I planted you with my own two hands. I still remember the day. I remember the youth that I was, who ripped up the plants in my mother's garden. I remember getting caught by the old lady. She was old and frail - but something about her made me want to stand and listen to her.
"Son," she said. Her voice was nothing like you imagined. It was firm. Her frail frame belied the steel in her. "You, in your ignorance, are ripping up these plants. Why?"
"It makes me feel like God, having power over these plants. Knowing that I can rip them and do as I please." My words felt decidedly silly, even to myself.
"Try giving life instead of taking it away. You may not know it now, but the future is in your hands." She gave me a sapling. That was when I first held you in my arms. I did have half a mind to destroy you, rip you up. It would have been easy. But somehow I didn't.
Instead, I spent hours in Father's library, reading up on what you needed to survive. I read that you were resilient. I liked that about you. You needed a lot of water, so I planted you in the place where I knew you would get the water you needed, on the banks of the river bordering the village. I took care of you, nurtured you. You grew, just as I did. You survived the wars just as I did. And when I came back home, you were always there to embrace me with your welcoming shade. In you, I found the truth of life - the feeling of power that one gets from caring and nurturing others is far great from the rush you get when you destroy someone.
You saw me get married, and gave my sons and daughters and then my grandchildren and great grandchildren a shelter to play under. In many ways, you were my first child, the child I did not create,
but is mine nonetheless. Now I am old and frail, much like the lady who gave you to me. I couldn't take care of you any longer, couldn't visit you as much as I wish to. But here I am, back in your embrace, waiting for the sweet release of death. My time here is done, but I just hope that the village loves you the way I did - do - for the rest of your life.
- Vikram Sinha (1750-1845)
You have been in the village for two centuries now. You have seen the joys and sorrows of several generations. You are our God, our friend, our parent that gave us shelter when we had none and firewood to fight the biting cold.
The Government wants to build a highway through the village, and build a few factories along the banks of the river. They want to cut you down, strip you, make planks and other building materials out of you, and burn whatever is left of you as firewood. To them, you are just a tree. You are replaceable. They don't know your true worth. But then, how would they? You aren't a culmination of their combined efforts over the last two centuries. They haven't grown up playing under your canopy. They haven't met with their sweethearts under your shade. They haven't learnt the truth of life that when you take something for yourself, you always respect the source. That self-contentment is a priceless trait that is fast becoming a scarce commodity.
It is not that we are rejecting modernity and living in the 19th century. The village has undergone several changes to keep up with the times. We have been up to date with the latest technology, and our homes are comfortable. We create our own jobs and live a happy, content life. You know it too, for we took the wood from you and your offspring. We would never let them take you away from us. And this I swear on my dying breath.
- Vivek Sinha (1970-2060)
Barren. Arid. Brown. Dusty. That is all I've ever known. I have never seen the river that used to run by the village - that was rerouted after Grandad refused to let you be cut down. He would say that you are the original tree that was planted by my ancestor. Your offspring were all slain by the agents of human greed, and you are the only one who is still standing. And I can see the weakness in you. You are smaller than I remember, and definitely less magnificent than the pictures we have of you. You are old, yet you try your best. It is hard, seeing you like this. Seeing a relic of my family history dying out in front of my eyes. But you and I are not so different. I, too, am slowly but surely dying. "Lung Cancer," the Doctor said. "Move to a place with better Oxygen quality." I wanted to laugh, would have laughed if that didn't set off a fresh bout of coughs. This is irony at its finest, isn't it? This is co-dependence taken to an extreme. These fools think they have all the time and the world and are acting like there are no consequences for what they do. Little do these fools realize that my plight today is theirs tomorrow. I have seen the truth of life, and that is peaceful co-existence with Mother Nature. With you. And until they realize that, they are also marching towards their graves. Maybe they will be here longer than you and me, but they are still on the path to destruction. Now I will, much like my ancestor who planted you, sit within your embrace and wait for the inevitable sickle of the reaper reap both of us.
- Vinay Sinha (2040-2080)
- The Mighty Oak of the Singhalpur village (planted by Mr. Vikram Sinha in the year 1765 - died as the last surviving oak tree in the village in the year 2080)