Thus Spake the Sheesham Tree


Couched comfortably  on a tree trunk reading Trees of Delhi, I heard a meek murmur and looked around to find nothing. The murmur however got a bit louder and I realized that it was from within the tree.

I closed the book and lent a caring hand on the tree trunk and lowered my ears closer to the voice which turned choked with emotions repeatedly faltering to say something. I promised him to take note and care and pleaded him to narrate.

He started, “I am 15 years old and tilted on to the pavement and going towards the road. Hundreds of passers-by come and go, some bowing their head, others banging it against my trunk causing pain to both of us followed by heap of curses on me and horticulture department of DDA for not pruning me.

Survival for me was most difficult in the trying conditions. Maybe, I was not lucky to be planted and came out on my own from the remains of my royal forefathers from Sheesham family, embedded in the soil down under.

Hardly had I stood on my own that there came a large force of men, women and children to plunder the land as deep as they could to sustain a high rise. Perched on the corner of this activity, I was witness to remains of my forefathers falling further down to nearly thirty feet and breaking into pieces.

Today I am proud to be one from the generation which lays in the foundation of this highrise, giving hope of seeing my generation perching out from the underground parking or may be from a first floor balcony.

Servitude to the mankind embedded into us, the memories of my childhood are a telling tale of my sufferings today. Weathering the harsh conditions then, I always used to look at the massive Safeda trees across the road and worship them as my role models to grow like them one day.

My dreams vanished suddenly when I felt a little weight on my shoulders, realizing a baby’s cry from a cloth strung as cradle around me. Initially, I was irritated with this compulsive responsibility thrust upon me but ultimately derived happiness and satisfaction out of getting closer to enjoy Mother’s touch whenever she came to feed.

The years passed by in the company of the growing family and life became a lot easier, so much so that the cradlers grew taller and slept on my stretched arms. Overnight, I felt suffocated under the tinned roof and isolated from my companions burdened with gunny bags of flour, rice, pulses and the gas stove interspersed with harsh noise levels.

Breaking the family bond together with crumpled surroundings broke me emotionally and the pulls and pushes of foodgrains and LPG cylinders hung all around rattled me. The trauma continued on for years and my confinement deprived me of natural sunlight and air. This affected my physical growth also and prevented me from growing skywards.

In deep slumber midnight, I was rattled by falling of LPG cylinders from my arms and woke up to find that I was once again a free individual to claim my share of sunlight and air. This kept me awake for hours to see the first rays of Sun which was a unforgettable experience.

After a long sunbath I looked down upon the ground and to my horror found a pedestrians pathway going under me on one side and the other side near my base a boundary wall constructed, further distancing from my forefathers.

All this happened around me without my knowledge and today I am almost heading on to the road. With tears rolling down, he murmured “What is my fault?”

Image by A Reeves via Flickr over CC

P.K. Datta

P. K. Datta has planted more than ten thousand trees and was the first to introduce Dwarka to the culture of flower shows in 2009. He is a nature photographer, writer and a landscape consultant.

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