The ball hit the glass, and the glass cracked with a loud noise. Moss slapped his head and said to himself, "I am not ready to go through this again."

Bellowing in anger, Nome came out of his house and roared, "You insolent fool! I will not spare you this time." He grabbed the broom and ran after Moss.

Moss ran for his life yelling, "You old bum will never be able to catch me."

Moss rushed inside his house and locked the door behind him. Nome banged the door and said, "Get out at once, or you will never get your football back."

Nome's threat was replied with silence. Nome waited for a few minutes and then left, saying, "Very well. You can hide now, but not for the rest of your life. Once I catch you and believe me, I will, I will skin you alive."

On returning, Nome gathered the shards of glass and threw them in the garbage. He took the football into his custody and secured it in his cabinet. He sat down on his chair and took a heavy breath. He sighed, "Kids these days. They have no moral values. It is all the fault of these new-generation parents." Nome dozed off for a while and woke up an hour later.

On waking up, he thought of strolling for a while so he went to the alley near his house. This was a regular habit of his, whenever he woke up, he went to the alley. The sight of the Chinese yew planted there calmed him and gave him a sense of satisfaction. He cared for the tree and watered it. After taking a final look at the nature's wonder, he went back to his house.

The next day when he returned to the tree, he was horrified. Someone had littered the space around the tree and broken some of its branches. He slammed his door on returning home and went to his bed. He wrapped himself in the sheets and didn't leave the bed for the whole day.

The next day when he went back to the alley to clean up the tree, the work was already done. He was surprised because no one in his neighbourhood was known for their love for trees. Nome was further surprised when he discovered an envelope stuck between two of its branches.

Nome took out the envelope and read the letter inside, "I convey my deepest apologies to whoever used to take care of this majestic plant. I was riding my bicycle and turned into this alley when for the first time, I discovered the tree. Since I wasn't expecting it, I crashed into a trash can and landed right onto the tree. I got afraid so fled from the scene. I have enclosed my month's pocket money in the envelope, hoping it can reimburse the plant's damage. I will come back tomorrow for your response."

The letter wasn't signed, and inside the envelope, Nome found 50$. The letter writer's words and actions moved Nome. Nome knew that a child had written the letter because of the handwriting.

Almost after 15 years, he wrote a letter. He was quite impressed with whoever had left him the letter because it kind of restored his faith in children. “no one writes letters these days but this young lad did. He must be a fine fellow.” Nome thought to himself. He didn't sign it either but addressed it to, "My friend." He placed the letter exactly where he had found the last letter. He then hid in the corner of the alley, waiting to discover the identity of the person who had written the letter. He probably would have waited for the whole day if it wasn't for his daughter's phone call. She had come with her annoying children to visit him. He went back to the house and hosted his guests. He then hurriedly bid them goodbye and returned to the tree. The letter was still there. He sighed with relief. Since it was late in the evening, he decided to come back the next day.

Moss opened the letter. He was astonished to find a reply. The letter writer's handwriting was beautiful, at least far better than his. It read, "I am returning your money because the love and concern that you have shown for the tree can't be reciprocated. What's better is that you realised your mistake and tried to correct it, which is evidently very rare. I really liked your attitude, young man. I would love to share our insights and way of life. It would benefit me as well because I would be able to acquaint myself with the latest development. Also, in your last note, you had referred to the tree as majestic. Do you know anything about it?"

On learning that the letter writer knew that he was a child, Moss was shocked. But it was not the first shock of the day. He actually found himself writing a reply and continuing the conversation. He wrote it on the piece of paper in his pocket and placed it on the usual spot.

 When Nome returned the next morning, he discovered a new letter was waiting for him. He took the reply with him home and read it with a cup of his herbal tea.

"Thank you for returning the money. You are a kind person, sir. Also, the answer to your question is yes. The species of the tree is called Chinese Yew. It is common in China and is very rare in Britain. It is a wonder that you could maintain it in the harsh condition of our city. The tree is useful for treating cancer-"

Nome was interrupted by some noise from outside. He looked through the window. Moss was pelting stones at his house. Usually, Nome would have charged out of the house and after Moss, but he didn't feel like it. He wanted to finish reading the letter, so he ignored him and went back.

Moss waited around for a long time for Nome to come out, but when he didn't, Moss left with a long face.

"-That is all I know about the tree. I can't help but wonder how did a plant native to China end up in Britain? Can you tell me more about its history and its benefits? Plants really fascinate me.

P.S- Can we try not to find each other's identity? I did like to hide my identity."

The lad who had been writing letters to Nome had certainly caught his attention. He had never thought possible that someone in his locality would have known about Chinese Yew.

He wrote in reply-

"It's been quite a while since anyone asked me about the tree. My grandfather, who was a governor in the Chinese colony, was diagnosed with cancer. He was very fond of the Chinese culture and traditions; one might even say that he loved Chinese culture more than English. When he retired, the locals had gifted him the Chinese Yew as a parting gift. But what an adventure it was to smuggle it to Britain. It is a story I intend to save for later.

The tree had gone through a lot of hardships before it acclimatized to Britain's harsh weather. Because of the foreign climate, its growth was suppressed. That is why the plant still couldn't attain its full height even after 102 years. Unfortunately, the tree had outlived my grandfather, and he didn't live to be able to use its bark as a treatment against cancer."

Nome placed it in the same place where he usually did. The only thing different this time was that he didn't wait for the receiver to come. He was still curious about the mystery writer's identity, but Nome hesitated because the writer had requested about the desire to stay hidden.

Nome went back to his chair and reminisced about his childhood.

Oblivious to each other's identity and ignorant to the signs, Nome and Moss continued exchanging letters. Sharing of letters became a periodic thing. They wrote to each other about everyday things, shared their dreams, and helped to bridge the generation gap that existed between them through the letters. 

On one particular day when Moss had sneaked out of the house to retrieve the letter, his mother caught him. He was terribly scolded and grounded for stepping out of the house after curfew.

Moss felt frustrated. He kicked his bed in rage. His parents were never around during the day, and whenever they happened to be at the house, they acted as authoritarians. With tears dropping, he wrote a letter and snuck out through the back gate and placed it that night itself.

The content of the latest letter was no less than a shock for Nome. He discovered the identity of the person he had been exchanging letters with for the past several days.

The letter was a little wet. It read, "I think we should meet each other. I apologise for being so blunt. We must meet each other. I have been having a rough time dealing with my emotions. My parents aren't around much, and I am pretty much lonely. I had a friend, or at least I considered him to be, but now I don't know anymore. You must know that old codger, Nome. He was the closest to a real friend I ever got apart from you. Yes, he was wrinkly, but he was fun. I used to annoy him so that we could have some fun. Anyways, I don't want to bore you with my sob story. This is my trunk number, '+44 20 7234 3456'. Be sure to give me a call if you ever want to meet."

Nome was literally in tears. He had never seen behind his hatred for Moss. Having interacted with Moss for quite a few days without any prejudices, he knew what a fine lad he was. All this while, Moss was trying to strike a friendship with Nome.

He went to Moss's house and knocked on his door. He yelled, "You fart faced imbecile reimburse me for the damages you did to my glass window!"

Moss was delighted to hear Nome's voice. He went to the window and blew a raspberry. Nome smirked a little and said, "I will see you next time."

Nome and Moss's friendly squabbles continued and both of them grew a deep bond. They were as thick as thieves.

Moss always wondered why he didn't hear back from the mystery writer, but it didn't keep him preoccupied for long because his old friend was back.  

April 19, 2021 15:12

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Vidhi Agarwal
14:14 Apr 27, 2021

Gr888 story. Really liked the narration


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Dhruv Agarwal
17:31 Apr 27, 2021

Brilliant, loved the way you framed paragraph(s).👍


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