THE MANGO TREE
I was born in a park a neighborhood park a few years ago . All the credit for my existence here goes to Mr. Sham , the gardener and the caretaker of this park . Though I don’t remember much about my early childhood , I have heard stories about my birth when Mr.Sham was telling his children about it one day . He had sown a seed in the prime spot in the park . He took care of me and nurtured me like his own children. Soon I sprouted out of the pit . It was such a wonderful experience . I could feel the warmth of the sun caressing me . Mr. Sham fed and watered me lovingly with his own hands. He even talked to me . Gradually i began to grow . Braving all kinds of weather , I grew huge , tall and strong . Mr. Sham beamed with happiness to see my imposing stature . I was now a young tree and Mr. Sham’s pride.
As I grew older , I got new branches and leaves . Tiny buds and flowers appeared , which bloomed into succulent fruits , called mangoes . Mr . Sham was so exited the day I first bloomed . He plucked a few fruits and took them home for his family . The happy expressions on their faces was priceless .
“ Dad, these mangoes are so fresh and juicy “ exclaimed Risha, his ten year old daughter .
” They are better than the ones we used to buy from the market” said his wife .
I felt so satisfied that I could share my bounty with them . I never felt lonely in the park . I had the company of humans and animals from morning till sunset . I enjoyed the company of a large spectrum of people from all walks of life . I loved to listen to the chitter chatter of men and women discussing about their everyday life , politics , children, latest fashions and films .The little children danced and sang around me . Children hid behind me while playing hide and seek. I have also been witness to marriage proposals , tiffs , petty quarrels, fights and breakups . Sweaty walkers and joggers sat on benches near me , enjoying a quiet sojourn under my cool shade before returning to the hustle - bustle of life again . But I hated it when they left their plastic bottles under me . How I wished I could shout in protest . Sometimes Mr. Sham would shout out to them and tell them not to litter the park . After sunset the birds and animals returned to their homes in my lap .
I remember the day vividly when my human friends saved me from villains who wanted to kill me and my friends . The sun had come out after a week of cold foggy days. The park was full of holiday revellers , enjoying the sunshine . Suddenly a group of men armed with heavy and sharp tools barged into the park . They looked around as if searching for something . Coming towards me ,they were pointing at me and the other trees and discussing something . I overheard one of the men telling the other , “These trees here are strong and healthy . They will provide good quality wood.” The men fixed their tools and put them against my trunk . It hurt a lot and there were bruises on my body.
“ No , you can’t cut the trees “ Mr. Sham shrieked . The rogues pushed Mr. Sham hard . My park friends came running and picked the gardener up. On learning what was happening everyone hugged me tightly . They snatched away the axes from the woodcutter’s hands . Some one called up the police and the miscreants were arrested . That day me and my tree friends got a new lease of life. I thanked everyone silently . But I came to know that many other such rogues are killing my other tree friends all over the world . Though with constant fear in our hearts , a few of us have survived the massacre . Everything was going well , when all of a sudden everything became quiet.
No one came to the park . I could not see any humans . I could not even hear the sound of any vehicles on the road . Mr. Sham would come with his mouth and nose covered . He would feed and give us water quietly . He didn’t look his usual self . He had stopped talking to us . There was a scared look in his eyes . I wondered what the problem was . One day after doing his work he lay down to rest under me . I heard him talking to someone over the phone, ” This little virus has brought the whole world to a standstill . It’s so scary to read and hear about people dying .” After sometime he went back to his one room house in the corner of the park . I kept wondering what virus he was talking about .I was longing for human company .
More than a year had passed . I was now a lonely mango tree now. Except for my fellow trees and animal friends there was not a single soul in sight . I got to learn about the deadly Covid _19 and its consequences from Sham when he discussed about it with his friends on the phone .My heart wrenched and wept when I heard him telling his friend one day , “ My uncle has succumbed to Covid.” He sat under me and cried .
Suddenly one day , I saw a few of my human friends in the park . They had covered their noses and mouth with masks . I could make out that something was amiss .Things were not the same as before . The laughter of the children was missing . No one talked to each other , except for a waving gesture from a distance. The warm shake hands and hugs were no more a part of meeting each other . Everyone had a worried and concerned look on their faces.
God had sent me on this Earth with a special purpose and I was happy that I could meet it . I also became home for the birds and animals . The sweet bird songs were like honey in the bee hive which the bees had made on me . My animal friends provided a solace to me in the troubled days . I have contributed my bit to make this planet a beautiful place to live. It was heartbreaking to see a park which was once brimming with people so sad and forlorn .But man too needs to understand his responsibility and not play with nature anymore . Hope to see the world healed soon, never to be quarantined again . Till then me and my animal friends will wait for our human friends to throng the park like before .