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NATURE TEACHES - K. V. Dominic (India)



-         K. V. Dominic (India)

The Chairman of the Municipal Council addressed the councillors: “One of the agendas of our meeting today is to discuss and take a decision regarding the construction of a shopping complex at the municipal plot near to the Gandhi Square. That plot has been lying there barren for several years. If we build a shopping complex there, it would be an additional income for our municipality.”

“But there is big fig tree on the roadside in front of the plot. And it is a bus stop also. Passengers waiting for the buses take shelter from the scorching heat of the sun under its shade. There will be objections from the people if we cut the tree,” Councillor Jairam said.

“This is the only tree left in the neighbourhood. In the name of development we have cut almost all the trees on the roadsides. Those were the trees planted by the kings who ruled before our Independence. Unlike us they were Nature lovers and knew the importance of trees and plants for the survival of human race and other beings. That fig tree is the abode of hundreds of birds in this town. Not only birds, squirrels, flies, honeybees, wasps, chameleons, spiders, ants and several other creatures survive only because of that tree. Haven’t other beings, plants and trees and all that reside on earth have equal rights to live here as we human beings?” Councillor Krishnan exploded.

“How do you equate other beings and plants to human beings? Aren’t all these created for human beings? Our priority should be welfare of human beings. Even if that tree is felled the birds and other creatures will survive. Trees are there in the suburbs and they can live there. It is my opinion that a shopping complex should be built there and thus increase the income of our municipality. Whenever we councillors request for some fund the reply is always negative. By renting the rooms for shops we can earn lakhs of rupees every month,” Councillor Joseph said.

“I fully support the views of Councillor Joseph. Let us worry first about our own people and then we shall think about other beings and plants,” Councillor Ashraf stated.

“We should come to an agreement,” the Chairman Yusef said. “Those who support the project of constructing a shopping complex may raise their hands.”

Out of the thirty councillors twenty five voted for the construction of the shopping complex. Thus it was decided that a three storeyed shopping complex will be built there and for that tender should be invited. The lowest bidder will be given the work and the construction has to be completed within two years.

Councillor Jairam warned: “I don’t think we can cut the tree without any opposition from the people. There are some Nature lovers in our town who assemble there every evening under the tree.”

“We will seek the help of police when the tree is cut,” The Chairman said. The meeting thus ended.

There was a crow sitting on a window pane listening to the discussion of the councillors. It used to frequent there as to eat the leftovers of the snacks after each meeting. The decision to cut the tree thrust like an arrow on its heart. Once the meeting was over, it flew to the fig tree, not waiting for the leftover to eat. It was going to be dusk and all the crows and other birds had come back for their sleep on the branches of the fig tree. The crow cried loudly as possible: “Dear friends, I have alarming news to convey. I have been listening to the meeting of the municipal councillors at the council hall. They have decided to destroy our abode, fell this tree and build a shopping complex here.”

Then all the crows, mynas, cuckoos, bulbuls, treepies, flowerpeckers, drongos, woodpeckers, owls and several others birds resting on various branches of the huge tree came closer to the announcing crow. The eldest among the crows then said, “Dear friends, this is our only shelter in this town. Human beings have destroyed all our houses least bothering about our existence. If we lose this house where will we sleep? This fig tree is not only our house but our feeder also. We survive eating its fruits which are found in abundance on its branches. Cutting this tree is equal to killing us all. We shall never allow them to do so.”

The eldest myna supported, “What right has man to cut this tree? This earth is not his grandpa’s. We never trespass upon his house and shut him out. Then why should he destroy our house and deprive us our food and shelter?”

A squirrel listening to the talks of the birds then said, “I support your views dear friends. We can defeat man’s attempt of cutting this tree fighting unitedly.”

The eldest crow declared loudly, “So we have all decided to fight against man if he comes to cut this tree. Our messenger crow will collect the news of the council’s agenda everyday and thus caution us for action when necessary. We should teach man a lesson that non human beings are never inferior to him, but superior.” The meeting was dispersed and all the birds and other creatures retired for sleep.

The tender for the construction of the shopping complex was finalised and the work was tendered to a company named Vision Construction Company. One Monday morning two woodcutters of the company came with necessary tools--axes, chainsaw etc. The messenger crow had already informed the entire birds and other creatures on the tree about the move of the construction company. So no bird or other animals had gone away in search of food.

Seeing the woodcutters moving to the tree, a group of Nature lovers who anticipated the tragedy to the tree surrounded them and their leader asked, “What are you going to do?”

“We are requested to fell this tree,” the woodcutters replied.

“Who requested you?” the leader asked.

“Our Company’s manager. The Company is allotted the construction of a shopping complex here.”

“No, we won’t allow you to touch this tree. It is a shelter to thousands of passengers and abode to hundreds of birds and other creatures. Tell your manager that we won’t allow you.”

Immediately the woodcutters phoned to the manager and within ten minutes the Chairman of the Municipality and the Manager of the Construction Company arrived there with the escort of a jeep full of police.

The Chairman then told the protesters, “The Municipal Council have decided to fell this fig tree and build a shopping complex here. It is for the welfare of the people that we have taken such a decision.”

The leader of the protesters replied, “It is for the comfort of the hundreds of passengers who wait for the buses everyday that we are requesting you to spare this tree. You have not built a waiting shed in this area even though the people have been requesting for it for many years. Those hundreds of birds and other living bodies depending of this tree for food and shelter have nowhere to go. You have destroyed hundreds of trees that served men and other beings on the roadsides of this municipality. What a noble, selfless sacrifice these trees have been rendering! You administrators have no heart to read it. We won’t allow you to fell this tree.” Telling this he and his followers, some twenty men, lay down around the tree. The Chairman asked the Sub Inspector to remove them.

The Sub Inspector told the protesters, “If you do not go away we will arrest you and take you to the police station.”

“We won’t move.” The leader of the protestors said. Thereupon the Sub Inspector ordered the police constables to arrest them. The constables dragged the protesters one by one to the police jeep.

“Now is our turn,” The leader of the crow gave signal to all birds. All the crows, mynahs, and other birds flew down and started pecking on the head of the Sub Inspector, police constables, Chairman, Manager and woodcutters. The Sub Inspector gave order to shoot the birds with the guns. The gun shots went up and one hit the huge wasp nest on one of the branches of the tree. Thousands of wasps flew down angrily and attacked the offenders. The police, the Chairman and the Manager got into their vehicles and sped away for their lives. Still the wasps were chasing them. The wood cutters ran away into a hotel nearby. The protesters also ran away to another hotel. The birds flew back to the branches of the tree. After a few minutes the wasps returned to the tree.

One could hear the chirps, tweets, twitters and all such merry sounds of all the birds from the tree, celebrating their victory. The chorus music of the birds was accompanied by the humming of the wasps and honeybees. The squirrels and crickets also played their parts with sharp notes. It seemed like a great celestial symphony.

An urgent meeting of the Municipal Council was held on the next day. The Chairman addressed the councillors, “Even though we have decided to build a shopping complex, we are not permitted by the Nature to fell the tree. It is a lesson to us that we should be considerate to non humans because this earth belongs to them also. As a compensation for the deforestation done in this municipality, let us plant as many trees as possible on the roadsides. I hope you all will agree to it on the ground of what happened yesterday.” All the councillors agreed to the proposal of the Chairman.