned back, and I saw something green. Oh! Is it what I saw? I was not able to hold my excitement. I turned back again to have a close look. Yes, it’s a leaf. A tiny little leaf, in chartreuse colour. I cannot believe it, but it is true. Sun left the sky and moonlight did not help me have a glimpse of a new leaf again and again. But what I could see was that I was going to be the largest tree in this jungle again. This one leaf would be the first step and soon I would be shining.
I earnestly held the fire till dawn, the moment first light peeped in, I turned back to have the sight of my new baby leaf. I tracked the trail of its existence. Ah-oh, the twig this leaf belongs to is attached to a small, thin, wobbly plant. Oh! this is not possible, I must re-check, I did, but yes, it was. My dreams were broken again. This is not my leaf, it belongs to that tree, the tree which is smiling at me. It must be making fun of me. I turn my back towards it. But will not hold my sorrow, I cry once again. I die once again.
But then again, the leaf kept on touching and tickling my bole. In days, its branches stretched, and some more leaves came for the company. These leaves played and giggled the whole day, backing on my trunk. I was getting annoyed. I was not a play area for these tiny giggling greeneries. How could they sit and play on me?
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It was now a day-to-day practice, making me irate. I glowered at the tree, but it did smile back. This little young tree was making fun of me, sitting on my bole. I couldn’t take this, I needed to get even with it, push it hard with my full strength and give it what it deserved. I could pull my roots and fall on this precarious young tree. The weight of my dead bole could decease it. Nonetheless, I was a dying tree, I was of no use, standing with no leaves, no branches, no life since long. There would be no harm to me, despite it would be demolished. I did have made up my mind.
Let the sun be down, let all the trees be asleep, let this young one slumber and I would hit it. I was staring at the sun, anticipating its disappearance. Suddenly, I heard a diffident and stammering voice.
“Dear patriarch, I have always been fascinated to see you, I always wanted to grow like you, to be the largest one in this jungle. But my stem is not as strong as it should be, my branches are growing but my stem is not able to hold the weight of my branches. Sir, if you don’t mind, can I have the support of your big, strong bole? My branches can sit on you and grow. My leaves will soon nurture me and my roots, and I will be strong enough to hold the weight of my branches. Till then, please do allow me to be dependent on you.”
Oh! I can see the same dream in its eyes, which used to be mine. Is it asking for my support, my favour, or still amusing me? No, I sense the truth in its voice, its feelings seem to be prudent. It is not bluffing with me. But why do I help it? What will I gain from it? I had already planned to thrash it tonight. I must stick to my plan. But how do I benefit if it falls although? I was muddled in my thoughts; the stumbling voice came again.
“Don’t you think so, Sir?”
“Umm… you can, my dear child, and someday you will be the prevalent one. My blessings with you.”
Surely, that day I felt the life again, I started living with that young tree, and it was following my dream.
(This short story is written by writer and designer Somya Sweta. She is based in Greater Noida, U.P.)